November 2017
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TD Magazine

One to Watch: Eleanor Polley

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Title: Talent Development Specialist


Company: Inovalon

Location: Bowie, Maryland

Education: Master's in management (Ross School of Business, University of Michigan); bachelor's in international studies (Penn State)


As a talent development practitioner on the learning and organizational effectiveness team at Inovalon, Polley is involved in all aspects of learning, from needs analysis to content creation and program facilitation. She serves a variety of teams and departments, and plays an important role in developing and delivering the company's leadership development curriculum. For these programs, she uses her skills as a FEBI-certified coach to engage with both rising and established leaders.

What excites you about talent development?

The unique vantage point, creative challenge, and emotional reward this type of work presents. I have a lot of passion for exploring personalities and being able to work with others to help them be at their best, so it’s very energizing to work in a field where I can empower others. Because I work with leaders and individuals from many different departments instead of staying in one area, I get to constantly try new things, forge new relationships, and affect different parts of the business.

3 qualities for success

  • Humility
  • Initiative
  • Being innovative

Biggest achievement

One that stands out is my contribution to the five different leadership development programs at Inovalon. Specifically, I'm proud to have created a development strategy that connects those programs.

When I first started at Inovalon, it was my job to edit the content that we planned to use in our first-tier leadership development program. We hadn't completed the program yet, though, so I took it as an opportunity to go beyond simply reviewing the material and instead tried to contribute to the program in additional ways by taking on more work and proposing new ideas.

Doing this helped me gain my colleagues' trust, which opened up a window for me to have an influence on the other four programs. With that, I worked on designing a development strategy that connects the various programs and the cross-functional capabilities of the participants to truly have a positive impact on the business. The programs tend to be very interconnected and dependent on coaching and mentoring. They also put learners in situations where they can work on real challenges facing our business, which creates platforms for leaders to build their capabilities while also having a meaningful impact on our organization.

Advice for new TD pros

Start bigger than your current role. Consider what you want to be creating through your career and the type of impact you want to be having. Then, look to scale that back and try to find stepping-stones within what you're doing now, where you can start to build in some of those capabilities. If there's something you want to create that seems bigger than where you're at, try to find opportunities within your organization—special projects or initiatives—that can help you grow the skills you'll need and expand your network.

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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