Rita Smyth: An Award-Winning Owner and Creative Director at Role Players for Training Ireland, Turns Her Dream into Reality.
In a previous life, I worked in Financial Services where I was a Human Resources Manager. My decision to resign after almost 15 years and take up full-time actor training was not an easy one, however, it has led me to where I am today and ultimately in setting up my business Role Players for Training.
Having graduated from Drama School and initially working in the more traditional areas for actors I discovered how in the UK drama-based skills were widely used to support Learning and Development in both business and executive education.
Initially, as a freelancer, working in blue chips and execute education in UK and Europe, I gained experience and huge enthusiasm for this approach to adult and corporate learning.
Coming back to Ireland in late 2000s I was dismayed to find how little of this valuable approach was happening here and so this prompted my decision to ‘do it myself’ and so founded Role Players for Training, www.roleplayersfortraining.ie
We are a team of professional corporate role players who support the experiential side of Learning and Development through live, interactive exercises, simulations, and individual, in the moment quality feedback to participants. We also support business and occupational psychologists in Assessment and Recruitment centres and now have a team that can deliver in a number of European Languages.
Initially, a slow burn, a lot of educating my target audience of HR and Learning and Development professionals, growing my own team, lots and lots of networking and getting involved in relevant institutes and personal CPD has resulted in a growing, very rewarding and valuable niche business in the professional training and coaching area. In 2018 we were engaged to work on projects in the UK, Brussels and in Spain where we provided a very large multilingual team to support a learning initiative as part of our client's Sales Kick-Off Meeting.
Being a business owner is a 24/7 job! As the owner, initially anyway, it all comes down to you – your vision, enthusiasm, and desire to make it work keeps you going. Building a team and then a client base is what sustains that.
In the early days, it is easy to feel that you are getting nowhere when full of positivity and enthusiasm but not getting customers or sales. One needs to keep positive, approachable and interested in what other business owners are doing and hear what approaches they have tried.
Any advice for other business owners? Have patience! Things don't happen overnight, and it takes time for your brand and profile to get noticed. However, you still need to be active and tenacious.
Also, join a relevant networking group - there are lots of them out there. They provide support and sometimes training at reasonable rates to keep you learning and meeting like-minded people who may also be starting out on their entrepreneurial journey. Especially relevant when you work on your own.
We have built up our profile through recognition for superior service provided via testimonials and recommendations from our clients. Knowing that we make a difference from the positive feedback we continually receive from the participants on the programmes we support is very rewarding.
It is also important that my own team are challenged and rewarded for the work they do. It is also nice to be recognised by peers and other industry professionals.
Recently I was awarded the 'Rising Star' award by LEO Dublin City Women in Business Group and previously an 'Outstanding Achievement' from the IITD (Irish Institute of Training and Development).
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