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February 2020
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TD Magazine

Valuing Learning

Monique Makhlouf

Title
Director of L&D

Organization
ASNY Company

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Location
Las Vegas, Nevada

LinkedIn
linkedin.com/in/moniquemakhlouf

Education
Associate degree, communication and media studies (Community College of Southern Nevada); bachelor's degree, communication studies (University of Nevada, Las Vegas); master's degree, communication studies (UNLV)

Once an instructor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Monique Makhlouf began her L&D career as an instructional designer for the university's Center for Professional and Leadership Studies at the Harrah College of Hospitality and was later promoted to interim director of education, handling client relationships and online course development. She now is director of L&D for ASNY Company, a second-generation, family-owned business. She supports 13 companies representing three different industries across five states and has headed up initiatives, including the creation of the ASNY Academy.

What is the ASNY Academy?

The academy is our centralized L&D platform that brings valuable learning opportunities to our entire family of companies. I created it to support the organization's mission to unite our formerly disparate individual companies under a shared services model and culture. I knew learning initiatives had to be centralized enough to foster consistent expectations and a united ASNY culture yet be specialized enough to be relevant to our unique industries and positions to successfully achieve transfer of training and create measurable business impact. Establishing the academy symbolized a change in employee access to training—a shift in content, delivery, and performance expectations from anything the companies had known in the past.

What effect have you seen learning initiatives have on the company?

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Since the academy was established, we have seen a marked increase in participation in voluntary sessions and an increase in retention for mandatory classes. Our goal with the voluntary sessions was to encourage a culture of self-directed learning, and we are seeing that happen. L&D is now touted as a benefit during recruitment, and satisfaction surveys that current employees completed revealed that the academy is one of our organization's top three strengths.

What recommendations do you have for trainers?

As a teacher, I learned that a great way to grab the attention of a sleepy or disengaged learner is to use their name in examples or hypotheticals. I don't believe in putting people on the spot, so instead of calling on people for answers, I keep them alert by using their name. Dale Carnegie told us that the sound of one's own name is the sweetest and most important sound in any language, so I use that to my advantage.

I also make sure fun music is playing at the start of each session when people are settling in and getting ready for things to start. That's likewise when I go around and shake hands to greet everyone. Providing snacks and caffeine are also tricks for any trainer, especially those teaching compliance.

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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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