The Business Impact Award is for learning executives who have implemented a significant measurement or evaluation program that has demonstrated exceptional business impact from their workforce development programs. Potential results may include measures of employee retention, sales, revenue growth, customer satisfaction or cost reduction, among others.
DIVISION 1: For companies with 10,000 employees or more
Chris Bower, Global Director, GM Center of Learning
When General Motors’ Chevrolet brand marketing team faced the challenge of preparing its sales force for the launch of seven new vehicles in 2017, it teamed up with GM’s Center of Learning and GP Strategies to brainstorm a ride-and-drive event that would provide hands-on training in an “experiential way.” In a highly competitive market, providing educational and motivational training is key to preparing sales consultants to discuss and compare the product to its competitors.
With that in mind, the team, led by Chris Bower, collaborated to come up with “Find New Roads Tour,” a five-city tour developed to create an exciting experiment around the new products and provide insights to share with their dealerships. The team began by analyzing the overarching learning strategy for all new product launches developed by the Center of Learning two years ago, including gaining awareness, building knowledge, putting into practice and accessing the details. The final design included three major components: hands-on driving experiences, interactive learning labs and the Possibilities Pavilion.
To enroll in the event, salespeople were able to view a video via an enrollment website and then register to sign up. Those enrolled were provided hotel and travel information as well as agendas for the dealer and sales consultant events. The events included 50 staff, 130 vehicles, tires, tents and more, with limited downtime, but paid off: More than 6,500 dealer managers and sale consultants attended.
Chevrolet has since seen the success of the event, with monthly unit sales gains of 1.9 percent in the four months following the tour (compared to the 0.3 percent gain to those who did not attend), totaling $49 million in gross profits to GM.
Brenda Sugrue, Global Chief Learning Officer, EY
London-based EY was in need of a new strategy initiative to help reach their goal of becoming the leading global professional services organization. With a lack of comprehensible and accessible data, the strategy initiative created four years ago had to get an upgrade to meet the company’s goal of increasing market share, brand and revenue and enabling the organization to continue thriving.
Brenda Sugrue stepped in to help develop a measurement strategy that included a new program evaluation framework and methodology. The framework’s elements were developed in consultation with a firm specializing in measuring the business impact of learning, and included business alignment, readiness, quality and consumption, according to the company application. Within this framework were four phases — satisfaction, learning, application and business impact — where a qualitative and quantitative study was conducted to extract accurate data on program participants.
With 50,000 employees impacted by this specific initiative, EY has outperformed external benchmarks and experienced an increased win rate by 22 points.
Chris Hall, Assistant Commissioner, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Distance Learning Center successfully implemented the practice of installing a test-out option for all mandatory online training. The company’s 65,000 employees must take 58 various online courses that are required for annual completion, but many employees have limited computer access and slow network activity due to being in remote locations. With the help of Chris Hall, the center created this test-out option to verify and record mastery of the test topic with successful results. Now, 16 percent of the total mandatory courses have the test-out option and, according to the company’s application, it has seen $46.8 million in recouped time costs applied to other national security threats and concerns.
DIVISION 2: For companies with less than 10,000 employees
Parimal Rathod, Senior Vice President and Head, Business Impact Group and L&D, Kotak Mahindra Life Insurance Co. Ltd.
Faced with growth sluggishness across distribution channels, Kotak Mahindra Life Insurance Co. Ltd., based in Mumbai, India, was looking to rejuvenate. Various distribution models and networks were explored, and the organization eventually launched a variable agency model — Agency Partner Channel. Intended for mass affluent consumers, the channel has a unique variable compensation structure with a low fixed cost, is capable of a fast distribution scale-up, is self-propagating and has high potential for geographic spread.
A pilot project in two cities resulted in growth in distribution, customer interest, branch traffic and business numbers. The organization then gauged the potential to scale up the channel across the country. However, there were a number of concerns about scalability and sustainability, including a lack of talent availability, building processes and systems, defining roles and competencies across roles, developing recruitment and sales tools, learning and development, and more.
To make the APC scalable, sustainable and profitable, Kotak launched a robust sales enablement structure: the Centre of Excellence. The design of Agency COE enlists all stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, distributors and life advisors. A comprehensive enablement training structure was designed for the entire sales hierarchy, an effort led by Parimal Rathod, senior vice president and head of Kotak’s business impact group and learning and development.
Since its inception in 2012, the channel has seen a compound annual growth rate of 140 percent and 100 percent sales growth year over year. It is No. 1 in new agent licensing across the industry year over year, according to Kotak’s application, and the cost-to-premium ratio was achieved in three years compared with the industry benchmark of seven years. Additionally, it has the highest branch productivity across the industry.
Elizabeth Collins-Calder, Director, Leadership Development, Suffolk
Boston-based Suffolk’s goal is to increase gross revenue from $2.5 billion annually to $5 billion by 2022. To ensure the company can sustain that trajectory, Elizabeth Collins-Calder and team created the Leadership Accelerator Series and Emerging Talent Series to strengthen the company’s pool of capable leaders by focusing on three things: alignment to business priorities, skill development and mentoring nationally.
Both programs are designed to ensure alignment to the firm’s business strategy, according to the company’s application. The LAS focuses on individual sessions such as influencing others, crafting mission, vision and strategy, delegation and situational leadership, and coaching for performance. The ETS focuses on mindfulness, managing your boss, learning the business fundamentals and giving and receiving feedback. This allowed session participants to engage in dialogue and consider different levels of experience, new perspectives and how to strengthen the company’s pool of candidates. The company has since seen the initiative excel with participants’ average ratings for the programs totaling to 4.04 out of 5 and boosting overall employee satisfaction 8 to 10 percentage points higher than the average national benchmark.
James Mitchell, Vice President of Global Talent Management, Rackspace
Faced with a rapidly growing organization and no leadership development program to develop more senior leaders, James Mitchell, along with Rackspace University, facilitated a six-month global program to promote rack managers to senior managers and higher within six to 12 months.
Through learning outcomes such as expanding their Rack Leader Network, participants have had an accelerated progression promotion rate of 8 percent, higher performance ratings and higher engagement scores within the companywide annual engagement survey, according to the company’s application.