The Trailblazer Award is for learning executives who have either launched a new enterprise learning function or completely overhauled existing workforce development initiatives in the past year.
DIVISION 1: For companies with 10,000 employees or more
John Rhodes, Director of Group Learning Strategy, TechnipFMC
Learning and development wasn’t a top priority when FMC Technologies and Technip, an oil company and a gas company, merged two years ago. When it was brought up, leaders from the two companies, now together named TechnipFMC, realized they were going to have to merge two very different learning strategy styles together. John Rhodes and his team were on it.
One company’s L&D model was fully centralized but had an “overabundance of prescribed training,” and the other was decentralized and access to learning solutions was inconsistent. Roughly 20-30 learning catalogues between the two offered more than 20,000 courses and sessions, many of which were duplicates or near duplicates.
The goal was to create a unified program in which learners had ownership over which courses they took, one that was also easy to access, even while home, traveling or away from the office.
In the span of a year, Rhodes and his team were able to do a complete overhaul of all the material and fit it into a single learning catalogue. The result was a unified learning platform that serves roughly 37,000 employees globally in 48 countries. In just six months, 93 percent of employees had accessed the learning platform.
Jim Woolsey, President, Defense Acquisition University
The U.S. Department of Defense had a challenge for its acquisition business, the Defense Acquisition University: After concluding that technical expertise alone is not enough to prepare a leader for success on the job, officials determined there was a need for more leadership training and development.
The defense acquisition workforce has a lot of responsibilities, namely negotiating prices, enforcing requirements and managing delivery on acquisitions, as well as addressing issues regarding interoperability, sustainability, cyber protection and supply chain security. Every year, these could be added to, removed or subject to change by Congress.
Jim Woolsey identified changes DAU needed to make to its business model and worked with his team to devise the Acquisition Leadership Development Initiative, a redesign of the university’s leadership training framework, based on stakeholder input.
Summer Davies, Global Senior Manager, Talent and Leadership Initiatives, Mars Inc.
People leaders at Mars have a new leadership development program. The team partnered with BetterUp to create coaching and leadership training for its 11,000 managers around the world.
Mars had been looking for a way to make its managers more successful faster. Training and coaching couldn’t scale at just a classroom-level, which made Summer Davies think their solution was going to be a virtual one. The solution also needed to be accessible at different times for different types of managers.
Davies came across BetterUp, and with its technical support, Mars was able to successfully create a development and coaching platform, the Great Line Manager’s Experience Program.
DIVISION 2: For companies with less than 10,000 employees
Meriya Dyble, Managing Director, Connected Learning and Change, ATB Financial
ATB Financial felt a responsibility to help drive its employees’ skills and professional careers toward success. To fulfill this goal, the company realized it would need to invest in a new learning initiative that would help its employees continuously grow in the face of automation and other talent-facing challenges.
Meriya Dyble led the company in reconstructing what was once a traditional workplace learning and development team and strategy into a more connected, personalized and strategic learning experience.
Dyble began by consulting company stakeholders, as well as industry leaders, when seeking out their options. She wanted to find something that would align with their business goals and create the most positive employee learning experience possible. She guided and ultimately decided to rebrand the Learning and Development and Change teams into the Connected Learning and Change team. Then, they focused on developing learning content that would continuously improve employee experience and help achieve personal and professional goals.
With Degreed, ATB employees can have access to learning at any time, and on any device, during the work day.
Stella Cannon, Talent and Organizational Development, SAC Wireless
For years, new hires at SAC Wireless had to go through a long and expensive training program that was disjointed from the actual work environment.
In 2018, the company hired Stella Cannon as head of talent management, learning and organizational development, and one year later, the training program had done a complete 180.
Cannon built out an entirely new L&D function for the company, which included more efficient new-hire training. SAC’s new L&D function includes six training centers across the U.S. that train work crews to successfully deploy 5G towers across the country.
Cannon also formed a team of 12 professionals to help oversee learning, performance management, employee engagement, change management and leadership development for the company’s 2,300 employees spanning 26 different locations.
April Gross, Senior Manager of Learning and Development, SolarWinds MSP
In order to boost sales and support business consistency across the globe, April Gross, senior manager of learning and development at SolarWinds MSP, helped launch a new learning function, Sales Enablement.
It was determined in 2017 during a companywide engagement survey that training was a top opportunity area for the sales team. However, at the time, the team had yet to adopt any standardized learning tools or processes.
Gross first identified what gaps they had. With the help of stakeholders in the company, she was able to lead efforts in designing a new-hire training program, which comprises 10 courses and on-the-job activities for learners to complete.
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