Reflections on a career

 Debbie Carter ponders 20 years at the helm of TJ.

It’s difficult to know where to start to say ‘goodbye’. The beginning was September 2001 when the then publisher, Hugh Murray asked me to take the role of editor. I will always be grateful to him for placing such trust in me as I had no journalistic experience at that point, but I learnt very quickly.

I started my tenure on 1 October 2001 just weeks after 9/11. The world was still reeling from the shock and worrying what might follow. That catastrophic event marked the start of my TJ journey and, as I mull over the years, I realise that for every year of my time as editor, there was at least one calamitous event that seriously impacted individuals, organisations and communities.

These events are increasingly a result of climate change (the number and costs are rocketing year-on-year), organisational mismanagement and dishonesty (like the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008), the political environment (the untenable vote to leave the European Union in June 2016) to the biological bombshell that is COVID-19!

If there is one thing that seems to remain constant over the years is that nothing stays the same, and that the speed of change is now exponential. Dealing with change, developing leaders and the effective use of technology are the key areas that L&D professionals need to focus on to be successful today and into the future.

Every contributor, follower on social media, awards’ entrant and reader has played a part in making the TJ community the trusted source it is now.

It is time for us all to step up to the plate and choose to do things very differently. Remaining in our comfort zones isn’t an option any longer as COVID-19 has proven we always need to be looking ahead and planning for the unexpected.

The pandemic has, after years of speculation and anticipation, made organisations realise that the power of technology combined with trust in people is the way to lead an organisation in the 21st century.

For L&D departments, along with the managers and leaders they support, there has to be a willingness to unlearn everything they might have previously held in high regard. Energy needs to be used to build resilient, independent learners and creative teams with good problem solving skills.

Learning and performance professionals must build expertise in using technology and horizon-scanning to support and inform leaders in their decision making.

As TJ embraces this new technology-led environment it seems an appropriate time for me to step away. I want to focus on my family, and other interests that have often taken second place. Watch out for my ‘highly anticipated’ cookery book – Meals on Wheels and maybe a blog or two on some of my other passions.


For now the most important part of this editorial is to thank the people who throughout my time at TJ have given me so much support and kindness – there are so many I simply cannot name them all.

The commitment and generosity of people like Donald H Taylor who challenges the community with his incisive comment on performance and our role in making organisations successful, Sarah Cook, who along with Steve Macaulay, have been providing great ‘how-to’ content for longer than I have been editor, are just a tiny proportion of those I could include.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the most innovative people in our field: from Andy Lancaster at the CIPD, to Sarah Lindsell from PwC and Rohit Talwar at Fast Futures – but there are many more! Every contributor, follower on social media, awards’ entrant and reader has played a part in making the TJ community the trusted source it is now.

Finally, my biggest thanks go to three special people. Jo Cook for her unstinting commitment to TJ. Brian Calvert, my go-to man for almost everything; from helping at events, marketing, IT support and much, much more.

Finally to Jon Kennard, recruited four years ago for this very day. He has all the skills needed to lead TJ now and into a somewhat uncertain future. I am confident that he will continue to keep our content varied, informative and delivered in formats that support our readers in their search for excellence. These three have been more than just colleagues and I count them among my closest friends.

My thanks go to everyone I have had the pleasure of working with over the past 20 plus years – it has been a privilege and a joy.


About the author

Debbie Carter is editor-in-chief of TJ.


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