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December 2013
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TD Magazine

One to Watch: Shannon Dooley

onetowatch
  Title: Director of Organizational Programs and Learning Services

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Company: Interstate Hotels & Resorts

Location: Arlington, Virginia

Education: Bachelor's degree, Duke University; MBA candidate, Villanova University

Twitter: @ShannonEDooley

Dooley always has gravitated toward opportunities to make an impact on others. Once a cast member at Walt Disney World, she helped guests make lifelong memories. Now in her role at Interstate Hotels & Resorts, a global hotel management company, she has exponential ability to leave an impression on others.

In the organizational programs arena, she orchestrates programs that drive engagement and enhance corporate culture. And in the learning services arena, she provides opportunities for associates around the world to develop themselves personally and professionally.

What has been your biggest professional achievement?

My biggest professional achievement actually came from my last job, where I was tasked with putting together a training event for a client launch. Our team of about 50 international consultants had to learn not just about our new (and very prestigious) client and their brands, but also learn a new technology system and, for at least half the team, new measurement and evaluation techniques.

It all had to be completed under the watchful eyes of our client, who rightfully expected our absolute best. To say the pressure was on would be an understatement. I was lucky to have talented colleagues who assisted me, and the event—a three-week, multistate, multisite, training experience—went off without a hitch, and we received immediate positive feedback from our client.

Qualities for success

Being positive, being polite, and being persistent. It's a mantra I picked up from one of my former bosses and it always stuck with me. Being positive and excited about what you are doing will get others excited too. Being polite helps build your credibility and people's respect for you, which is critical to establishing relationships. Finally, being persistent helps you find ways around the inevitable obstacles that arise with any project and get the job done.

Staying current in the field

I'm a member of ASTD on both the local and national levels, and I try to participate in webinars and other programs hosted by ASTD whenever possible. To ensure that I'm on top of issues affecting my industry, I also participate in the American Hotel & Lodging Association's Women in Lodging Council and the Training & Education Advisory Council.

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On the evolution of L&D

The biggest change in the coming years—and I'm already seeing it happen at my company—is the view of learning and development as a global strategic partner rather than an afterthought. By global, I don't mean just offering on-demand learning in any time zone, but providing it on different platforms, in different styles, and in different languages.

On Twitter

I often find myself retweeting Harvard Business Review's (@HarvardBiz) Management Tips of the Day, as well as items from two legendary institutions: Disney and The Ritz-Carlton.

Disney (@DisneyInstitute) offers a lot of great notes about building brand culture and creative thinking. And Diana Oreck (@dianaoreck), vice president of The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center, always shares thought-provoking quotes and what she calls "golden nuggets" about delivering world-class customer service.

Advice for new trainers

Having operational experience in the field in which you are training is incredibly valuable since it will help you craft your content and messaging in a way that works for the audience. Also, be creative. You will never have all the funding, tools, and resources you would like; make investments in tools that will give you the most value across the board, and be resourceful in how you use them.

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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