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It’s About Learning – Not Training.

October 21, 2017


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Check out IMDB.com, which lists her professional acting and voiceover roles – including her most recent stint as Rabiah, a mentor to young super-heroes in the animated TV series “The 99.”

That’s pretty fitting, because Vivian’s first love has always been talent development: creating programs to help people become strategic resilient, lifelong learners. Transforming training from organizational afterthought to strategic win-win: that’s Vivian’s super-power.

Vivian started as an auditor, working for one of the U.K.’s accounting firms. “But I didn’t want to get labeled as an accountant,” she says, for reasons we’ll leave unexplained. Instead, she found her jam in the firm’s training consulting group, where she learned that business transformation starts with people. She also developed the concept of “the strategic employee,” which encouraged employees to manage their job as if it were their own business – an initiative designed to enhance employee alignment and drive innovative business opportunities.

Her career then led her to a major chartered bank, where she helped transform the building and delivery of learning for many new strategic initiatives at a time when the financial sector was experiencing significant change – including the launch of a national program for 25,000 people that was completed in just two months.

Moving to Nortel, Vivian pioneered a virtual classroom that was at least a decade ahead of its time. She then formed her own business, providing customized learning programs to retailers, financial institutions and other clients – when she wasn’t acting for the stage and TV.

Now Vivian has joined forces with Spyder Works to expand her ability to help companies learn. Their new joint venture, Icicle Learning, provides transformational learning by creating and delivering innovative learning solutions that are integrated into the workplace and directly aligned to business strategy. All with her trademark blend of engagement, integration and relevance.

Her new role is a natural step forward on both sides. As Spyder Works was helping clients develop ever more innovative design-driven strategies, the firm saw a growing need to help employees adapt to change and seize opportunities faster. “With Vivian, we now have the expertise to develop talent or change culture, from the frontlines to the executive suite,” says Spyder Works CEO Ken Tencer.

“With the combination of Icicle and Spyder Works,” adds Vivian, “we can now provide the entire business-transformation process.” (We think it’s cool that they already finish each other’s sentences.)

Now, some cynics will tell you that training doesn’t work. And Vivian agrees that’s often the result if all you’re doing is teaching people a new skill for their current role. You’re missing the opportunity to embrace change, create alignment and develop new leaders in uncertain times. Says Vivian, “People really want to know more about the new world of business.”

That’s especially important now that millennials are dominating the workforce. They’re generally thought to bring a creative entrepreneurial spirit to the office, but they have short attention spans – and they’ve been warned to expect 15 different jobs in their careers. “Most companies are experiencing high turnover, because their employees aren’t engaged in what they’re doing,” Vivian notes. But she’s seen this movie before. When you train employees and managers to think and act like leaders, she says, you create greater productivity and lower turnover, “because they’re totally engaged in what they’re doing.”

If you’re interested in engaging Vivian, please note that she’s not interested in selling training. “I am driven to inspire people to see the value of learning every day; to create their own opportunities to learn and grow,” she says. “There’s something to learn every day.”

By Ken Tencer

Ken Tencer is a global thought leader on innovation and intrapreneurship who helps organizations master better futures.


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