By Joy Church Millard, Sr. Editor, Expertus
Editor’s Note: Welcome to the second interview in our “Learning Luminaries” series — where we showcase conversations with the brightest and most innovative minds in the world of enterprise training and development!
This month, we feature Tom Clancy, VP of Education Services at EMC Corporation.
Tom is an award-winning pioneer in customer and partner training, whose transformational learning strategies have generated a net increase of more than $80 million a year to EMC’s bottom line.
Q1: Tom, what is EMC’s business focus?
TC: EMC is an industry-leading technology company that has leveraged a heritage in information storage to become a social, analytics, cloud and mobile innovator. Today we have about 65,000 employees, and we serve thousands of customers and partners around the world.
Q2: How do you define your learning audience?
TC: We train numerous internal audiences — sales, services, marketing, engineering and IT. We also extend training to global customers, channel and university partners through our “open curriculum” learning programs. In addition, we reach out to the tech industry in general, with courses we offer through Amazon. In total, we educate more than 100,000 individuals a year.
Q3: That’s a vast and diverse population! How do you prioritize?
TC: All of EMC’s senior executives place an extremely high priority on helping our prople achieve their potential through continuous training and development. They understand the value of a high-performance learning culture, and the need to embed it in the business. And with their support, after 12 years of focusing on this mission, we’re reaping the cumulative benefits.
Q4: What has been your most effective initiative?
TC: Completely transforming our learning culture — both internal and external — over the past decade. When I started in my current role, I didn’t have a training background, so I didn’t know how to run the training group in a traditional sense. But I did know how to run a business. So, we set up our training organization in the same way a CEO would structure and lead a company.
For me, that approach translates into two objectives:
- Ensuring great alignment with our audiences, and
- Providing great training.
Q5: Tell me more about alignment. Why is this so vital to success?
TC: We have a saying here, “Align or die!” If learning doesn’t work in concert with the organization, it’s not going to be successful. So all the people who report to me are aligned with the business functions they support (sales, services, and so on), and they all have business backgrounds.
These people align with their audiences first. They’re fanatical about uncovering core opportunities, identifying related business requirements, and developing appropriate learning strategies to address those needs.
Q6: Could you share an example of how this works?
TC: Sure. Let’s use the sales organization as an example. Sales is typically a very challenging function for training to support. But our Global Sales President has been onboard with our business-centered approach from the beginning, and he recognizes the value of developing the team.
Also, our global salespeople are deeply involved with defining, creating and rolling out training programs. They feel ownership. This is a big reason why 95% of our salespeople complete their mandatory quarterly training within six weeks of a launch. And we report training completions all the way up to the President of Sales.
Bottom line — we have great sales, business, marketing and finance alignment because we’ve had a seat at the table with them since 2002. I can talk to any executive anytime because they’re so invested in working together with us. We don’t build training without input and validation from our business units. Because they make learning mandatory, we believe it has to be great.
Q7: How do you ensure superior quality?
TC: Several factors work together to make our training so effective:
- Talent: We’ve hired an excellent team of training professionals, and they know how to execute.
- Uniqueness: To keep our employees engaged and keep our customers coming back, our training needs to stand out. We have to be unique — especially with all of the technology today that enables anyone to build training.
- Collaborative Process: Each quarter, we sit down with global councils from marketing, sales and engineering to determine the most important topics requiring training. We work with knowledge experts in these targeted areas to map the content. And then instructional designers, content developers and others from education group build the training and roll it out.
- Quality Assurance: We don’t just assume that our training is great. We’re rigorous about making sure it accomplishes the intended objectives. We inspect what we expect!
Q8: Where does customer and partner training fit in?
TC: After we transformed EMC’s internal culture — so our people now love to learn — we rolled out the same system and training to our partners and customers. For example, we created our first Sales Accreditation Program seven years ago. Now we offer that program to our partners and others. Not only is this a successful way to deliver training, but it’s very cost-effective. Now, internal and external audiences are much more engaged and enthusiastic about learning at EMC.
Learn more about EMC’s commitment to preparing professionals today for the future of IT. Watch Tom’s video:
More about Tom’s professional history:
After starting with EMC 22 years ago, Tom worked in the company’s Alliances, Sales and Marketing organizations. Then he stepped into a learning leadership role. He explains, “I’m a business person who brings that perspective to the training function. For us, it’s essential to run our training organization as a business.” Tom has operated in his current position as VP of Education Services — which is similar to a CLO — for 12 years.
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