2007 Learning In Practice Award Winners

About the 2007 Chief Learning Officer Learning In Practice Awards

In his keynote address preceding this year’s Learning In Practice awards ceremony, held during Chief Learning Officer magazine’s Fall 2007 Symposium in Tucson, Ariz., 2006 CLO of the Year David Vance talked about how employee development creates real economic value. He noted that because of learning’s relationship to workforce productivity, its impact on organizations can be immense.

The editors of Chief Learning Officer magazine created the Learning In Practice awards for that reason: to recognize learning leaders who have improved performance in their enterprises through a combination of leadership, vision, business acumen and strategic alignment.

In this special section, we recognize individuals who embody those attributes, and were judged by a select group of their peers as this year’s Learning In Practice award winners.

Chief Learning Officer recognized winners in each of the following categories:

The Business Impact Award recognizes learning executives who have demonstrated the positive impact of their workforce development programs on the enterprise in the past year, and compiled clear and reliable evidence to support those. Typical gauges of success involve Phillips Level 5, return on investment, cost savings, time to competency, improved productivity and testimonials from high-level executives.

The Innovation Award recognizes learning executives who have sought out and successfully applied emerging technologies and/or methodologies to create a stimulating and engaging combination of content and modalities in the past year. Some of these include simulations, games, podcasts, streaming video, blogs and wikis, as well as creative variations on e-learning, m-learning and other established modalities.

The Leadership Award recognizes learning executives who have demonstrably extended their power and influence within their organization and/or established themselves as leaders within their enterprise in the past year. This includes (but is not limited to) frequent and regular contact with the CEO and CFO (or equivalent) and increased responsibilities for the learning function that fall outside its traditional purview.

The Magellan Award recognizes learning executives who have delivered development initiatives to geographically dispersed and/or culturally and linguistically diverse audiences internally and/or externally in the past year. This award is not just for those who merely have the greatest reach, but also for those who have transformed the efficiency and effectiveness of distant overseas operations.

The Vanguard Award recognizes learning executives who have either launched a new enterprise learning function or completely overhauled existing workforce development initiatives in the past year. This includes a learning department, an extensive enterprisewide development program and/or a corporate university.

Gold, Division 1: Carol Davison, Senior Human Resources Specialist, Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration

In order to achieve a passing human capital management score from their auditors, the Department of Commerce’s (DOC) International Trade Administration’s (ITA) workforce performance had to be in compliance with federal performance management standards. As leader of the beta group, Carol Davison, senior human resources specialist, Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration determined that ITA’s specific desired work performance was a performance management system (PMS) that linked organizational goals and employee performance, as well as one that offered additional ratings to distinguish outstanding performance, tie year-end ratings and rewards together, and support professional development.

Davison was successful, and the PMS she implemented did indeed facilitate the DOC achieving a passing human capital score from its auditors. Additionally, ITA’s PMS cascaded departmental goals down into organizational goals and objectives, which would flow down into employee goals and objectives. It also offered additional ratings to differentiate exceptional accomplishment, connected year-end scores to compensation, and allowed for employee growth and progression career-wise. Simplifying and partitioning employee goals and tying them in directly with monetary rewards was the kind of synergy the DOC ITA hoped to earn before receiving the human capital audit.

The PMS replaced a previous pass/fail system where virtually everyone received a passing score with one where employees were appraised and rewarded according to their performance, empowering supervisors to motivate high performers with high ratings and forcing them to base awards on performance. After implementing the system, supervisors rated 55 percent of their employees as excellent or outstanding employees, and monetary values of awards increased by 13 percent. Additionally, the PMS held supervisors directly accountable for performance management for the first time, making it an incentive for managers to have good employees, a decision that has ripple effects throughout the employee pool. These changes made it possible to reward employees more accurately and individually, thus creating a more engaging and personalized workforce.

As a result, foreign companies were so impressed by the ITA’s performance that its PMS was considered a best practice in international trade. The British, Canadian, Dutch, Ethiopian and South Korean governments benchmarked against ITA’s performance management system, and the Canadians and South Koreans won awards for the systems they implemented.

Also, the Ethiopian trade delegation, Federal Training Officers Conference (TOC), International Association of Personnel Managers and The Performance Institute requested Davison train them in implementing best practices in international trade performance management; she wrote a related article at the American Society for Training and Development at their request. Davison won the Federal TOC’s Human Capital award for the results that she achieved. Even though positive audit results were the original goal of implementing this system, much more has come out of it — not only the various international successes and her subsequent awards but, more importantly, happy and engaged workers.

– Ben Warden, bwarden@clomedia.com

Gold, Division 2: Lynne Zappone, Vice President, Talent Development and Learning, InterContinental Hotels

InterContinental’s PEOPLE NOTICE initiative was launched after a yearlong, cross-functional development process, with the long-term mission of rejuvenating the Holiday Inn brand and returning it to its pre-eminent position in the hotel industry. The initiative is focused on enhancing and ensuring consistency in delivery of the guest experience by reigniting pride in the target audience of Holiday Inn hotel owners, general managers and employees.  

A highly collaborative team, led by Lynne Zappone, vice president of talent development and learning, reached across corporate departments, independent franchisees and the general managers and department heads who run their hotels, as well as IHG’s internal Hotel Management Group unit.

The three key, ongoing objectives of the effort include improving guest satisfaction measures; sustaining the level of improvement and increasing each of the three primary measures of a hotel’s business performance: occupancy, average rate and revenue per available room; reinforcing the Holiday Inn brand’s key message of delivering on the brand promise to be each customer’s “Constant Caring Friend;” and leveraging the unique position that Holiday Inn holds in the hearts and minds of the world’s travelers.

Development and initial deployment took 18 months (mid-2004 through year-end 2005), followed by two years to complete property-level training at each Holiday Inn hotel. A team of 23 field-based consultants was hired and trained to provide dedicated support, training and coaching resources specific to the Holiday Inn brand service culture. The team was on the road 100 percent of the time during the two-year core deployment period, collectively logging more than 1 million miles. As a result now, all new GMs must undergo sessions to introduce them to PEOPLE NOTICE within six months of joining IHG and all managers at hotels coming into the IHG system are expected to launch the initiative at their hotels within six months.

The rollout of PEOPLE NOTICE has been enough of an initial success to extend it to Holiday Inn hotels in Mexico, and plans are underway to expand the program globally, as well as each of the other five IHG brands.
PEOPLE NOTICE has had tremendous impact on both guest satisfaction and business metrics. As measured by DK Shifflet, a leading independent market research and consulting firm, year-over-year overall guest satisfaction with Holiday Inn climbed from almost 66 percent in January 2005 (prior to launch of PEOPLE NOTICE) to nearly 70 percent in November 2006, when the last of the hotels completed training. Holiday Inn narrowed the gap, and then passed the hotels in its competitive set as of March of last year.

Finally, PEOPLE NOTICE’s impact on business metrics has been impressive as well. Using an average of six months post implementation vs. an average of six months prior, occupancy at U.S. Holiday Inn hotels increased 0.1 percentage point, average room rate increased by $4.29 and revenue per available room increased $2.80, all extremely healthy increases by industry standards and representing achievements that well exceeded company expectations.

– Ben Warden, bwarden@clomedia.com

Silver, Division 1: Sharon Smart, Director of Training, Mattress Giant

Building on last year’s goal to implement a new hire training program that was updated to mirror today’s consultative selling standards and to shorten the learning curve of all new hires, Sharon Smart, director of training for Mattress Giant, kept pushing her organization’s learning forward. This year Smart added to her program more sales management and operations management training — realizing that if the company isn’t managing its human assets with care, employees won’t stay with it as a part of its team, and it will not be able to meet its company initiatives.

The benchmarks for the implementation of each were to lower the turnover for commission-based sales associates, increase the margin of products sold through and increase customer service by using a new consultative selling process. As a result of the implementation, turnover was lowered to 67 percent, a continued improvement over past years, where turnover reached as high as 300 percent, and the average ticket size increased by an average of about 5 percent. Bonuses paid to store managers increased by 15 percent, while revenue per store for the year increased by approximately $134,000. Customer service scores continue to improve year after year — from 85 percent in ’04 to 86 percent in ’05 and 88 percent in ’06, and the goal for 2007 was 92 percent.

On the whole, turnover at Mattress Giant is down, not coincidently because commission-based employees are making more per sale after the implementation. The increase in positive customer relations also affects the bottom line, as fewer mattresses returned means more profit. Smart’s work at Mattress Giant has shown persistence in learning implementation is a major success factor, especially with a small business.

Silver, Division 2: D’Anne Carpenter, Executive Director, Organizational Learning and Development, Trinity Health

Many of Trinity Health’s managers come from clinical backgrounds — such as practicing nurses promoted to nurse managers — and have never had any leadership training or experience. A trend was noticed in workforce and retention issues attributable to this lack of training. In a climate of severe nursing shortages, Trinity Health needed to better engage, and thus retain its nurses, creating optimally functioning work groups and providing excellent patient care experiences.

D’Anne Carpenter, executive director of organizational learning and development, and her team developed the Trinity Health Leadership Development series to provide vision and strategic direction for the talent management and leadership development of Trinity Health’s 5,000 leaders. The first program, initiated in 2002, is Foundations in Leadership, the goal of which is to equip the approximately 3,000 supervisors and managers with the skills and confidence they need to effectively execute their responsibilities.

As part of their training, Foundations participants select action learning projects that are strategically aligned and address a need or challenge of the organization. Concurrently, the new leaders participate in eight or nine separate one- or two-day classroom-based modules taught by faculty from throughout the United States. The modules cover personal effectiveness, facilitating process improvement, ethics and values-based decision making, accountability and commitments, teams, human resources, labor relations, communication and conflict, and finance.

The action learning project outcomes represent a minimum of 400 percent to 500 percent return on investment. For example, one project was on decreasing line draw blood culture contamination. In five months, the hospital saved more than $55,000 and projects an estimated annual savings, once implemented throughout its organization, of $540,000. Another project, which focused on reducing missing doses, led to a savings of almost $40,000 annually.

Gold, Division 1: Alysa Parks, Director, Learning and Development, and Maureen McDermott, Manager, Learning and Development, CDW

As director of learning and development for a technology company, Alysa Parks says it’s critical that innovation be a part of what her company does every day.

“We have to be attuned to innovative and cutting-edge solutions,” she said. “If we’re going to be the leading provider of technology and technology services, innovation has to be a part of everything we do at CDW.”

That innovation needs to happen across the company and filter down into how the enterprise operates, not just in the technology they use.

“It’s really important that we look at innovation in a more complete way,” Parks said. “It’s not just innovation about what emerging technologies we can use, but how we really drive an innovative workplace. This is part of our DNA that we have to live by every day.”

CDW is a provider of technology products and services for business, government and education, with more than 5,880 employees across North America. As part of their development initiatives, the company analyzed the performance of more than 1,000 account managers who interact with CDW’s customers regarding their technology products and services.

The analysis showed an opportunity to meet business goals and support individual success by closing gaps in technology knowledge. Parks and her team identified three main objectives: increasing account manager knowledge across product categories, increasing account manager confidence in conversations with customers involving the technologies and enabling account managers to identify opportunities during conversations that result in additional sales.

To meet these goals, CDW developed the Wired Program. The program blended online assessments to identify individual skills gaps, asynchronous e-learning for baseline skills, synchronous Webinar roundtables for more complex follow-up, instructor-led classrooms for experiential learning and synchronous distance learning for account managers in the field.

Parks said the program’s success was attributable to that blended approach as well as a strong partnership with the sales team.

“The key was that we partnered very closely with sales and sales executives to define and develop the program and map out the critical success factors to make this happen,” she said. “Bringing in the e-learning, the distance learning, the classroom — the idea that we were going to take advantage of the whole variety of emerging technologies — that was critical to our success as a way to achieve our objectives.

“And then packaging all that together so people knew they had choices and options to achieve their objectives, whereas in the past maybe it was focused on one particular path,” she continued. “Here, we have this complete set of options to develop skills, and that’s where we’re getting a lot of positive feedback.”

Participants in the Wired Program indicated a high level of satisfaction with the program, but Parks said the results go beyond employee satisfaction.

“There are a few things we’re seeing,” Parks said. “One is our sales co-workers who are going through the program are demonstrating stronger confidence to be able to sell within multiple categories. That’s also translating into additional sales within those categories. We’re also seeing the ability to sell more complete solutions.”

Another key feature of the Wired Program is that the learning is embedded into the sales performance management process.

“It’s fully integrated within what they do on a daily basis,” Parks said. “It’s not an event. Participating in the complete program is part of their development plan. Sales executives fully support it and are looking to make sure that people are participating because they know that the outcome is significant.

“It’s really about preparing co-workers to be proactively responsive to customers’ needs. The only way to do that is to institutionalize the learning within their whole structure versus it being a one-time event.”

– Mike Prokopeak, mikep@clomedia.com

Gold, Division 2: Frank J. Anderson, President, DAU

When Frank Anderson, president of Defense Acquisition University (DAU), learned he had won the Learning In Practice Gold Award for Innovation in Division 2 this year, he felt like he “was on top of the world.”

“I was extremely excited,” he said. “We view the CLO magazine awards as being tops in the industry. Anytime you’re recognized by peer CLOs, it’s a great honor.”

Anderson was recognized for DAU’s learning analytics program, which hinges on a universitywide service-oriented architecture that stresses data integration and visibility across the enterprise. This has been a critical improvement for interpretation of data within DAU. Previously, they spent about 90 percent of their time collecting information and only 10 percent analyzing it.
The learning analytics program was implemented by focusing on fusing data from legacy systems — i.e., defense financial accounting, budgeting, the Defense Personnel System and internally fielded business applications — to capture transactions for time management, payroll, professor certification and defense training and resources systems.

“It was data fusion — we integrated data in a way that we could see and understand all of the products,” Anderson explained. “It was tied to the integration of data so that we know and understand all aspects of the operation. What we were trying to do was figure out how we integrate all the business systems, so that we could move away from ‘rule of thumb’ to a process where we made data-driven decisions. We moved away from investing all our time in collecting data to having data integrated as a result of common, readily available technology. We look at all data, and use hard data in terms of number of students, cost of students and total assets.”

The program has been a smashing success for DAU. Thus far, the organization has been able to decrease its operating costs from around $2,900 per student to less than $1,000. Additionally, student throughput has been raised from about 33,000 to more than 113,000 by the end of 2006, and will likely pass 123,000 this year, Anderson said. All of these improvements have meant that DAU has been able to provide 1.6 million hours of new learning assets to its customers with no increase in the annual training budget.

More importantly, the learning analytics initiative has helped DAU focus on organizational alignment, Anderson said.

“We start with alignment, then capture all data that’s relevant to our business operation and use that in a very structured process. We’re now able to use our time analyzing the data and focusing either on the issues we need to address or understanding where we have the opportunities to enhance the enterprise.

“A story that we tell constantly throughout the organization is that if you’re in Washington, D.C., and trying to get to New York City, you need to be heading north on I-95,” he added. “We’re trying to get everyone heading north on I-95 — that’s alignment. If people are accelerating speed and doing extremely well in miles per hour but are heading west on I-40, they’re not delivering an outcome that’s beneficial to the enterprise.”

—    Brian Summerfield, bsummerfield@clomedia.com

Silver, Division 1: Jim Brolley, Director, Organizational Development and Training, Harley-Davidson

Harley-Davidson faces a challenge to recruit, develop and retain its workforce. The demands of a rapidly growing and changing business mean that employees are stretched thin and need to have very effective learning experiences.
After multiple attempts at more traditional learning fell short of engaging learning, Harley-Davidson was determined to put its brand of thinking to work on the learning plan for onboarding new human resources hires and developing skills for current HR employees. The result was HR EDGE, an integrated learning experience that consists of self-guided study and activities, topical modules, online gaming, face-to-face events, and both live and e-seminar action learning.

The HR EDGE program addresses the challenges of navigating through a unique and new culture and helps to ensure that each HR employee feels connected to the company. Designed to resemble a motorcycle road trip, it reflects the products and culture of Harley-Davidson. Participants interview colleagues and bosses, explore many Harley-Davidson online systems and get to know the business. Each section includes completing “Scheduled Maintenance” with their supervisors and knowledge testing using the online HR EDGE “Poker Run” multimedia game. “Roundup” provides additional skills and networking.

At this point, HR EDGE is relatively new, and statistical data continues to be collected. However, thus far 88 percent of the participants found the HR EDGE program timely, relevant and helpful in acclimating them to HR at Harley-Davidson. Also, 88 percent also found the tools — including the Knowledge Warehouse and Poker Run game — easy to access and use.

To date, the HR EDGE initiative has reached multiple sectors of Harley-Davidson’s organization, including the top-tier leadership group and several sectors beyond HR. The senior leadership has been so impressed with the character and nature of the program that they have recommended adopting it as the onboarding process for the firm globally, moving the process from being primarily an HR system into making it the organizational model.

Silver, Division 2: Lesley Hoare, Vice President of Talent Management, Diversity and Inclusion, Kimberly-Clark

Every year, personal care and health care products provider Kimberly-Clark holds a three-day meeting for its top 100 executives. This year, for the first time, they replaced most of the typical presentation-based content with a business simulation that would work to align these executives around a Total Shareholder return (TSR) strategy devised by their CEO and CSO. This simulation was devised by Lesley Hoare, vice president of talent management, diversity and inclusion.

This initiative took 10 hours out of the entire meeting. Specifically, Hoare sought an approach that would make participants viscerally feel why TSR should be something that matters to them in their daily roles and in what ways they directly impact it. She knew that the simulation would do more than tell them what they should do — it would allow them to practice the kind of decisions they make every day and show how investment decisions and trade-offs directly impact TSR.

Due to the high level of the audience and complexity of the desired learning objectives, Hoare decided to use a board simulation combined with the power of an IT-based market model. This simulation became a planning tool where participants could allocate people and money across different innovation opportunities, branding, go-to-market strategies and developing enterprise capabilities.

Reactions from participants were overwhelmingly positive, and many have suggested delivery of the simulation to the next level of leadership in the organization.

“It was a hit with our senior leaders, and sustained a high degree of active engagement over the course of our conference,” said Thomas J. Falk, CEO of Kimberly-Clark. “Many of our leaders said the simulation experience made this ‘our best leadership conference yet.’ Ultimately, the simulation created an exciting communication platform that allowed me to quickly align Kimberly-Clark’s senior team around enterprise value creation.”


Gold, Division 1: Alan Malinchak, Vice President and Chief Learning Officer, ManTech University

For anyone who knows him, it should come as no surprise that Alan Malinchak, vice president and chief learning officer at ManTech University, was recognized as a Gold Award winner in the Leadership category of Chief Learning Officer magazine’s Learning In Practice awards. He built the learning function, along with 100-plus courses, at ManTech from the ground up with minimal resources.

Realizing that knowledge management was key to the company’s future, ManTech purchased a new learning management system this year, which enabled its workforce of more than 5,000 employees in over 40 countries to take several courses (both internal and external). Specifically, the new system had to address the dates of certifications and licenses, their expiration dates and the professional development units necessary to keep them current. Also, ManTech wanted a knowledge-management strategy process with actionable milestones.

To ensure efficient and effective participation, Malinchak engaged in discussions throughout all business units, involving a policy and procedure to provide an “economies of scale” approach to the purchase of training services and courses throughout the corporation. Additionally, he needed to leverage internal individual contributors throughout the corporation to establish programs and courses.

To execute the initiative, Malinchak successfully established a group of internal “adjunct” course developers and instructors for business courses such as project management, proposal development and procurement, as well as a myriad of other HR, compliance, supervisory and technical classes. Further, he identified the need to use Articulate/Camtasia and initiated the use of these tools for several courses now available 24×7 on ManTech’s corporate intranet.

Malinchak also continued to establish instructor-led offerings, which were videotaped and digitized for constant availability, and the video versions were converted to SCORM-compliant material and made available through the LMS. In addition, he initiated research to establish a Knowledge Management Center within ManTech University, which eventually launched a collaborative portal that included an expert locator and federated enterprise search.

As a result of the efforts of Malinchak and his team, the LMS has a drop-down menu of more than 100 professional certifications and licenses necessary for the corporation to respond to customer proposals. This database provides each employee with e-mail notification and a training record regarding their required coursework
and expiration dates, as well as notification to their supervisors and managers.

This has enabled a vast majority of employees to contribute to their growth and development opportunities during non-work hours, including weekends, which has improved morale and retention. Additionally, ManTech registered more than 7,300 student enrollments and over 18,700 hours of training delivered in 2006. In the first half of 2007, it had more than 9,400 student enrollments and over 16,100 hours of training delivered.

One of the effects of ManTech University’s new offerings is that employees are requesting even more courses to enhance their skills and knowledge. As a result, the company is researching leadership development and high potential programs as it continues to grow as a company.

– Brian Summerfield, bsummerfield@clomedia.com

Gold, Division 2: Marianne Langlois, Vice President, Learning Services, Convergys

Marianne Langlois, vice president of learning services at Convergys, was pleased to be recognized as the Gold Award winner in the Leadership category of Chief Learning Officer magazine’s Learning In Practice awards, even if she wasn’t able to accept the prize in person.

“I was thrilled,” she said. “Unfortunately, I couldn’t be at the conference because I’d just gotten back from a trip around the world to be with our teams, which was the reason we got the award. So I wasn’t there for the right reasons.”

Langlois faced some comprehensive business challenges, which have included making internal learning practices and processes consistent across the company, growing the customer base in a market where growth rates have stabilized and tapping into Convergys’s existing client base. To help the enterprise achieve its goals in these areas, she took an approach that started with internal improvements and eventually led to external impact.

“It’s using a consistent strategy of treating your internal departments like customers, driving value, measuring the value, putting together business cases and managing products,” she said. “It’s really helped us to engage our teams worldwide in supporting our customers, both internally and externally. For us, that’s been the transformational piece in thinking about our curriculum and how we engage our organization differently. That’s helped us support our second-most-valued strategy internally, which is talent development.”

In her role as learning leader, Langlois took Convergys’s global learning solutions, a segment of the Convergys employee care business unit comprised of three major divisions — information management, customer care and employee care — and created a single companywide entity.

Under her direction, Convergys assembled a unique global team that took the global curriculum project from the drawing board through the analysis and development stages to “live” implementation. This curriculum includes a single global course for identical content areas that was applicable across countries (e.g., new-hire orientation, job-function overview, system navigation) along with courses for the content that varied by country (e.g., benefits, payroll, leave-of-absence administration).

The overall view is that the unified entity provided has led to successful cross-selling of learning solutions to existing customers of other business units. Additionally, it has yielded a 29 percent reduction in direct training department costs and a 15 percent reduction in customer support costs, as well as increases in revenue per store associate that range from 15 percent to 49 percent.
Langlois’s leadership attributes — particularly that of execution — played a key part in the successful implementation of this initiative.

“As I look across the customers we work with in the outsourcing and co-sourcing space, I think the ability to be a strong change agent is important,” she said. “It’s not only having a vision, but also being able to execute that vision — putting a plan behind it, substantiating it with facts and data, and explaining yourself to multiple audiences. That’s absolutely the most key piece of leadership. People will sign on if they believe what you say, but they won’t stay with you if you don’t execute.”

– Brian Summerfield, bsummerfield@clomedia.com

Silver, Division 1: Matthew Bertman, National Director, Leadership Development, Pulte Homes

Over the past year, Pulte Homes faced rapid growth and then a sudden downturn in the housing market. This situation created the challenge of thriving in times of growth, then surviving during an industry downturn.

Matthew Bertman, the national director of leadership development for Pulte Homes and winner of the Silver Award in the Leadership category of Chief Learning Officer magazine’s Learning In Practice awards, led the charge in creating a leadership program that could quickly ramp up quality leaders in the organization. This helped save Pulte Homes, as strong leadership is helping guide the organization through a slower home-building economy.
Bertman was initially challenged to build leadership skills with a core group of 2,500 managers. His solution was based upon building a Foundations of Management Program, focusing on three core principles within the Pulte organization: skills, standards and style.

The skills competency focused on building leadership expertise in recruiting, retention, performance management and compliance; the standards competency focused on building seven core leadership standards; and the style competency targeted building one’s own personal “brand” of leadership, which integrated with the Pulte leadership culture but still allowed an individual to express his personal style of management.

Since it was unveiled, more than 4,000 managers have been certified in Foundations of Management, which has in turn fostered a “Top Gun” leadership mentoring program, a new community of practice within Pulte Homes. Also, the Problem Solving Council — a tactical group of leaders that was formed as part of this initiative — has been in place for one year and has provided solutions for 10 major initiatives throughout the organization. Most importantly, leadership training has allowed Pulte to minimize staff reduction during the industry downturn while remaining competitive in the marketplace.

Silver, Division 2: Kimberly Kelly, Director of Training and Development, Paychex Inc.

Kim Kelly, director of the University of Paychex and winner of the Silver Award in the Leadership category of Chief Learning Officer magazine’s Learning In Practice awards, is something of a perfectionist. In spite of already having won external awards for training and being recognized internally as an important part of the organization’s success, Kelly wanted to improve the function in areas such as ROI measures and leveraging technology investments.

To do this, she worked to get her senior managers engaged to establish a guiding coalition. She took them off-site for a day to lay out the case for change and challenged them to work as a team to come up with a plan. Senior business leaders were brought in to help the team better understand the strategic business issues. Kelly presented her proposed list of goals to the team, and they discussed each one to ensure it was aligned with business goals. Her managers were then asked to go back and prepare a long-term strategy for each goal, which they presented at a second off-site meeting.

Kelly then chartered a group of employees to design a department learning event, using external presenters, to learn more about ongoing training and blended learning. Training gurus Elliot Masie and Bob Mosher spoke at this event, and their presentations significantly helped establish a sense of urgency and desire to change. Kelly and her managers made a commitment to embrace what they all heard that day. Meetings were then held with the next level of training management, and then with all employees to review the strategy and get their input and buy-in.

As a result, the University of Paychex now has a documented, comprehensive, three-year strategic plan for training and development. The plan is posted in every training manager’s office and on the company’s intranet. Every training department used this plan as the basis for their fiscal year 2008 training and development plans, and there are action plans in place for every goal.


Gold, Division 1: Mark Searcy and Kenny Kinder, Global Operations Support Managers, Coverall Cleaning Concepts

Coverall Cleaning Concepts is a commercial cleaning company with nearly 50,000 customers worldwide. Started in 1985, the company has steadily grown and now has nearly 9,000 franchise owners. The company maintains 90 support centers worldwide in the United States, Canada, Australia, Chile, Dominican Republic, South Korea, Japan, Thailand and Singapore.

As part of their growth, Mark Searcy and Kenny Kinder assisted Coverall’s vice president of operations, Peter Sheldon, on the development of the company’s Healthcare Training Program. They took the initiative into the field and facilitated the actual training to ensure franchise owners received advanced training.

To date, 100 percent of Coverall Cleaning Concepts’ support centers have one or more health care-certified trainers facilitating training with franchise owners. Through the efforts of Searcy and Kinder, more than 2,700 franchise owners are certified. They also provided training to trainers who then provide training to a geographically and culturally diverse group of business owners and employees.

Kinder has been a technical and business trainer with Coverall for 10 years, largely in California, and Searcy has been with the company for eight years, based in the Ohio support center.

“Primarily, we are building solid cleaning systems based on real research and technology that sets us apart from our competition,” Searcy said. “Healthy cleaning down to a science is what we are all about.”

In developing their worldwide training, Searcy and Kinder faced significant challenges in meeting strict standards while ensuring the training translated beyond national borders.

“We had to make the learning material technical enough to be effective in the health care environment, yet simple enough to be understood by franchise owners who may have cultural or language barriers,” Searcy said. “That is one of the reasons we include not only classroom lectures and training but practical hands-on experience monitored by a trainer before a franchise owner would be considered certified by Coverall Cleaning Concepts.”

Coverall Cleaning Concepts developed the Healthcare Training Program to certify franchise owners on the proper cleaning procedures for a safe and healthy environment, coupled with the best equipment and chemical vendors. Despite the cultural and economic challenges, all of their international training meets U.S. government compliance standards and is supported by classes from the National Safety Council.

“Our trainers take the time to make sure that franchise owners know when they are at risk and how to protect themselves, their staff and the public by following our unique cleaning system using the proper technique, equipment and chemicals,” Searcy said. “Our international support centers continue to grow and outperform their competition in their specific markets.

“We, as a company, along with our alliance partners, are doing the research and development necessary to separate ourselves from our competition and be the premier choice for health care cleaning services.”

While citing strong executive leadership and commitment to innovation as key factors to their success, Searcy also said that the people who make up the company are critical to the company’s initiatives.

“Ultimately, it is the people with their feet on the street, the local trainers that work every day with the culturally diverse group that is our franchise base around the country and internationally,” Searcy said. “These are the people that take what we train them on and duplicate what they have been taught. If the system cannot be duplicated, the process will eventually fail.”

–    Mike Prokopeak, mikep@clomedia.com

Gold, Division 2: Fabio Tonolini, Director,TenarisUniversity

As director of TenarisUniversity, Fabio Tonolini is charged with developing learning solutions to the critical challenges facing the university’s parent company, Tenaris, as it expands globally.

Tenaris is a manufacturer and supplier of products and services used in the oil and gas industry. In the last five years, the company has evolved from a group of affiliated companies based in Italy, Argentina and Mexico to a single corporation with manufacturing centers and commercial offices spanning four continents. Recent expansions, including acquisitions in the United States, Romania and China, have increased the Tenaris presence to 20 countries, with more than 21,000 employees.

To address the challenges of this growth and ensure uniform quality and processes, TenarisUniversity created the Industrial School in early 2006. The goals of the Industrial School are to support and diffuse a solid industrial culture within Tenaris, to build corporate identity by bringing students together to learn and network, and to teach the company’s propriety knowledge to a diverse population of students from all over the world in a uniform, systematic and consistent manner.

“The diversity of the Tenaris workforce in terms of culture, language and work location is not only one of our greatest assets, it is also one of our greatest challenges,” Tonolini said. “We continue to struggle with finding the right mix between training at the global level and training offered at the regional level. Global training events help employees to see the big picture, learn from their colleagues in other countries and improve cross-cultural communication. However, regional events involve less time and travel, can be given in the participants’ home language and can deal with questions which are specific to the regional context.”

The school has evolved a comprehensive academic program for meeting the training needs of the engineers Tenaris employs. The Industrial School is also in the process of defining training plans for each of the job tracks within the company, which will guide employees to the courses required as the individual gains expertise and responsibility on the job.

All new hires are hired into a two-year Global Trainee program for their first job assignments. For engineers, this assignment is in one of the mills and also includes an Induction Camp, which brings together 60 young Tenaris professionals from around the world for a monthlong intensive company induction.

Once an engineer completes the Global Trainee program, the Industrial School becomes responsible for his or her specialized training. He or she will begin at Level I with the Alignment Program, designed to align the basic knowledge of all engineers across the company, whether they work in Canada, Argentina, Romania, Japan, Italy or Mexico.
The alignment program consists of an e-learning program that must be completed during work time, and one full week of tutorial classes containing case study discussions. The classroom portion is held at the TenarisUniversity Campus in Campana, Argentina.

The Level II curriculum, taught between the third and sixth year after completing the Global Trainee program, is geared toward individuals with greater supervisory responsibility. Level III includes courses, seminars, lab assignments and external master’s or doctoral programs.
Much of the training offered through the school is proprietary and taught by internal experts.

“The modern-day steel industry is complex, specialized and requires knowledge that cannot be easily found,” Tonolini said. “We have had to develop our own programs from scratch and teach our own engineers to be instructors. This has been an extremely exhilarating and worthwhile process which has helped Tenaris to value its own knowledge assets and focus clearly on best practices.”

TenarisUniversity’s Industrial School has made significant progress in a short span of time. As of September 2007, 100 percent of e-learning courses were set to be available. From September 2006 to June 2007, the Industrial School held its first four global events, drawing engineers from around the world. Feedback from each course has been strong, with overwhelmingly positive responses from students on the content and applicability.

“Given our youth, we are still learning and carefully watching our indicators to measure results,” Tonolini said. “So far, we have focused on ensuring that our training content, both e-learning and classroom, is high quality, that we have clear communication with company employees about training expectations, and that management values training and training is reflected and rewarded through the performance appraisal process. In the near future, our mechanisms to incorporate feedback from participants, supervisors and management on training effectiveness will be the key to continuously improve the results of our efforts.”

– Mike Prokopeak, mikep@clomedia.com

Silver, Division 2: Jim Phelan, Senior Director in Organizational Learning, Merck

As Merck & Co.’s organizational learning team looked to extend Managing@Merck, their flagship new manager training course, across the globe, Jim Phelan faced the challenge of ensuring the course met the same learning objectives in the Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Europe-Middle East-Africa regions that it did in the United States.

Established in 1891, Merck is a global pharmaceutical company that discovers, develops, manufactures and markets vaccines and medicines.

In addition to guaranteeing learning objectives were met, Phelan and his team had to make sure that the course demonstrated sensitivity to the local culture while cost-effectively delivering a high-quality training resource.
To meet this challenge, Phelan assembled a team of internal stakeholders, regional subject-matter experts and external training consultants to review program components, including classroom and e-learning materials, classroom sessions featuring videos and computer simulations, Web-based modules, virtual classrooms, manager- and mentor-guided activities, and online job aids and tools.

Phelan and his team also created a certification program for facilitators worldwide in order to ensure the program was successfully delivered. The Managing@Merck Train-the-Trainer program is now used to certify regional faculty charged with delivering the program in their area.

Once they had reviewed the components and established the certification program, Phelan and his team worked closely with regional stakeholders to pilot the program and test for cultural acceptability. They localized program materials and translated them as needed. Merck then identified internal advocates from each country to act as trainers, each of whom was certified as part of the Train-the-Trainer program. These lead trainers then recruited and developed additional instructors and coaches to facilitate the program in their region.

So far, the Managing@Merck program has been successfully implemented in 24 countries and will soon be available in nine languages. The close team collaboration and exchange of ideas also created additional best-practices processes for learning and development and raised the profile of regional staff members within the organization.


Gold, Division 1: Heather Bock, Global Director of Professional Development, Howrey LLP

This year’s Division 1 Gold Award winner in the Vanguard category is Heather Bock, global director of professional development for Howrey LLP. Before coming onboard at Howrey, Bock was in HR, organization development and consulting. She’s been Howrey’s global director of professional development for almost four years, overseeing approximately 700 employees.

Howrey LLP is an international law firm specializing in intellectual property, antitrust and global litigation. When Bock was hired, Howrey had about 500 attorneys in 12 cities. Since then, it has grown to approximately 600 attorneys in 16 cities and is continuing to expand.

Four critical challenges faced Bock when she joined Howrey:

1.    Lack of comprehensive talent management strategy to attract, develop and evaluate attorneys.
2.    Lack of shared vision among the partners regarding the skills and training that Howrey attorneys need for success.
3.    Inconsistent attorney skill development across the offices.
4.    No line of sight between the firm’s strategy and the professional development and learning function.

Advocating change within a law firm is challenging. In a risk-averse profession that clings to tradition, solving problems requires vision, planning and arm-twisting. Bock needed to form alliances and build a team to accomplish her mission. In short, she needed a change management strategy. She assembled a professional development team and looked to the training committee to help define the vision, structure, roles and responsibilities. She networked, benchmarked and brought in new ideas. One by one, key members of firm leadership bought into Bock’s vision.

Changing the culture of an organization is a difficult task under the best circumstances, and when the decision is made to alter core institutions such as evaluations and hiring, change must be managed carefully. Bock kept partners in constant communication about these changes.

For example, in rolling out the competency model and subsequent training strategy, Bock used e-mails and FAQs to make sure messages were consistent. She met with associate class representatives to encourage sharing information with and collecting feedback from their peers to get input on design and ensure buy-in of the new strategy. The Training and Performance Evaluation Committee partners presented the new plans in meetings within each office. Bock knew that since an innovative approach to training and development would involve the whole firm, its development necessitated the support of the whole firm. So, she made sure the talent management design included input from around 25 percent of Howrey’s attorneys.

Howrey’s competency model is now part of the everyday language for partners and associates. It is a central part of the learning culture at Howrey. This model — the core of Howrey’s training curriculum — consists of four clusters: building the case for the client, advocating for the client, working with others, and positioning self and firm for success.

This year, Bock is focused on advising firm leaders in a major initiative — moving compensation to a pay-for-performance model built around competency levels, whereby salaries will be determined by competency evaluations of associate performance. Like the majority of law firms across the country, Howrey’s existing attorney compensation is based on a legal institution called lockstep, in which associates receive a pay raise each year based only on tenure. While the current transition to a new compensation philosophy is a large-scale change to Howrey, such a change will better differentiate top talent.

By moving to a pay-for-performance system linked to the competency model, Howrey will continue to be a leader in innovation among law firms. The new strategy aims to reward highly skilled, competent associates more than others; attract and retain higher-quality associates; and provide a stronger value proposition to clients by linking skills to billing rates.

– Daniel Margolis, dmargolis@clomedia.com

Gold, Division 2: Shawne Angelle, Vice President, Global Learning and Development, Verizon Business

This year’s Division 2 Gold Award winner in the Vanguard category is Shawne Angelle, vice president of global learning and development for Verizon Business. Since joining the company in 1984, Angelle has held leadership positions in sales, marketing, product management and operations. She began her career in finance. She has overseen learning at Verizon Business for approximately two years now, providing global learning and development for 32,000 employees.

Angelle was quick to share credit for having won. “I believe it’s not an individual award but a team award on behalf of my organization,” Angelle said. “It’s good to get industry recognition for the tremendous amount of work that we’ve done over the last two years. When I came home and told the team about it, they were very excited.”
Verizon Business plans to use the award as a tool in drawing new talent.

“We will be using this as we market our organization to prospective employees,” Angelle said. “Learning is important and a reason why people join companies, because the opportunities they have to develop their careers are key.”

In 2006, Verizon acquired MCI and merged with its existing Enterprise Service Group to form Verizon Business. Prior to the merger, the companies were organized to address local or regional issues and, as such, learning and development comprised multiple organizations addressing the individual needs of each regional unit.

To meet its business strategy, the new company, Verizon Business, needed to change the way it approached its customers as well as achieve operational efficiencies. So, it shifted its focus from a regional approach to one that services its customers as a single global services provider. This meant creating a global organization structure; developing a global solutions portfolio; adopting a standardized sales approach; and providing a consistent customer experience for all customers worldwide.

It also meant reorganizing from 15 separate departments to a global organization. With a workforce that spanned the globe, this meant a change in how training was delivered throughout the enterprise. The learning organization was among the first in the company to support the company’s strategy and reorganize globally.

Under Angelle’s leadership, the organization went from 15 separate training departments to one global organization focused on enterprisewide challenges versus region-specific issues. In doing so, the global learning and development organization was able to focus on functional business areas such as sales and service to ensure that all customers, no matter where they were, received the same high level customer service and solutions.

In addition to managing the performance development process, Angelle’s organization delivers supporting programs with a blended learning approach that incorporates instructor-led and technology-based solutions to quickly address the needs of a global workforce.
The blended global learning strategy was implemented from the company’s beginning in January 2006. Training all sales and service employees on new products and services was the first priority for the learning organization.

As a result, more than 200 e-learning programs were internally developed and delivered in less than three months to over 10,000 Verizon Business employees in time for the January 2006 launch of the new company.
The global learning and development organization has made significant contributions to the success of Verizon Business. As a result of the company’s global training activities, the company has been able to improve overall efficiencies, including a 9.8 percent increase in revenue per employee; a 33 percent increase in training hours per employee; a 33 percent decrease in cost per training hour; an 18 percent increase in use of technology to support employee development; and a 44 percent year-to-date employee participation in Verizon Business eLearn (SkillSoft) programs.

–    Daniel Margolis, dmargolis@clomedia.com

Silver, Division 1: Cynthia Scott-Williams, Senior Director of Human Resources, Adaptive Marketing

This year’s Division 1 Silver Award winner in the Vanguard category is Cynthia Scott-Williams, senior director of human resources for Adaptive Marketing. Scott-Williams faced the following challenges in managing learning at Adaptive Marketing: a growing corporation; a young and inexperienced leadership team as a result of frequent internal promotions; lack of leadership alignment within independent subsidiary businesses; limited resources; and no structured development plan for its leadership team.

The company’s Corporate University was mandated to deliver learning solutions to the entire corporation. It tripled its learning demographic by including all seven of its subsidiaries located in Canada and the United States. Corporate University created a complete leadership strategy to invest in and support its human capital. This initiative lessened the leadership skills gap within all subsidiary companies’ leadership teams by providing a universally applicable, developmental framework to align all leadership competencies.

Corporate University sought to create a centralized learning organization that would combine the speed and efficiency of an internal training department with the credibility and subject-matter expertise of an external learning solutions provider. Based on needs assessments conducted with the company’s senior executive team, Corporate University was asked to pursue two key learning focuses in developing its leadership bench strength: defining and aligning both leadership competencies and interpersonal communication strategies.

Centralizing leadership training under Corporate University allowed the company to expand the learning opportunities available to all corporate staff. This year, more than 40 percent of the company’s total leadership demographic was able to participate in core leadership trainings in order to engender a consistent leadership language across the organization. In the upcoming fiscal year, performance evaluations will now include all the leadership competencies that were trained across the organization.
Corporate University also has resulted in an overall savings of $64,000 per year to Adaptive Marketing.

Silver, Division 2: Bryan Murphy, Executive Vice President and Chief Claims Officer, Farmers Insurance

This year’s Division 2 Silver Award winner in the Vanguard category is Bryan Murphy, executive vice president and chief claims officer for Farmers Insurance. Murphy was head of worldwide claims for Zurich Financial Services (parent company of Farmers Group Inc.) for one year before assuming his current position.

Like all corporations in America today, Farmers is engaged in an ongoing battle to recruit and retain top talent. Any human resources professional will tell you that the number-one personnel problem facing American business today is the aging of the baby boomer generation and the staffing crisis it will cause.

Every year, the Farmers claims organization is in recruiting mode, hiring more than 2,000 new claims representatives in its key lines of business: auto physical damage, property, liability, commercial and workers’ compensation. Serious human capital issues are involved in finding the best candidates, training them thoroughly and moving them efficiently into fields where they can quickly become productive employees.

Equally important is the continuing education of more than 10,000 claims incumbents — all of whom must remain up to date on the new policies and coverages that the company offers to Farmers insureds, while continuing to meet all regulatory compliance requirements set forth by the states in which it does business.

It is because of Murphy’s vision and support that the new University of Farmers, Claims, was created. As the claims organization’s principal learning advocate, Murphy led the charge to make learning an integral part of every Farmers claims employee’s job. He changed the organizational mantra from “values-based, performance-driven organization” to “values-based, performance-driven learning organization.” And he forcefully advocated the acquisition of a new, more robust learning management/learning content management system to support the university’s operations.

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