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November 2013
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TD Magazine

Real-World Learning

A proponent of "learning by teaching," Qing Han changed careers to be able to do just that.

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Qing Han has 20 years of experience in training and development, and is the director of Siemens Management Institute. With his colleagues, he designed and implemented the first management development program for Siemens China. Qing is recognized for helping to shape management development in China. Before joining Siemens, he served as deputy dean at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

What sparked your interest in the learning profession?

My father was a university professor, teaching ancient Chinese literature. As a child, I would sit in on his lectures, in an auditorium with up to 3,000 students, just waiting for him to finish so we could go home together. I saw his interactions with the students and saw how their education was shaping their futures. I took him as my role model and later began teaching at the university.

How has your career evolved?

I was quite successful in the university. I worked hard, and soon became the youngest dean at age 29. But during that time, I realized that universities in China were very much disconnected with the real world. I wanted to live in the real world, being able to develop myself and helping others to develop. So 15 years ago I became a management trainer at a large corporation called Siemens.

At that time, management training as a profession was very new in China. When people heard the term "trainer," they associated it with sports-relating coaching. As the first generation of trainers in China, we were very hungry to learn from more experienced trainers in Europe and the United States.

I believe that teaching is the best way to learn, so I was always eager to try new approaches and reflect on the results. With passion and the will to deliver value to others, this job is very rewarding—especially [because] you can get immediate feedback from training participants about what went well and what did not.

How have you seen the profession change in the past 10 years?

China has experienced fast development in all dimensions in the past 10 years. The training profession is shifting from training delivery to facilitating individual and organizational change for the effectiveness of the enterprise.

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Training sponsors and participants are no longer happy with receiving training, but instead want to focus more on behavioral change and organizational effectiveness. The technology we now have enables continual learning instead of learning only through face-to-face training. Learning takes place more and more on the job, and learning professionals are both leading and supporting this trend.

What are you most excited about in the profession today?

Learning is no longer a stand-alone activity. It is part of the talent management process and supports the people strategy, which supports the business strategy. It is a strategic lever and contributes to the future success of an organization. Continual learning makes a difference in whether an organization will stand still or continue to advance.

What advice would you give to those wanting to advance their careers in the learning field?

This is an exciting profession. You always have a lot to learn, in your work and in life. Constant learning and reflection will keep you young, dynamic, and open to the future.

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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