I am enrolled in a new master’s program at Northwestern University. Upon completion, I will receive my degree in learning and organizational change. What type of knowledge, skills and ability are corporations and organizations looking for when hiring chief learning officers? What kind of background is necessary? Would a degree focused on learning and organizational change be useful?
Editor’s Note: We asked Bill Kline, chief learning officer for Delta Airlines and a member of the Chief Learning Officer Editorial Advisory Board, to answer Anil’s questions:
“The KSAs (knowledge, skills and abilities) for a chief learning officer (CLO) will vary with different businesses and industries as well as the experience of CLOs. However, there are several selection dimensions that I believe are fundamental when hiring a CLO. They are: business acumen, strategic agility, influence skills, political savvy and technology literacy.
“Individuals who have had successful track records in managing business units, change initiatives, strategic programs, product innovation and/or customer satisfaction at increasing levels of responsibility would be terrific for a CLO position, given that they had related experiences in leadership development, training, organization development, learning technology and/or human resources.
“A focus at the graduate level on advanced degrees with specialties in business, HR, learning or education works as long as there is an emphasis on statistics, budgeting and/or ops research. It is more important to build your career through a connected set of business experiences and job assignments that stretch, challenge and grow your competencies rather than getting the ‘right’ degree.”