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AT&T: Staying a Step Ahead
As technology continues to rapidly evolve, AT&T, Chief Learning Officer magazine’s No. 2 ranked LearningElite company for 2012, relies on its L&D function to outpace the competition.
AT&T’s learning team has placed in the LearningElite top five two years in a row. Pictured are (back row, from left) Lew Walker, vice president of learning services; Scott Smith, senior vice president of HR operations; and (front row, from left) Tammy Martin, vice president of talent management; Debbie Storey, senior vice president of talent development and chief diversity officer; and Ken Fenoglio, vice president of AT&T University.
As part of the rapidly evolving, ultra-competitive telecom industry, AT&T is challenged to stay on top of employees’ knowledge and skill needs.
Employees are faced with technical trends around wireless technology evolution and virtualization, and software, applications and consumer devices are constantly changing.
New releases of wireless devices are shrouded in secrecy, and it becomes challenging to train AT&T’s retail sales team quickly so they are knowledgeable enough to walk customers through the features on the day of a device’s release.
“In the early planning sessions that occur between our senior leaders and device manufacturers, where the discussions happen about the very fact that a new device is coming out, L&D is at that table, and that is key,” said Scott Smith, senior vice president of HR operations at AT&T.
Being present at the table from the beginning — when the business receives information from customers — and working with business leaders to develop the ideal training for the workforce is critical to ensure the success of any device release.
“L&D addresses this constant learning need of our clients by working with them during the planning phase of deploying a new phone,” said Lew Walker, the company’s vice president of learning services. “It’s only because of this upfront planning that we can meet the challenging release schedule. We determine in partnership with the client the appropriate content and the appropriate delivery method and then proactively schedule this training throughout the year.”
Collaboration also helps AT&T’s learning and development initiatives to increase engagement and ultimately financial performance. The company formed an employee engagement advisory board that identifies opportunities to drive engagement. As a result, in 2011, AT&T articulated a clear set of values owned by the CEO across the company.
“Ultimately, engagement is owned by the business; it’s not owned by HR, but we partner with the business to identify opportunities to help drive engagement, alignment and innovation,” said Debbie Storey, senior vice president of talent development and chief diversity officer.
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