Learning and Development and Leadership Consultant
Donnee Ramelli began his career as a Naval Officer and climbed to leadership roles within Allied Signal/Honeywell, General Motors, and Fannie Mae. For the past two years he has been working as an independent consultant. He is a former member of LearnShare Consortium's Board of Management and the ASTD Board of Directors, and a current member of the Conference Board Council on Learning, Development and Organizational Performance.
Q| At what point in your career path did you first become interested in the learning and development profession? Since then, how has your career evolved?
A| My professional interest can be traced to my wife - a great teacher and my favorite expert on "student-centered" course design. She emphasizes how focusing on the students' learning styles and using engaging activities can enhance the value and results of learning. I discovered the "gold" of action learning from her, and I worked to improve the training I imbedded in change initiatives.
Action learning focused on "result$, result$, result$" became my primary strategy in those early years and led to AlliedSignal/Honeywell and others recruiting me for their major turnaround efforts.
Q| What strengths have you relied on to grow in your career?
A| I think I am smart, agile, loyal, fast, curious, determined, creative, and focused on results.
I have led three large change management efforts and more than a dozen major consulting engagements focused on driving change through action learning that engages empowered employees. I think being on the front lines in leading, teaching, and coaching these efforts was not only rewarding, but it led me to understand which methods in change initiatives succeed and which fail.
Q| What new professional lessons have you learned since becoming a consultant?
A| Quick, focused efforts are necessary in this lean environment. Help your client or company develop "hot skills" for their stakeholders in ways that move them quickly to action and results.
Use small group classroom breakout sessions to work on real business problems. This engages, energizes, and empowers leaders at all levels and creates a real-world context for understanding and applying practical approaches that lead to success.
Q| How do you stay current in the learning and development field?
A|This has all changed with the Internet! While I miss the face time I had with my teams and networks during the past 20 years, now all I have to do is "Google" the issue, and I can find 20 resources that provide free information on a variety of training and development topics.
Q| What advice would you give those wanting to advance their careers in the field?
A| 1. Cultivate leadership support. Engage leaders in the planning, designing, and teaching of critical learning programs like leadership development or strategic change management. They will become advocates who act as partners rather than critics.
2. Link learning to business priorities. Ensure that your learning programs are visibly linked to business priorities and focused on key skills to drive performance and results. This encourages leaders to support the efforts and employees to get involved in improving their capabilities and performance.
3. Innovate, innovate, innovate. Create, borrow, or steal new approaches to learning that are quicker, better, and cheaper. Challenge everyone on your team to scour the web and their networks for best practices or promising techniques that accelerate "lean learning."
4. Master the mix of technology and engagement. The technology mix can be customized through infinite combinations - whether you are using the classroom, a laptop, or handheld devices to deliver training. Be it a department webpage, digital documents, or interactive e-learning, reassess how you are using each technology medium for each learner segment.
5. Think like the CEO. Take off your training hat at least once a week and think about the business like the CEO does: What are the key threats, challenges, opportunities, and priorities? Identify performance issues - training can usually help by providing new skills, tools, or knowledge.