Five Questions on Learning with DoceboInspire Speaker Marina Theodotou

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AI, mobility, skills gap central to present and future of L&D, according to DoceboInspire speaker

DoceboInspire, one of the biggest events in L&D, is fast approaching and we’ve got a great group of speakers lined up to enthrall, engage, and entertain attendees. As we lead up to the event, we’re presenting a Q&A series with some of our speakers so they can share their thoughts on the world of L&D and what they hope to discuss during the big event.

Today we present a chat we had with Marina Theodotou, a Learning & Development Executive focusing on the alignment of learning to business performance results. Here’s what she had to say:

How did you enter the field of L&D and why is it important to you today?

I feel grateful to have had great opportunities and experiences in a long career spanning three industries (financial services, management consulting, and L&D), three geographies (Americas, EU, and MENA), and three sectors (private, government, and non-profit/associations).  

A few years ago I realized a common denominator from all past roles emerged: helping individuals and organizations reach their potential through learning.  Today, my “why” is helping organizations increase productivity, performance, profitability by optimizing their talent through measurable and relevant L&D programs and technologies.

What are some of the most important trends and developments in L&D today, from your perspective?

L&D affects one of the greatest challenges of the US economy today: the skills gap, which  needs to be addressed in three key areas: during K-12 with college readiness, during college with career planning, and during employment with relevant and measurable learning experiences.  

CLOs and their teams have a responsibility and an opportunity to drive change within their organizations to close the skills gap by:

  • Understanding the needs of the business 
  • Empowering individual learners to improve and track their skills 
  • Aligning learning to business performance results
  • Measuring the business impact of learning or ROI

What disruptive elements do you envision entering the L&D field in the next year or two?

The two disruptive elements that will likely enter the L&D field in the next few years are:

  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI). According to Andrew Ng at Stanford, all activities that take us 30 seconds to complete will be soon be accomplished by robots, followed by activities taking 45 seconds, 60 seconds, and so on.  The disruption for L&D then becomes: how do we help the learner differentiate herself or himself from the robot?
  2. The second disruptive element involves our scientists’ ability to upload learning content in DNA. Recently, Harvard scientists successfully uploaded a GIF of a galloping horse into the DNA of e. coli. The image was downloaded with 90% accuracy. While this can be truly disruptive for L&D perhaps it will take a few years, after we see the impact of these approaches in the mainstream.

What do you hear learners talk about right now that is not being talked about in learning communities?

Currently, the learners I work with are K-12 teachers. They are amongst the most deserving and most underserved in the L&D space. A K-12 teacher can impact up to 4,000 students during her career and yet gets very little access to quality learning and development.

I hear K-12 teachers talk about this and I see a chasm in the broader learning community that is not discussed: L&D today focuses only on learners that are finishing college and entering the workforce. However, the learners and their learning experiences begin much earlier in K-12. Today’s K-12 students are tomorrow’s talent, and if they are disengaged they can cost an organization up to $50,000 per person, per year.  We need CLOs to engage more with K-12 principals and administrators to tackle learning and development needs both today and tomorrow.

What comments can you make about the current and future role of technology as it relates to L&D?

Technology is ubiquitous and our smartphones are ruling us.  At the same time, technology is an amazing enabler.  For L&D I see the positive impact on two levels:  First, on the individual L&D level, the learner, the impact is positive:  we can now learn and literally bring the preferred learning to our fingertips, eyes, and ears at the preferred moment, in the preferred format. 

Second, on the broader L&D industry level, technology and Big Data are enabling CLOs and their L&D teams to align learning to business performance results and to clearly demonstrate the ROI to their organizations.

Stay tuned to the Docebo blog in the upcoming days as we’ll be talking to other L&D experts from our excellent lineup of DoceboInspire speakers.

Haven’t registered yet? Get your ticket today and come to Boston for the L&D event of the season.