Skillsoft Blog

2014 Skillsoft Perspectives EMEA Speaker Round-up

By Kevin Young

Perspectives was a whirlwind of excitement, insight and robust knowledge. The
event brought together some of the most exciting thought leaders in the field and was a collaborative forum for both Skillsoft customers and industry influencers. Customer presentations, expert panels, dynamic presentations and product demonstrations highlighted the latest trends and innovations in elearning.

John Ambrose, Senior Vice President, Strategy and Corporate Development at Skillsoft, kicked off the day with the topic of big data. Using research from Deloitte, Ambrose summarised that millennials don’t just want a career, they want an experience. The rise of big data and the means of which we rely on it has changed people’s perspectives. He argues that this has led us to become overwhelmed employees and Skillsoft’s ultimate goal is to help transform them into the empowered learner by building richer experiences, anticipating needs and harnessing raw data to ultimately make experiences better.

Up next, Priti Shah, Vice President, Leadership Product Strategy and Corporate Development at Skillsoft,took to the stage and set about exploring Welch Way and the pioneering ideas behind the management training programme. Shah referenced tools and actionable practices which have been shown to develop and build better leaders. The underlying message is that people don’t leave their jobs; they leave their managers. An empowered organisation is one where there is a ladder of awareness and scope to build better leaders.

Baroness Susan Greenfield CBE, renowned for her insightful, and sometimes divisive, views on the effects of scientific and technological advancements, took big data and turned it on its head (quite literally). In a stirring debate on the essential elements of human communication and social media, Greenfield’s keynote delivery spoke of the elasticity of the brain and how ultimately the brain is an organ which needs to be exercised.

The main focus of Greenfield’s speech was premised on the idea that, with the rise of technology and how quickly we derive information from the internet and social media, we are quickly becoming…for want of a better word…stupid.

“How can we harness, rather than be harnessed by, our new technological milieu to create better alternatives and more meaningful lives?“

She argued that enriched learning environments are the key to ensuring our brains remain elastic and continue to develop. The here-and-now experiences need to be pervaded by harnessing technologies for the greater good to improve both our mental capacities and well being.

Kieran King, Global Vice President, Loyalty Strategy at Skillsoft, spoke about the trends and best practices of learning. She highlighted how engagement must be the first best practice building block. Rather shockingly she revealed that only 55% of organisations have a defined learning strategy, only 18% have revisited their strategies annually in the last five years and a staggering 29% have only revisited their strategies once or not at all. Organisations, she continued, must identify a multi-year strategy that specifies how learning will deliver business value.

Eugene Van Biert, Vice President and General Manager, Global Compliance at Skillsoft, not only highlighted the advantages of compliance, but also excitedly announced Skillsoft’s new partnership with law firm Baker and McKenzie. Van Biert, concluded his speech with a round-up of the five elements of corporate compliance companies should adhere to so that they can identify risks, design and implement controls to support the business areas in their duty to comply with relevant regulations and internal procedures.

Sir Ken Robinson, PhD, spoke from his experience in the development of culture innovation throughout the world and explored the challenges facing businesses and education in the new global economies. He argued that we need to promote innovation in a more systematic way and HR needs to be seen as a strategic function for this to work.

“Creativity is putting imagination to work, innovation is what you hope will be the outcome in the end.”

Robinson spoke passionately about how creativity, innovation and imagination are just as important for a business as literacy. Businesses need to harness the potential of people’s talents and facilitate creative thinking to really succeed. He cemented the idea that talent is only below the surface and that through engaged learning techniques we are all capable of being great leaders.

The day was rounded off with an exhilarating debate between David MacLeod, Lynne Sedgmore, Caroline Walters and Sir Ken Robinson on the topics of effective leadership and the ability of leaders to create conditions for success.

Finally, a huge thank you to all of our guests who attended the event. Perspectives is designed to enable learning professionals to develop and discuss the link between learning and business value, to network and to receive updates on the Skillsoft product direction and strategy.

Until 2015, thank you all.

Kevin Young is General Manager, EMEA at Skillsoft.

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