Meet the team: An introduction to Suzanne Brooke

Suzanne joined Ixion in 2022 and is a tutor/assessor supporting management apprentices.

We caught up with her to talk about why she took the leap from being self employed to joining Ixion – and why her favourite animal is a penguin!

Photo of Suzanne

“I wanted to show people that it doesn’t matter if you have any difficulties in your life, you can succeed.”

Can you tell us about your role?

I’m a tutor/assessor looking after management level 3 and 5. I will be looking after the leadership excellence programme which is a series of workshops with two options: growing in management and leading the way. My job is to run the workshops and have one-to-one sessions with learners on a monthly basis. I also develop materials to support the workshops.

Development of curriculum is another part of my role which I have a massive interest in. I have many strings to my bow, so I can assess business, customer service, HR and administration courses so there’s scope for me to branch out.

Why did you decide to join Ixion?

When I came across Shaw Trust, I absolutely adored their approach to people with learning difficulties. They are so collective in the way that they deliver, and that really has come through over the last couple of weeks that I have been here. Shaw Trust are so celebratory of different walks of life, different abilities, and that came through just looking at the website.

I have a disability and I wear hearing aids and I wanted to show people that it hasn’t stopped me, and it doesn’t matter if you have any difficulties in your life, you can succeed. I certainly got the feel of that from Shaw Trust and Ixion. The ethos and the vision of the organisations fits in with the way I want to go in my career.

I had my interview and I just felt like the two ladies on the panel were amazing. They made me feel so welcome and I just felt like I was part of a team already.

What motivates and inspires you in your role?

I’ve always been extremely learner centric in my approach as an assessor and this comes from the fact that I have a background in management, so I was essentially the coaching mentor for my employees.

The biggest team I had was a team of about 50 managers when I was an area manager. It was quite a large team and I discovered at the time that although we had training in place for these managers, it wasn’t to the standard that I expected. I took that with me when I became an assessor myself and I wanted to work with businesses to achieve the level they want for their staff.

I feel it’s important to be learner centric, understand how businesses work, understand how learners work and embrace their individuality. Ensuring inclusion is embedded is another big thing for me, and that is another reason why I think Shaw Trust is a good choice because inclusivity is important to me.

What were you doing before you joined Ixion?

I think I have been an assessor for 11 years now, I didn’t realise it was that long! My background was in childcare. I’ve worked since leaving school at 17 and worked in childcare for 10 years before becoming an area manager. I worked my way up into management and that’s why I became a tutor because I wanted to share my knowledge of training people.

I’ve worked at many training providers over the years, and I was made redundant in 2020 due to Covid-19. It was very painful to go through on a personal level but also on a training level because we never expected the training world to be affected the way it was.

I set up my own business and became a consultant assessor where I specialised in retention and holistic approaches to assessment. I did that for a while but then I really wanted to go to a business where I felt that I could grow and had a certain ethos.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

When I was an apprentice working in childcare at the start of my career, I had a manager that I didn’t get on with at the time, although we’re actually close friends now! I remember a piece of advice she gave me was “nobody will ever hand you something, if you want it, work for it”.

That has really stuck with me, and I have worked for what I wanted as it’s only ever you that can make changes. So that’s for the best piece of advice I think – if you want it, work for it!

How do you like to spend your free time?

I’m a single mum and have three children. So I am busy and I have lots of time with my children. However, one of my focuses is that I’m into landscape photography and editing. I have an Instagram page where I post my work. I’m particularly interested in historical landscapes and places, so I don’t allow any form of modernity into my work. I use a range of cameras and a software suite called Lightroom which allows me to edit my work and post it online. I also sell my work for charity.

I live in West Yorkshire, close to a small village called Haworth which is where the Brontë sisters lived. Their father was a parson for the church, and the church roof is falling off. I took images of the church which we sold to raise money to help with the roof restoration. Photography for me is having the ability to tell a story. There’s a reason why that church is there. There’s a reason why that castle is like it is. There’s a reason why that landscape is beautiful and that is something that I like to portray with my work.

I’m big fan of literacy as well and I read all the time. I love being outdoors, I have friends and love socialising when I get chance and I also do tap dancing! We’ve just done Cinderella, where I played the fairy godmother.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

This was heavily discussed at my interview because I wanted to go to an organisation that allowed for progression and it’s quite clear that takes place here at Ixion and Shaw Trust. So, I think for me it would be to go back into a management role eventually as a team leader. I think I’ll always be a manager and so that would be my aim to step back into a management role eventually I would imagine.

What is your favourite animal?

My favourite animal is a penguin, an emperor penguin to be specific. I spent some time with some emperor penguins in Dubai while I was on holiday which was a great experience. If you ever see a penguin fall over, they always get back up and carry on.

They’re also so loving to each other. Penguins go away from their partner to have their chicks then come back and recognise each other, I’m an old romantic so I love that! Penguins for me are so serene and so special, so they’re definitely my favourite animal.

Photo of two emperor penguins stood together

What song represents your time at Ixion?

‘Go Your Own Way’ by Fleetwood Mac. The reason is because I’ve made the dive and joined Ixion when I could have remained self-employed. It was a massive jump for me, and it’s a challenge, but a positive challenge. 

So ‘Go Your Own Way’ because I made that decision to go back into employment, and it’s a great song as well.


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