​Focus on: GÉANT Learning and Development – enabling the future


CONNECT catches up with Irina Mikhailava, Head of GÉANT Learning and Development (GLAD) to talk about the Future Talent Programme and other exciting initiatives recently launched by her team.


Irina, could you tell us about the principles behind these recent changes?

I would like to start with an inspiring quote by P. Senge: ‘A Learning organisation is an organisation that is continually expanding its capability to create its future’. It is my conviction that in order to be successful in the knowledge economy we need to work towards fostering learning organisations and learning ecosystems. Traditional learning methods will soon no longer be sufficient to prepare for the future; there is a need to become creative and experimental in the development of new learning tools and programmes. I see GLAD as a knowledge powerhouse supporting excellence in the community of networking professionals through learning, growth and sharing of knowledge. My ambition for GLAD is to become a point of reference and a future enabler for our community.


What does the Future Talent Programme entail?

The Future Talent Programme recognises the importance of the role of young professionals in our community. The community offers young talents opportunities for growth and in return they deliver ideas, energy, passion and dedication. Learning is experiential, it stimulates personal and professional growth and the ability to be innovative. This year, the Future Talent Programme provides the context for two exciting initiatives: Lightning Talk Challenge and Poster Pursuit. The Lightning Talk Challenge is a learning experience around presentation skills to prepare young professionals to get their ideas on stage at TNC. Poster Pursuit aims to encourage the development of visual presentation skills for poster presentation sessions also at TNC. To increase the chance of gaining admission, GLAD will support all registered participants with free training webinars.


We believe these initiatives offer NRENs a great opportunity to present their young professionals to an international audience of innovation enablers and to gain valuable visibility amongst their member audience as well as within the global research and education networking community. We invite all NRENs to nominate passionate, enthusiastic and talented IT students to take part and present their ideas at TNC18 that will take place in Trondheim, Norway in June 2018. Up to three participants for each initiative can be nominated by each NREN. To secure nominations, NRENs are asked to register their participants at Lightning Talk Challenge EventR and Poster Pursuit EventR.


Can you give us an overview of your courses and programmes?

The learning and development activities that we enjoy implementing are geared towards supporting career growth and professional development of our community. We support training activities of GN4-2 and AARC projects and look after TRANSITS training events. In addition to the Future Talent Programme, GLAD portfolio also includes the Technical Knowledge Programme that aims to help participants to stay on top of state-of-the-art technical subjects, and the Capabilities Building Programme that facilitates organisational and managerial sustainability.


Last month we launched a brand new website and also a Moodlebased e-learning platform called GÉANT e-Academy. The e-Academy has the ambition to become a ‘one stop’ e-learning space for networking professionals in Europe by providing them with interactive learning experiences and knowledge anytime, anywhere. As a resource, the e-Academy will host GLAD training products and educational content designed and developed by the community.


As a team, we also offer our expertise in interactive events design, facilitation, coaching and management of professional development. We are open to opportunities to collaborate with partner organisations, the wider networking community and other likeminded institutions.


If you would like to join us in​ this mission or would like to learn with us, contact glad@geant.org or visit our website learning.geant.org



“We aim to attract and support the young talents our community needs, to grow and achieve our long-term objectives by providing them with engaging activities and programmes, adding to their academic studies.” Nadia Sluer, Technical Training Coordinator, GLAD



T​he TNC17 Lightning Talks Challenge through the eyes of its​​ participants

​At TNC17 GÉANT launched a joint programme with research and education networks to bring young professionals and students to the conference and deliver a lightning talk. Bright IT students from across Europe were nominated to submit their best idea and follow a training course provided by GÉANT’s Learning and Development tea​m to prepare for the occasion. The IT Students’ Lightning Talk Challenge is one of the first GÉANT Future Talent Programme initiatives. Every single student, with their enthusiasm and the exciting topics brought to TNC17 an absolute breath of fresh air; we look forward to repeating and surpassing the experience at TNC18.


CONNECT approached one of these TNC17 Programme alumni to learn about their experience from the preparation work carried out with the support of the GLAD team, through to the delivery of their talks and their TNC17 attendance.


Fredrik Strupe, UNINETT Lightning Talk: Using Raspberry Pis for cheap Wi-Fi monitoring


How did you learn about the Student Lightning Talk Programme?

My supervisor at UNINETT suggested to put myself forward to present the project I’ve been working on for the past year (I am currently working at UNINETT while studying at university); it sounded very interesting and I decided to give it a go.


How did you find our webinars and our coaching?

The lessons helped me during the creation of the paper and the preparation of the talk, and the seminars gave me the opportunity to meet the other students. The feedback on the talks received from the coaches and the other participants was also useful, and enabled me to considerably improve the talk. All in all it was a very enjoyable experience, and it made the thought of presenting to a large audience so less scary than expected.


What was the most memorable moment of TNC17?

I have so many memorable moments from the event, but the most unforgettable is probably the opening reception, a great social event spent on a boat cruising the Danube River. It was a fantastic way to get to know the other students and the GÉANT staff, and to meet other participants from all over Europe.


What did TNC17 mean to you?

It gave me an insight into the networking community in Europe, and the different organisations and people involved.


What was the biggest challenge you faced at TNC17?

Probably avoiding a heat stroke​! Coming from 8°C in Norway, the summer heat in Austria was quite exhausting. But on a more serious note, delivering the five minute lightning talk was probably the biggest challenge I have ever faced, as I don’t have much experience in presenting to large audiences.


How do you think this experience will benefit you in the future?

It gave an incredible boost to my confidence and helped me improve my presentation skills, in addition, during TNC17 I had the opportunity to meet people I may collaborate (and encounter) with in the future. The event also gave me a great insight into the types of jobs within the European networking community, and I am sure it will inspire me to choose a career path after my studies.​​​