Anthony Contino has been a member of ATD for seven years. Here is his story in his own words.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I started out to be a high school social studies teacher, but when that fell through, I began working in the power plant construction industry as office staff. I had an offer to work in Saudi Arabia as an office manager, which I accepted. When I arrived in country, the site training manager was on disability leave; so with my background in education, I became the acting training manager. From that point on in 1979, I have been a training professional. I have worked in a variety of industries over the years and traveled the globe developing and presenting programs; I’ve done a variety of tasks, from instructional design, to course development, to instructor, to facilitator. I have also worked in classroom, virtual classroom, and web-based environments.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve gained or experienced during your membership with ATD?
The principal thing I have learned from my membership in ATD is that no one is as smart as all of us. There are many talented people in the organization, and their knowledge and experience helps us all build a better personal toolbox. ATD also provides a consolidated source for ideas, trends, issues, and products related to our profession.
Could you share any professional tips, specific to talent development, that you have picked up along the way?
I have noticed that there are people in talent development that perform the "how" of their jobs without understanding the "why." I would advise any practitioner to get into the fundaments to understand why we do what we do and how it affects talent development. I also advocate getting training from reputable sources—sources whose work is informed by the right theories and research. Reading a blog is fine as a stimulus to your own thinking, but don't base your expertise solely on that. I also would advise newcomers to earn professional credentials—it adds to one's credibility.
Do you have any advice for people looking to further their careers?
If I were starting out in talent development today, I would seek both an advanced degree (for which the company would pay) and a recognized professional credential (such as the ATD Certified Professional in Learning and Performance). I would also earn certificates in specialty areas within my chosen area of talent development. I would learn to be collaborative yet decisive. I have found that the pursuit of “perfect” has often stood in the way of “good”—creating delay and wasted effort.
What is your personal definition of talent development?
Talent development is an ecosystem that attracts, develops, and retains skill sets that ultimately benefit the customer, the organization, and the individual.