Skillsoft Blog

Insights and Key Takeaways From Skillsoft and SumTotal’s Federal Perspectives

By Randy Newman

Our 16th annual Federal Perspectives just concluded.  And what a turnout – over 85 agencies and departments, and over 150 federal employees in attendance!

They came, they saw, and they heard all the ways Skillsoft and SumTotal are working to meet the unique needs and demands of the federal customer, and of course to network and learn from each other.

Here’s a quick recap of the highlights:

Heide Abelli, Skillsoft SVP of Content Product Management, kicked off the event with her “Building the Federal Workforce of the Future” keynote.  She addressed the burning issue of the need for organizations to embrace the Digital Revolution by creating a workforce that is digitally intelligent, is supported by leaders who build and lead “hero teams” where work is collaborative, and decision-making is distributed across functions and roles.

Four amazing thought leaders and practitioners followed Heide: Mika Cross, federal workplace expert; Dominic Delmolino, Chief Technology Officer, Accenture Federal Services; Mark McMillan, Partner and Founding Leader of Digital and Value Assurance Practices, McKinsey; and John Wagner, Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection / DHS. The panel discussed what Digital Transformation means and the impact it is having on the federal workplace and its citizens.

Apratim Purakayastha (AP), our Chief Technology Officer (CTO), spoke about the huge investment we’ve made in our technology, out of which we now have Percipio ELSA enabling “learning in the flow of work.” AP also elaborated about the newest updates and enhancements to both Skillport 8i and SumTotal.

The afternoon session began with Derek Lambert, Chief Learning Officer (CLO) from General Services Administration (GSA). Derek took us on GSA’s “Continuous Learning Journey,” describing in great detail how they are bringing learning to the learner, driving improvements in employee engagement, and producing tangible ROI impacts across the GSA.

After Derek, Kristin Shackelford, Skillsoft Solution Principal, and Mark Onisk, Skillsoft’s Chief Content Officer, shared the latest on our new Leadership Development Program, and how with the CodeX virtual coding practice labs, and other practice functions, we are laying the groundwork for the future of  IT skilling.

Dan Caporale, Chairman & Founder of Hire our Heroes, really engaged the audience as he explained how they are using Percipio, our intelligent learning platform, to ensure all veterans have access to critical training to help develop the skills they need to perform in today’s workforce.

The final speaker of the day, Norm Ford, our VP of Operations for Compliance Solutions, stressed the need for reducing risk while increasing efficiencies and encouraged attendees to implement a compliance maturity model that incorporates compliance into business strategy to improve their organization’s culture.

It was a long and hectic day, but I know everyone left with a better sense of what Skillsoft and SumTotal are doing to assist our federal customers.

And this brings me to our very first federal focused Innovation Awards.

We recognized five winners in four categories:

  • Creating an Impact in the Public Sector – Defense Security Service

The DSS initiated a comprehensive effort to improve leader development within the agency which included the creation of a cohort-based, year-long Leadership Development Program to support specific leadership competencies.

  • Honorable Mention for Creating an Impact in the Public Sector – Defense Health Agency


  • Greatest Strides in Building a Culture of Learning – General Services Administration

With the execution of the first-ever agency-wide Continuous Learning Journey, GSA has already seen improvements in employee engagement, performance and knowledge of learning resources after just six months of their program.


  • Driving Efficiency Through Services – Environmental Protection Agency

By partnering strategically with a Skillsoft Program Manager and Virtual Administrator, the EPA effectively manages one of the most complex federal compliance training programs, all while delivering one of the best user-experiences in the federal space today.


  • Compliance Excellence – Smithsonian

Through a Skillsoft platform with the Advanced Compliance Module, the Smithsonian provides over 400 high-quality courses to reach hundreds of specific employee groups and locations, helping to reduce the number of injuries and mitigates overall risk.  They are now looking to provide this to their interns and volunteers as well.


For those of you that joined us, thank you, and I hope you had as much fun as I did and learned a few things that you can take back to improve your Agency or Department. I look forward to seeing you all again next year.


Randy Newman is Vice President, Federal Sales at Skillsoft.

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