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2013 Innovation – Division 1

GOLD: Kate Day, Global Director, Business Development, Cisco Sales Associates Program, Partner Sales Academy, Cisco Systems
Cisco Systems lives up to its image as an Internet powerhouse with its new program to onboard sales associates.

The company replaced a residential onboarding program with a virtual program that spans 35 countries, uses Cisco’s own WebEx technology, fosters global collaboration and weaves in employee performance management.

The success of the 12-month program in bringing on new sales associates more cheaply and effectively has earned Cisco’s Kate Day a gold award in the Innovation category. Day, the company’s global director of business development for the sales associate program and Partner Sales Academy, had to create the new onboarding initiative in just three months.

At the same time, she was expected to exceed the metrics from the residential program — the percentage of new associates who meet or exceed their first-year quota — trim operating costs by 25 percent and ensure a repeatable process that could be used with new employees of sales channel partners.

The new program is based on four pillars: access, experience, connectivity and reinforcement. The access piece involves using iPads and other tools allowing participants to work on a range of devices anytime and anywhere. For experience, Day and her team combine content delivered to large groups with small-group learning and on-the-job experience. Connected for Cisco means tailoring the program to local geographies but also tying it to the global environment. Associates also work in groups with colleagues across the world. Day sought to reinforce the learning with virtual office hours, role-playing and exams.

Training costs fell by 24.6 percent compared to the previous program — a figure which rounds up to Day’s target. Participants are also 10 to 15 percent more productive than those who do not take part.

SILVER: Winnie Larsen, Senior Director and Dean, Hilton Worldwide University, Hilton Worldwide
Hilton often hires corporate team members who have subject matter expertise but little understanding of the hospitality field or its history and culture.

The company recently developed an integrated talent management strategy and wanted to apply the approach to onboarding corporate-level employees. Winnie Larsen, senior director and dean of Hilton Worldwide University, spearheaded a new program dubbed It Starts With You that extends beyond the typical length of onboarding practices to encompass an entire year.

After interviewing leaders around the globe, Larsen created a program customized for different regions that includes a digital magazine to help employees navigate company content.

Employee survey results point to high levels of engagement and satisfaction in new roles. Survey results also show a steady increase in job satisfaction and access to learning opportunities for growth and development, with a year-over-year increase of more than 14 percent in each of these categories.

BRONZE: Steve Stone, Vice President, Performance Solutions, USAA
Financial services company USAA needed to improve the customer service abilities of representatives selling and servicing auto insurance — a key part of the company’s product portfolio.

USAA redesigned a training course to make it less about information delivery and more about learners practicing actual job tasks and building skills. The resulting Auto New Hire course boasted a 29 percent shorter intervention — from 51 to 36 days — and improved employees’ proficiency levels.