April 2022
Issue Map
headshot of Patrick Cady
TD Magazine

Mastering the Instructional Designer Beat

Friday, April 1, 2022

Patrick Cady

Title Instructional Designer

Organization Optum


Location Overland Park, Kansas

LinkedIn linkedin.com/in/patrick-cady-13a8b68a

Education Bachelor’s degree in journalism (University of Kansas)

Favorite Quote “Journalism allows its readers to witness history; fiction gives its readers an opportunity to live it.” —John Hersey

During the first leg of his career, Patrick Cady covered various beats for a weekly newspaper. That role required him to be a good storyteller and sharpened his ability to break down complex issues into accessible components for readers. It also tapped into his photojournalism and page-designing skills. Today, as an instructional designer for Optum, a US pharmacy benefit and healthcare provider, Cady uses those same capabilities while also serving as a videographer and voice-over artist.

What is your favorite part of the instructional design process?

New projects are like rocket fuel. I love exploring roots of a training need and business goal, mapping content, and presenting the content in the most engaging way possible. There’s a thrill to problem solving.

What go-to tools do you rely on to do your job?

I use a variety of industry-standard tools. My philosophy is to leverage as much as I can to tell a story. In addition to building in e-learning authoring programs, I rely on image editors, motion graphic programs, and video-editing software. I love the power of kinetic typography. I also believe whiteboard videos can have great impact.


What is your top recommendation to keep online learners engaged?

I strive for a balance between curiosity and utility. How will the content improve the learner, the company, and the patient? I keep the material well parsed. If you provide food for thought, you want your learners to be able to chew. Also, if you have fun creating a work, chances are your audience will have fun consuming it.

How do you incorporate feedback into your design process?

Projects rise or fall based on mutual effort. I try to keep stakeholders at my side throughout a production journey. This runs from early meetings with requestors to confirm a shared vision to constant workshopping with teammates to being amply available to trainers if the work is instructor led. I believe in constant iterative improvement, and the way to achieve that is to make the most of expert feedback.

What career advice do you have for up-and-coming L&D professionals?

Be an active consumer of training, movies, photos, or stories. Ask yourself “Why is this engaging?” Note the strategies. Also, think about the skills you acquire in individual projects. Whether from project management, problem solving, or developing comfort in new programs—in some way, you are almost always mining gold for your resume and portfolio. For the long term, follow your passion. How can you make the most difference to the most people?

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.

Be the first to comment
Sign In to Post a Comment
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.