Member Story

"Never Go Into a Live Classroom Environment Unprepared."


Denise Hicken
The worldwide talent development community is diverse. Our members bring a wealth of experience and insight to their work. We're spotlighting their stories.

Denise Hicken has been a member of ATD since 2014.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m originally from the Midwest, but now I’m a transplanted southerner. My career path started with journalism; I worked as a television news producer on and off for 20 years. Then my path steered me into banking, where I began my new career in training and development. I married my college sweetheart six years ago. I have three daughters, six grandchildren, and a dog named Olive.

What challenges have you had to overcome in your career?
A woman, who became a mentor, saw something in this TV news producer that made her think I could develop a company training and development department from the ground up. Once I moved into the position, I realized what I didn’t know. Then I realized that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. So . . . I researched and read. I had a few trial-and-error moments, of course. I made it up that steep learning curve, and I’m still walking!


What’s the most valuable thing you’ve gained or experienced during your membership with ATD?
Two things, actually. First, ATD has tremendous resources for all levels in this field—a tremendous help to me. Second, earning my CPLP. It reminded me of the shortcuts that I really shouldn’t take, provided me with new insights, and was a fun challenge. (I can say that last one since I passed!)

Could you share any professional tips, specific to talent development, that you have picked up along the way?
Never go into a live classroom environment unprepared. You lose credibility. I enjoy winging it at times, but winging it works only when you have it all together in the beginning. Also, when delivering a live webinar, tape a piece of paper over your web camera. You’ll end up on screen somehow, on your worst hair day, if you don’t.


What’s a common misconception you see when it comes to talent development?
A class will fix everything, and it can be prepared in a week. Clients mean well, but they like to self-diagnose and select their own medicine. Unfortunately, most aren’t good diagnosticians, and neither Tylenol nor one class will cure every ill.

Do you have any advice for people looking to further their careers?
Without a doubt, see what ATD offers in the way of development. You don’t have to take the CPLP route; there are several other options. Always look for something that adds to your skills, credibility, and resume.

What is your personal definition of talent development?
Helping people on their journey toward reaching their highest potential, which helps the business reach its highest potential.

Have your own story to tell? Share with us using #ATDat75 and #myTDstory.

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