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Faster learning at Miele, Tourism Australia, Yellowfin, Adapt for Success

4 learning and development heads on the changed landscape of HR


Image: Steven Murphy - “Our work is being reimagined on a scale seldom seen before.” 

Steven Murphy manages the People and Culture team at Tourism Australia.

The learning and development head has never seen his industry so challenged. 

“When COVID first hit we were still recovering from the impact of the bushfires and our people had to rapidly change direction to focus on our domestic market.”

Accelerating skills in 2021 is not just a priority for Tourism Australia, it's a theme across all four HR heads we spoke to.

Doing things different and faster

Steven said rapid upskilling and transitions are the new norm at TA.

“Our people have risen to the challenge and learned to do things differently and faster,” he says. 

Steven says L&D at Tourism Australia now:

·       Spans support in health and wellbeing of employees.

·       Is strongly weighted in the softer skills/emotional EQ.

·       Reinforces leadership and strong communication skills. 


Learning across the world

With 12 international offices, Steven’s role is a global one.

He trusts The Growth Faculty to help his team deliver learning and development to leaders. 

“The Growth Faculty provides our people with leadership inspiration and a trusted external platform to ensure we stay current.”

Speed of change in the workplace

Steven says the speed of change in workplaces is both exciting and disconcerting.

“Despite the difficulties, our people are more adaptable, resilient, and are better leaders...Our ability to flex and create new skills have been tested and strengthened.”

Why Steven likes The Growth Faculty for L&D:

·       The calibre of the presenters.

·       The topicality of the subjects.

·       Leadership inspiration.

·       Varied learning content.

·       A focus on new ways of approaching work. 

While on L&D, a reminder here for HR executives that The Growth Faculty is continually adding new speakers.

Miele's multi-pronged approach

Appliance company Miele has also shown adaptability.

“We’ve had to turn our face-to-face development initiatives into virtually-led” says Miele’s former senior HR Business Partner Kriti Malhotra -Sahni (pictured below), "Or push out dates for face-to-face training."


Kriti advises a 2-pronged learning approach:

  • One prong is ‘getting the basics’ right - develop skills needed to keep the wheels going today.
  • The other is focused on developing people and skilling the future.

Skills gaps revealed in the virtual workplace

She says the flexible and virtual world is revealing skills gaps in employees.


•  A great communicator in the office might be less effective via email, phone, or online.

•  An employee following the same process for years may struggle when forced to go virtual.

Learning no longer a “tick the box” exercise

There's a shift from L&D being a HR-driven resource (“a tick the box”) to employees and leaders taking responsibility.

“HR, P&C teams should work to support and direct the organisation but at the end of the day, the individual needs to take ownership of their own development,” she says.

“It really is 20% formal training and 80% on-the-job learning that develops people and enhances their skill set.”

Learning partners include Melbourne Business School and virtual L&D platforms LinkedIn Learning and The Growth Faculty.

Why Kriti likes The Growth Faculty for L&D:

·       Offers both small, practical ideas to implement and “out-of-your-comfort-zone” thought provoking concepts.

·       Virtual sessions so L&D can be offered to employees anywhere.

·       Highly valuable and meticulously organised.

·       Highly engaging.

·       Globally renowned thought leaders (think: Simon Sinek, Brené Brown)


Image: Natalie Mendes with Malala Yousafzai at an event hosted by The Growth Faculty

Learning to build customer relationships

Natalie Mendes, Account-Based Marketing head at Yellowfin BI, says leaders “should always be learning.”

Leaders love to hear how other leaders do things, she says. 

Leadership development activities form part of Yellowfin’s marketing strategy. 

It’s how they build deep relationships with clients.

“You have to come out from the weeds in your own organisation, and we provide that opportunity to our customers,” she says.

“If we can give executives a platform to engage with leadership experiences like those The Growth Faculty offers it’s a win-win,” she said in our interview.

Why Natalie likes The Growth Faculty for L&D:

·       Helps us build stronger partnerships with clients.

·       Provides an outward view – “gets us out from the weeds.”

·       The calibre of the speakers.

·       There’s 'no way we can do what The Growth Faculty does to engage our customers'.

·       Helps leaders to keep ahead of their teams. 



Image: Audra Lee - "Crisis management has become a priority."

The people side of transformation

Singapore-based Audra Lee coaches the “people side” of transformation.

The Adapt for Success founder says dealing with change is her focus for 2021.

“Crisis management is not a module I’d thought about,” she says, “but now it’s part of an L&D strategy - the ability to adapt to make quick decisions to find innovative solutions.”

Supporting the mental health and wellbeing of people

Audra says there’s been a big need managing workplace stress and anxiety, with a lot of organisations never having to deal with it before.

“L&D has to adapt very quickly to deliver value as to what is needed now. Right now leaders need that capability building, especially around wellbeing, how to support your people in such a stressful time.”

Inspiring ideas she’s seen:

·       Free subscription to Headspace for a year.

·       Allowing employees to choose the benefits they need in this time.

Leaders need to find the sparks

Audra says leaders have to be nimble, and seek out sparks of inspiration. The Growth Faculty, she says, has a lot of content with authors and leaders who can spark that innovative thinking.

“It’s completely around a growth mindset…a thirst for learning, listening and watching out for different ways of seeing things that will be better, instead of ‘Oh this is how it is’.”

Why Audra likes The Growth Faculty for L&D:

·       It’s not just about professional growth, it’s about developing the whole person.

·       Trusted speakers, well-known leaders in their field.

·       Latest thinking that can be adopted quickly.

·       Has a hook that adds value immediately.

·       Opportunity to link topics to business strategy.


L&D is now a higher priority for HR, as the need for new skills is accelerating.  

A Gartner survey of HR leaders found that 68% of respondents cited building critical skills and competencies as their number one priority in 2021.

Other priorities include organizational design and change management (46%), current and future leadership bench (44%), the future of work (32%) and employee experience (28%).

Learning and development is itself learning and developing.

  • Emotional skills like empathy, listening and communication are the focus.
  • A growth mindset, an openness to learn, is essential.

And, as our intervewees say, it's about accessing ways to faster learning to cope with change.

Thought leader Whitney Johnson puts it like this:

"It's not what you's how quickly can you access what others know."

If you'd like to increase your professional development why not consider becoming a member of The Growth Faculty? One membership, unlimited access to 30 live virtual Time For Transformation masterclasses and the best live virtual events - PLUS year-round leadership content On Demand with videos, podcasts and book summaries. Join a community of knowledge seekers who are inspired by the best. Access $4350+ value for just $398 AUD. See who's up next.