Learning and Development at Atma – Atma Education NGO Accelerator

Learning and Development at Atma

ATMA   |   21 March 2022



What does Learning & Development mean to Atma? How important is it on an organisational level?

As an organisation that focuses on the capacity building of education NGOs in India, we practice what we preach by fostering an environment of continuous learning among our staff. 

Learning and development (L&D) is a core component of an Atma employee’s work. Over the past year, Atma has been running frequent L&D workshops- these are run by staff for staff and cover a variety of topics. 

The topics covered in these sessions help support four thematic groups- making Atma an effective workplace, learning beyond the workplace, keeping on the pulse and creating strong partnerships.

For example, COVID-19 continues to impact the way we operate and upskilling has been necessary for response to Atma’s shift to an all-virtual operating environment. Courses such as how to present yourself in a virtual setting and managing burnout aim to provide the knowledge that we now need to operate in a post-COVID world. Going in-depth into the Locked Out: Emergency Report on School Education helps us keep on the pulse.

Acknowledging that work doesn’t just affect us from 9-5, Atma has hosted multiple sessions on topics that affect staff outside the workplace- from managing tax to managing burnout. Over half of the Atma staff surveyed were able to apply learnings from the L&D sessions to their personal lives. 

Making Atma an effective workplace

Mental Models

The Mental Models workshop challenged participants to reflect on and understand their basis’ which in turn helps in complex decision making. 

How to present yourself in a virtual setting

As the world moves towards an online environment in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, understanding how to effectively operate in this new environment becomes key. 

Learning beyond the workplace

Managing Burnout

The risk of burnout is higher than ever as the world navigates its way through a pandemic. This session reminded people they’re not alone in this and how to deal with the many stressors we’re all facing.

Tax & Taxation 101

A session on all things tax: Saving tax, understanding personal tax and an introduction to tax-friendly investments.

Statistics in Daily Life

This session covered the ways in which statistics are used in our everyday lives and the benefits of understanding how stats work. 

Antarchakshu

An awareness and sensitization workshop on the lives of the visually challenged conducted by Xavier’s Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged (XRCVC), St. Xavier’s College specifically for Atma staff.

LGBTQ+ 101

A comprehensive and informative session around gender and sexual identity. Discussions were then held around how these learnings apply in the context of the workplace.

Keeping on the pulse

Locked Out: Emergency Report on School Education

A presentation on the effects that the ongoing school closures in India were having on the quality of education children were receiving. 

ASER Report

An Atma led discussion of the findings in the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER). The report is a household survey that provides estimates of children’s schooling status and their foundational reading and arithmetic skills.

Understanding DIBs

A session hosted in partnership with the British Asian Trust on Development Impact Bonds, their structure and how they work, as well as covering what it means for an NGO to be ‘outcomes ready’.

PWIT- The Importance of Capacity for the Social Sector

An overview of the Pay What it Takes (PWIT) non-profit funding model.

Creating strong partnerships

Partnership Failures

A comprehensive look into the reasons why Atma partnerships sometimes fail. Run by Atma’s CEO, Sneha Arora, this session encouraged a culture of learning from failures. 

Compliance for NGOs

Operating in the NGO sector in India means dealing with a lot of compliance-related rules and documentation. This session covered the major regulations to help Atma consultants get an overview of the basics that need to be in place for their partner NGOs.

Testimonials

Saumya who ran the Pay What it Takes (PWIT) workshop valued the opportunity to gain more in-depth knowledge on a topic by presenting it to others.

 

'It gave me space and motivation to find out more for myself. It was different from just reading about PWIT. It’s a whole different thing when I have to present it to someone, to give people enough information and to allow them to inform their opinions'. 

Saumya, Business Development Associate

Atma employees have also valued the opportunity to learn from colleagues and keep channels of knowledge open.

'I like how much of an open space it is when it comes to the learning sessions. Atma gives you the opportunity to conduct sessions for other employees. It’s not only about conducting a session but keeping that space open for people to ask questions and share opinions. It’s about keeping space open to share insights and knowledge.I think it’s simple- I want to keep learning and see what other people have to share. We all come from different backgrounds, there’s just so much to learn and share’.

Parul, Consultant

Openly acknowledging failures and striving to learn from them helps staff create effective working relationships with partners.

'It was really nice to see Atma acknowledge and collectively analyse the failures openly. This session was held early on for me when I had just joined so it was very nice to see this happen’.

Parul, Consultant

At Atma, we also give our team the opportunity and space to develop their skills and knowledge by encouraging them to take up stretch projects and formal courses to widen their horizon. Vanita Kariappa, Lead Consultant at Atma took up a post-graduation programme in Development Management specialising in Social Business & Monitoring and Evaluation at SP Jain, Mumbai. As of 2022, she has successfully completed her 18-month part-time programme along with managing her role at Atma.

Additionally, we also provide opportunities for coaching/mentoring as well as shadowing a new team member to help our team members support each other and create a conducive environment to thrive.

In the year ahead, Atma looks forward to continuing this journey of learning and development with its team in order to create strong partnerships, respond nimbly to an ever-changing environment and cultivate a well-rounded workforce. 

 The survey included 12 respondents* 



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