Helen Hourican, Proprietor of H-Training on what 30 years in the Gig Economy has taught her about business, her legacy of authenticity and the Launch of H-Training’s Management Consultancy Service.
On the 14th of January 2019, H-Training is celebrating 30 years in business. The learning and development organisation which specialises in the development and training of candidates for Management, Coaching and Interviews, was founded by Helen Hourican in 1989. In this time Helen and her team have developed thousands of individuals across multiple industries as diverse as Kerry Group and the Department of Agriculture to An Garda Síochana and the Irish Prison Service and more recently Google and Twitter.
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After three decades in business, Helen’s insight into the world of SME’s and standards of excellence in development has been cultivated from a myriad of challenges. She is a veteran of what has newly been coined, the ‘gig economy’, and is uniquely positioned to advise clients on the lucrative and complex intersection between the Public and Private Sectors and how to establish and sustain excellence across a range of disciplines.
The challenges H-Training has confronted since 1989 vary from the rise of the internet in the late 90s, to the scale-ability of a Training firm through the hiring of staff and partnership all the way up to the digital age. Helen has navigated through two recessions and a boom and watched how business has been shaped into a far more democratic and open source environment.
“The long-term success of H-Training can be summed up in a single word: flexibility. I went from renting a 17sq ft office to owning a building, from location working to remote working from fax machine to virtual settings. If any organisation or, indeed entrepreneur, fails to grasp the necessity to change then they will find it had to cater to the continually shifting sands of what is now firmly an global market.”
Based in Cork but with a Nationwide reach, Helen spend most of her career traveling (pre-motorways) the length and breadth of the country and she now regularly marvels at the difference in how business works.
‘In the nineties, I was preparing children’s lunches at 5am and then hopping on a flight to Dublin to deliver training. Or I was meeting a client based in Dublin to prepare for an interview by meeting halfway in Portlaoise after a day of training Prison Management. Today, I have days where I commute down the stairs at home to my office and log on to coach someone in London, Florida or Berlin. To say it’s a different world is to radically under-appreciate the changes that I have witnessed.’
H-Training’s approach to Learning and Development is very much client-centred. With so much emphasis being placed on knowledge and information (that itself is now constantly being disputed and argued over), Helen’s focus is primarily on behaviours.
‘Managers and Coaches, will be defined primarily by how they interact with others and how they behave, not always by what they know.’
Learning and Development is undoubtedly Helen’s greatest passion but she argues that without application, it becomes redundant. This ethos has allowed H-Training to approach development much differently and inspire people to firstly, lead in their own lives by taking care of themselves as this is the best foundation to lead a team or organisation and ultimately deliver results.
‘Self-employed people understand the delivery of results more that anyone else. Because when you go it alone and sustain a business for 30 years, you get the bottom line in a very fundamental way. I am not someone who was happy in a 9-5 environment. I need variety and new challenges and the freedom to operate. Self-employment facilitates this, however there is no point pretending it is all plain sailing. When you find yourself at the edge, and there have been a few times I have experienced that over the years it is not a nice place to be. However, the achievement and sense of fulfillment when you push through is something I am very grateful to have experienced. Each of those times thought me lessons, that I directly applied or you could say re-invested back into the business. That is the primary goal, growth, valid experience, achievement and fulfillment. I think people greatly respond when you are authentic. It is also a big part of our legacy.’
Part of that legacy is Helen’s son Ciarán, who has now assumed the strategic responsibility for H-Training under Helen’s continued guidance. Ciarán’s background was in mentoring and coaching troubled young men dealing with a variety of behavioural and mental health problems before he came to H-Training. This experience coupled with a strong academic background has led to a continuation of the legacy of striving to be authentic.
‘My mother and I are birds of a feather in the sense that we are straight talkers and we don’t really have a lot of patience for babble. We work to get to the core of an issue and supportively tell people the things they sometimes don’t want to hear. I have found that it is something often sorely lacking in many organisations’
Ciarán, has spearheaded H-Training’s transition into the digital world and is currently undertaking a project to build a video catalogue of H-Training’s courses as well as increasing H-Training’s Social Media footprint and online presence.
‘You simple can’t say that the shift to blended and online learning has been absolute. That certainly seemed to be the way it was going early on, but people still seem to respond better to the live show, and by nature it is more interactive. There are nuances I can pick up on with a client I am coaching face-to-face that I simply won’t see on Skype or Facetime. That said, this technology greatly expands what we can achieve and our market opportunities, but really our video course will provide an online product for people to study short courses at an affordable rate. It is more of a complement to what H-Training has been doing for 30 years, with a different mode of delivery, which is obviously very exciting.’
To celebrate 30 years of H-Training, Helen is also launching a Management Consultancy service for C level teams with much to contribute in the area of Business and Organisational Development and end to end recruitment. This will all be offered in conjunction to H-Training’s current services covering all aspects of HRM and Learning and Development.
‘This is something we have been doing piecemeal for the last ten to twelve years, where we consult on workplace conflict and provide guidance on cultural solutions and leadership development. However, what we find often is that the problems that tends to emerge can be traced back to either a poor selection and recruitment processes or an under developed team, with a nebulous or competing array of objectives. We support organisations to develop processes that eradicate this and furthermore clarify and define what everyone’s role is and how best to deliver results.’
And after thirty years, the-deliver-of-results, is a language that Helen Hourican speaks fluently.
As a professional coach, mentor and facilitator Ciaran has a passionate interest in developing competencies at all workplace levels but particularly in first-line and mid-level managers. His well-developed skills in coaching and his unique approach gains the confidence of clients and supports them towards significant development.