Fall 2019
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CTDO Magazine

TD Our Way: Talent Development at ICF International

Monday, September 16, 2019

"In talent development, particularly in learning, we need to make sure that everything we do is relevant, easy to find, and flexible for our people."

Liz Janssen

Vice President of Learning, Talent Development, and Change Management,


ICF International

Liz Janssen leads ICF's L&D organization, ensuring that the firm has the right systems, strategies, and programs in place to enable its global workforce to thrive and support sustainable business growth.

What are the most important components of talent development at ICF?

At ICF, talent management includes hiring and retaining the right talent, employee development, and succession management. The business requires the talent development team to do all three of these well. Within that framework, employee development focuses on career growth for all and four critical skill areas that transcend disciplines or specific businesses across the organization: people management and leadership, business development, project and financial management, and innovation and change management.

How are technological advancements shaping or affecting talent development at your company?

Technology is changing the nature of some of ICF's work. As an organization, we are using innovation and design thinking to stay ahead of these changes in technology—both internally and externally with our clients. Our goal is to meet learners where they are and make learning resources and experiences engaging, relevant, and easy to use. To that end, we leverage new technology, but it's not the starting point. The starting point is the learning objective and design.

We have someone on the team who focuses on learning innovation and new learning tech. He is constantly evaluating new solutions and then brings them forward to our learning practice leaders. If there's no need, we may move on, or we may pilot to see where it goes. But we never let technology drive the design. When we settle on a new platform or tool, we focus on leveraging that technology's features and capabilities, driving learner adoption, and maximizing our investment—rather than run to the next new shiny learning tool.


Where does talent development fit into the organizational chart? What's your reporting relationship to the top of the organization?

ICF is ever evolving, and the HR organization is no different. A good portion of ICF's growth has been through acquisitions; over the last few years, we have been focused on building out the corporate functions, including HR. In 2019, we formed an HR Center of Excellence, which reports to chief HR officer, where learning, talent development, change management, talent acquisition, HR information technology, and compensation and benefits fall.

I lead the learning, development, and change management functions in the Center of Excellence. I have a team that is made up of learning business partners; learning practice leaders; learning operations; learning technology; and innovation, change management, communication, and training consultants. We partner closely with the HR business partners and our business leaders across the organization.

Read more from CTDO magazine: Essential talent development content for C-suite leaders.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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