Volunteer Leadership in Learning and Development

Episode 9 January 17, 2023 00:42:14
Volunteer Leadership in Learning and Development
AXIOM Insights - Learning and Development Podcast
Volunteer Leadership in Learning and Development

Jan 17 2023 | 00:42:14


Hosted By

Scott Rutherford

Show Notes

In this episode, we discuss the role of volunteer service in the learning and development profession. Volunteering can take many forms - authoring articles, sharing resources on a blog or LinkedIn, speaking at a meeting or conference, and volunteer service with a professional organization such as SHRM, LPI, ATD, Training Industry, the Learning Guild, and many others. 

We speak with three L&D professionals and volunteer leaders about their experiences as a volunteer leader and member of a professional community of volunteers, about the rewards and benefits of volunteer service: Lauren Sullivan, president of the Greater Boston chapter of ATD; Brian Lopes, president-elect of the Bay Colonies chapter of ATD; and Suzanne Stead, president of the Greater Philadelphia chapter of ATD.

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Episode Transcript

Scott Rutherford Welcome to the AXIOM Insights learning and development podcast. My name is Scott Rutherford. In this podcast, we focus on trends and best practices in supporting organizational performance through learning. And today we're talking about the role that volunteer leadership has in shaping our profession overall, and the role that volunteering has played in shaping careers in L&D. This is a special episode in three parts. It combines conversations with three leaders of three local ATD chapters. Suzanne Stead is the new president of the Philadelphia Chapter. Brian Lopes is the Vice President for Communications and President-Elect with the ATD chapter for the Rhode Island and Southern Massachusetts region, the ATD Bay colonies chapter. And we'll begin with a conversation with Lauren Sullivan, president of the ATD Greater Boston chapter. Lauren manages the IT training team at MathWorks, the mathematical computing software company, and she told me how she was introduced to the greater Boston ATD chapter, as she made the transition from teaching into training. Lauren Sullivan I actually used to be a school teacher, I was a high school teacher, I was looking to move out of teaching, and I saw this listing for a company called MathWorks. It is a software engineering company in Metro West Massachusetts. I originally thought perhaps I wasn't qualified because I'm not a software engineer. But it turns out that there's all sorts of support needed in learning and development. And I got this position as an IT Training Specialist at MathWorks. So the team I work on support staff at MathWorks. With it rollouts applications, we do communications, we do training, we do organizational change management, when it comes to it changes. And that's how I got my start at MathWorks. After that I was promoted to manage the team. I've been doing that since 2019. And just this past year, I also took on a new role as the product owner of our learning technologies. Scott Rutherford So you got promoted into the leadership role for that, for that function? Right as the pandemic struck? Lauren Sullivan I had less than a year experience managing the team when a pandemic started. That's correct. Scott Rutherford How did that impact how you manage the team? And the function just was that a large change? Or were you… [did you have a] virtual focus before then, and how did that impact you? Lauren Sullivan We were pretty lucky, actually. The team is a great team, I love managing them, I can go on vacation, and I know nothing’s going to be on fire when I return. They're really good at self-managing, and they're very efficient. So we were able to kind of maintain our work progress when the pandemic hit, we had been virtualizing our trainings previously anyway, because we have office locations across the globe, we've frequently delivered virtual training to people in those offices, even our new hire training. Here in Massachusetts, we have two campuses. So whenever we deliver new hire training, we have a virtual component because someone might be at the other campus. So we didn't have to do too much to change the way we delivered our training. However, being an IT team, and suddenly everyone working from home, meant that our workload increased exponentially, we suddenly had to transition everyone to using Microsoft Teams for every meeting, to get their equipment at their homes set up to come into the office, if they needed to pick up extra equipment, all of that we really helped the company coordinate that effort. So that was a huge change. For us, the role I took on was one of the many hats that a previous manager was wearing. And they sort of split out the different needs so that that role wasn't so overloaded. It made sense for someone within learning to take that role on the person who had it previously was just someone who worked as a manager and managed a whole portfolio of applications, including our LMS. And it just so happened that because the LMS was in that portfolio, that person kind of managed the learning progress. So by splitting it out, it just means that someone (and that's me) is a bit more dedicated to actually focusing on learning and making sure that it's getting the attention it needs. So on a smaller scale, just within my own team, we have a lot of self-serve resources, because we are doing it training, a lot of the things we're training on might be something simple, like how to install a printer in the office, how to connect your phone to Wi-Fi in the office. So many of the resources that we build and maintain are things people just self-serve throughout their day in the office. Those are webpages and we as a training team aren't necessarily the technical experts. We work with the technical experts. However, we have someone on our team who he really likes to build custom solutions. He likes to find kind of gaps in what we have and see how things can either be automated or improved with technology. And he built some great custom pages that we have that include a little feedback widget at the bottom of the page. And he structured it so that you can say yes or no, was the page helpful? Just click yes or no. And you can optionally add a comment. And he also structured that so that we are immediately notified when someone either says no, or leaves a comment, regardless of their answer. So if someone says, No, it wasn't helpful, then we want to know why. What has changed? And we've actually had a lot of Article updates that come through that way, some user says, my screen looks different. And we realized, oh, this system changed, we need to update our article. It's fantastic, we get that immediate feedback, we can immediately address it, the user’s happy, we are happy, we have our updated resources, that's great. Outside of that, in a larger scale, we also have reporting metrics from our live training, those are integrated into our LMS. And all the other training teams here at MathWorks. Use the same system to do their live training. They use those same surveys and everything to gather their metrics after a live session. Many teams actually have implemented something similar on their self-serve resources as well, similar to that little widget that I was just talking about for feedback. And actually, since we built the custom one, the tool we use to maintain our web pages has rolled out their own little widget. So now you don't even need to customize, you can just insert the widget on your page. And it loads up nicely with feedback from your users. So those are some different areas where we have metrics kind of pulling in based on user feedback, we also have an Analytics suite that lets us know how many people have clicked to view our pages, we're able to add custom campaign IDs onto URLs. And we insert those URLs into communications into any sort of announcement that we might promote in the website, in the internal website here. And we can see how many people have clicked, how many people clicked more than once, how many people have not collected, we can kind of filter it out by that. So we have metrics all over the place that we're kind of monitoring to see where our communications most effective, are our materials effective are our live sessions effective. And right now we are in the process of a very large scale analytics rollout, we're actually centralizing a suite. Because up until now, each learning and development team has maintained their own metrics. And it's kind of relied on someone on the team who says, Hey, I kind of like metrics, I'll give this a try. Who's been building dashboards or reports that are accessible to others. So the goal of the project we're currently working on is for this summer, to get all of the learning analytics from our LMS into a centralized reporting suite, and eventually, pull in metrics from all those other sources. So the webpage widgets, the click data, any sort of source of learning data, we'd like to pull that all in centrally, and then anyone who's working in learning, regardless of their familiarity with analytics tools, can run a report can see the data, it will be maintained by a team that can kind of help us more efficiently come to conclusions on our data. When I first joined the local ATD community, and it is at the Greater Boston [chapter], it was because I was looking to transition out of teaching what I mentioned at the very beginning of the podcast, just saying that I wanted a new career, I wanted to get out of public schools. I joined my local ATD chapter to start networking to start finding out about opportunities. And actually someone I met at one of the events was from MathWorks, and referred me in to MathWorks. And that is how I got the job. The rest is history. So it's been crucial to my career development, I would say it's a fantastic community. Our current board right now is awesome. Everybody is just trying really hard to make the community strong. The pandemic was a challenge and we got through it. We virtualized our events. It's been fantastic. I've been volunteering with the board for over six years now, I can't believe it. It's been great. Scott Rutherford There are of course, a number of ways professionals in L&D donate their time and knowledge in service of the profession by volunteering with industry associations, for sure, but also by contributing articles to industry websites, or posting on LinkedIn, sharing experiences and knowledge at seminars and conferences and other ways. And as I discussed with Brian Lopes, who is with the ATD Bay colonies chapter, volunteering also has a role within our organizations. And for that, let's hear more from Brian. Brian Lopes I'm Brian Lopes. I have worked in learning and development for you know, 15 years or so now. sort of lose track of it, but I got into it like most people were, you know, I was good at my job. And so they kind of said, Hey, do you want to teach other people how to do that job? You know, I think so a lot of us fall into it. But I'm very fortunate to, you know, start my L&D career with a very strong manager, strong leader that really showed me the ropes and got me off on the right track and really focused, you know, on my development. So that was very fortunate for me, but I've worked for, you know, a number of Fortune 500 companies in training and development. And, you know, I really enjoy it. And, you know, the biggest thing I say, with my job is I like to help people. And so I think working and learning and development, you really have a good chance to help people get them connected with the right solutions, either for their learning or their development, as we know those go hand in hand. But it really gives me a chance to give back. Scott Rutherford So of course, we're talking about volunteering in this episode. And you mentioned that you came into L&D from another line of work, as so many people do: you're good at your job, and you get moved into helping to teach other people how to do the job well. So in that moment, how did you connect with, with the… I guess it’s the volunteer contributions of others? How did how did that affect your upskilling in your new role? Brian Lopes So that's, you know, it's sort of a funny connection, because it is that first manager I had in L&D that connected me with volunteer opportunities, and you know, the ATD opportunities in my area. And, you know, that was really important for me, because I don't think when I started in L&D, I had a grasp of, really what it could be, or like, the type of people who were involved the type of creativity that was involved. And that it was, you know, a serious career, you know, my, you know, experience, it always been, you know, you're a trainer, you know, whatever you train, you know, what's in front of you. And just the idea that there were there was so much more to it that I hadn't considered was, was important and was a good, good exposure for me. And not only that, it really energized me anytime I was around other L&D professionals, I was really energized. And so that's been one of the most important things for me, is to keep connecting with that community. Because it gives me a lot of energy. Scott Rutherford I've always found it valuable just to have a sounding board of people who are facing similar challenges and people, you know, you can learn from, and I find it doesn't need to be… the large learnings are great, you know, if you go to a keynote seminar, and you have an aha moment and walk away with a with, with six pages of notes, that's great. But sometimes it's the small stuff that happens in the one on one conversations, too. Brian Lopes Yeah, yeah, that's exactly right. Sort of, like you said, that sounding board or, you know, when you just start talking about the day to day grind, and the things that, you know, sort of frustrate you, and someone else will say, Yeah, I had that. Here's what we did, or we found this tool or whatever this is invaluable. That type of feedback you get and one on one or small conversations is the resources. Others put you in touch with that you had no idea existed. Scott Rutherford So you're volunteering with ATD? What if you could explain how you… while you mentioned your manager, I guess introduced you early on in your L&D career. How is your engagement with the ATD chapter? Which chapter are you working with? And as well do you volunteer with the with the ATD nationally as well as locally? What's that look like? Brian Lopes Yeah, so I am with the ATD Bay colonies, which is Rhode Island, Southern Massachusetts chapter. I haven't really volunteered too much nationally, it's been mostly with the local chapter. So started, you know, attending meetings and going to events, getting to know folks and there was that same manager that, you know, for years tried to get me on the board. And, you know, I was always interested but wasn't the right time for me. I had young children, you know, it was a lot of running around and stuff didn't really feel like I could dedicate myself at that time. But eventually, you know, years go by kids get a little bit bigger, you figure out how where you can move things around and fit things in. So I finally decided it was the right time for me to, you know, take on that role and actually took on her role. And she, you know, in typical L&D fashion, showed me the ropes and you know, show me what to do and taught me that role. So that was really great, but I was very fortunate because our board is fantastic. We have a great time we get along we work really well together. And I think you know, that's a great opportunity. You know, if you if you're thinking that you may want to do something like that, you know, being involved is really good sort of drive In the programming and the opportunities that exist for members and non members, you know, it's really a way to stretch yourself if you're, you know, doing one role at your job or you're a developer or you're, you know, a facilitator, whatever it is, even if you're outside L&D. If there's something you'd like to try, being a volunteer board is a great opportunity to do it. If you think you want to try marketing, go get a marketing position on a volunteer board, you know, they typically are, you know, well, I would say low risk, you know, because, you know, there's not, the stakes aren't too high, but it's a good way to learn the ropes. Yeah, you know, our boards. Fantastic. We have, you know, great teamwork. So that's one thing, you learn teamwork, you know, leading initiatives, if you haven't had the opportunity to do that in your day to day role, you know, planning events, or whatever it is that that particular volunteer opportunity gives you. It's a good way to stretch yourself. Scott Rutherford Yeah, I will say that one of the moments of hesitancy I think that some people will find, well, I don't want I may not have a lot of time to volunteer. So what can I do in a limited number of hours? I volunteered myself with my local ATD chapter here in Philadelphia. I’m not on the board or anything and maybe someday I’ll go to that point. But right now I am just volunteering to help with some of the communications and keeping the machine running. So it’s not a tremendous time investment. But it's something and it's a minor lift, because frankly, that was my first step into this local chapter. I've only lived in this region for a couple of years now. So it doesn't have to be overwhelming, I guess, is what I would say. Brian Lopes Yeah. And honestly, Scott, if it's structured correctly, it shouldn't be that overwhelming. Like, it shouldn't involve a large number of hours now, maybe, from time to time, that is the case, depending on what you're trying to do. But certainly, you know, the way you're doing it volunteer, not being on the board, volunteering, we love that. And that's really a way for us to sort of kind of pinpoint who that next crop of board members could be. Because if you're already engaged with being involved and sort of working with us, you know, that's a good, you know, that's important for succession planning, and, and getting the rest of the community involved. But yeah, I think ultimately, you know, you commit what you can, if it's a few hours a week, a few hours a month, start there. But yeah, you know, hopefully, you know, you're not, it's not a part time job, you know, so, hopefully, it's, you know, the opportunities are structured in a way where you can squeeze it in, if you want to. Scott Rutherford So what have you found, in your day job, has there been… do you find that being a volunteer, you know, industry leader with ATD, reflects well, on your professional standing? How does that, how has that affected you? Brian Lopes Yeah, so, you know, I definitely, it's made me realize, because I've, in my career, I haven't had an opportunity to lead others, or I've avoided this opportunity sometimes, you know, but still felt like I was a leader. And, you know, being on the board has definitely helped with that leadership development, because you are, you know, making decisions and, you know, not just for the board, but for your larger member base, you know, so it's, you know, and being around other professionals, many of them, you know, with more experienced than me has been good to sort of have those folks as mentors or to, you know, just see how different people think smart people think and effective leaders think. So it's definitely I think, helped me in more ways than I can really measure, in my, you know, day to day job. The other thing that it's done is helped me realize that I could take on that sort of role or opportunity at work as well. So I'm the co-chair of a colleague resource group in my company. And I don't think I would have thought I could do that unless I had had the experience with ATD first. So when it came time to interview and sort of put myself forward for that, I had all that experience to draw from I've planned events, you know, I've been on a board, you know, all the things that come with that. So that was really helpful. And that certainly is a big opportunity in my company to lead one of those local chapters as well. Scott Rutherford Yeah, sure, an opportunity to develop your own skill by doing it in an environment where it's, I guess, theoretically a little bit lower risk and that not tied to the day to day. Brian Lopes Exactly. Exactly. Right. Yeah. And the other thing is, it's great exposure. You know, so leaders appreciate, you know, leaders on my company, appreciate, you know, the leaders of those colleague resource groups, the other leaders of those groups, there are national level groups that you know, cascade down or cascade up however you want to say it but it is really good exposure. You meet tons of different people and if you are someone who thinks maybe you want to stretch yourself in a different way, it's a great way to get yourself out there. I think if you want to step back and look at it, even from a bigger picture. You know, there's an opportunity to give back just as a member of any community really, you know, so these volunteer boards or volunteer groups are always looking for, you know, passionate people to lead them. So I definitely agree that in L&D, it's important to give back. And there's great opportunity there to give back in a really large way, if you want to, because you could speak at a conference. Now, there's been individuals who have written books, you know, articles, you know, what have you. And that's a great opportunity to give back because you're sharing your expertise, your knowledge, your experience, on a lot of different levels, one on one with the people you work with, if you're trying to reach a large, larger audience as well. Yeah, so I do think that's important. You're right. It's not, you know, explicit in a lot of our, you know, roles in L&D, but I certainly think it's the right thing to do. And it sort of shows that you value the community of other professionals. You know, what, you know, for me, I have also, you know, volunteered for my daughter's softball team, I'm a coach on her team, you know, so it's sort of like opened my eyes to the other places in my life where, you know, strong individuals are sought out to be leaders and to sort of help, you know, advance opportunities for others, if you will. And so I think that's important is to when you realize that you have an opportunity to help others develop and get to that next level. If you can do it, I think you should. Scott Rutherford And as I mentioned, in my chat with Brian, my local chapter is the ATD Greater Philadelphia chapter. And so of course, I couldn't finish this episode without taking some time to chat with our chapter president, Suzanne Stead. Suzanne Stead My name is Suzanne Stead. And I'm currently the assistant vice president of talent development at Flagship Credit Acceptance. And prior to that, I've been there for eight years, eight and a half years. And prior to that I was at Santander. And both places, started and helped build volunteer programs. And then certainly in college, I'm a master's graduate from the University of West Florida, down in Pensacola, Florida, and did a lot of volunteer work there through Student Government, university, Presidential Task Force and whatnot, and certainly community organizations. Scott Rutherford Thanks for coming on the podcast! And of course, the reason that you and I have been introduced in this format - we've never met in person, just virtually - is that you're the new president of the of the Philadelphia ATD chapter. Suzanne Stead Yes, so I was on the board for about a year as a tech specialist and then [past ATD PHL chapter president] Mark Spool tapped me on the shoulder to see if I would be willing and able to run for interim president and then was just recently elected president of ATD Greater Philadelphia. So I'm really excited to serve in my profession. I've been in this profession now over 18 years. And so it's been a great experience to be able to give back and help the group and move us forward and certainly has been very rewarding. Scott Rutherford Well, so let's dig into that a little bit if we could. People talk about volunteering as being rewarding as a beneficiary of others efforts, and also as rewarding for the volunteer. Could you talk us through… in your current role, you have a leadership role, a volunteer leadership role. What do you get out of that work? Suzanne Stead So when I moved into being president, I think meeting other professionals in the area who do what I do, being able to talk to training especially and, and help others and put the different programs out there for others to attend that have been so helpful to me as I was growing my career, you know, started off as a trainer and moved into a senior role and then into a director role and now into the VP role. And so it's so important for professionals of all different levels to continue to be engaged, to learn more about their profession, but also to help others, mentor others, and stay current and stay relevant. So even when you think, you know, a lot of what's going on these organizations give you the ability to say, Am I still being relevant? Am I still current? What's happening new, especially with all the world events with COVID. It's just that community is so important. I think that's the most rewarding part is being part of that community. Scott Rutherford And right now, we're seeing a lot of interest of people who are looking to move into organizational learning, corporate training, from other education fields. And one thing I've seen conversations on LinkedIn, that the volunteer, the peer groups are really a resource for people who are young in the profession (who are new to the profession, maybe is a better way to say it). I've certainly had that experience myself being able to, you know, attend the ATD national conference and other industry conferences, certainly, publications and speaking opportunities, you know, you start off I guess, as a, as a member of the audience, soaking it all in. And hopefully graduate over time to being able to contribute and give it back in sort of circle of life sort of thing, I guess. Suzanne Stead I can relate to that, Scott, because I started off in academia at college, had a graduate program that I was a part of. And when I graduated, they hired me on as an adjunct. And did that work for a semester until I moved to Pennsylvania. And when I came here, it was, it was kind of like, where am I going to go? What's available, and I started off in a bank, and worked retail for a year. And then from there, my trainer tapped me on the shoulder and said, Hey, what are you doing? You're applying for an assistant manager position? Why don't you apply for training, and I've always wanted to be a teacher and be a trainer or do something in education. And I said, that sounds great. I get to do banking, and I get to teach. And so that was just exciting to me. And I did that for 10, nine years at Santander, Sovereign Santander. And then during that period, I actually volunteered on the board of the flight program for the Tredyffrin Easttown School District, having young kids myself, who are now 15 and 12. Back then, it was just great to be engaged in their in in their education and in school and try to help others less fortunate in the area be able to afford different programs. And so I did that for about three and a half years. And, you know, there was a big effort, it's a lot of work, a lot of commitment. But again, you get to meet so many people make a difference, and help the community. And I think that's so important as professionals that, you know, we give back. And that's just always been very important to me. Scott Rutherford So I wanted to ask you, you mentioned that you used volunteering within your professional role. And I wonder if you could explain what those programs look like and what how that's come together? Suzanne Stead Oh, sure, as you know, training classes are for a period of time. And so we started off with, Hey, if you want to wear jeans on Friday, you know, bring in $1, and we'll donate it to a local charity in our area. And then the other side started jumping in well, Santander being a northeast Bank. It was it. It just brought our trainers together into one effort that we could all contribute towards and then seeing the dollars grow and being able to give back to the community was uniting for us, even though we were all very remote. So it brought us together as a team. And then when we had our joint team meetings once a year, we then brought it to raffles and auctions and we would rotate the organization to different areas so everybody could contribute and get engaged. And then if you wanted to wear jeans and tennis shoes, then we upped it to $2. You know that was back when things were in person. So obviously, not as easy to do once you go into a virtual environment. So at flagship, we actually started a volunteer time off committee so that all of our associates receive 16 hours of volunteer time off we created the policy. We created all the organizations that were pre-approved by the company to be able to give back that stand for the same for the same corporate values that we Have and would allow our associates to give back while still getting paid, and being able to give back to our community in that in that manner. So that's been exciting at both areas, you know, in the professional world of how you can, you know, have an idea, work with others, and bring it to where it's beneficial for everyone. And again, it's great for not just an individual perspective, but from a team building perspective. Many managers say, you know, what, today or next week, or in two weeks, we're going to have a team build and just get together and we get paid for it. And we get to go back, go out and give to the community and partake in an event that's fun, and just relaxing and, you know, brings you together. Scott Rutherford As you know, there's been so many conversations over the past couple of years, about, especially about trying to engage with our teams through a shared mission and building culture around mission. And I like the like the notion of coming up with a, team-building structure like you're describing, that is meaningful, as well as fun. And that seems to work. Well, I… I've been in the business world long enough to have been subjected to a few trust-falls. And I've put that in air quotes, “trust fall exercises”, where people sort of go through and it really doesn't accomplish much of anything, apart from getting you away from the desk for a few hours. On the other hand, yeah, going out and actually doing something that benefits others through this volunteer effort can be tremendously meaningful and team building at the same time. Suzanne Stead And you also get to work with other individuals, maybe in the company that you may not have, maybe worked with otherwise. And so we're engaged across departments across levels. I'm working with the C suite with HR with others in marketing. And, you know, we may not have come together if it weren't for that type of opportunity. So it's real exciting to do that. Scott Rutherford Well, let's go back to talking about professional services. And another one of the conversations I had, and I'll try to tie this together, I was relating that, you know, there are certain professions that have sort of an explicit expectation of service. If you're an attorney, oftentimes, you're expected to do a percentage of pro bono work as a way to give back. If you're, if you're in higher education, there's a percentage of professors time that goes towards service obligations. Corporate training, learning development, we don't have that explicitly. So it really is, is ad hoc. And it really is a true volunteer effort. So with that sort of pretext or preamble, what made you raise your hand with the Philadelphia chapter of ATD and say, well, I want to be on the board, I want to invest my time. Suzanne Stead Again, I think I'm always looking to torture myself with extra with just more activities. And I'm the type of person I say torture is not torture, but I'm saying that I can't just go to work and come home. It's never been in my DNA. I've always wanted to stretch myself in different directions. And so since college, I was involved in student government, I became the academic chair, and elected there. But that wasn't enough. I served on search committees, I served on Presidential Task Force. So I think it's always just been part of me. And even on weekends, I would volunteer at Sunday school teaching Sunday school to three year olds. I just am not that person who watches TV or sits still I like to be engaged and involved and always doing something. And so getting involved with ATD was a I've always been a member, if you will, like on and off member. And I thought when I when I moved districts and I stopped doing flight after three and a half years, I just was looking for that next thing and really, it wasn't a I would have probably never ran for president or a board position had somebody not said hey, we have this available. Would you like to help us out with it? And I think yeah, I always love to help of course. And so that's how I got engaged with starting helping with a website with wild apricot and in just getting engage that way, it really wasn't about, oh, I want to be on the board, it was more of what can I do to help. And if there's an ability for me to do that, then I, I, I can't say no. And I love it. And I just I love the ability to help. And I think that's what trainers do. And so it just made sense to me, I've given so much time to so many things. And here, I'm able to expand my career in the community. And it's all tied together. And so it just, it just made sense. Scott Rutherford You mentioned Wild Apricot, and for those who haven't had the pleasure, I will offer the little definition that Wild Apricot is the member management web tool that I believe all ATD local chapters use. And the only reason I know that is that for the past six months, I've been volunteering with the Philadelphia chapter in a very, very small role, just doing some communications work, which was my own personal attempt to try to connect to my local community. Because I moved to Pennsylvania to the Philly area here. About month before or two months before lockdown happened. So I got I moved and then got to stay at home for a couple of years. And so volunteering virtually has been my way to connect to my local community. Suzanne Stead It's such a reward. And so I think that's why we do it. And always been able to help others and especially with a website, it's just, you know, finding things that that you can help him is is key. Yeah, so I was a panel member for talent acquisition conference. And then I also spoke as a keynote for the chief learning officer and submitted some presentations there on you know, how, how do we make change and evolve? And, and so I've given some talks on that. And it really is just never been happy with where you are and always looking at it, how can we improve taking an outsider perspective on what we're doing? And then not taking the defense? Right, not getting defensive, everything's because if you can, I'd rather find it myself first, and improve upon it, then have somebody else look in and say, oh, you know, you're not doing this or that. So as always kind of taking that approach and expanding your resources, I think that is, has been so helpful for us because especially moving from an in person to a virtual, being able to utilize your resources and, and take new avenues. And technology is so important in helping us to do that. I think it's important for every leader to become very, very tech savvy, because those kids now I'll tell you, my kids are already on Zoom calls and OneNote and they're doing PowerPoint and Excel presentations. And we didn't touch we I didn't go into that until maybe college so so it's certainly the way of the future. Scott Rutherford Yeah, and I think I think what you're talking about is important because it's difficult for any of us on our own to keep up with the pace of technology, you know, the number of tools and trends… no one person could consume at all. So you need a community to be able to reach out and say okay, well, what is best of breed? What's happening, what's coming, and your community can help can help alert you to where you need to be paying attention. So through the through that community hive-mind, call it what you will, I think you're able to be a leader of your function because they together I think we can we can give each other an idea of where we should be focusing our attention. Suzanne Stead Yes. And Adam Stamm and I he's with team approach. We started the [ATD PHL] Tech SIG, so that we could it's a an interactive, let's get a test account and dabble into different programs like Canva and we give you the space to let's talk about it. What are the pros, what are the cons? Let's dabble in it, see what it can do. And then from there, we just we share thoughts and ideas and then we're doing that about once a quarter as a tech SIG. Scott Rutherford Yep, the tech Special Interest Group here in Philly so we get Philly getting a lot of a lot of points. I think other chapters have similar interest groups but actually don't know the answer to this question. But if someone from outside the area wanted to, or not an ATD Member wanted to attend to a Philly tech SIG event, are they are they open to only chapter members or is it national members as well? Suzanne Stead You know, I don't think we'll ever turn anyone away right Scott? However, we might, we might say Please come join us and then also inform you of the different chapters that are in your area. So that might be closer for you to attend in person events. But certainly we do have member dues. And then we do have the non member dues, which would be at a at a higher rate, but you're still able to attend. And then we even do partner programs. So if you're at a nearby chapter, we might do some type of partner association that way. Scott Rutherford Yeah. And it is true though that virtually anywhere you are in the country, there is a local chapter within 45 minutes of you or so probably entities is a very large mature organization which is great for anybody looking for resources, for sure. Suzanne Stead Absolutely. And it just keeps growing. And we're really excited that we have that backing for certifications. For National we have the ATD leaders chapter leaders conference coming up and in certainly in the spring, we're getting ready for national. So lots of it's an exciting time and a lot to do lots to learn. Scott Rutherford Thank you once again to all of my guests on this episode for their volunteer work and for making the time to speak to me on the podcast, Lauren Sullivan with the ATD Greater Boston chapter, Brian Lopes with the ATD Bay Colonies chapter and Suzanne Stead with the ATD Philadelphia chapter. This podcast is a production of AXIOM Learning Solutions. AXIOM is a learning services company and works to support L&D teams with the people and resources to accomplish virtually any learning project. When you have a learning goal and need more resources AXIOM can provide the staffing and project support to help you be successful. If you'd like to discuss how AXIOM can help support your learning initiatives, contact us today for a complimentary conversation at axiomlearningsolutions.com. Thanks for listening to the AXIOM Insights Podcast.

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