Discover Your Next Moment

Talent development professionals are moment makers.

In the article, Talent Development Professionals are Moment Makers, we learn that regardless of role – whether stand up trainer, instructional designer, coach, performance consultant, CTDO, or other – every talent development professional can intentionally create moments of insight and connection for learners.

And of course, every talent development practitioner has their own mental scrapbook of defining moments that have informed and shaped them personally and professionally.

There are key career moments that create clarity of purpose and focus, alter the trajectory of work, and influence accomplishments. Some moments are significant only in retrospect when, in reflection, we can see how that meeting, or failure, or success, or opportunity created a cascade of events and opportunities we could have never imagined.

When was your last career moment? How did it impact your professional development path? How did it make you feel? Share your story with the field to inspire your peers to discover their next career moment.


  • Dr. Esther Jackson_ATD Moments
    Dr. Esther Jackson
    President & Instructional Designer, Innovative Learning Group
    My "Investing In My Career" Moment
    One defining career moment for me was a few years after receiving my master’s degree in instructional technology. My manager encouraged me to get involved with our local ATD chapter for skill enhancement and to meet other professionals. I attended one meeting but my organization stopped covering membership fees shortly after that. I decided that I did not need another expense with my minimal income at the time. The choice was made—thanks, but no thanks, to joining my ATD chapter. Just a couple years later, I was faced with a layoff from my organization.

    I decided that I had to revamp my approach to my career path. I was still determined to stick with my passion for sharing knowledge and working in talent development. In addition to job searching, I focused on what I needed to do to boost my skills, my experience, and make connections. This mindset brought me back to my local ATD chapter (ATD Detroit). This time, I was intentional with a personal mission to see what I could do to target my three areas.

    I attended another ATD Detroit meeting about five years after my first meeting. In this meeting, they announced board member vacancies. It was not a coincidence. The chapter was in need and so was I. I attended with interest in joining the chapter and left that night with an unplanned goal to join the board. With my previous mindset, I viewed this membership as an expense. Now, it had become an investment in my career journey that I could not afford to avoid. I was intentional in my goals, recognizing my potential, and tapping into leadership opportunities with ATD as a key resource.

    That was a pivotal point in my career and today I am the president of ATD Detroit.
  • Annette Jensen_ATD Moments
    Annette Jensen
    Director of Organization Development & Global Strategy, Widen Enterprises
    My "Finding Trust" Moment
    There is a moment when you discover that nothing matters, and nothing will be successful, without the presence of trust. Creating an organizational culture and learning environment around both trust and your core company values will always create something more significant than you could have ever imagined.
  • William Arruda Moments Headshot
    William Arruda
    My "Discovering My Passion" Moment
    The moment I learned talent development was my calling:

    I was working in branding for IBM/Lotus. Loved my job—cool products, amazing people. And branding was “my thing.”

    Then it all changed.

    I saw on my assistant’s desk a copy of Fast Company magazine. The cover story was “The Brand Called You” by Tom Peters. I immediately read the article, twice, and was transfixed—as well as transformed. I realized that as much as I loved the field of branding, what really moved me was developing the people on my team. Personal branding perfectly combined my branding expertise with my passion for people.

    That day I decided I would start the first-ever personal branding company and devote my career to helping people succeed and deliver greater value to their employer by living their authentic brand. It’s been almost two decades since I left the corporate world to start Reach Personal Branding, and I haven’t looked back. I have the distinction and privilege of being in the field longer than anyone else. As a pioneer, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the most amazing, innovative companies, where leadership truly believes that their talent is their greatest asset. Together we build programs to help their people tap the power of personal branding (and now digital branding) to increase their success and happiness at work. It’s wildly fulfilling, always inspiring, and rewarding for everyone in the process.
  • Irene Knokh Moments
    Irene Knokh
    Instructional Design Consultant, University of Michigan, Professional Development and Education for Nursing
    My "Off the Clock" Moment
    I recently compiled the volunteer work I do—everything from presentations to editing to writing proposal reviews. Although I don't always get a chance to use all of my professional background every day, I realized that what I do off the clock is just as important as what I do on the clock. Professional growth and development is my responsibility and no one else's. Sharing that knowledge with my colleagues and teammates is the best “bootcamp” for teaching and learning.

    My ATD moment happened a couple months ago. A former professor asked me to mentor a student in a learning design and technology program. This is my third year in this role; however, it's the first time I have mentored a student. The approach is different. The student is getting varied knowledge and receiving a grade in the course. There were resources to share, questions to ask, and projects to discuss. I felt a tremendous responsibility to ensure that she had a successful mentorship/internship. We ended up doing a bit of both.

    We met once weekly and also kept notes. I reviewed my mentee’s notes, wrote comments whenever possible, and asked questions when we met in person. She was very eager to learn and so was I. On several occasions, we were joined by her coordinator (my former professor), and we briefed him on our discussions and learning experiences.

    My work is a patchwork of different projects—instructional design and instructional technology consultations, program coordination in a team, technology mentoring, and everything in between to help make a program run smoothly. One of the projects I discussed with my mentee was a granular review of a huge website repository used by more than 5,000 nurses who work at Michigan Medicine: University of Michigan.

    The project involved checking everything from broken links to expired documents or issues with video downloads. As I was working on it, I “walked and talked through it” with my mentee. This is Jane Bozarth’s Working Out Loud approach in a slightly modified form. I pushed myself to talk through what I was doing and why.

    I also discussed my interest in open education, some of my favorite sites to share with our team, and free courses available for professional development and work application.

    The two of us wrapped up the program July 30. I am always going to be grateful for having this chance to work with the student, and to her professor for asking for my mentorship. I know that she will apply what she learned in her classes and work.

    P.S. As my mentee and I were wrapping up, a student instructional design internship position opened in another area of the university. She applied and got the job.
  • Moments - Cijaye DePradine
    Cijaye DePradine
    Senior Talent Specialist, Best Buy Canada
    My “Every Individual Is Unique” Moment
    I have been blessed to lead learning and development initiatives for nearly 25 years now, both in the corporate and private (entrepreneurial) space. I have designed and delivered everything from leadership and team building to personal and technical skills building. I have also delivered in one-on-one and one-to-many formats, including classroom, boardroom and executive off-sites. There have been many successes as well as many lessons learned throughout.

    The greatest lesson learned as of the last three months is that every individual is so incredibly unique. How we support them must also be unique (wherever possible).

    It can be difficult to do this in some ways and incredibly easy to do this in others. Surveying before building can help identify which methodologies will be most desired. Seeking feedback on our efforts will allow us to continuously improve what and how we support our people.

    From there, if we cannot personalize learning paths for everyone, in the least we should consider incorporating a truly blended (or 70-20-10) approach to each learning opportunity we share. This way, our audience gets to develop in their way and at their pace so that we can making learning stick.
  • Jeb Hoge Headshot_ATD Moments
    Jeb Hoge
    My "Engaging My Learners" Moment
    In one of my earliest training experiences, I was teaching shipyard workers about using new "electronic clipboards" for quality control. The dozen or so workers were skeptical about bringing new technology into a very analog workplace, and as a contractor, I sure wasn't one of them.

    I knew that the learning had clicked, though, when I got one or two talking about their process and understanding how the new software would make it easier, and then they started coming up with their own scenarios, teaching the rest of the class while I took on the role of facilitator. By the end of the day, I felt great knowing I was able to not only educate but also get them fired up for new technology to make their jobs easier.
  • Johari Rashad, PhD_Moments
    Johari Rashad, PhD
    My "Touchdown for the Win" Moment
    My federal training career started in 1980 at a federal training center in Washington, D.C. One of my monthly teaching duties was teaching a three-day course on the roles of supervisors in EEO. At that time, a majority of the attendees were male.

    Many of the participants who came didn't want to be there. They were sent by their agencies (for a variety of reasons). They often made it very clear that they were just there to ‘get their ticket punched.’ I had to find a way to teach them material they needed to know to perform their jobs effectively.

    I started warming up the class by talking about the previous weekend's football games (I was an avid fan of my home team). They didn't expect that! I'd recount some of the tackles and hits that had occurred. I pointed out the protective safety gear that players wore; they wouldn't go out on the field without it! I told them that trying to do their jobs as supervisors without adequate knowledge of EEO requirements was being on the playing field without equipment. Their attitudes and body language changed remarkably after that, and I was able to hold their attention in my classes!
  • Lyle Thiessen Headshot.jpg
    Lyle Thiessen
    My “Finding the Right Answers” Moment
    Often, we don't realize what we have until we no longer have it. I had been a high school teacher and college professor for a number of years when I decided to make a career change. Using my two degrees in communication, I envisioned myself to be successful in sales. Huge mistake.

    While I was successful, I was miserable. I missed the "aha" moments, the inquisitiveness of others, the challenging questions, the debate, and the "thanks for that" comments. After a few short months, I transitioned to a job as an internal corporate trainer and consultant, and 32 years later I’m still enjoying the riches this opportunity brings me.

    I value the opportunity to talk about issues, to experiment with ideas, to challenge thinking, and to be challenged in my thinking. Any time I sense pushback, I realize I have stimulated a new thought process. Right ideas or wrong ideas, learning stems from looking at things from new perspectives.

    As trainers, we know we do not have all the right answers, but we do have a lot of questions, which leads to the contribution of many right answers.
  • Debbie Richards.jpg
    Debbie Richards
    My “Reconnect With My Tribe” Moment
    I love attending ATD conferences each year. Call me a geek—I download the mobile app and print out the schedule and agenda. I plan everything I want to see and do to make sure I make the most of my time.

    I especially love seeing my friends from around the globe at the conferences. We may talk via email, social media, or through online meetings during the year, but there's something special about sharing a cup of coffee and chatting in person. We support each other and share stories that only people in our business can relate to. I love my tribe and always look forward to connecting in person.
  • Adelle Dantzler.jpeg
    Adelle Dantzler
    My “No Longer Just a Side Business” Moment
    My ‘aha’ moment evolved during the 2017 and 2018 DCATD Mentoring Programs and was confirmed during the 2018 CAPSTONE project presentations.

    For two years I had coordinated the mentoring program. For two years, we started the program with vision boarding and continued with vision statements, career assessments, guest speakers, mission statements, reflection moments, one-on-one coaching, group coaching, and individualized development plans. It delighted me to guide others in finding their purpose as learning professionals and developing a plan to reach it, and I also participated in the activities as a mentor.

    To my surprise, my vision board changed and career assessments confirmed that I truly had the passion, talents, and strengths to fulfill my potential in the career services field. I've been training and coaching others with federal applications, private industry resumes, interviewing, and job search strategies as a side business for 15 years, but I'm now enacting plans with the knowledge and opportunities afforded to me by my volunteering and participation in ATD and especially the local chapter DCATD (Mentoring Program, Free Agent CoP, Government CoP, Career Connections, Leadership CoP, Coaching CoP, etc.) to do it!
  • Carol Jackson Headshot.jpg
    Carol Jackson
    My “Launching Growth” Moment
    As an L&D leader, I have measured the effect that career development has on employee retention. It is my responsibility to help employees eager to develop their career. We want to prevent disengagement and, ultimately, attrition. What if, however, developing an employee means losing one of your best workers from your already-too-lean L&D team? This was a difficult conversation for my team member and me and a defining moment in my leadership role.

    Three years ago, I handpicked this employee to form a four-person L&D team. Despite offering an array of innovative training projects, she needed more challenges. She was a high-potential candidate with great leadership skills. To move up in the company, she invariably needed to move out of L&D and into a strategic, upwardly mobile role. We started a coaching journey, discussing personal goals and reviewing open job positions. We ultimately selected one where she would be personally challenged as well as visible to senior leadership. For several weeks, we focused our one-on-one meetings on documenting her current role to prepare for a transition plan while also setting some personal goals.

    During the transition, we worked together to select the best fit for her replacement. We did not just want to replace her; we wanted to improve the team with our new candidate. We found a great internal candidate and experienced a smooth transition. As our core team member starts her next chapter, our entire team will miss her. Yet, I feel like we have launched an employee who will create a positive difference for the new team and ultimately for the company. I look forward to watching her grow in many directions. Career development means celebrating together, not saying goodbye.
  • David Norris.png
    David Norris
    My “Learning Takes Flight” Moment
    While I served as a training manager for an aviation organization, a considerable disconnect arose between charter sales and flight operations staff members. The relationship between the two groups grew tense—the sales staff felt like pilots weren’t properly motivated to accept trips, and the pilots felt they were being chastised for declining flights due to safety and regulatory concerns.

    Using my consulting skills, I concluded that this conflict was rooted in the sales staff “not knowing what they don’t know.” A training solution, therefore, would be a good fit solution.

    I approached the sales manager and the director of operations with a proposal: We needed to conduct a special sales-oriented training detailing the regulatory and safety concerns pilots must evaluate about each trip and destination.

    After learning about the detailed safety and regulatory concerns pilots must evaluate when initially accepting a trip as well as continuing to their original destination, the sales staff unanimously voted to leave the “go/no go” decision in the hands of the pilots.

    Simultaneously, learning content was added into the pilots’ annual training. This information emphasized how, during pre-departure discussions with the sales staff, pilots could suggest alternatives if the desired time or destination was unavailable due to safety or regulatory reasons.

    While I knew these sessions were well-designed and well-delivered, the best feedback came from seeing the improved relationship between sales and flight operations. This newly collaborative relationship resulted in more trips sold and more trips flown. Business objectives of increased sales and revenue were also met.

    This experience emphasized for me that TD professionals are often as much organizational consultants as they are designers and purveyors of high-quality training.
  • CB Headshot.png
    Crystal Black
    My “Trusting my inner voice” Moment
    I remember the glorious yet frightful moment I finally leaned into the small voice in my mind that had been mentoring me for more than a decade. The small voice whispered that I had important and valuable things to say (as do we all), however, I had been allowing my fear of public speaking to hold me back from my natural proclivity, honed talent, and leadership capacity.

    Stating how much it pained me to sit in meetings, watch plans unravel, and sit on the sidelines when I knew I could offer just the right words to disrupt conformity and challenge mediocrity would not adequately express the frustration I had with myself.

    Nevertheless, most times I didn’t utter a word because I couldn’t let myself take the risk of my words and energy bearing no fruit.

    I decided to visit a nearby professionals’ speaking club, where I was encouraged to step away from my fear on a weekly basis. I discovered my ability to articulate my thoughts not only publicly but in a manner which people could both feel and relate. The small step of courage it took for me to do what I was meant to do led to a variety of open doors!

    Whenever I begin to doubt my path, decisions, and future, I lean into that small voice and look at how far I've traveled to become a respected adult education trainer, instructional systems designer, strategic leader, and, at my core, talent developer!

    In one sentence, I know for sure that my skill for relationship management, willingness to face my fear of public speaking, and endless curiosity provides me a great deal of satisfaction, both professionally and personally!
  • Damona Barnes
    Damona Barnes
    Training and Development Specialist, Barriere Construction Co., L.L.C.
    My “Sparking Innovation Within My Organization” Moment
    I attended the Effective SMEs: How to Help Subject Matter Experts Facilitate Learning session at ATD’s International Conference and purchased and read the corresponding book. Immediately upon my return, I worked with our senior operations executives to determine which of our project managers was available and willing to work with me as a SME on designing a course on tracking quantities for our field engineers. We had three project meetings to work on content and presentations and held our first-ever (yay!) pilot session of the course in front of senior leaders.

    The course was facilitated on June 18 with immediate feedback being positive from the participants. Yesterday, the word had spread that it was the "best field engineer training yet"! Most participants enjoyed the fact that the course was facilitated by two SMEs who had previously been field engineers and had recently been promoted. Things are still buzzing around this course, but I have to share the direct link of my attendance of this session being the spark of what is a new training concept for my organization.
  • James Haak, APTD_Headshot.jpeg
    James Haak, APTD
    My “Proof of Belonging” Moment
    I joined the talent development world to blend my experience with education, music, and improv comedy under the ‘umbrella’ of employee engagement. ATD provides a home where those skills are valued and also challenged me to use these skills to disrupt how I connect with learners. I got into the industry and gained experience, but I still felt like I was a ‘performer’ and not a trainer. When the APTD was created, I saw an opportunity to prove that I belonged in this community. I studied hard, and for a ‘creative type’ this included lots of material about the irony of my own adult learning pain! I got my APTD in the inaugural offering, October 2017. Yes! And?? My improv and music skills blend with professional knowledge to create a ‘Training Rock Star’!
  • 362.png
    Nooriya Koshen
    My "Cross Cultural Winning" Moment
    I had such a moment when I was facilitating a group that was having problems, part of which seemed due to cultural differences. A large part of the group was from the host country, while other members were from various other countries. I asked the members to talk for 5-10 minutes about key aspects of their culture. They spoke with passion and humor about their cultures. What struck everyone was that despite all being from Africa, there were substantial differences as well as similarities. Ultimately, the opportunity for this shared experience led to openness and curiosity, which allowed a productive conversation.
  • Susie P. Moments 7.29 Headshot.png
    Susie Platt
    My “Not Being Quiet About My Goals” Moment
    I was in a position I loved and had just been promoted. Career growth is always top of mind for me, so I started thinking about my next move. I was a trainer, but I wanted to contribute more toward creating our training programs and helping our employees prepare for their next steps. I decided I wanted to move to our corporate training and development group.

    I knew the manager of that department and approached her at an internal conference. I said, "I want to make an impact throughout our program. Would you mentor me into a position on your team?" She happily said yes and asked me to contact her after the conference.

    The next day it was announced that a position was opening on her team, as the previous employee was promoted. I contacted the manager and said, "Timing is everything!" We had a conversation and a few weeks later, I was in the role I wanted.

    A former manager once told me that people like to help us accomplish our goals, so we should not be quiet about them. I'm proof that is true.
Discover how ATD can help you experience key moments and maximize all the moments in-between.
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Experience Foundational Learning Moments at the Core 4 Conference
Experience A-Ha Moments with ATD Publications
Team Training
Experience Pivotal Career Moments In An Upcoming Education Course
Experience Connection Moments with ATD Membership

Discover Your Next Moment with ATD:

Now, think about the collective impact of your own career moments. They determine how you'll be spending the coming weeks, months and years and leave a lasting mark on your career. Just like intentionality can be brought to your work in designing moments that create an optimal learner experience, you can be intentional about recognizing “those occasions worthy of investment*” for your own career and future. Share your story below:

*quoted from The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath.