Meet Elliot J Huntley – the face of Armada’s Sheffield centre

Elliot J Huntley - Sheffield course co-ordinator

Elliot J Huntley is the Course Co-ordinator at our Sheffield training centre; you could say that he’s the face of Armada at Sheffield.

Elliot is a law graduate from the University of Sheffield. He joined Armada at the start of 2017, after spending many years in publishing and on the far-flung fringes of the entertainment industry. An author of nine showbiz biographies and former magazine editor, Elliot now combines his work at Armada with his role as a Recruitment Officer/Training Officer/Supervisor for an events security company, and as an Operations Manager for O’Hara’s Spiced Rum, with whom he hopes to achieve worldwide domination (of the spiced rum market at least).

He is a father of three and his hobbies primarily consist of reading books about The Beatles, playing the mandolin and following the fortunes of Sheffield United.

Elliot has a wide range of responsibilities at Armada, from making sure the training room is spic-and-span at the start of the day, to meeting trainers, welcoming delegates, and making sure that everything else is just right to provide the ideal environment for training.

In this blog, Elliot provides an insight into the work involved in getting things ready for a days’ training…

Even though technically I’m not due in at Armada until 8am, I typically arrive at around 7.35am which gives me chance to work at a stately pace. Happily, the bus drops me off virtually outside our building, so even if I sleep walk to work (and quite often, with it being so early, I do), it only involves a few dozen steps.

On my way to work I often find myself daydreaming, “Right let’s wash them coffee cups and we’re good to go.” But the reality is that there are dozens of little janitorial details to attend to: putting out the course literature and training guides (at the start of a course), hand-washing the coffee cups and the filter coffee jars (we do have a dishwasher but when I use it the crockery comes out streaky and I like to see my face in them), refilling and turning on the tea urn (woe betide me if I forget to do the latter), wiping down the desks and the big screen, emptying the bins, fixing chairs, repairing computers (okay, turning them off and on again), replenishing the tea and sugar caddies and filling up the milk jug (a highly prized communal item that has in the past vanished if I let it out of my sight for one second). Ah yes, I almost forgot the dust-busting the carpet. It’s always surprising how much mess a handful of delegates can make in such a short space of time. Biscuit crumbs are a particularly vexatious foe. Sometimes Lorraine, the second-floor morning cleaning lady, will offer to vacuum the floor for me, but that’s only because she’s nice and I’m delightful.

Another sworn enemy is finger smudges on our big screen. I’ve been driven half close to madness in my quest to find a screen wipe which doesn’t leave smears but then as Tom Waits says, maybe “the obsession’s in the chasing and not the apprehending, the pursuit … and never the arrest.”

Usually around 8.30am, our trainer arrives. This is a part of the job to which I always look forward. A great many of our trainers have fascinating and unexpected exterior lives: we have one who is a jazz musician who tours and releases albums and has her music played regularly on Radio 2, another who plays the leading man in am-dram plays, one who used to be in a band with Lemmy from Motorhead and now authors books on gardening, one who is a much-travelled architect and another who is currently working as the editor on a horror feature film and lives on a canal boat. Because of the way courses are scheduled, it’s the case that I only get to see some of our trainers on an infrequent basis. As a result, there’s often a bit of catching up to do and as a result the phone call from reception telling us that our delegates have started to arrive often comes too soon.

We’re based on the second floor here at Electric Works, so when the delegates arrive, I head down to greet them and escort them to our office. We’re lucky that we have a three-storey helter skelter that rather dominates the building so that can often act as an ice-breaker along with questions about their travel arrangements etc. as well as my own reservoir of small talk. I’m always very sensitive to the fact that some people can be quite shy and can be forgiven for feeling like it’s like the first day at a new school.

I like to think I’m quite good at putting people at their ease and at least there’s always a pot of piping hot coffee I can offer them once they reach our office and the friendly presence of the course trainer should they wish to talk shop.

Recently, we’ve began treating our delegates to lunch at a nearby Cafe / Restaurant, rather than having sandwiches brought in as we used to. This is working out well, although it does mean that I have to ask delegates what they want for lunch shortly after they’ve eaten their breakfast. Once the orders are taken, I can then email this to the chef so lunch can be prepared and ready the minute our delegates present themselves at 12:45pm.

Something else we’ve introduced is the group photo. I never do this on the first day of a course which gives the delegates time to get their head around the idea and make themselves look as photogenic as they wish to be the following day. I try and do it as discretely as possible because I can always tell that not everyone loves the idea. I myself hate having my photo taken so I do sympathise. And delegates do, of course, have the option to opt out.

With my morning’s work complete, I hand over to our trainer. Meanwhile I move onwards, though not necessarily upwards, with my day. I love the work I do at Armada and like to think I do it well. We are based in a lovely colourful and vibrant business centre and have a lovely comfortable and inviting room. We have coffee and tea making facilities in the room, as well as a large-screen TV. There are also new vending machines on the first floor, something I got weirdly excited about. All we need is a hammock and a toasted sandwich maker and I shall be moving in!

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