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An Eye on the Horizon
TD Magazine

An Eye on the Horizon

Thursday, June 15, 2023

The BEST Awards recognize organizations that demonstrate enterprise-wide success as a result of employee talent development. The winners use learning as a strategic business tool to get results. View the entire list of 2023 BEST Award winners.

Organizations must anticipate the future and the skills necessary to win. That is especially true in manufacturing where advancing technology, artificial intelligence, and data science create an environment of constant change.


India-based Reliance Industries focuses its upskilling efforts in three areas: emerging technologies, technical and functional skills, and behavioral skills. Reliance leadership takes pride in the immense emphasis placed on L&D.

For each of the upskilling areas, L&D partnered with different functional units, centers of excellence, internal academies, and subject matter experts to identify needed skills. For behavioral skills, the company consulted World Economic Forum research and identified more than 180 skills, with an emphasis on data science in several categories. With that research in hand, the company developed several initiatives, from broad awareness building to role-based, deep-skill learning journeys.

Reliance also launched an organization-wide initiative, Learning Challenge, that focused on future skills, to include learning modules and leadership talks on key topic areas. "Our learning and talent teams serve our business needs well," says Sanjiv Singh, the head of group manufacturing services.

Edwards, a vacuum and abatement company, introduced strategic workforce planning and demographic modeling in its efforts to future-skill a global workforce. The organization rolls those activities into its annual talent review during which leaders look at current talent distribution alongside future needs and requirements.

Next, the TD team created a process to facilitate the discussions around identifying, quantifying, and qualifying the current versus future state for the organization. Empowered global and local HR colleagues led the conversations and insight gathering so that the process would be self-sustaining and "always on." In a decentralized organization such as Edwards, it delivers adoption and integration of new initiatives and processes in a pull rather than push capacity; compelling engagement, business case, and return on investment are critical in creating action.


As a result, Edwards invested in a dedicated L&D business partner to shape an early-careers strategy to offset the aging demographic profile and enable knowledge transfer. It is also an integral part of Edwards' "grow our own" future skills requirements.

The TD team proactively partners with senior leadership, functional experts, as well as People and Culture colleagues to map how the business will develop in the short, medium, and long term. Those insights help form a competency framework and skills map, as well as a career pathing blueprint, which entails motivating employees, fostering improved career and stay conversations, and supporting recruiting efforts. Top leadership is proud of the TD team's efforts.

"Our successful business challenges all of us to increasingly strengthen our existing leadership skills and add new ones in our ongoing journey. I am really pleased with what has been developed," says Martin Tollner, one of three divisional presidents at Edwards.

About the Author

Kristen Fyfe-Mills is the director of employee development and engagement at Farmer Focus, an innovative organization with the fastest-growing poultry brand in the US. In her role, she supports nearly 900 team members, from front-line hourly associates to the executive team. Before joining Farmer Focus, Kristen served in many roles at the Association for Talent Development, culminating in her position as director of marketing and strategic communications.

Kristen holds two master’s degrees, one in pastoral and spiritual care from Marymount University and the other in journalism from Northwestern University. She serves on the advisory board for Shenandoah University’s Transformative Leadership program. She is the mom of two exceptional humans, and she and her husband Doug live in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

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