Up until early 2020, like most FIDI Academy courses, Masters in Moving and Mobility (MiM2) were held in-person in a variety of locations around the world. So pandemic lockdowns and travel restrictions threatened to create a sizeable gap in the ongoing development of Affiliates’ staff and their businesses.
FIDI responded in the early days of the crisis by making Academy webinars free of charge to Affiliates for a limited period. Then, says Academy Manager Chantal Fera, she and fellow trainers Sara Lyrum Kronkjaer and Jesse van Sas set about moving the MiM2 courses from a classroom to virtual format.
‘The trainers quickly jumped on the opportunity to review the format, the content, and the facilitation process to deliver the content virtually,’ she says. This included switching to a modular format, which allowed attendees to either take the full programme or register for specific parts while opting out of others.
MiM2 is designed to be a hands-on, interactive experience for students, taking them out of their comfort zone and allowing them to develop confidence and best practice from FIDI trainers, and from one another. To deliver all this for an online environment meant reworking almost every aspect of the course, says Lyrum Kronkjaer. This included rethinking how MiM2 groups could best share experiences with other attendees, present to one other, and take part in workshops, team-building exercises and networking.
‘With the virtual setup, we also had to take into consideration that the students were from all over the world and in different time zones. So, group tasks, shared homework and other parts were challenged,’ she says.
As well as how they delivered it, the team also had to update the content itself in the light of the pandemic, adds Lyrum Kronkjaer, who gives the example of the Meeting Management session. ‘With COVID, the structure of meetings and setup have taken a new direction, so we needed to update this to meet these new needs.’
So, how does the adapted programme work in practice? Students at FIDI’s first online sessions explain.
Ines Borchert of Krumpf, Germany, says she ‘jumped at the chance’ to take part in the online MiM2, after missing out last year.
She says: ‘Ever since I started working in our business, I had heard about how fun and worthwhile FIDI seminars are, and how they help build strong networks. Being able to take part in the training online offered the possibility of further educating myself and incorporating it into my daily life.’
She adds that attending the seminar while keeping one eye on her day-to-day work required planning. ‘When you are gone for a week, you can focus on the training,’ she says, ‘but taking part during your normal working day means you have to prioritise your attention.’ The classes were enjoyable and useful, she says, and worth the extra effort.
Sharon Lee, Sales and Pricing Manager at UniGroup Worldwide Moving, agrees that taking classes in a working day was ‘a bit tough’, and she would preferred to have met her classmates in person. But the online experience had some benefits.
‘It’s more convenient to group everything together online,’ she says. ‘There is no restriction on where you are, and everyone is focused on the training topic. It was a great opportunity to meet different people working in the industry.’
Justas Cemnolonskas, Managing Director – AGS Bratislava, says, despite its limitations, the format worked well. ‘Given the circumstances, the implementation is at the highest level,’ he says, ‘FIDI managed to create atmosphere when you forget that you are participating in an online course.’
Of course, students and trainers miss the camaraderie, social activities and total immersion of an in-person programme.
Lyrum Kronkjaer says: ‘During the FIDI seminars, the student as well as the trainers build relationships, talk about challenges and share stories – and the students can find colleagues who have experienced the same challenges. This is more difficult during an online session.
She adds that because online participants log off between their sessions, they miss the fun of lunch, dinner or coffee breaks. ‘This is an advantage for the companies since the students multi-task by doing the seminar and their normal work more or less at the same time.’
For some students, however, the lower cost and convenience meant the new format worked even better than a face-to-face course.
Shyla Mathews, founder and managing director of Singapore-based SIR International Movers, who took part to ‘fill in gaps of my learning and knowledge’, says: ‘I preferred the cost and time online compared with in person. Coming from Asia, flights are expensive and we lose out on currency exchange. Also, I have young kids ,so it would have been difficult for me to travel.’
At Oman Moving and Storage, Accounts Team Leader Marie Mitchell says the online format still managed to push her outside of her comfort zone and has given her takeaways to implement immediately.
‘Even though online, it didn’t stop the FIDI team from providing an excellent course,’ she says. ‘It gave me lots of new tools to assist me in my day-to-day role. I have started using processes and tools that Jesse, Chantal and Sara taught us.’
‘There were many case examples that I could immediately use in my daily working life,’ agrees Borchert.
Cemnolonskas adds: ‘The course helped to deepen my knowledge and to refresh forgotten things. It gave me more confidence in day-to-day tasks and tools to be implemented in office. I would highly recommend these courses to other managers.’
Borchert says she would also recommend the online MiM2 to colleagues in the industry. ‘This is an excellent opportunity to get some extra hands-on training you can immediately transfer into your work life,’ she says. ‘As the contents are put together from experts from our business, it is not just general training you are receiving, but relevant and up to date.
‘I am glad to be able to be part of this distinguished training and I already see the benefit, not only for me but also for our company.’
When the pandemic eventually ends, she adds, she would love the opportunity to meet her online classmates. ‘This would be the icing on the cake,’ she says.
Fera says the online project has been successful in continuing FIDI’s training programmes during the pandemic, but it has also widened and improved the Academy’s provision for the future.
‘This experience shows that there is still a huge interest for the classroom format but also an opportunity to learn for those who cannot afford to be away from the office for a full week and for those who have no travel budget. We
will keep offering both formats,’
Whether you take part online or in-person, Lyrum Kronkjaer says: ‘If you have not done the MiM2 yet, then do it. You will not regret it.’
\FIDI Academy online learning, by Chantal Fera
The FIDI Academy was the first one to react quickly to the COVID crisis and has continued to offer flexible online learning options to its Affiliates.
Our online learning platform offers a wide range of topics in multiple languages. The webinars – on more than 15 different industry topics and soft skills training – are low cost and allow for interaction between the attendees and the subject-matter expert.
Not only did we offer this free-of-charge training during the first lockdown period, we also quickly translated the on-site management seminars into a virtual modular format. This was extremely well received and successful.
Trainer Sara Lyrum Kronkjaer says the content of MiM2 has continued to evolve
Masters in Moving and Mobility (MiM2) is one of the FIDI Academy’s flagship annual courses and plays a vital part in developing the knowledge of the mobility industry’s managers of tomorrow.
Run by experienced trainers, the programme sets out to educate using tailored and up-to-date information and examples, with easy-to-implement takeaways for new or existing mobility business managers. The courses are in high demand and they get booked up quickly.
Lyrum Kronkjaer explains: ‘I took part in the very first MiM when it was just a pilot scheme and since then a lot has changed – if not everything.
‘The topics we cover have changed for sure and are more up to date and linked directly to our industry. The structure and the subjects covered by the MiM2 are well considered and we re-evaluate after we run a seminar, and also before the next one.
‘We ask ourselves if we need to update any sessions, if there are any new and more relevant topics we need to cover, what the challenges of our managers today and tomorrow are, and how we can use this in the training so the FIDI Academy adds the most amount of value.’
Academy special offer for 2021
Option 1: Unlimited access to all online training (*) for all employees until 31 December 2021: €1,500 per subsidiary/branch/head office.
Option 2: One package (all online training*) – four weeks access: €400/employee (discount on volume, if more than three employees).