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VF Corp.'s Ron Lawrence: Conduit Between Learning and Human Capital Management
Those who lead the learning function often find themselves acting as a bridge between various parts of the organization.
Those who lead the learning function quite often find themselves acting as a bridge between various parts of the organization. They might serve as conduits between learning and people, or two departments, or people and the business. CLOs can even be called upon to act as the strategic and tactical bridge between concepts such as experience and performance. Ron Lawrence, vice president of organizational development for VF Corp., a leader in branded-lifestyle apparel, found himself acting as just such a link between his company’s many brands while working to build a focused, cohesive enterprise learning function and leverage it for company advantage.Using a melange of skills and experiences like HR, total quality management and competency management planning – developed in previous employers such as Capital One, AT&T and ChoiceCare, a precursor to Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield – Lawrence has spent the past two years facilitating VF’s organizational development team’s efforts to operate holistically.
“There are certain things we do from the organization development team that completely drive the agenda, and everyone conforms to the way we’re doing it,” Lawrence said. “We set training completely for certain centralized initiatives. But at the other end of the spectrum, you can have very decentralized decision making, for what I would call brand-specific training needs. We have approximately 50 brands that are organized into a series of coalitions. If you look on our Web site, you’ll see that there are groupings by product. We have an outdoor coalition for brands like JanSport and Vans and The North Face. We have a jeans coalition for Wrangler and Lee. We have a sportswear coalition anchored by Nautica, but it has John Varvatos. In a decentralized training environment, we let those brands do what they need to do if they have a specific need, but we have a core middle management curriculum and other core programs that are offered to associates across all of those boundaries.”
With learning responsibilities for some 25,000 of the company’s 46,000 employees, Lawrence said his greatest challenge is managing and developing a global workforce in 46 countries. VF sells products in more than 150 nations, and it’s growing due to a number of acquisitions, which challenge the existing HRIS structure. But, if a company is to do human capital management well, Lawrence said it has to have good data and good data-mining capabilities.
The Next Generation of HR: What’s Wrong? What’s Right?
May 23rd 1:00pm - 2:00pm CT
2013 CLO Breakfast Club, Boston
September 12th - 12th, 2013The Westin Copley Place
Fall 2013 CLO Symposium
September 30th - October 2nd, 2013Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa
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