Learning has to come from a place of curiosity

How did an English literature graduate end up at as the Competence Development Manager at Kanthal? Thanks to the same kind of curiosity that her colleagues harness when they embrace learning, explains Anne-Sophie Bordonado.

Having added a master’s in business translation, as well as degrees in finance and commerce, to her literary degree, Anne-Sophie worked in teaching in the UK before heading back to France for a position at Kanthal as Manager of Inside Sales. After several years in Sales, she was asked to look at what professional development was offered across the company globally.

“Kanthal has a long history of valuing learning but at that point there had been mostly local initiatives – especially in leadership, sales and marketing – so I started mapping the competence needs to identify the priorities and where to start.”

Local initiatives grew into on-site visits to make sure knowledge was shared across the company globally. Today, the collaboration between sites, sharing of case studies and other knowledge are appreciated and highly valued ways of learning. This also benefits customers as the knowledge is taken out on the field.

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On-site visits were made impossible by the pandemic, which pushed learning online. “There has been a risk of ‘Powerpoint fatigue’ when working from home, so we diversified our learnings offering,” says Anne-Sophie who made sure Kanthal acquired access to LinkedIn Learnings, among other platforms, so employees could let their curiosity drive them; with the added benefit of courses, webinars and teaching materials being available at whichever time suits the learner.

“I think that going forward, digital learning must be developed as we will not travel as much in the future”, she says.

Hands-on training will always be valuable. “By hands-on I mean literally hands-on,” she says. “For example, when the sales teams have not had an opportunity to see the products – to literally touch them and ask questions – it’s almost like selling a theoretical product.”

So what’s the goal of making professional development part of a company’s DNA? Anne-Sophie’s answer is succinct. “For people to grow.”

“I’m a good example of taking on new challenges and being eager to learn new skills,” she says. “I started in Inside Sales, expanded into HR and the area of professional learning and recently accepted to add on the responsibility as HR Manager and Managing Director for France. When you’re ready to open up to fresh opportunities and be curious, you can grow yourself and your career.”

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