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May 2013
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TD Magazine

When Taking a Chance Pays Off

Elizabeth Koyle has learned that a step into the unknown can be the most important career move that you take.

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A. Elizabeth Koyle is an organizational development (OD) manager at the University of Utah Health Care, where she built a new OD department and implemented its Leader Academy. She is a member of the National Honor Society of Leadership and Success and will receive the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) credential this spring.

How did you break into the training and development profession?

I started my professional career as a physical therapist, quickly moving into management. When I began to substitute teach at a local community college, I realized that I enjoyed educating others.

This interest grew as I developed education for rehab interns, took the role of clinical coordinator of clinical education, and worked as a clinical instructor. I took a risk and moved into a clinical educator position to gain further knowledge of adult learning principles, presentation skills, and instructional design.

Over time, my strengths in OD, process improvement, employee and leader development, and employee engagement became increasingly apparent. And as a result of an organizational redesign, I had the opportunity to develop the organization's OD department from the ground up.

I decided to go back to school and combine my passions—health and physical fitness with education and behavior change—and earned a doctorate in health promotion and education. Although my career path has not been straight, I have learned a lot about myself and recognized that sometimes that scary step into the unknown is the most important step you can take.

What skills have you relied on to advance your career?

Although not necessarily skills, I think lifelong learning and personal development are critical. Being proactive and seeking pathways toward improvement also have benefited my career. You bring value when you identify solutions to issues rather than complain.

Adopting a servant leadership style has been helpful because I look for ways I can make others' jobs easier instead of thinking only about myself. Last, knowing how to build a network is important. I surround myself with those from whom I can learn, watch how they do things, ask questions, and see how I can help them to achieve their goals.

How has achieving a CPLP credential added value to your career?

It has improved my understanding of comprehensive training and development skills, opened my eyes to new ways of thinking, and helped me to better support my organization in achieving its goals.

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Because of the work product component, I now take a more critical look at the things I do and proactively adjust to produce a higher quality product.

What advice do you have for those wanting to advance their careers in the field?

Never stop learning—the skills we have today will not be enough for next year. Keep pursuing your passion, and prepare yourself for that next career step because the knock at the door may come tomorrow.

Get involved with your local ASTD chapter, network, and find opportunities to share your passion and skills with others.

Review your organization's goals, and seek ways to support the attainment of those goals even when outside of your basic duties. Know what keeps your senior leaders up at night, and think about ways you and others can help.

Finally, never doubt yourself, and never compromise yourself for anything or anyone. Explore your career interests, and don't be afraid to take a chance.

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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