Hillary Okke has been a member of ATD since 2016. Here's her story in her own words.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Hillary Okke. I am a senior training and development specialist at Amway. I have been in the L&D and training field for the past five years, most recently in the multilevel marketing industry; prior to that I was in retail banking management and training. I graduated magna cum laude from Central Michigan University with a bachelor’s of arts degree in interpersonal and public communication. I recently moved back home to West Michigan with my husband Zak, my toddler son Crue, and my 11-year-old stepson, L.J. I am an avid reader, and would live in a bookstore if I could.
What are your personal and/or professional goals?
I recently met one of my professional goals when I started my career at Amway. I came into Amway as a senior training and development specialist. When I decided to go down the training and development path, I started off in the facilitator role; that role, along with experience in content design, led me to acquire the specialist title at Amway. Another professional goal that I am in the process of achieving is to become a project lead on an initiative that would change the way training is completed for my department. As both a personal and professional goal, I would like to continue my education. Amway has a tuition reimbursement program, and I would like to acquire a master’s degree. My personal goal is to become the healthiest version of me. I have a toddler to keep up with!
What challenges have you had to overcome in your career?
I have been very fortunate in my career, thus far, to not have encountered many challenges. I started in retail banking immediately upon graduation. As I made my way up the management ladder, I did run into some trust issues with fellow managers. I quickly realized that trust is earned, not assumed. Another challenge was on a personal level. Midway through my career in retail banking training, I lost a child. My baby girl died six weeks after she was born. I was away from my job for a month, and afterward I no longer had the same passion for the travel part of my job that I had before. I was faced with a very hard decision to leave the bank, because I loved it. I could not handle the heavy travel requirements any longer.
Could you share any professional tips, specific to talent development, that you have picked up along the way?
I am on a team that is responsible for all new-hire training for the entire Customer Service department. We have the ability to shape the way the new hire views the company and their workgroup. The best tip I have picked up along the way is to be genuine. Be real. Share your experiences, and be present. Any team member starting their journey, or even those who have been at the company for years, wants to be developed. They crave training.
Do you have any advice for people looking to further their careers?
Be coachable! Be adaptable and willing to accept change. Be open-minded with ideas and strategies. Be a good team member. Reliable. Honest. Trustworthy. Those things go far when you are trying to advance your career. Share your knowledge. If you attend professional development events, share with your team.
What is your personal definition of talent development?
Talent development is investing in your people. If you invest in them, they will invest back into the company. Win-win.
How do you stay motivated?
I love my job. It's a passion. I love helping people learn. I love being able to create and facilitate learning. I stay motivated by the energy from my team, and hearing a team member say "Wow, thank you, Hillary. I really enjoyed this course, you taught me X!" Nothing feels better than hearing that you helped someone in their career.
How do you find meaning in your work?
I look at my work as creating a legacy for my department. We are paving the way for how all training is held for the future of Amway's Customer Service. Every training we create, every course we hold, will impact the future of our customer service representatives. Very meaningful!