Impact – My one word answer

August 23, 2017 | Activate Learning, New Workplace Leadership | 3 min read

When people ask me why I joined Skillsoft, my answer is simple: impact. As the largest provider of corporate training, we are enabling millions of global learners build their knowledge, capabilities and skill sets so they in turn can be stronger contributors to the organizations that employ them. In the process, these learners develop a profound sense of pride and satisfaction in their accomplishments. It’s both an awesome and a daunting responsibility and one I take personally and very seriously.

I also teach management to college seniors. It’s wonderful to directly affect the development of future managers and leaders, but with an average class size of 40 students a year, the impact just can’t compete with the number of learners we reach every single day at Skillsoft. Irrespective though of whether it is a student in my class or a learner in any of the customer organizations we serve, my greatest professional joy is that moment when I realize just how significant this influence is on an individual’s life.

One such moment happened recently during a customer event in Toronto where Alan Lyons, Employee Development Specialist at the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), presented on a program he spearheaded for the TTC.

What many people may not know is that the TTC is the third largest public transit utility in North America, after New York City and Mexico City, so we’re talking about a large organization with a lot of employees to train and develop. In 2010, the TTC rolled out an employee development program to approximately 3,000 non-unionized workers. While it was wonderful that these individuals had access to professional development, the remaining 11,500 unionized workers did not.

But in 2016, by leveraging Skillsoft’s platform and high quality content libraries, Alan and his colleagues launched eDEV with the tagline – “The Bridge to Your Future is Here.” In the first year of the program, there were 9,254 logins to eDEV, with 6,000 plus learning resources launched and even more hours of learning time. And the best part? Unionized workers who previously had no access to training and development content made up a significant percentage of eDEV users.

In 2017, Alan expanded the program to include eDEV Certificates so that workers could gain Champion, Personal & Professional Skills and Leadership Skills certificates. The CEO, Andy Byford, showed his support for the program by personally handing out 40+ certificates at a graduation event and half of those went to unionized employees. When Alan showed a picture of three individuals who had received the certificates, I was moved by the sheer joy and sense of pride on their faces. And then later in the presentation we heard how although the TTC faced the largest spending cut in its history, the CEO refused to allow the eDEV program to be a victim of the budget cuts and personally stepped in to save this single line item. What a remarkable signal of support. When a CEO steps up and takes such a powerful action it makes an incredible statement to all employees about not just his commitment to a culture of broad access to learning, but to his unwavering commitment to their ongoing development.

So I am back at that word, impact. I know that our partnership with the TTC is changing lives and if the three faces that were smiling back at me on the screen are any indication, the impact is tremendous. So thank you Andy Byford, Alan and all the employees at the TTC whose personal and professional lives have been touched by eDEV for serving as a reminder for why I’m so passionate about what I do and reinforcing why getting it right on behalf of the organizations and learners we serve Is so incredibly important.

Heide Abelli is the SVP of Content Management for Skillsoft.