Meet the Team: Raf Dolanowski
In this edition of our Meet the Team series, we meet Raf Dolanowski - Pure Learning's Head of Client Solutions.
He came to Pure Learning with over 7 years of experience in the eLearning industry. Starting off as a Digital Developer, Raf made his way into leadership roles for some of Australia's largest eLearning companies. He has managed large teams of Instructional Designers, Graphic Designers and eLearning Developers to produce some of the most widely used and most recogniseable eLearning courses in Australia.
As our Head of Client Solutions, it's Raf's job to identify solutions for our client's problems and provide expert advice about eLearning and digital communication. This includes advising our customers when not to use eLearning. Above all else, it's his role to be the strongest, loudest advocate for Pure Learning customers and keeping the entire team focused on what's best for the client.
We put him on the spot and subjected him to a handful of rapid fire questions:
What brought you to Pure Learning?
I first noticed Pure Learning when their site went live. The site lead me to the Twitter profile, which had the catch-phrase ‘Putting the learning back into eLearning’ on it and I really connected with that. It was refreshing to see a rather cheeky yet honest jab at an industry that has at times gone rather astray and forgotten what it’s supposed to be focused on.
I reached out to Matt (CEO of Pure Learning) to wish him and the team all the best with their new venture and to simply connect with someone who was like minded. This lead to exchanging war stories over a beer... and the rest is history!
Your job title is Head of Client Solutions. What does that role involve?
Put simply, I help people understand eLearning and how doing it well can benefit their business.
My role at Pure Learning is to help our clients understand both the power and limitations of eLearning, and create solutions that will help their business reach their objectives.
This does mean that I spend a lot of time un-teaching organisations what they have been conditioned to believe eLearning is and isn’t.
What are the main things you do on a day to day basis?
My highest priority each and every day is to help connect with and educate our customers. This includes reaching out to our customers and seeing if there are any challenges I can help advise them on, looking for ways to share our knowledge with our customers and the broader community, qualifying any opportunities that come around and ensuring our clients never feel alone when looking to overcome challenges.
What qualities do you bring to the team?
Interesting question! I wouldn’t say I bring any stand out ‘new’ qualities to the team as such, given we already have some very talented and passionate individuals who are part of the Pure Learning family.
If I had to single out some things, I would say that I bring a balanced perspective to eLearning. Over the years I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly of eLearning. I can appreciate the factors that may have contributed to each outcome, both from the client side and the provider side.
Sometimes I feel there is a tendency to be critical of a client's resistance to try something new in their eLearning and it’s easy to forget that their journey thus far may have been challenging and stressful. I guess I can appreciate that sometimes baby steps are needed to help a client get comfortable before we run with them.
What do you enjoy most about working in the eLearning industry?
I enjoy working in eLearning because I believe this industry has an opportunity to really bring about positive change for organisations and their employees. There is nothing more enjoyable and motivating than seeing the positive effects of an eLearning solution making people's lives easier.
Plus the wider community is really open, collaborative and willing to connect over a coffee and talk shop.
You mentioned before that sometimes the industry forgets what it should be focused on. What improvements do you think are needed most in the industry?
Really, the biggest area of improvement for the industry is ensuring that organisations are educated properly on what good e-learning looks like and how it needs can be used.
Very often I find that organisations look to eLearning as the cheaper alternative to F2F training, and the standalone answer to their problem. These perceptions have an overwhelming tendency to lead to underwhelming eLearning and sleepy learners.
I’ll be doing my best, as will the rest of the Pure Learning team, to help change these perceptions.
What can people expect when they work with you?
Great question. In terms of expectations, customers can expect honesty and an uncomplicated approach when it comes to engaging with them.
I’ll be looking to have really open and honest conversations (over coffee, whenever possible) to get an appreciation for the organisation I am speaking with. I want to understand the history, the ‘today’ and the future for the organisation. All of that contributes to ensuring that any solution that is suggested down the track is going to be as effective as possible.
I have a long-term goal for all of our customers, which is to become a trusted advisor first and solution provider second.
What do you enjoy doing in your downtime?
My downtime is a bit seasonal really. During the cooler months, I enjoy nothing more than packing my bike in the back of the car and heading out to the local trails park to clear the mind. Eating half your weight in mud is also a great way to put the world in perspective.
When it gets a bit warmer, I can often be found on Port Phillip Bay fishing for snapper and then returning home with fish and chips from the local shop instead.
Ultimately, I really try to draw a clear line in the sand between work time and ‘my’ time. I feel it’s important to really disconnect from work activities, in particular over the weekend, to really recharge and allow the ideas from the previous week incubate.