Suzanne Wagner, CPTD has been an ATD Member since 2009. Here's her story in her own words.
Years in the Talent Development Field?
Favorite or Most Used ATD Member Benefit?
• TD magazine
Best Talent Development Advice?
Be open to opportunities even if they don’t tick every box of a preconceived perfect job or title. Be flexible and explore engaging work via both lateral and promotional career paths. Take on unexpected new challenges as they arise to gain insight and skills in an unconventional way. The reward is a unique perspective with a deeper knowledge and skill set across varied areas, which positions anyone well for whatever move is desired next for a fulfilling and successful career. I’ve experienced tremendous professional growth working with the same global company for over a decade, holding seven roles and reporting to as many leaders, while supporting varied business areas in L&D and HR. When offered different roles throughout my employment, I was not at first convinced that the positions being discussed were the right ones at the right times for me. After careful consideration though, each time I always said “Yes,” so I could keep growing in previously unimagined ways. While there were definite obstacles to surmount along the way, the accomplishments at the end were tremendously gratifying. My talent development advice is to say “no” to a narrowly-defined, traditional career path as the only option and a resounding “YES” to newly envisioned opportunities for a fulfilling, well-rounded career! You’ll be glad you did.
Most Valuable Thing You’ve Gained or Experienced During Your Membership with ATD?
My ATD membership and CPTD® certification are the bedrock which enable my professional career to continue to evolve with every stage of life. I began my membership as a single person embarking on a new career path in L&D (find out more about my journey in the blog post “Never Look Back, Full Speed Ahead”). Since that time, I've changed jobs, married, had a baby, moved twice, dealt with long-term elder care, changed job roles multiple times at my current employer, and transitioned to permanent remote work while handling pandemic-related HR challenges. Being an ATD member and CPTD positioned me well each time I needed to pivot my position at work to fit my ever-changing life circumstances. I took on different roles in both L&D and HR, leveraged different knowledge or skills I had honed as part of the certification process, and was able to apply those to new situations. When studying for the exam, some areas of expertise felt less relevant to me than others. Little did I know just how relevant they would become as I navigated fresh challenges in totally new job roles! I'm so glad I had such a full toolkit at my disposal when my professional world expanded and my responsibilities grew. In 2014, I attended ATD’s 2014 International Conference & Exposition in Washington, DC, where General Stanley McChrystal was a keynote speaker. My father was also a former Army Ranger, and the general's speech inspired me, so I bought his leadership book, My Share of the Task: A Memoir, at the conference store. Numerous times since then I’ve drawn upon General McChyrstal’s leadership expertise shared in that book, which I would not have been exposed to had I not been at ATD’s conference that day. Life came full circle this year when General McChrystal was the keynote speaker at my employer’s annual leadership conference. Much has happened in the world and career-wise in the intervening years, but there has been one constant: My membership with ATD and my CPTD credential are the winning formula that have steadfastly granted me access to top-notch resources and networked professionals. These have guided my journey and consistently helped me adapt to changing times personally and professionally. Becoming—and staying—an ATD member and CPTD credential holder is the best decision I ever made.
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