it starts with you

One thing we love about ATD International Conference & EXPO are all the connections we make both old and new. We are showcasing a few of our past attendees so you can start recognizing a few faces and names at ATD21. 

  

  

Becky Magnotta

CEO, Homestead Coaching

Denver, Colorado

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m from Denver, Colorado, and my values are building community through joy and curiosity.  This threads through my personal and work life. 

I love spending time with my husband, Steve, and friends and family, and meeting new people and learning their stories. I enjoy eclectic reading, travel, good food and wine, and being in the mountains of Colorado, a new city to explore, or a beach. 

Through my company, Homestead Coaching, I bring joy and curiosity to my work of building community. My niche is senior leaders and their teams. I believe building great leaders creates great places to work. I use positive intelligence since being aware of how our thinking gets in our way affects how effective we are.

I’ve been an entrepreneur for almost two years after careers with DISH Network and Chevron.  My career has spanned accounting, finance, marketing, and sales training. I also was responsible for leadership development and talent development at DISH. 

Currently, I’m the chair of the 2021 program advisory committee and director of communications for the International Coaching Federation (ICF) Colorado Chapter. I’m a past president of the ATD Rocky Mountain Chapter and organized volunteers the last time the conference was in Denver.

What is your day-to-day routine?

As an entrepreneur, it varies from coaching clients to discussing issues with executives and how I can support them through coaching and development. I also spend time on business development and am constantly looking at how to continue to master my craft. 

What inspires you in learning and development?

I’m inspired by knowing that if I help individuals be stronger leaders, they can create a great place to work that will help people thrive. I was bit by this bug about 13 years ago when I started facilitating leadership development, and I have loved every step of the way.

What has been your biggest challenge in the last year? How did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge was learning how to run my own business. Since my corporate experience is extensive, I had a lot of deep background to work from, which helped. If anything, the pandemic caused me to focus on what matters most and learn the craft of running a business.

How many times have you attended ATD International Conference & EXPO?  

I’ve attended six: Denver, Dallas, Florida, Denver, Atlanta, and Washington, DC

What was your first impression of the event?

My first event was in Denver, where I was a volunteer—a fabulous way to attend the conference. I was amazed at the sheer size and depth and the amount of learning that was available. I was thrilled by the people I was meeting, and the deep friendships that continue to this day.

What has brought you back?

I come back for the learning and community. I know I will walk away with some excellent nuggets. I also look forward to seeing many friends—probably this year more than ever. This conference has something for everybody. If you are further in your career, you can find resources to continue on the path of mastery. Also, I am proud of the fact that through ATD, we are building people who are starting their talent development career.

What was your most memorable or favorite part of ATD International Conference & EXPO? 

There are so many! Instead of picking one, I’d say it was the incredible lineup of keynote speakers. Because of this event I’ve seen Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Seth Godin, Brené Brown, Marcus Buckingham, and so many more.

What did you learn at ATD International Conference and EXPO and how did you apply it on the job? 

I’ve attended several of the preconference sessions. The most memorable was the session on integrated talent management, which I used extensively when I was responsible for talent development and when I’ve consulted with companies on their talent development strategies.

  

  

Kenneth Bright

Director of Organizational Development, Truliant Federal Credit Union

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, I live in Charlotte, North Carolina, now. I have been doing OD work for more than 25 years. Currently, at Truliant Federal Credit Union I head up the training, recruiting, and employee engagement teams. I am a DDI Master trainer in targeted selection and learning systems. I am also certified in many of the Franklin Covey leadership courses. Truliant Federal Credit Union has won Best Places to Work in the Triad Area for four years running thanks to our employee engagement events, training, and culture. I was a single father who raised my two children who are now grown. I was blessed with my first grandchild last year and number two is on the way!

Your day-to-day routine?

Back-to-back meetings!  Meet with business unit leaders, executives, and the teams I lead to discuss strategies and opportunities to increase effectiveness and efficiency within our operations, policies, procedures, talent management, and staff development. Also, keeping abreast of the industry trends and technology. I always take time at the end of my day to rejuvenate and plan.

What inspires you in learning and development?

I have always had a passion for helping people succeed. I feel like it is a part of my calling. To watch someone learn skills and reach their full potential to develop a better future for themselves and knowing I had a part in that is quite gratifying.

What has been your biggest challenge in the last year? How did you overcome it?

Same as everyone . . . COVID-19! We went from less than 30 people working from home to more than 300 in a matter of weeks. We rolled out a work-from-home training program and a WebEx training program and resource centers all during that time as well and still managed to win Best Places to Work!

How many times have you attended ATD International Conference & EXPO?

I’ve lost count! I have been coming since the early 2000s. I was coming when it was still ASTD!

What was your first impression of the event?

I was overwhelmed with it all at first! There was so much I didn’t know when I was first entering the industry, but the conference and expo design really helped me a lot along the way in my career. It is one of the main ingredients to my success.

What has brought you back?

I was always impressed by the caliber of speakers and presenters, and the cutting-edge and essential topics for all levels of expertise of talent development. It increased my knowledge exponentially and gave me access to so many other new ideas, goals, and opportunities, not to mention the many friends I made over the years.

What was your most memorable/favorite part of ATD International Conference & EXPO?

So many friends and the networking nights! Meeting Stephen Covey in Atlanta. Sitting in the 10th row to see Barack Obama speak and thinking how will they ever top this? Then . . . the next year I was front row for Oprah Winfrey! You topped it!

What did you learn at ATD International Conference & EXPO and how did you apply it on the job?

I do not even know where to begin. I have learned so much from facilitation to curriculum design to new technologies and ways to create training that is more engaging online and in-person. The expo always helped me find the right vendors I wanted to partner with. Our first ever LMS that I implemented at Truliant Federal Credit Union came from a vendor I met at ATD!

  

  

Jason Sturges

Project Lead, AllenComm

Salt Lake City, Utah

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born in Germany (my dad was on an exchange program with the US and German navies) and have lived in Virginia; Washington, DC; and Utah. I am the president of ATD’s Utah Chapter and have served on the board for eight years. In addition to my work and chapter leadership, I teach a graduate-level course on talent development and corporate training. I love Mexican food.

What is your day-to-day routine?

In my current job at AllenComm:

My role is to be the connecting piece between project management and the resources our company provides as well as between the client and their team. I ensure that resources and expectations are in the right place to meet or exceed project quality and deadlines.

I start most mornings with team or client update meetings then dive into backing up any of production groups, giving initial quality reviews, and providing administrative and financial support to the project.

In my role as president for the chapter:

I represent ATD National and the overall talent development industry to organizations, members, and potential members throughout Utah. I provide strategy and vision to the chapter board. And equally importantly, I help attract, mentor, and develop new TD leaders, which is probably the most fun of everything that I have on my plate.

What inspires you in learning and development?

This is a great question. I love to help people get one step closer to their goal. I get energized when I can help the lightbulb turn on for someone. It is such a pleasure to use what I have been given to help make the lives of others better or easier, which is what a career in this field allows me to do.

What has been your biggest challenge in the last year? How did you overcome it?

Pivoting learning programs from in-person to being equally successful online.

Employee engagement in a virtual and work-from-home environment, especially for onboarding new employees.

Developing a plan for reboarding employees and managing culture when there will be some employees and teams who don’t return to the office.

How many times have you attended the ATD International Conference & EXPO?
I have attended this event six times and been a breakout session speaker at four of them.

What was your first impression of the event?

“Wow, this is huge! I had no idea that so many people out there did the same thing I do! And who knew that ‘training’ was so multifaceted? Not me!”

What has brought you back?

First and foremost, my desire to continually work to improve myself and stay on top of what is new, hot, and trending in our industry. Secondly, after experiencing the level of excellence ATD brings to the conference scene—with content, networking, vendors, entertainment, and keynotes—it simply is an event not to be missed. 

What was your most memorable or favorite part of ATD International Conference & EXPO? 

My most memorable aspect of attending the event is the level of passion that people had. Whether it was ATD staff helping in any of the booths, fellow attendees sharing their learning goals or resources, or vendors on the EXPO floor ready to show you how their solution would solve your problem, everyone was on their A-game, and you couldn’t help but catch it. My favorite part of the event has always been the keynotes that get you motivated for it, challenge your thinking, and inspire you to take what you’ve learned back to your organizations.

What did you learn at ATD International Conference & EXPO and how did you apply it on the job? 

Oh my gosh, I don’t think there’s enough space to list everything I’ve learned from the six conferences I’ve attended. Each year I try to pick three to four high-level areas that I want to learn something in (or are major areas we’re tackling at work) and focus my breakout session attendance around those areas. Areas in the past have included diversity, equity, and inclusion; employee engagement; learning transfer; onboarding; offboarding; and learning technology for instructional design and facilitation. No matter what session I attend, at end of each one I ask myself, “Now that I’ve sat through this, what can I do?” This helps me prepare a presentation for my boss and team when I get home, as well as develop an action plan for application after the conference.

What do you love about Salt Lake City?

The outdoors! We have two amazing premiere seasons, winter and summer, with world-class skiing, snowboarding, and assorted winter sports as well as hiking, camping, rock climbing, biking, and cycling, all of which can be accessed within 30 minutes or less.

In addition, we’ve got:

  • A perfect blend of big business and local startups
  • Award-winning beer and coffee
  • A focus on technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship in all aspects of our community
  • Friendly neighborhoods and communities focused on families and supporting and taking care of each other
  • And, have you seen our new airport?  😉
  

  

Catherine Williamson-Hardy

Deputy Director, Company: Durham County Department of Social Services

Durham, North Carolina

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I have over 25 years of experience in the human services field.  After serving five years as the Assistant Director of Customer Accountability and Talent Development at Durham County Department of Social Services (DSS), I was appointed Interim Director of Durham County Department of Social Services by the Durham County Board of Social Services. At the end of her tenure as Interim Director, I was named the first Deputy Director of Durham County Department of Social Services.  

In addition to my experience working in local Departments of Social Services, I have over 15 years of experience as a professional trainer, coach and consultant.

What is your day-to-day routine?

I work in concert with the executive leadership team to ensure the agency-wide operations of Durham County Department of Social Service are carried out.

What inspires you in learning and development?

I believe a successful career is rooted in the expertise one brings but only grows to its fullest potential when you add the why and how. Some call that soft skills; I call it my superpower gain through constant awareness of how important it is to develop my technical expertise and emotional intelligence to bring that expertise to bear in any environment.

What has been your biggest challenge in the last year? How did you overcome it?

The question of one’s biggest challenge would be hard to tackle in a normal year, but in 2020 it took on different forms—but in one-word: COVID-19. Social services are essential agencies that needed to figure out how to continue to provide services (child and adult protective services, Medicaid, food and nutrition, and so forth) during a pandemic. Also, only weeks before, Durham County had been the victim of a malware attack that compromised our ability to leverage technology to aid us fully.  With all this, the first thing we did was establish an on-site command center that afforded us the opportunity to social distance but easily communicate with one another because our telephone systems were down. All our computers needed to be reimaged. But we made the best out of a challenging situation by focusing on what we could do and how we could keep staff/clients as safe as possible. That meant going back to the basics; for example, using a bulletin. Simultaneously, we worked in concert with our IT department to determine what we would need when we could fully leverage the considerable amount of technology we had in place to afford our staff to work remotely. Today at least 85 percent of our staff work remotely.   

How many times have you attended ATD International Conference & EXPO?  

Four

What was your first impression of the event?

I was in awe at the sheer magnitude of the conference. I had never attended a conference with many speakers, workshops, and participants.

What has brought you back?

I come back year after year because of the breadth and depth of the curated content, the keynote speakers, and the wealth of material offered.

What was your most memorable or favorite part of ATD International Conference & EXPO? 

I have several amazing memories from the conference, but this one tops them all:

I had waited in line with thousands of other attendees to hear President Barack Obama speak.

His and Tony’s exchange was excellent.

The next morning, I went to the hotel gym to workout. I noticed a man standing near the door in a suit, but it was early, and I was still trying to wake up, so it didn’t register to me how odd that was. I entered the gym, and another man is standing with a suit on. By this time, I had started to put things together.  Yes, I worked out with President Obama in the hotel gym! So, at ATD’s conference, you never know what exciting moment you will find yourself in😊.

What did you learn at ATD International Conference & EXPO, and how did you apply it on the job?

Over the years, I have learned a lot. One example is my experience with Stephen Covey’s work when I attended the DC conference. I brought back Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to my agency, getting myself and others certified to train this curriculum. 

All staff from the receptionist to the director go through this training. It has become an integral part of the learning environment of our agency. 

This year we pivoted to the all-access online version.

 

  

  

Debra-Anne Singleton

Learning and Professional Development Manager, Palm Beach State College

Lake Worth, Florida

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am an accidental talent developer because my passion for unlocking the thinking of others gave me the experiences that have led me to what I do today. My formal training is in hospitality management with a focus on training and marketing. My work experience has taken me into several areas including restaurant management, direct sales, college-level instruction, and talent development in higher education. I have been with Palm Beach State College in different capacities for 11 years, and in my current role for three years. 

What is your day-to-day routine?

My day-to-day routines centers around the development and delivery of leadership programs for all position levels as well as professional development workshops for faculty and staff throughout the college.

What inspires you in learning and development?

I am inspired when I see shifts in thinking and consequently in the behaviors of those I coach. I love being challenged to think differently about anything I thought I already knew. I believe that people inherently want to learn and grow and that when opportunities to do that are packaged just right, they will latch on and experience more than they ever thought they could.

What has been your biggest challenge in the last year? How did you overcome it?

The pandemic thrust our college community into an area we had not explored much with regards to the delivery of professional development—online. We were just getting ready to review our options when we were thrown into the deep end. I am forever grateful for the many resources I had to tap into for guidance. I was aware of many of them because of my affiliation with ATD. Our local chapter offered several timely workshops to help those of us who were not prepared, to catch up. All things considered, it was a blessing in disguise, and we came out stronger than ever before.

How many times have you attended ATD International Conference & EXPO?

Twice.

What was your first impression of the event?

First, I was in awe of the magnitude of the event—the fact that so many people from across the globe could gather and exchange ideas, receive training, and acquire resources. I was excited about all the subject matter experts gathered in one place.

What has brought you back?

All of the above! I was compelled to return the next year because the resources I had gathered made such an impact that I was ready for more; to build on what I had learned. The prior event taught me that I would have access to everything I needed, in one place.

What was your most memorable or favorite part of ATD International Conference & EXPO? 

Witnessing the conversation with former President Barack Obama was an experience I will never forget. There was so much wisdom and high-level thinking. I was also challenged by Marcus Buckingham’s presentation about strengths-based leadership development. Finally, the connections I made with individuals from other industries have been lasting and continue to add value to my experiences. I am more “connected” than I ever was. I was also able to spend more time with my local chapter members, which was invaluable.

What did you learn at ATD International Conference & EXPO and how did you apply it on the job? 

Being relatively new to the field of talent development and responsible for so many aspects of talent development in such a diverse faculty and staff pool, the ATD International Conference & EXPO exposed me to so much more than I could ever have gotten from a webinar here and there. A session on implicit bias started a conversation with our institution’s equity officer and has contributed to the development of an equity and inclusion program that is more robust than a simple workshop on the subject. My first conference was also my first exposure to microlearning, and I immediately came back and implemented a version of that for our managers.

  

  

Jim Van Bochove

Director, Organizational Culture, The Henry Ford

Dearborn, Michigan

Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

I am director of organizational culture at The Henry Ford, a museum and cultural attraction focused on innovation and inspiring our guests to learn from the stories we present to help create a better future. Pre-pandemic, we annually welcomed 1.8 million guests from all over the world to our venues that include Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, Greenfield Village, Ford Rouge Factory Tour, Benson Ford Research Center, and Giant Screen Experience. We also have a public charter high school: Henry Ford Academy. I have been associated with The Henry Ford for more than 38 years and for the last 22 have had a particular focus on the area of organizational culture, initially aimed at new employee orientation (onboarding these days), internal communication, and team building and camaraderie. During the past four years I have joined with other senior colleagues to extend efforts for leadership development.  Growing up I always had an interest in education, maybe being a teacher, but I had a stronger pull toward museums. And so, even though I thought getting a job as a teacher may be difficult, I set off on a career that was more constrained than public education.  Blessedly, I landed at an institution that has afforded me the opportunity to embrace those early interests in learning, sharing, and teaching. 

What is your day-to-day routine?

There is no “standard” routine from day-to-day, although one can often expect numerous meetings. We have tended to have a seasonal rhythm (pre-pandemic) that sees us on-boarding about 600 new staff annually, mainly in the spring. While we have expanded into a hybrid approach (instructor-led and e-learning) for this two-day program, I continue to be heavily involved with the presentation of the program. During the pandemic, we have not hired many new team members, and the focus has turned to internal communication regarding what is happening and keeping active and inactive team members apprised of developments and activities so that we all continue to feel a part of a community and culture that has been physically separated throughout 2020. 

What inspires you in learning and development?

I am a naturally curious person who loves to learn about all types of things. The Henry Ford is a knowledge-based institution. In fact, one of our themes for staff is to be “In the KNOW” with regard to content, collections, culture, and operations. I operate under the assumption that knowledge is power, and I want my colleagues at every level to be able to gain knowledge that will make their work and lives more engaging and rewarding. 

What has been your biggest challenge in the last year? How did you overcome it?

The need to communicate complex information with increasing and regular frequency in a caring, coordinated, thoughtful, thorough, and timely manner that reflected our culture. These messages had to be transparent about the challenges we were facing— and the major impact regarding employment that they had on colleagues with long associations to our institution. In addition to individual communications, we pivoted our weekly employee newsletter to a digital publication that has continued weekly and has allowed us to continue to build the cultural connection that is at the foundation of the team that holds our institution together.  

How many times have you attended ATD International Conference & EXPO?

Twice—San Diego in 2018 and Washington, DC, in 2019. 

What was your first impression of the event?

WOW—this is HUGE! And second WOW—this is HIGH-QUALITY! To be in a space with so many other professionals who are dedicated to learning was exciting. And the level of mutual respect and ability to interact with leaders in the field was outstanding. 

What has brought you back?

The quality to great content and speakers—mind expanding—and the opportunity to connect with several presenters who had exactly the style that would work for our organization. I was also able to encounter some tools in practice that we were able to later incorporate into our leadership development program. There are many wonderful presenters and tools, but when I need to advocate for expenditures and endorse them to my peers and colleagues the format of ATD International Conference & EXPO provides the perfect platform to understand how they will work in my organization.  

What was your most memorable or favorite part of ATD International Conference & EXPO? 

The awesome keynote presenters. Hey, I’ve met Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Seth Godin, and I’ve sung with Eric Whitacre (along with 12,000 of my closest friends!). And in attending that portion of the conference to remember what it feels like to be the attendee, and to be so well cared for by the ATD team in your preparation for all of us from the upbeat walk-on music to great technology that made it accessible to special surprises. It provided ideas regarding how to up my game in regard to large staff conferences that I lead—and how to make those so engaging for every one of my colleagues. In short, you respect your audience and make it possible for each of us to learn. You walk the walk. I also have to say that being able to celebrate Ken Blanchard’s birthday with him and his team was special. 

What did you learn at ATD International Conference & EXPO and how did you apply it on the job?

There were so many learnings. Perhaps most important was an energy and purpose boost to be in the presence of so many gifted and dedicated professionals who are committed to making the world a better place and that it all starts with knowledge. The conference provides a way to begin to understand the steps. Sometimes, most importantly identifying the first small steps of the journey forward. I get excited just writing this and being reminded of the hopeful and mind-opening opportunity that the conference always provides.

  

  

Eric Kaufmann

CEO, Sagatica

San Diego, CA

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I mentor and coach CEOs, executives, and their teams through leadership, strategic, relationship, and life changes and challenges. I teach leaders that it is always an inner breakthrough that leads to resolving a leadership breakdown. These leaders speak about how they reached what they thought was their edge of achievement, and I guide them to unlocking their next, hidden, and unrealized potential.

I’m the author of The Four Virtues of a Leader: Navigating the Hero’s Journey Through Risk to Results, as well as Leadership Breakdown: How to Break the Vicious Cycle, Release the Struggle, and Success With Conscious Leadership. My books are teachings about the virtues and mindsets that successful, passionate, and creative leaders embody as they navigate uncertainty and anxiety to achieve success.

I’m a fellow and thought-leader at Harvard’s Institute of Coaching and a speaker for TEDx. I draw insight and expertise from two decades of coaching leaders, management roles at Fortune 100 firms, degrees in business and psychology, 30 years of zen practice, living in Israel and South Africa, teaching as a master scuba diving instructor, working as a certified hypnotherapist, meditating in a yearlong retreat in an isolated cabin I built in the mountains of New Mexico, and parenting two amazing young women. 

Your day-to-day routine?

Well, pre-COVID-19, my days were a mix of executive coaching, leadership team facilitations, and keynotes. In the evenings I’d write then watch Game of Thrones with my wife.

During the pandemic, my days are filled with executive coaching and lots of writings. Game of Thrones is over, so it’s banjo playing and time with family.

What inspires you in learning and development?

I’m inspired by a lifelong love of learning. I’m one of those folks who can’t make clear distinction between personal passion and professional love. What really drives me is an insatiable desire to know and understand the truth for myself. Learning and development are so closely tied to truth-seeking that it inspires me. 

What has been your biggest challenge in the last year? How did you overcome it?

Not surprisingly, the year’s challenge has been the changed business landscape. I used to travel three of four weeks in the month, nationally and internationally. I knew how to provide deep value through in-person facilitation and teaching. Overnight I had to learn to be an expert at a distance. The challenge of switching to Zoom-land has been the dominant feature adaptation this year.

How many times have you attended ATD International Conference & EXPO?

I’ve attended four.

What was your first impression of the event?
First impression: Size. The events are huge and offer a plethora of learning. It takes discipline to parse out what to attend and what to lament missing.
Also, the variety and mix of beautiful humans from all corners of the globe. I love meeting learning professionals from Africa, Europe, Asia, and everywhere else.

What has brought you back?
I came back for the meetings—connecting with interesting colleagues and friends. I came back for learning—cutting-edge development in our field.

What was your most memorable/favorite part of ATD’s International Conference & EXPO?

Most memorable are the people. I’m inspired every time I connect with colleagues from other countries and cultures and discover that we’re all in this together. Regardless of the distinctions and flavors of nationalities, each of us is dedicated to helping people grow and learn.

What did you learn at ATD’s International Conference & EXPO and how did you apply it on the job?
One of my great ahas was a presentation about course design. Sitting through the session I realized that I was missing an essential element in my training design and it explained one of my frustrations in our delivery. I immediately adopted this new idea, changed our training process, and have enjoyed better engagement with participants.

  

  

Yaoming Duan

Learning Design Manager, Year Up

Boston, MA

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Yaoming Duan. I work as a learning design manager at Year Up. I started my career as a UX and interactive designer in Beijing, China, working in the role for five years. I came to America and received my master’s degree in digital media at Northeastern University (NEU). During that time, I worked as an e-learning multimedia developer with the Northeastern University Online learning team. While working with professors and SMEs to develop e-learning programs for students, I quickly realized that my digital media skills and UX design experience gave me an edge at translating complex learning concepts to engage visual, motion, and interactive design. In my functional role for e-learning design at Year Up, I leverage lots of UX design processes to the team. I strongly believe that the user-centered design principle in UX design should be adopted in the learning design process. More specifically, I added user research, usability studies (collecting data from target learners and using it to improve the e-learning design), visual storyboards, and team portfolios to the learning design process. I also believe learning design should be a data-driven process. I am leading the learning data analysis and learning assessment strategy development to improve individual and organizational performance through learning. I also assist in defining key learning design metrics and provide data reports to improve team decision-making that strengthens learning products and improves employee and organizational effectiveness.

What is your day-to-day routine?

Lead team-blended learning design strategies.
• Lead staff e-learning design and development and work with key stakeholders and SMEs across the org to understand the training needs and build effective learning that leverage the adult learning concepts.
• Lead user research and usability testing, collecting learners’ data, and updating products for Baseline Online to support high-quality module production.
• Build media-rich, multimodal learning experiences by using high-quality video, audio, interactive design, motion graphics, infographic, and animations.
• Leverage best practices for interaction design and user-centered design thinking.
• Create project plans; execute deliverables on time.
• Incorporate feedback from stakeholders as needed, constantly elevating the level of product and service.
• Build design and development infrastructure, including tools, templates, and references to support smooth and consistent design collaboration and consultation with SMEs/partners (for example, learning team portfolio and learning design model).

What inspires you in learning and development?

I am passionate about using digital technology to extend the connections between teaching/training and learning. My primary goals are to build meaningful learning projects, engage learners to become more active learners, create an effective learning experience, and encourage learners to feel knowledgeable and capable. 

I see myself as an active lifelong learner and benefit from lots of learning opportunities from the L&D industry. In the past two years before COVID-19 hit, I spent my daily commute time (90 minutes per workday) learning on the bus by using a mobile phone and a noise-canceling headphones. Based on the data I recorded on myself, I accomplished 269 articles, 18 books, 120 learning videos, 35 podcasts, and 91 courses including quick learning courses like LinkedIn learning and college-level courses from edX and Coursera. This year during the pandemic, I completed the UIUC Instructional Design MasterTrack program, which is an 80–100 hour (five months) certificate program on the fundamentals of instructional design.

What has been your biggest challenge in the last year? How did you overcome it?

COVID-19 changed how people work, connect, and learn. As the COVID-19 pandemic took over the nation, learning was relegated to a virtual environment. Like other companies, my team was also felt challenged to bridge the gap between in-person, virtual, and blended learning. The way we solve the challenge comes from two parts. One: continuous learning. I spent a lot of time learning how to leverage our current resources to build learning ecosystems, how the industry withstand crises, and how to generate learning for employees by fostering creativity and innovation. Two: reach on how our staff learned during the crisis. We researched and collected data on how our staff learning, what factors are limiting staff growth, and what support our staff wants from our organization. That data helped us built our learning strategy and make the learning more inclusive and user-centered.

How many times have you attended ATD International Conference & EXPO?

I attended once with my team in 2018.

What was your first impression of the event?

Professional and inspiring. It motivated me to open my laptop and start solving the challenges by trying new things and building the future of my team’s learning design strategy. 

What was your most memorable or favorite part of ATD International Conference & EXPO?

One of my favorite memories was that we met our LMS vendor (Degreed) during the EXPO, as we had just switched to the new LMS during the time. It was great to learn more about them and we took a fun team photo. 

Another of my favorite memories was the way the conference structured provided lots of opportunities to connect with other professionals and learn from each other. My team connected to debrief. It was so cool to get our questions answered by asking others from the conference including L&D professionals and speakers.

What did you learn at ATD International Conference & EXPO and how did you apply it on the job?

We learned a lot! We attended ATD as a full learning team (six people). We all signed into different sessions based on our own interests and connected a few times during the day to debrief and share. We leveraged lots of things we learned from each session and used them for our day-to-day work such as micro-learning and blended learning.

   

   

Alfredo Castro

Director, MOT Training and Development

Miami, Florida and São Paulo, Brazil

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Consultant, facilitator, writer of three ATD books (chapters) and 12 business books. I was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and have lived in Miami for the last 10 years. I am trilingual—I speak English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

I have been consecutively attending the ATD International Conference & EXPO for the last 25 years.

What is your day-to-day routine?

Each day, I facilitate four to five virtual seminars for companies like Red Hat, GE, Sodexo, Givaudan, and Redfin, about leadership, sales, and storytelling.

What inspires you in learning and development?

I believe L&D is the only way we can face challenges and help each other ignite the great reset. My entire career has been based in what I have learned at ATD/ASTD events.

What has been your biggest challenge in the last year? How did you overcome it?

I travelled 40 percent of the year to about 15 countries in Europe, the Americas, and Asia, delivering face-to-face face seminars, and had to convert all deliveries to virtual seminars—and I succeeded.

How many times have you attended ATD International Conference & EXPO?

25 times, from 1995 to 2019.

What was your first impression of the event?

In 1995 I felt impacted, I never stopped attending. Since 1995, I have participated as a member of the steering committee (2009 and 2010). I have also presented 27 times in concurrent sessions and more than 10 times in regional ATD events in Japan, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Brazil, Mexico, and Egypt, to name a few.

You’ve attended many times. What brought you back?

I am a lifelong learner, and I can see big differences each time I attend the event. I tell many colleagues to do the same and I can see the influence it has on them as well. Attending the same conference  year after year is different because you are different, and the scenario is always different. So, for me it is a must: coming every year!     

What was your most memorable or favorite part of ATD International Conference & EXPO?

2010 Chicago, because I spoke at the main stage as the chairman of the advisory committee. I also loved the one when we changed from ASTD to ATD (I said, “Tony, we made the best change ever.”)

What did you learn at ATD International Conference & EXPO and how did you apply it on the job? 

I have had many outcomes and takeaways, it is hard to sum this up because my entire career (since 1995) has been influenced and lightened by being at ATD! These conferences have helped me reach goals of facilitating for global companies and writing books inspired by being a member. I would also like to highlight that I have tripled the income from global companies after applying what I have been learning at the events and seminars. Thanks, ATD!

    

    

Ryan Montoya    

Senior Consultant of Business Advisory Services, Slalom Consulting

Denver, Colorado

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am from a small town in northern New Mexico. I graduated from the University of New Mexico (go Lobos!). After graduation, I worked with IBM as a learning and development consultant for about seven years. I loved that opportunity, and I loved traveling around the world. After IBM, I joined Slalom Consulting in Denver, and it has truly changed my life. The people that I work with, the values of the company, and the work that we do couldn’t be better. I am so lucky to call Slalom home.

Your day-to-day routine?

Lots of conference calls, data gathering, and thinking about ways to improve training and development for my clients.

What inspires you in learning and development?

Inspiration comes from the fact that there are always different ways to do things. People learn differently. Whether that’s age, job role, or preferred style, you can reach people differently.

What has been your biggest challenge in the last year? How did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge has been coming up with a plan to train an ERP system, to 600 users, remotely. Most of those users weren’t frequent computer users, so it was difficult. But we used a hybrid model, and it worked perfectly.

How many times have you attended ATD International Conference & EXPO?

Once

What was your first impression of the event?

I was amazed by how many people were in attendance at the convention. I also loved that there were so many different areas you could align your sessions to.

What was your most memorable/favorite part of ATD International Conference & EXPO?

I think it goes without saying that listening to Barack Obama speak was not only the highlight of the conference, but one of the highlights of my life. It was absolutely incredible and well worth the long wait.

What did you learn at ATD International Conference & EXPO and how did you apply it on the job?

I’ve learned how companies are using new and innovative ways to train their employees. As a consultant, I don’t always get to know what clients are already doing, since they bring me in for my expertise.