Posted: Nov 15, 2017
By: Alison Adair
Each year more than 3000 adult learners enrol in courses for professional development and personal enrichment at Western Continuing Studies.
Every year we are inspired by their passion to challenge themselves, to learn and to succeed. For each student the path to the classroom is unique.
Holly Nelson, a Business Analyst with TD Bank Group is celebrating her 10-year anniversary with the organization. TD believes in investing in its employees through career development and Holly is an example of how learning benefits both the company and its employees.
In this interview Holly shares how she started her career as a Customer Service Representative while attending King’s University college. Now as a Business Analyst, Holly’s focus is on enhancing the employee experience in order to have a positive impact on our customers.
What motivated you to take the program at Western Continuing Studies?
An important focus for TD is the investment in its employees through Career Development. During one of these career-type conversations with my mentor, she had mentioned that having some form of formalized education in the learning and development realm would help set me apart from other applicants. She had recommended that I research various Adult Learning Programs at various campuses to find the one that best met my needs. The blended learning approach is what appealed to me the most about the program at Western Continuing Studies; time split between in class and online learning allowed for valuable face-to-face time with instructors and peers while also giving me the freedom and flexibility to work on assignments and projects at my own pace and convenience.
While completing the certificate program, I was made aware of an internal posting that would help me gain valuable skills around Project and Relationship Management. As I was learning in class, these are key skills of any adult learning professional. During my interview I was able to highlight key learning objectives from the Learning and Development program that help make me a good fit for the role. Even though my role is not formally in Learning and Development, I've enjoyed applying what I was able to learn throughout the program.
How would you describe the program to a colleague or friend?
As many of us know, adults learn differently than kids; they need to be able to add to their previous experiences and whatever it is needs to be relevant to them in some way. Not only does the Learning and Development program focus on teaching students the difference about adult learning principles but it also allows for the opportunity to apply these principles – adding relevance. What I was learning in class could and was applied in my day-to-day experiences. This program was useful and beneficial!
How are you applying what you learned in the program to your current role?
On more than one occasion, my manager and her peers have assigned various projects/tasks to me based on my Adult Learning certificate. For example, I am currently working on a project where I am introducing our application to a line of business that has never used it before. Unfortunately, the time crunch and budget restrictions of our project do not permit us to engage the Learning and Development team for a new curriculum; however, with the support and buy in of the right learning partners, I was able to build an onboarding curriculum that leveraged existing material and "net-new" content tailored to this business. They were very receptive to the training material and thankful for the investment in their learning needs.
The instructors and guest speakers involved in the Professional Certificate in Learning and Development program are truly fantastic – they will stretch you, guide you and support you the entire way. Furthermore, the people you meet sitting beside you in class/online bring invaluable ideas and experiences to the table. If you attend this program, you will not only walk away from each class with a new appreciation and understanding for the Learning and Development industry, but learn how to make positive impacts in others’ careers as well.