Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2009 - (Page 32)

MEET MILYNDA WEIS PEER REVIEW T he training industry is full of people with diverse and interesting backgrounds, with people coming to the same place by some pretty wide-reaching roads. Milynda Weis may not have taken the most unusual path to her training leadership role, but she’s certainly taken that role in noteworthy directions. Like many folks, Weis didn’t start out to be a trainer, but it became a labor of love. She’s turned a mass communications degree and a background in financial services and healthcare into a thriving career leading training and development for about 2,000 largely technical employees. Weis is now director of technical training and development for SuddenLink Communications, one of the nation’s largest providers of cable broadband services, serving 1.3 million customers in 15 states. She’s also a certified HR professional and a certified broadband installer herself, a noteworthy set of credentials for someone who considers herself non-technical. “I may be the only HR professional with that particular dual certification,” Weis said. “How many other HR professionals have that?” Weis started her training career while working at a bank, as the only non-financial employee, tasked with marketing, advertising and customer service responsibilities. She ended up creating and delivering customer service training, and not surprisingly, she loved it. “That kind of sparked my interest and put me on the path to where I am today,” she said. “For me, just getting to interact with people on that level, getting the opportunity to open up discussions, to broaden horizons, to see light bulbs come on. Those things are always very rewarding.” Seeing that organization experience a 240 percent growth dur- ing her tenure also showed her the organizational power training provides. She took that knowledge to her next position, training for a health sciences center, and eventually to Cox Communications, where she took her first full-time training position in 2000. Various acquisitions later, the company became SuddenLink, and Weis moved into a corporate position overseeing training for 2,000 employees in technical operations, including installers, supervisors and managers. With a nine-week onboarding training program just the beginning of content-heavy training, Weis is serving a unique audience of hands-on professionals. “They don’t like to sit at desks—that’s why they’ve chosen the careers they’ve chosen,” Weis said. “They like to be out and about. You have to give them learning experiences that enable them to move about physically, to explore options and to learn through trial and error, and through practice.” One way SuddenLink has addressed that challenge is by building mock houses where installers can practice their craft, in situations that mimic real life. “Once a technician steps through a piece of ceiling sheetrock, he probably isn’t going to do that again,” Weis said. “We have to give them that kind of experience.” Her background may be unique, but for Weis, that mass communications degree has been a natural fit with her training career. “Training is all about communications,” she said. “It’s all about communicating the skills and experiences of the company, of the industry, of the trainer, of the curriculum. Whatever it is, it’s all about communication and it’s about recognizing when people are hearing the message and internalizing the message, and when they’ll be able to use the information or the skill. I think it’s a great match for training and development.” 32 Training Industry Quarterly, Spring 2009 / A Training Industry, Inc. ezine /

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2009

Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2009
The American Heart Association: Learn and Live
Winning Organizations Through People
The Business of Learning
Learning Technologies
Best Practices for Certification Training
7 Strategies for Employee Self-Development
Learning Today: Collaborative, Social and Learner-Driven
Driving Corporate Performance through Learning Partnerships
Meet Dale Towery
Meet Milynda Weis
The American Heart Association: Learn and Live
Closing Arguments

Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2009