Michelle BB 00:00:07 Welcome to The Edge, a Skillsoft podcast for leaders and learners alike to engage in thought provoking conversations and open dialogue on the topic of learning and growth in the workplace. I am so excited. Our guest today is Carrie Latour, director of learning experience and global engagement at American airlines. Carrie, first of all, on behalf of Skillsoft, I would like to thank you and American airlines for your continued partnership is a highly valued customer, but also as one of your customers, I am thrilled to have you as my guest. Welcome to our conversation today.
Kari00:00:44 Thank you. It's great to be here, Michelle. I look forward to our conversation.
Michelle BB 00:00:49 So do I and you know, Carrie, I have to admit my travel itinerary and let's face it for, for almost everybody who's been listening. It's been quite quiet, uh, for more than a few months now, but I know that you and the folks at American airlines have been so busy. And in fact, I think our conversation today is one that is a constant for your organization, the topic of compliance. And for those of you who aren't familiar with compliance, that is really about ensuring that companies have the legal and workplace safety training in place to meet not just the organizational requirements, but also the regulatory requirements of their business and their industry. And many of us in the passenger seat, don't get to see that on a daily basis yet. I know it is vital in getting wheels up for American airlines. Now, before we begin, I have to caveat everyone. I am from Dallas, Texas originally. And every time I talked to one of my relatives or somebody from my home state, it is generally the accent pops through. So it is quite possible that you'll hear just a little bit of a Twain as Carrie and I speak. So with that, let me start first with you. Carry 37 years with American airlines. What an accomplishment, what an achievement I would really like to start out with what you feel you've learned the most during that amazing tenure.
Kari00:02:17 Thanks Michelle. And yes, I am a Texas girl and my career has been here at Texas, which is our headquarters for American airlines. Um, so you will definitely hear my Texas accent, um, too, but now it is, it has been an amazing, a great, um, career journey here at American. It wasn't something that I started out with as a career. Um, my background was in training, but I was young out of college thought, wow, I'd love to travel a little bit. And then I'll go back to teaching or training at a later point, but I've had an amazing career. I've spent half of it on the front lines, serving our customers, um, and had a passion for that and ensuring that our team members had the tools and resources they need to ensure they serve our customers, um, right. And have a safe journey. And you are absolutely right. Um, even though we're in unprecedented times and we're doing a lot of things different in the airline business, um, to, to accommodate that the safety and, and right now cleanliness are some of the things that are very highly regulated and are very important. And it's important to us that we, that we stayed focused on that and that we have a learning management system that allows us to have that as our record of truth.
Michelle BB 00:03:36 I think that's fantastic. And, you know, I think this is a great opportunity for us to talk a little bit about, um, what that means, right? So there are airline industry regulations that cover everything from check-in agents, safely handling goods to an engineer and what his or her role is. And even a pilot's checklist. And these are things that have to be checked and rechecked and need to be tracked. Um, tell me a little bit about what you've had to Institute from a learning perspective to address the requirements of really a very diverse set of roles.
Kari00:04:13 Yeah, absolutely. Um, and all of those things to your point are highly regulated. And at any time the FAA could come in and do an audit. Um, and let me tell you that if we do not have our house in order, there are some very big fines associated with not having our compliance. So our LMS is our record of truth and everything that we put out there, um, is tracked that is required of our team members. And you mentioned like the check-in agents, that's a great example. So anyone that touches a bag at any point at the check-in point, or whether they're handling the bag, as they put it on the aircraft, have to do a required training on dangerous goods. They have to be able to recognize and identify any type of package or checked article that might have dangerous goods. And they have to know to ask specific questions.
Kari00:05:07 If they see specific markings on the package and they are required to take that annually and they are not allowed to touch a bag until that training has been completed. So that is very important that the admin piece of the LMS works that we know which team members are required to have this training that we, um, ensure that each year that it's done and that we have a way for reporting that if the FAA came in, we could show a hundred percent compliance that anyone touching a bag has completed and has acknowledged the content that's needed and the information to handle a bag. So those are some of the things that we work with, um, on an annual basis, but then even on a daily basis, our mechanics, all of the certifications, and you mentioned our pilots, their certifications are housed in our LMS as the record of truth.
Kari00:06:05 So for a mechanic, for instance, if he is certified on a specific tool, let's say a ranch to work on a specific engine. Um, it has got to be up to date and the certification current within the LMS. And if it's not, if it's the fact that possibly they haven't completed the certification on time or worse, that we have not gotten the records correct. And the LMS, and they really are in compliance, but we don't have the tracking and the records towards that. It would mean that they would not be able to pick up that ranch. They would not be able to work on that engine. And ultimately that plane would not be able to fly. So actually keeping our planes in the air each and every day is dependent upon our training system, our training on our records that are housed in our LMS.
Michelle BB 00:06:55 You know, that's really fascinating because what it means is that your learning management system is really a mission critical application for American airlines. Absolutely.
Kari 00:07:04 Absolutely. Wow.
Michelle BB 00:07:07 And I, you know, this is really interesting because I didn't know how intricate the training has to be or how detailed or specific. So that's fascinating. I would love though, to understand a little bit more about your team, because to be able to facilitate this real-time compliance training and tracking to ensure that we get those planes in the air and that passengers arrived safely at their destination, it's got to take a, a really impressive group of folks to be able to do that. Yeah,
Kari00:07:36 Well, it absolutely takes a very coordinated effort. So I lead the global enterprise learning, um, which is what you would consider, um, anything that is centralized, but we do have functional training teams too. So we have our pilots and our simulators, our flight attendants that are going through their six weeks of training in functional groups. So we have set up what we call a federated training model and set up some governance that allows us to stay connected. We have a learning council where we get together and we say, here are the things that across the enterprise are required and regulated training. And, um, our enterprise team takes responsibility for the LMS, but we do have admins that are sitting in each of those functional groups that are also, um, putting in the requirements for the specific functional teams. So we have made a lot of progress on that kind of a governance model of allowing the different work groups.
Kari00:08:35 And as you mentioned, they're very, very different from a mechanic to a pilot, to flight attendant, to the people, loading the bags to the people, doing the computer work, making your reservations and their skill sets are very different. So we are not dictatorial on how the training happens or what the content obviously is, but we do try to have some level of consistency so that it feels like a seamless learning experience for our team members, whether it's functional training or whether it's enterprise training. And again, back to that compliance the responsibility of actually the records of truth and holding our LMS does rest with our enterprise learning team.
Michelle BB 00:09:17 You know, that's really, it, it bakes another question from a Cary and I just have to wonder regulations change all the time. And we know that, um, as, as we learn more, as we, um, drive more safety measures throughout not just the airline industry, but across a lot of organizations, um, it necessitates being incredibly up to date on those regulatory requirements and ensuring that you have everything that you need to put in place. That also means that what you are doing is rapid development. Yes,
Kari00:10:02 Absolutely. We do a lot of, uh, respond in the moment, um, just where we are with COVID and the new cleanliness standards that we have for our aircraft meant immediate training for a lot of groups that are doing that work, um, ensuring that just on a dime, we can change and make updates, um, to the procedures and the processes that they use for cleanliness. Um, and to your point, um, and this is a, is a great example, I think, is that things are really changing in the regulated world. And, um, going back to some of the issues that are current, uh, preventing sexual harassment is one where there's been a lot of focus in the past years, and we are seeing states making different regulations. And so for instance, the state of California, um, has said they need a two hour training for managers and then an hour training for any other team members on preventing sexual harassment and sexual harassment awareness in the state of California.
Kari00:11:08 So we readily said, okay, how are we going to handle this because different states have different requirements. And actually I'm a great example is we turned to Skillsoft. And we said, um, okay. Versus us just continually with our instructional designers, trying to be the subject matter experts on what the states want. Um, we actually have purchased that content, um, and had, had to do some customization for our work groups, um, but to stay current because those types of things are happening all the time. And honestly, by the time we hear about it through our legal department, and then by the time we have the coordination, um, and ensuring that we have it all vetted, um, in many times, um, it is having a third party or someone like Skillsoft. And I know your, your teams are up to date on all of that, so that they are having relevant content available for partners like ourselves who are needing that. And, and again, when you think about criticality, if we are not on top of that, and we don't have all the team members that either work and operate in the state of California in compliance, we might not be able to fly flights into LA one of our biggest hubs.
Michelle BB 00:12:23 Well, goodness, I know you and your team are making sure that doesn't happen. Absolutely.
Kari00:12:29 And thanks for your partnership in helping us do that. Oh,
Michelle BB 00:12:33 Oh, of course. Of course. Um, you know, you, you raise a really interesting, um, topic for me, which is in a heavily regulated industry, there are requirements, right? And so, um, you have to ensure that everybody is completing the required training, but we also know that learning is not a one size fits all approach. Right. People learn differently. Um, and so there are probably some courses where there's, you know, you can't do anything about that, but how do you manage learning in an environment that's heavy, heavily regulated, but still knowing that people learn differently, how has your learning mindset evolved over the years to accommodate these different learning styles? Okay.
Kari00:13:23 Um, and that is a great question because American truly does have a generational, um, disparity, as far as the average team member, um, has maybe 30 years of seniority. So we have team members that have that traditional learning mindset, and they're used to either being in a class, or they're used to just answering things in a web based training. And then you have our new generation that are used to having learning on the go. So we are doing a lot of blended approaches. Um, and we are experimenting with a lot of gamification, um, where doing some, some augmented reality type of approaches. And with those, we're also putting out surveys and asking team members, um, how they, how they perceived the training, you know, was it something they enjoyed and getting a lot of feedback and then making adjustments around that because it isn't a one size fit all.
Kari00:14:24 And if you just continued to do use the same modality time after time for the same subject, um, many times team, many times, um, team members get, get bored, and it's just kind of a check the box. So for instance, um, on our baggage sortation, and this is how the baggage or bags are sorted. So they ensure they go to the right plane, whether they are originating and just going to a plane and then going to final destinations, or whether they're connecting. And one of our biggest hubs, it's something that our team members on the ramp on how to read the bag tags and what that means and how we process that sortation is an annual requirement. But for someone who's been here for 10 years, you've read the same training over and over, and it's just kind of a check the box, and maybe you don't absorb something new.
Kari00:15:15 So this year we tried it in the form of a game. And actually, um, it was very exciting because they actually had to pretend that they were loading an aircraft. And as the animation came up with the bags, they actually did the sortation by dragging the bag to the right, um, cart to where it should go. And we had a lot of great comments on the fact that that made them pay attention and actually, um, absorb the training in a whole different way than something that we had done as just a read and sign over the years.
Michelle BB 00:15:52 So Carrie American airlines has such a vast workforce. I'd love for you to share some of the learning best practices that you've instituted to ensure impact with everyone. And I think that, that what you talked about in terms of gamification and, um, the generational gap and how people learn differently, really relevant, but maybe there's some other things you can share with us from a best practices perspective that impact everyone from people who are on the front lines, in airports to the backend support that, that you see, that you hear from, and don't necessarily see in your customer service centers all the way to the mechanics, engineers, pilots, um, what are some of the things you'd like to share in terms of learning best practices?
Kari00:16:36 Well, I will tell you, I mentioned that we had put in some type of a governance and our federated training model, and I will say some of the best practices have come from that. And one of the things that I think when you look at it from a learner's mindset, when you look at it from their perspective is the coordination around training. Because I think as a learner, um, you've have your job to do, but then you have some of this, um, regulated training that is just required. But then other learning that is just in time needed, because maybe your policies and procedures have changed and you need to know this immediately. And so one of the things we've done in our learning forum, um, with the managers of all the groups is meet on a monthly basis and begun to have conversations about what's on the horizon, what's coming in the training world and be able to coordinate those calendars.
Kari 00:17:29 And so that ensures that training is not just bombarded on the learner with different groups, throwing training, um, not knowing what the other one's doing, and maybe it hits all at once. And they're overwhelmed with the training that's required. So we've begun to look at it out from a year and say, okay, we know that we need some of this enterprise training, whether it's basic day to security, whether it's preventing sexual harassments, whether it's dangerous goods and began to plot them on a calendar advance in advance so that we don't get to the end of the year and dump a bunch of training. Um, and even more importantly, we are beginning to look at what we call peak periods in our industry. And in the summer, we know our team members are just head down, focusing on our busiest time of travel. And so we kind of, um, block those out and in advance, try to not plan for any training that we can plan in advance during those times. Now there are things that are just in the moment as policies and procedures are changing and maybe something new comes out that they need to know that day, that that type of training goes out in a read and sign. But as far as being able to plot things out in advance so that our learners aren't overwhelmed and they have the time to focus on training, that is probably one of the best practices that we've come up with most recently,
Michelle BB 00:18:54 So much for sharing that. And, you know, it's, it's amazing our time has flown by pun intended. I'm sorry. Um, but this has been, this has been wonderful. Uh, is there anything, you know, uh, in closing that you would like to share with our audience?
Kari 00:19:12 One of the things that I think we are beginning to focus on is beginning to change just from the training and the required training to do your job today, and focus on having a learning mindset and how do we look further out and what we're going to need in two to three years, and how do we begin to have team members be engaged in learning towards those up-skilling and re-skilling and stay relevant. And if I look at my own journey, and like I said, I've had an amazing 37 year career, I kind of meandered my way here into, um, the arena of training that I actually am passionate about and love, but I, um, wish that I had had a little bit more intentionality around, you know, what are the skillsets that I have, and just naturally that I want to grow. And what are some of the roles that I could move into that would allow me to have those skillsets, or what are some of the roles I might've been interested in that I could gain additional skill sets to make me more competitive for that those roles, and been a little bit more intentional about that career journey.
Kari00:20:21 And I think in today's environment with some of the learning experience platforms that are out there with some of the learning pathways, I know you with Percipio some great learning pathways, you could actually do a little bit more mapping out of areas of growth. And so what I would leave people with is that, um, learning needs to be lifelong, and it will just keep you developing actually help you reach your full potential,
Michelle BB 00:20:49 Oh gosh, what great guidance. And not just for those in the ABA aviation industry, because Carrie, that is great guidance for anyone leaders and learners alike. And one thing I will also say is that we believe very, very strongly here at Skillsoft in a growth mindset, because, you know, oftentimes people don't realize or recognize that they're worth it, but there is always, always a need to learn and grow. And everyone out there should realize you are worth the investment. Um, look, I am so grateful to have you here, Carrie, thank you so much. And I cannot wait to fly with American airlines again soon. Uh, it is top of mind for me, certainly as I get back to my family in Dallas, um, and to our listeners, I want to thank you for joining us for what is just an incredible episode of the edge. You can turn it, you can tune in every Friday for new episodes, and you can do that either on our website, which is skillsoft.com/podcast, or listen in on your podcast platform of choice. Again, thank you so much, Carrie.
Kari00:21:59 Thank you. It's great to be here and look forward to seeing you soon on American airlines.