In the spring of 2010, I had just moved to a new leadership role as a training director, the first where my passion for learning and development was the primary part of my job and I was thrilled! At the same time, I knew I was about to face significant challenges. The chief information officer (CIO), who hired me, wanted me to build a technology training capability by recruiting a training team and then delivering a training program that would make sure people could perform their jobs using the organization’s first enterprise-wide software implementation. Training would be critical to the success of this project. The larger IT team had already started work on this monumental project so there was no time to lose.
As I was bringing new team members on board I thought about the kind of learning capability that we would need to be successful as well as my own personal contribution . I realized that we needed to cultivate our ability to affect the organization to the greatest degree possible. We needed the sharpest learning skills we could get! Also, I wanted to support each of the team members in their professional development journey. Each was extraordinary in their own way and I accepted my responsibility to help them grow professionally. After some research, I discovered the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) certification and thought that could help us achieve our goals.
With this in mind, I personally committed to the goal of becoming a CPLP during the next cycle, about six months. I shared this commitment with my team and asked if anyone was interested in joining me. As a team, we talked about creating a learning series for ourselves that was consistent with the CPLP curriculum. Not everyone on the team was ready to work toward the CPLP, but everyone wanted to participate in the sessions.
I built a business case for how having CPLPs on our team would help us develop our learning capability and use it to achieve the change in behavior and increase in proficiency we would need for the new system to be successful. I presented this to the CIO and he authorized investment in our learning sessions and the CPLP, including purchasing the ATD Learning System study materials.
I selected Managing the Learning Function as the focus for the second phase of testing because I already had a good start on experiences for this area and wanted to grow further. I created a CPLP project plan for myself with a couple of weeks for each module, and specific actions to address gaps in experience. It wasn’t always easy to meet the requirements of my plan, but I stuck it out.
On September 10, 2010, I passed the Knowledge Exam. Soon afterward I learned that I had passed the second exam, as well. I was now a CPLP. My team encouraged me to keep going when it became difficult to balance work, family, and CPLP preparation. At times, they picked up extra work so I could study and I am deeply thankful for that support.
Earning the CPLP enabled me to do my part in creating the training capability we needed and making sure people were proficient with the new enterprise-wide software. Training people to use the new system effectively was a key part in the overall success of the IT project, which earned a spot on CIO Magazine’s Top 100 Projects list for 2011.
In the years since then, the CPLP credential has opened avenues in my career that would not have been available to me without it. One example is from my second career as a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve. The CPLP was instrumental in demonstrating the background and experiences needed for me to be selected as the training director for the Southwestern Region of the United States. What I learned in the process continues to serve me, particularly as a consulting manager with Slalom, where I use my CPLP skills on every engagement.
Looking back over my career, earning the CPLP is one of the things that makes me the proudest. The CPLP helped me pivot my career toward my passion, demonstrate to potential employers that I can meet their learning and development needs, and differentiates me from others when talking to potential clients.