Learning In Practice 2014: Strategy Division 1 Winners

From left: Elizabeth Bryant, Frank Nguyen,  Michelle Gibson and Lynn Williams


Elizabeth Bryant

Vice President of Southwest University, Southwest Airlines

Before 2012, Southwest Airlines Co.’s learning strategy was fragmented and decentralized. As it began offering international flights, it lacked a unifying service for learning. In 2013, Southwest Airlines University created a new international service that would enable resource-sharing for more than 20,000 employees without duplicating efforts.

The company didn’t have enough time to fully develop international training. The first step meant explaining to employees the shared impact that international flying brings via an online course. The course set the stage for instructor-led training. Forgoing a traditional training manual, the technology group created and updated a wiki database called SWAFluence to foster communication and idea sharing between training groups.

The “It’s a Big Deal – International Service 2014” program tailored content for employees in customer support and services, customer relations, source of support and ground operations. Every module is composed of three chapters, one of which explains the ramifications of international travel for customers, the company and the employee. The employee part uses the “Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?” questions approach to interactively explain new policies and procedures.

While the effect is still being measured, the company intends to have all groups fully trained by Dec. 31. As of June, 7,000 employees completed the online course.



Frank Nguyen

Divisional Vice President, Sears Holdings Corp.

Sears Holdings Corp. is facing a significant challenge. Its brick-and-mortar store locales are being outshined by online stores like Amazon.com and eBay Inc. To stay in business, stores like Sears and Kmart need to evolve. Combined with a virtual experience, the stores need to drive sales through multiple channels, such as online-only, store-only and online-to-store.

To begin the shift to omnichannel retail, Sears Holdings retired its legacy certification model and under Frank Nguyen implemented a new expertise management model with gamification called Segno. Segno lets employees get started at a certain point in the game that is suited to an area of expertise. The program also fostered smaller doses of learning, selected by the employee, to be consumed in the workplace.


Bronze (Tie)

Michelle Gibson

Chief Adviser of Learning, Rio Tinto Group

In an effort to support growth, mining company Rio Tinto Group needed a consolidated learning organization and strategy to streamline resources and content.

Under the leadership of Michelle Gibson, the company’s chief adviser of learning, the learning function developed a vision for people development as well as created a unified learning organization with a one-stop Virtual College portal for learning and development.In the past year, the new learning infrastructure has seen a 95 percent adoption of approved content in the portal as well as an estimated cost savings of $92,719 through conversion of instructor-led learning to Web-based learning.


Bronze (Tie)

Lynn Williams

Global Training Leader, The Nielsen Co.

The Nielsen Co. studies consumers in 104 countries to gauge their trends and habits worldwide. To understand the consumer better via a vast amount of data, Lynn Williams crafted a system called Guided Learning Journeys.

This software identifies and maps priority learning opportunities that enable tangible business outcomes. It’s the company’s first measure that brings a common language and a skill benchmark across the company that is used to create personalized learning plans.

Nielsen reduced duplicate spending on more than 80 vendors to five, achieving $700,000 year-after-year cost savings.