Qualcomm’s learning strategy is an integral part of its overall talent management strategy, which includes performance management, succession planning and career development. This integrated approach ensures coordination of all initiatives that impact its talent.
At the enterprise level, the mobile technologies company segments its learning offerings into three areas:
• Engineering/technical education.
• Management and leadership development.
• Professional development.
This segmentation reflects Qualcomm’s employee population in terms of discipline and organization. Needs are identified in each of these areas through a global needs assessment, review of the business strategy and other data sources and ongoing discussions with business leaders. Using this information, Qualcomm ensures that its core offerings delivered across the enterprise directly address business needs.
Qualcomm’s learning and development department is responsible for several functions that are not generally part of a traditional learning organization. For example, the internal employee communications function and the company’s internal library are part of its overall learning center. These functions add depth to its learning services.
Qualcomm’s employee communications function focuses on the company’s global audience to keep employees informed, engaged and excited. Qualcomm Library Services is its internal library and market research function. This team of librarians and researchers provides global, direct-to-desktop access to premium information, enhancing the learning available to the business via books, periodicals, online documentation, market research and analysis. In 2011, approximately 14,000 employees — about 65 percent of the total employee base — used the library.
Qualcomm’s L&D function works closely with its staffing organization to ensure there is a two-way information exchange on changing workforce skill needs. For example, data on strategies engineers use to advance their careers, which are obtained from career pathing interviews conducted by the L&D function, are shared with the staffing function and included in hiring profiles for new graduates.
Ensuring that new leaders transition quickly and smoothly is important to the organization’s success, and the L&D function regularly conducts interviews with newly hired executives to gain perspective on their integration experience. Findings from these interviews produce recommendations that enhance the executive orientation and on-boarding process so newly hired executives have an in-depth understanding of the organization’s culture.
Acquisitions are also an increasingly important part of Qualcomm’s strategy, especially as a way to accelerate growth in existing and adjacent markets. Integrating and retaining acquired employees is essential to realize the value of the transaction. To accomplish this, Qualcomm’s L&D function has created a robust integration plan, which includes specialized on-boarding, mentorship and training plans to address the skills necessary to succeed as a Qualcomm employee.
According to Nuala Campany, Qualcomm’s director of organization development, the company prides itself on being innovative and progressive, which is reflected in the learning organization’s work.
“We are constantly thinking about and exploring new and innovative ways to provide employee development to our employees,” she said. “For Qualcomm, our innovative organizational culture is a competitive advantage in helping us stay at the forefront of wireless innovation, and as a learning organization we are in a unique position to influence the culture of the company. Each of our learning solutions provides an opportunity to communicate the culture of Qualcomm, which is especially important as we grow around the world.”
Going forward, Campany said Qualcomm will enhance its learning environment to make it continuous, customized and on-demand. “We have transitioned from traditional face-to-face formats to blended learning, which encompasses many different types of learning and technology, including online learning and resources, peer mentoring, coaching, social media and collaborative learning to extend learning beyond the classroom and back to the point of need,” she said. “While we have made considerable progress in this area, we still see opportunities to provide many more mobile learning solutions to really enable our employees to access learning and resources wherever they are.”