Amanda Smith: Before we get into the program, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background with regard to talent development and consulting?
Halelly Azulay: When I started in my career, I actually was thinking about maybe going into academia, because I had a feeling, I really enjoy researching, I enjoy teaching things that I know to others. When I started my career in academia at the University of Maryland, I realized that was not exactly the thing for me. I hopped on over to the corporate world, where I worked my way up from training assistant to training manager with one particular company, and I gained a lot of internal consulting experience at that point in my career.
Then I hopped on over to another organization, where I did more performance improvement consulting and a lot of work with teams as well as with communication and leadership development. I struck out on my own in 2006 and started my company, TalentGrow, which is a consulting company. So for the past almost 12 years I’ve been consulting for a whole lot of different clients. My focus is especially around the topics of leadership development and how to develop leaders who people actually want to follow.
Amanda: So you’ll be facilitating ATD’s Consulting Skills Certificate Program again next month. Can you give us an overview of the program, and what’s one of your favorite parts?
Halelly: Definitely this course is good for internal consultants or external consultants—whether you are inside an organization and consulting within it to the other employees, or if you’re like me now, consulting as an external provider of service to different organizations. I’ve been both. This particular program is a two-day program that gives people a very solid understanding of what consulting is all about. In it you will learn a five-step consulting model that you can use going forward. It’s a process that helps you ensure that when you’re consulting, you’re not leaving anything unaddressed that comes back to haunt you later. I know from my own experience, and from the many stories people have shared with me as I’ve done this program over and over for the last several years, that there are many mistakes that are very easy to make when you don’t have a solid foundation in terms of a process to use reliably. That’s one of the strengths of this particular program.
What I think is also really helpful in this particular certificate program is that there is a case study that we use throughout the entire two days that we build on, so people get a hands-on experience in addition to learning the theories and learning lots of tips and techniques and strategies. Consistently throughout the two days, every time we learn something new, we apply it through the case study so people really get a sense of how to do it. They experience it actively, and that really helps solidify the learning.
I think that the case study is my favorite part in general, and what people are really wowed by is the incredible amount of additional resources that they walk away with. That’s because the participant guide has not only all the information that we use throughout the course, but also an appendix with a ton of additional information and lots of tools and templates that you can plug in and play with in your own practice later. I really love knowing that people really get a solid sense of that process, that they really understand how to do it even though it’s just two days of learning, and that they have resources that they can use going forward to begin implementing what they learned from that very next day.
Amanda: Who would benefit most from attending this certificate program?
Halelly: Well, I have had people that span the entire gamut between people who say, “I think I might be doing more consulting, I have no idea exactly even what it might look like or what it might mean,” all the way to people who have been doing it for 15 and 20 years.
People always walk away with actionable, useful information that they can apply to ratchet up their own skills. I find that the majority of the people that tend to sign up and benefit from this program have just started to try and move away from the order-taker role in L&D and talent development and more into a strategic partner, playing more of a consultant role and being involved in more of the thinking behind an initiative rather than just being spoon-fed what needs to happen. A lot of times those people recognize that they can bring lots more value, but they don’t really have a very tried-and-true process that they can rely upon.
I have also had people who are thinking about maybe striking out on their own, becoming external consultants, and this program can of course teach you invaluable skills that you can then bring to your clients and feel a lot more confident about the work that you do and the value that you offer.
And for those participants that are more seasoned, a lot of times they fall into a pattern where they may tend to do the same thing over and over and they may not have explicitly thought, “Is this working well? Or are there ways that I could do what I’m doing more efficiently or maybe more effectively?” By being able to examine their own existing successful or potentially successful practice within this particular workshop, they’re able to fine-tune it. They’re able to infuse a little more professionalism into what they’re doing.
Also, a lot of times it really gives them that additional strength to push back against what happens to a lot of us, which is when the clients are not necessarily bought-in—they aren’t sure they were asking for what we’re offering. They just thought they were going to tell us, “Hey, can you give me this training class on . . . ” And when you push back with a consultant’s hat on to say, “Well, absolutely I could. Tell me more about what made you think that this would be the best approach and help me understand more about the problem,” you get some resistance, possibly, and that’s one of the things we address. I think having the model and the resources really fortifies you to give clients the value that they’re looking for that might not be what they thought they were coming to ask for when they came to you.
Amanda: What’s something that surprises or delights people who participate in this program?
Halelly: The surprises would probably be different based on your level of experience or expectations coming in. I think that most people are surprised by how well they know the model when they leave. We do a review at the end and it’s always just awesome to hear people say, “Wow, two days ago I first got introduced to this brand-new model and now I know it inside and out.” Also, they might be surprised by how confident they feel about using this approach and being able to really ratchet up their effectiveness back at work.
I think that excitement, that motivation, that confidence, even though it’s just two days and it’s a lot of new information, is really exiting.
I certainly hope that you join me in Dallas and be part of this program. Thank you for inviting me to speak about it and for allowing me to be part of the professional development of my colleagues in the field. That’s the reason I come back to ATD as a facilitator. When I work with other clients’ companies, it’s on a quarterly basis, but then I can come back to my own tribe of talent development professional colleagues through ATD and share my knowledge, my experience, and help to bring up everybody else’s skills. It’s very rewarding and I would love to add value to readers who sign up—I would be so excited to meet them in Dallas.
Amanda: Thanks so much, Halelly, for telling us more about the ATD’s Consulting Skills Certificate Program. If you want more information on this and other L&D topics, please visit our website at www.td.org.