BLOG: 15-love to Unicorn ‘Rock’ Jackie

Jackie attends DevLearn in Las Vegas in 2011

Jackie attends DevLearn in Las Vegas in 2011

As Unicorn marks our 25th birthday in lots of fun ways, one of our ‘stalwarts’ also celebrates an anniversary within an anniversary as 2013 is Chief Operating Officer, Jackie Kennedy’s 15th year with us. A ‘Unicorn stick of rock’, Jackie lives and breathes Unicorn and “cares immensely about my Unicorn family.” So why the big love-in? Jackie reflects on her 15 years at the Unicorn coalface.

“So….15 years, my, how things have changed! With such a landmark I thought it might be cool to capture a few of my thoughts about how things have changed both for the company and for me personally.

“Rewind 15 years. From day one I knew this was going to be complete sea change for me. I was used to a corporate environment, with an established way of working and I was entering a small family-run partnership, which had a slightly unorthodox approach and a creative vibe. I am a Leo, a natural leader and a born organiser, joining the Unicorn family could not have been more different to what I was used to!

“My first role was varied, acting as Office Manager, Receptionist, Quality Assurance and Packing/Post Room associate too! In the early days I always likened it to Fawlty Towers when I was explaining to my friends and family what I did each day.

“One of my earliest tasks that sticks in my memory was to copy 100s of floppy disks, providing a Budget update for the CII Financial Planning qualifications to all individuals that were studying. I cursed and swore at that disk copying machine more times than I care to mention, plus, I needed a wheelbarrow to get the packets to the post office for mailing! CDROMs were a blessing for me….

“Moving on to a more creative role in the business, Head of eLearning Production (and beyond), was a key step and allowed me to immerse myself in the world of eLearning. I learned all about instructional design, authoring software, development methods and project management.

“It also allowed me to focus on reviewing and recommending improvements to our Project Management processes, plus fully understanding the recipe for a great user experience. I’ve been hooked ever since, and although my role has changed over the years, there is always a place in my heart for interactive eLearning!

“Things have moved on since those early days; technology has advanced at pace, the world is changing faster and faster.

“We have seen Apple introduce amazing products that have changed our horizons and allowed our children to interact with tablets computers from an early age, social media has opened up a communication/network of friends and colleagues that our grandparents would not have thought possible, NASA discovered water on the moon, and AFC Bournemouth are in the Championship!

“Throughout these technology changes, Unicorn has managed to adapt our business strategy to support our client’s changing requirements. We have always preferred to describe ourselves as sitting just behind the curve in technological advancements, learning from the early adopters – mistakes and successes – and making sound, informed business decisions. The mobile explosion has certainly opened up some opportunities and presented us with some challenges but there is definitely a heightened level of excitement in the business about future possibilities.

“In 2010 Unicorn decided to raise our head above the parapet, introducing ourselves to the eLearning community after spending a long time keeping a low profile! This has been a successful decision; to date we have won a number of awards to recognise our eLearning solutions, 2011 eLearning Company of the year, 2012 Instructional Designer of the year, individual achievement awards for both Henry and Peter Phillips, phew, a lot in a short space of time!

“We have grown up and out, the company has grown consistently and profitably from fewer than 10 employees when I joined to over 70 now! As we have grown, we have increasingly needed to put in place more structure and professionalism in our HR processes, part of my new role as Chief Operating Office, has meant I can lead on this.

“Me? Well during that time I have moved four times, entered a character building marriage and subsequent quick divorce, (well, we all make mistakes!) had a beautiful daughter who is my main focus outside Unicorn, had six different cars, passed my CIPD Certificate in Learning and development to consolidate my knowledge, travelled extensively to some beautiful locations – business and pleasure – oh, and Vegas for the eLearning Guild DevLearn conferences!

“I’ve raised funds for a number of charities, namely, British Legion, Help for Heroes, Mind and McMillian Cancer Care. Finance for Non-Financial Managers is next on the agenda, improving and extending my finance knowledge. I’m a study bug and have to be continually learning new things!

“I have enjoyed every day at Unicorn so far, it is a pleasure to work with such talented and creative individuals that make up the Unicorn family and I’m proud to have been part of Unicorn’s history – long may it continue. It’s been a heck of a ride, with massive amounts of highs and very few lows, and if I am honest I have loved every minute of it ☺”

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