It’s the CLO’s job to make sure workers constantly enhance the skills and knowledge they need to excel at their jobs. A majority of CLOs have a passion for learning and development and dedicate themselves to meeting this challenge from their first day on the job.
But CLOs require training too — both before and after they fill their new positions, these learning leaders have to turn their gazes inward and focus on developing their own skills to ensure success.
Although CLOs must have a wide range of talents to do their jobs well, experienced executives often single out certain key strengths people must have before they can step into this role. CoreNet Global, an association of corporate real estate professionals, found itself searching for a new CLO recently.
CEO Prentice Knight, who is the former CLO, said the most critical skills for this new CLO were experience in the field, an understanding of the newest learning technologies and theories and strong general management skills.
“I was looking for someone who understood the evolving nature of adult professional education,” Knight said. “Knowledge of what’s happening in the field, best practices, where that industry’s heading and how it can be applied to our association was the critical factor.”
The candidate he chose, Brenda Wisniewski, had gained these skills while working with the consulting firm Arthur Andersen and as an executive appointee to the U.S. Treasury, where she assisted with learning solutions at the Internal Revenue Service.
She said her experience as a consultant has done a lot to help her understand and address the critical business issues related with her new C-suite position.
“Strategic thinking is absolutely critical because sometimes learning isn’t the only answer,” she said. “You won’t really be able to address the issue if you only think in terms of what kind of training we can deliver.”
As a member organization, CoreNet Global must address the needs of more than 7,000 clients who work in corporate real estate around the globe. Because the company’s base is a highly specialized yet widespread group, Wisniewski said one of the most important things she must do is develop partnerships with universities to provide members with more learning options, no matter where they are.
“People in this industry are required to have skills far beyond real estate,” she explained. “There is a lack of skilled resources now in this industry, and one of our roles, we believe, is to provide the right type of education and access to knowledge for those currently in the business. We also need to feed the pipeline by working with universities to make sure that their programs are relevant to the market.”
For individuals hoping to climb toward the CLO position, Wisniewski said mapping out a career path is the key to success. Looking at the requirements for posted jobs can tell aspiring CLOs what types of skills and education they need to reach to their goal.
Jobs that offer experience working with new learning technologies, providing sound business advice and managing other professionals are especially relevant, she said.
Although Wisniewski’s experiences have given her the tools she needs to be a successful CLO, Knight — who came to his CLO role as a former university professor — said there are many ways to get the skills and knowledge the position requires.
“There’s no single path to being a chief learning officer,” he said. “It’s about education. You need to love education, the whole education process for adults. I had that, and Brenda has that too. If you don’t have that, the rest of it doesn’t work.”
– Tegan Jones, firstname.lastname@example.org