As someone who loves to travel and meet new friendly faces, I’ve been fortunate in my professional life. In addition to frequent-flying around North America more times than I can remember, I’ve walked on the Great Wall of China, sipped coffee in the shadow of the Champs-Elysees and experienced the glory that is Rome. Even in seemingly less exotic locales, from Livingston, N.J., to Livermore, Calif., I’ve enjoyed the company of business leaders and learning executives.
Business and learning have been the threads linking locations. I happily added another notch to that metaphoric belt recently, when we traveled to Barcelona, Spain, to host the first foray of the CLO Symposium into international waters. Our domestic events have always focused on global issues and attracted international attendees and speakers, but naturally, none have been quite as multicultural and diverse as the CLO Symposium EMEA.
The classic postcard sentiment sums it up best: “Having a great time! Wish you were here.”
I try not to take this space to recap past events, (water under the bridge and all), but this initial international conference of learning leaders was special enough, exciting enough, that an exception seemed in order.
We had representatives from six continents (apparently, the Antarctica contingent had trouble clearing customs), from some of the leading companies in the world. Among the companies represented were Microsoft, Reuters, Toyota, Nestlé, Cisco, British Airways, Prudential, Harley-Davidson, IBM, Phillips, Lufthansa, Dell, Barclays and Nokia.
So many companies, so many executives, so many items to discuss—there were times we had to cut off the discussions on stage in order to move to the next agenda item. It’s similar to the rich man who keeps getting paper cuts from handling his cash: It’s a nice problem to have.
I could go on and on about those conversational points, but I doubt I need to. I’m convinced you already know what we talked about, because it’s what you’ve talked about in conversation with your senior leadership, your peers and your partners. Judging from our EMEA attendees and their talking points in Q&A sessions and over cocktails, I believe that while languages may change as you cross borders, issues are universal. I’ll give you a taste, and you can tell me if the flavor is familiar:
Kate DCamp of Cisco Systems led a conversation on the competitive advantages of learning.
Nancy DeViney of IBM Learning Solutions pondered what lies ahead for the future of enterprise education.
John Kramer and Ivo Wetsels of Toyota looked at the global demands of talent management.
Maria Teresa Garzon of Deloitte Consulting considered the importance of instructor-led education and other delivery mechanisms.
Lois Rouder of Dell outlined how technology advances learning inside and outside progressive organizations.
Stephan Gropp of Sun Microsystems discussed the demands of serving global clienteles.
Bob Fryer of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service talked about fostering creativity as a learning tool.
Tom Lokar of AOL offered strategies for ensuring leadership support.
Bente Holm Skov of Computer Sciences Corp. shared thoughts on connecting workforce development with business strategy.
In the face of these familiar, universal issues, let me rewrite that postcard: “Having a great time. It feels like you’re here.”
With each CLO Symposium, I find myself getting more and more excited about the ongoing discussion our attendees are leading. We’ve bounced the events around the country and now over an ocean, and the level of excitement continues to build. We’re back stateside for the next Symposium, March 15-17 in Amelia Island, Fla. (go to www.cloevents.com for more information), but I know the discussions will pick up right where they left off when the sun set in Barcelona. I hope you’ll be there as the dialogue goes to the next level.
Think of it this way: “Having a great time. You belong here.”
Editor in Chief