The Digital Skills Transformation event: Digital business meets learning and development

Co-hosted by the ADBL and CIPD, the Digital Skills Transformation Event on Monday 6th July saw some of the UK’s digital business leaders address issues with digital learning and development executives.

The event gathered learning and development leaders in Google’s central London headquarters to discuss the challenges organisations face in developing and training the right staff for tomorrow’s digital businesses. Throughout the evening, the audience enjoyed talks from leading figures at the forefront of global business.

Michael Curry opening the Digital Skills Transformation event from the ADBL and CIPD

The ADBL’s (Academy of Digital Business Leaders) CEO and Founder Michael Curry hosted the event, introducing and pitching questions to the digital leaders. These included David Black, MD of Branding and Consumer Markets at Google, Manoj Badale, Co-Founder of Blenheim Chalcot, and Andy Beale, Director of Common Technology Services at the UK’s Government Digital Service.

Notable learning and development leaders in the UK also presented, with Andy Lancaster, Head of Learning and Development at CIPD, Sarah Mellor, Talent Manager at John Lewis, and Robert Ashcroft, Senior Learning Manager at Santander presenting in the fast-paced Ignite format.

Commencing the evening’s proceedings, the ADBL’s Michael Curry shared with the audience the results of a survey among their fellow learning and development leaders.

The survey found that while the majority of learning and development leaders feel they are expected to take a leading role in the transformation of digital skills at their organisation, they were unsure about how to go about training and up-skilling the senior staff that they are responsible for.

David Black, Head of Brand at Google, presenting at the Digital Skills Transformation event from the ADBL and CIPD

The first speaker of the evening, Google’s David Black introduced the concept of business in a digital age requiring three primary factors:

  • Digital technology,
  • Digital skills,
  • Digital culture.

With an executive team that represents these three factors, success in the digital environment is much more likely to follow.

Andy Beale, Director of Common Technoplogy Services, Government Digital Service, presenting at the Digital Skills Transformation event from the ADBL and CIPD

Next up on the night’s busy agenda, the UK’s Government Digital Service’s Director of Common Technology Services, Andy Beale discussed the ever-growing need for traditional departments to become digital departments.

Giving his own organisation as an example, Beale explained that in previous years the UK public sector has been slow to adopt the digital revolution, but it is now the case that government departments are investing in training their talent for the digital future. Further, schemes such as a ‘Digital Fast Stream’ for recent graduates aids in preparing new hires for working within the digital age.

Question and answer session chaired by Michael Curry from the ADBL, with David Black from Google and Andy Beale from Government Digital Service

Ending the first half of the evening’s presentations, the ADBL’s Michael Curry hosted a question and answer session for the audience of learning and development leaders to address the first two speakers.

Question and answer session with Andy Lancaster, Head of L&D at CIPD, Sarah Mellor from John Lewis and Robert Ashcroft from Santander, hosted by Michael Curry from the ADBL.

For the second half of the presentations, three well-respected learning and development leaders presented individually for five minutes each.

Andy Lancaster, head of learning and development at CIPD took to the stage first, presenting on ‘Leading in Digital Learning’.

Andy discussed the benefits in learning remotely via digital means compared to learning in a physical location. To meet their purpose in the future, learning and development professionals need to transition their roles from creator of vocational training, to one that more closely resembles curator.

Second to the stage was John Lewis’ Talent Manager, Sarah Mellor.

A need for traditional customer-facing staff to understand the digital world, paired with many of John Lewis’ partners finding difficulty in empathising with the company’s fast-growing digital-savvy consumer base has caused tension for the business in the past. However, using novel methods such as offering their employee documentation in the form of ebooks has aided the digital transformation across the company, spreading digital understanding from the top down.

Robert Ashcroft, Santander’s Senior Learning Manager was the third and final member of the learning and development panel.

Discussing an issue faced by traditional B2C financial firms, Ashcroft spoke of the need for banks to understand that their customers are unique. To ward off disruption from newer entrants to the market, financial institutions and their staff need to use the tools available to them in the digital world to their full extent; personalising consumer focused communication to show the understanding and empathy that the banks already possess.

Manoj Bedale, co-founder of Blenheim Chalcot presenting at the Digital Skills Transformation event from the ADBL and CIPD

Finally, Blenheim Chalcot’s Co-Founder, Manoj Badale took to the stage for the closing speech.

Manoj highlighted his proven conviction that leadership from the top, retraining programmes for existing staff, and accessing new talent via such schemes as apprenticeships are the only methods of adapting a business successfully for the digital present and future. For business leaders, a thorough, objective analysis of one’s own digital knowledge and capability is required, alongside new metrics for success.

Monday’s event covered a broad range of challenges and solutions for the learning and development community when addressing the digital transformation of both executives, and the organisations they represent. Following up the event will be a free webinar from the ADBL, giving take-back to work action points that both HR and learning and development leaders can implement in their organisation’s digital transformation.

Would you like to learn more about how the ADBL’s courses can help you address your digital skill needs? Then please contact Tom Davidson on +44 (0)20 7173 5766.

Or you can watch the follow-up webinar we held. Titled ‘How to create a digitally capable organisation’, our expert panel covered a number of topics: why people should be the number one priority of a digital agenda; key attributes of a digitally capable organisation; important accountabilities and behaviours of different parts of the business; and much more.



Stephanie Khan

Posted July 7, 2015