Technology Helps Put the Power of Learning in the Employees' Hands

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Hilti had a vision to increase performance by changing the way its employees learn. As we progress on the digital front for our customers, internally we were still focused on classroom training. By combining efforts within our learning strategy with a needed revision to our marketing training, we were able to pilot a new way of learning with a clear business outcome. 

In 2015, it was clear that the existing marketing training was not aligned with the direction of our corporate strategy. Even the strongest advocates began adapting elements to make it more modern. The L&D design team was working on the company’s learning strategy and had found six trends affecting our approach to learning:

  1. The employee base was already at 51 percent Millennials, and creeping upward steadily, bringing new expectations to company-provided development opportunities.

  2. Much of our knowledge base existed in our most tenured employees, many of whom were approaching retirement yet still wanted to be valued and valuable.

  3. Our focus on increasing gender diversity had led to us nearing 20 percent female employees who needed specific development inside a male-dominated organization.

  4. The organization was were growing strongly in the emerging markets, while our approach was traditionally focused on the central European cultures.

  5. Due to our growth patterns, we saw a much more diverse educational background in the  workforce.

  6. Technology changes were affecting every aspect of how we work and making our world more connected and we needed to capitalize on those opportunities.

By carefully working with key stakeholders, we were soon armed with the approval of key executive sponsors to develop marketing training content aligned to our corporate overarching strategy and our learning strategy. We defined our aspirations as:

  • Create an engaging learning experience that strengthens performance and attracts top talent.

  • Offer world class learning technology that drives sustainable behavior change.

  • Fully embrace key technology initiatives such as digitalization.

At the end of 2015, we drafted the design of what would become ExploreMarketing2020, nicknamed #XM2020, to embrace the digital approach. The #XM2020 program was touted as the learning journey to ensure a rapid time to performance for new marketers at Hilti. In other words, it would take Hilti out of the traditional classroom, out of a one-size fits all approach, and well out of our comfort zone.


First, we had to answer some key questions. From our learning strategy, we knew that our learners were changing and their expectations of learning were higher than ever. What and who do marketers need to know to perform? What key skills do they need to differentiate? Where can they turn for guidance, advice, and valuable hints?

Our design had to reach people where they are no matter what background they have, give them the fundamentals of marketing, enable them to explore the Hilti specific themes, allow them to practice key skills in a team in a real-life setting, and encourage them to continue their learning travels beyond the formal journey. The final learning solution also needed to be very accessible – both for the new hire just starting in marketing or for the more tenured employee who wanted to share knowledge while gaining new skills. In addition, it was critically important for the learning to function in more than 60 locations, whether the site had two or 200 marketers on staff. In other words, learning needed to be simple, directive without controlling, and available for skills enhancement as well as performance support.

As you can imagine, fulfilling these needs was no small task! The answer was a blended set of tools:

  • Harvard Manage Mentor to ensure a consistent baseline.
  • Fuse Interactive to provide Hilti specific collaboration and knowledge sharing from internal experts as well as participants.
  • A solid teamwork between the participants’ team leaders and our master trainers and community managers to ensure an individualized and continuous development journey linked to each person’s role and development needs.

Within the first phase, participants become comfortable with marketing as a profession. Then they step into learning paths that let them choose videos, articles, documents, presentations, and even face to face interviews to complete assignments that will enable them to enter a classroom environment where they have coaches in place to help ensure their success in creating a marketing plan relevant to their area of responsibility. The final phase is ongoing development – any gaps that were seen in the previous phases are closed through efforts of the online knowledge base of your peers and coaching by your team leader.
The outcome: state of the art functional expertise development throughout a Hilti marketer’s career leading to faster and more consistent achievement of our targets. 

Hilti is a member of the ATD Forum. For more information about the ATD Forum, visit

About the Author

Aude Latreille is sales training manager for the Liechtensteinische Landesbank AG, headquartered in Vaduz, Liechtenstein. She has more than 17 years of experience related to product and trade marketing, personnel development, coaching, and digital learning with Hilti AG, Schaan, Liechtenstein. At Hilti, she has successfully managed training operations through crisis and high-demand times, introduced digital learning solutions ranging from language learning to leadership competency development and community management. Together with an international cross-functional team, she significantly enhanced marketing competence development with state-of-the-art design and technology.  

About the Author

Rachel Hutchinson is senior manager of global training and learning at Hilti. She leads a team of global training consultants and project managers for Hilti AG, an international company based in Liechtenstein with 23,000+ employees in 120 countries. She works closely with stakeholders at all levels to define optimal ways to affect results across the organization.

About the Author

Terry Copley is a senior learning consultant for Hilti, headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is a member of the global training and learning team responsible for consulting with and coaching various leadership groups across the globe on how to successfully develop their diverse team members and also our external customers. Copley has more than 20 years of experience in a variety of roles related to personnel development, sales and leadership competency development, and e-learning.

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