Recently, we got the chance to interview one of the incredible speakers of the Chief Learning Officer Exchange Canada, happening this July 23-25, in Toronto. In her role as the VP of Talent & Culture of Loblaw, Fran Hansen is responsible for the design, development and implementation of all strategies, programs and policies relating to culture and talent management for the enterprise. Fran enjoys bringing practical and simple talent solutions to the business to enable her leaders to achieve great results with their people and creating cultures where employees can thrive and do great work.
Q: You’ve been at Loblaw for almost two years. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about leadership?
A. Over the course of my career, I’ve realized the importance being authentic. Too often, we try to be the person we imagine others want us to be. But, there’s greater happiness and strength in being proud of who you are and what you’re passionate about, and living your values.
Q: What are some of the challenges leaders in the learning space face today? How can we be more strategic as a profession?
A. Today’s workforce is more diverse than it’s ever been. People of a variety of ages, races, ethnicities, orientations and so on now work alongside one another either in person or virtually. As leaps in technology allow us to reach learners in a variety of ways, we must not lose sight of the value of individual and team relationships and in-person connections. Values and culture can unite a diverse workforce – and, as we all know, “organizational culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner.” Since 2014, Loblaw has been on a culture journey, and our learning teams have been actively involved in that movement.
Q: What do you feel the biggest challenge is in trying to embed a robust learning culture into an organization?
A. Learning professionals are often battling competing business priorities. And, in an economy where the pace of change and rapid business model innovation are constant, without a learning culture, business leaders feel challenged to “find the time” to develop their talent despite all that we know about its importance.
Q: Your keynote at the Chief Learning Officer Exchange Canada will focus on the role of the CLO in driving business strategy. What major takeaway will attendees learn from your session?
A. The importance of technology as an enabler for the democratization of learning. From user-generated content to communities-of-practice to augmented and virtual reality, the need to evolve our technology platforms is critical to creating a self-sustaining learning culture. It’s one of the things that we’re actively looking into.
Q: Any upcoming program launches or initiatives you’d like to highlight to our audience?
A. We’re set to launch the On-the-Job Activity Planner which, simply put, is a kind of a matching tool for individual development. It will enable colleagues to identify areas of opportunity (like coaching) so that the system can generate action options and help create a development plan specific to that colleague. And all of that is done within our learning management system so that colleagues can start executing that action plan right away!
Q: If you could give business a piece of advice to help them strengthen their L&D function, what would it be?
A. Virtually all leaders agree that, in order for their organizations to stay competitive and innovative, continuous learning is key. Creating time and space for rich, in-place, on-the-job development for employees in a planned and deliberate way is essential to building capability at the individual and organizational level. To be successful, the learning function (or individual learning professional) must be connected in a meaningful way to the business and the organizational objectives. Credible solutions that enable business objectives and performance is vital.
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