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Member Story

"Connect With Your Learners as a Person"

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Headshot - Ben Wilker - 75th.jpg
The worldwide talent development community is diverse. Our members bring a wealth of experience and insight to their work. We're spotlighting their stories.

Ben Wilker has been a member of ATD since 2017. Here's his story in his own words.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Ben Wilker and I am a learning and development consultant for Holmes Murphy & Associates. I have been in the learning and development/training field for about nine years now. I started at a call center in the Quad Cities working inbound customer care for a prescription benefits manager. From there I moved into the training role, facilitating a seven-week agent training program. From there I earned a certification in soft skills facilitation, and eventually moved on to other clients in the building. After that I moved on to the financial world working for an Iowa credit union as a trainer, where I developed a manager-level training where none existed prior. After a time there, I moved on to the Holmes Murphy organization, where I have spent the last year building e-learning curriculum, hosting several enterprise-wide training sessions, and training newly onboarded employees how to use our day-to-day systems.

What challenges have you had to overcome in your career?
One of my main challenges has come in the form of catering to learning styles that differ vastly from my own. I struggled greatly with those who learn best from tying emotional experiences to their learnings to enhance their retention of their materials.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve gained or experienced during your membership with ATD?
The opportunity to work with like-minded individuals who are struggling with the same issues that I am. It has really helped me grow as a professional to also attend the monthly events that are hosted by my local chapter as well as the national courses.

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Could you share any professional tips, specific to talent development, that you have picked up along the way?
While professionalism is a key part of everything that we do, you must remember that you are talking to people, and that you are one as well. The trick is to obtain the balance that allows you to connect with your learners as a person, which creates a safe environment to learn from you, but also still establish yourself as the expert.

What’s a common misconception you see when it comes to talent development?
One major misconception is that you have to be a “trainer” to train. As any good trainer knows, the desired effect of learning is not just the transference of knowledge, but also giving the learner the ability to teach others the same material.

Do you have any advice for people looking to further their careers?
Do not live within your job title or description! Always be looking for opportunities to expand your knowledge in ways that you may not have considered.

What is your personal definition of talent development?
Talent development is showing others how to use the abilities they possess in a way they have never considered.

How do you stay motivated?
My family motivates me. Knowing that I am providing for them gives me immense satisfaction and joy.

How do you find meaning in your work?
Because I work within the Information Technology department, every piece of content that I produce has the potential to impact the organization. For example, if I create content on how to create and troubleshoot a webinar and my directions are inaccurate, poorly written, or nonsensical, it could be very detrimental. Because of my poor execution of my materials, I could lose business for the company, create a negative view for the client, and possibly impact the lives our insurance covers.

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