Member Story

"Their Success is your Success"


Marlies Pattison.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.

Marlies Pattison has been a member of ATD since 2017 from Germany. Here's her story in her own words.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Marlies Pattison and I’m an instructional designer and learning professional with experience in various enterprise, customer, and industry settings, on-site and remote, in culturally diverse teams using different tools, design processes, and methodologies. I graduated to be a technical writer and translator but have worked in learning and development since I left university. On my way, I have been able to help set up a learning management system and create a variety of different trainings and programs from security basics to advanced accounting systems to a global sales onboarding program. I am still stunned by how creative, flexible, self-directed, and collaborative you can be in this job, and by how many insights you get in such a diverse range of topics while meeting lots of interesting and influential people.

What are your personal and/or professional goals?
My goal is to become a leader in learning and development strategy and program design, being a trusted partner by sharing my expertise and empathy to inspire others and help people grow. I enjoy bringing people together who are working toward a common goal by utilizing a holistic approach, breaking down silos and building bridges across departments and organizations.

What challenges have you had to overcome in your career?
The main challenges I, and most instructional design professionals, face is working under time pressure without sacrificing innovation, and a lack of commitment from project stakeholders. To overcome this lack of commitment, the key for me is communication and understanding my stakeholders’ motivation to participate in a project. I find innovation and inspiration happen when I break out of my day-to-day work habits, scheduling time in my calendar for reflection, thoughts, and ideas.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve gained or experienced during your membership with ATD?
Attending the ATD International Conference & EXPO, being inspired by the keynotes and sessions, exchanging knowledge and experience with other attendees, and building new relationships during my pre-conference instructional design master class were a huge gain for me. In addition, having access to so many resources around talent development topics is just fantastic and very helpful in my job.


Could you share any professional tips, specific to talent development, that you have picked up along the way?
Focus on the learner or the learning objectives. Set expectations early in the project and communicate clearly with all project stakeholders. Learn to adapt to changes occurring in a project and be flexible. Help your learners be successful because their success is your success. But most importantly, we’re all human so be gentle with yourself and don’t take things personally.

What’s a common misconception you see when it comes to talent development?
People mistakenly assume all subject matter experts are trainers or vice versa. They can be, but to assume that someone is an expert in a certain area and also a natural talent in public speaking and knows all the tricks and techniques to engage an audience, is often not the case.

Do you have any advice for people looking to further their careers?
Network with people inside and outside your company or the learning and development community. Focus on building trustful, long-term relationships. And if you get the opportunity to meet with people in person or attend an event, do so—don’t be afraid to be the only person you know at the party. There will always be opportunities to progress, but if you don’t want to, then you won’t see them.

What is your personal definition of talent development?
For me, talent development is about inspiring people, helping them to reach their full potential and supporting them on their journey to becoming their best selves.


How do you stay motivated?
Having routines, like a morning run, and being organized in general, automatically creates room for me to think about what’s important for me and cultivate relationships.

Working with an amazing team and the diversity that I have in my work gives me the opportunity to grow every day, which I also find incredibly motivating.

How do you find meaning in your work?
I find meaning in my work by developing creative solutions, collaborating with my colleagues, getting different perspectives, and overcoming challenges to help my customers be successful.

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