The skills development and productivity sector is one industry that has remained highly active during COVID-19. After all, when the pandemic first hit, many of us had lofty goals. Without a daily commute or social life to handle, surely this was the perfect time to take up Zoom piano lessons, learn a language or write that novel? In reality, we found ourselves balancing demanding roles that are often busier than ever with increased domestic responsibilities. This blurring of home and work life together with the difficulties of juggling our various duties has led to many of us moderating our initial ambitious plans for exiting lockdown with a whole new set of accomplishments and achievements.
Yet now that the immediate crisis has eased, and we work towards the further restoration of normality, this could be the perfect time to invest in ourselves and our careers. While those piano lessons might have to wait for the time being, we still have the opportunity to move forward from this once in a lifetime situation with a better technical and professional toolkit to help advance both our professional objectives and the cause of drug development. What’s more, there is a vast wealth of training, resources and courses on offer to help us do so. The problem is not lack of opportunity but rather, how can you avoid becoming overwhelmed by choice? Here, we lay out a framework to help you hone in on the type of courses and materials that would work best for you to elevate your analytical and leadership skills during COVID-19.
What do you want to learn?
At the outset, it’s worth taking time to think carefully and make an informal audit of your current skills. Are there any disciplines in which you have had less opportunity to work? Perhaps you are increasingly being asked for visualisation support when your knowledge of these tools is rusty? Maybe you feel confident in your programming languages but sense that your project management capabilities sometimes let down your performance. Be brutally honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses and draw up a shortlist of development areas. Then, consider which of these areas would lend themselves best to self-guided learning, and which might need to wait for another opportunity to work closely with a mentor in the workplace or to attend a face to face course once this is possible.
How do you like to learn?
Another important aspect is how you like to learn. Face to face learning is obviously not an option right now. Nevertheless, online education comes in many forms, and it is worthwhile thinking about the provision that would suit you best. Do you prefer structured learning with online ‘live’ lessons through video conference, or would you prefer to work independently through exercises and materials? Are you ready to commit to a more structured course that hones in on a particular area of skills, or did your development audit reveal that your needs would be better served by broadening your knowledge towards several topics?
How much time can you commit?
The final piece of the puzzle is how much time you will realistically be able to commit to the learning process. After all, it’s better to set a smaller, realistic goal than overstretch yourself and find that you don’t ultimately achieve your objectives. Beyond considering the amount of time you can invest, also think about how that allocation plays out throughout your schedule. Do you have larger ‘chunks’ of time you could devote to longer videos or structured courses, or would you be better working in smaller bursts that you can grasp throughout the day?
If you gain clarity on these aspects, you will place yourself in a better position to select the best options from the range of resources and courses on offer and decide which route is best for you.
Below we summarise some of the most highly recommended courses and learning resources from our internal team and our valued industry contacts.
Webinars and podcasts
The Effective Statistician
The Effective Statistician provides an impressive ongoing programme and archive of podcast and webinar material to help statisticians develop leadership skills, widen business acumen, and enhance efficiency. The platform also runs a formal leadership programme.
PSI runs regular webinars for seasoned and early-career statisticians. Members receive access to all webinars free of charge.
PhUSE Webinar Wednesdays
PhUSE offers a program and archive of webinars on a range of technical programming and industry issues.
Resources on Data Visualization
The below resources were all recommended by one of our team for building skills in data visualisation. The sites offer learning in various formats from webinars to self-guided full courses.
Statistics, Programming and AI and ML courses
If you are looking for a more formal structured course and are prepared to invest, the below training platforms all offer various valuable courses in statistics, programming AI and Machine learning.