Can’t stop, won’t stop learning: 5 companies offering professional development

by Liz Warren
February 22, 2018

Who said learning needs to stop once you leave college? Attending networking events and career-specific trainings not only broadens your circle and skill set — events like these can also help you find inspiration when you’re feeling stuck in a professional rut. We spoke with companies that offer employee development perks, and they’re getting increasingly creative with their initiatives. “Chubbybrain sessions,” anyone?

 

CB-dev
Image via CB Insights

Market intelligence platform CB Insights offers a range of professional development opportunities that help employees at all levels. People Operations Manager Amanda Gerhardt-King explained some of the initiatives and how they helped one employee feel confident enough to make not one, but two, appearances on TV.

What kind of professional development opportunities do you currently offer employees?

First, we offer a $1,000 education stipend to all employees after they have been with the company for six months. We also organize monthly peer-to-peer learning opportunities during which one of our colleagues teaches a new skill.

Additionally, each quarter, we host a female-focused professional development lunch, and every month, managers attend classes called "Chubbybrain Sessions,” which teach lessons on core and strategic management skills. We’re also rolling out a program for new hires and entry-level employees that will help them achieve their career goals and provide best practices for being a skilled employee.

How have you seen these offerings improve an employee’s skills?

One of our biggest achievements was watching one of our intelligence analysts take a public speaking course and feel confident enough to go on TV twice!

 

Bluecore-dev
Image via Bluecore

E-commerce platform Bluecore brings training in-house in the form of Bluecore University. SVP of People Laura Cooper went over all of the different ways employees can continue to learn outside of the classroom.

What kind of professional development opportunities do you currently offer employees?

We have an amazing employee development platform. Earlier this year, the Bluecore people team launched Bluecore University. In the startup space, less than 66 percent of organizations offer training and development to their employees. BCU is a fully-branded internal school that offers specifically-tailored managerial and individual contributor learning and development courses.

Why are these opportunities important?

These opportunities demonstrate Bluecores's commitment to employee development within the company. We’re deeply invested in each employee being able to self-actualize personally and professionally at work. Formal training is just one of the many avenues that we offer to expand skills and experience in a way that strengthens the symbiotic relationship between company and employee.

 

Livelike-dev
Image via Facebook

LiveLike, a tech company that delivers live sports experiences on mobile platforms, wants its employees to go places, in more ways than one. The team is encouraged to build their professional portfolio by attending conferences and traveling between its offices in India and NYC. Operations manager Kit Irwin explained more.

What kind of professional development opportunities do you currently offer employees?

We offer all of our employees the opportunity to submit unlimited requests to attend any events, classes or training related to their role at LiveLike. We then approve as many of these experiences as possible based on our budget.

In addition to this, we've recently rolled out an inter-office exchange program, where we will be bringing employees from our office in Gurgaon, India to our New York City office (and vice versa) to give employees the opportunity to learn from each other and further strengthen bonds with their team members.

How have you seen these offerings improve an employee’s skills?

We recently sent one of our product managers to the Atlassian Conference and helped her earn a SCRUM certification through company-sponsored classes. She was able to gain a great deal of insight and knowledge through these opportunities and has been able to take on new responsibilities as a result.

Why are these opportunities important?

LiveLike hires the best of the best in all of our departments. To ensure that our people are up-to-date on cutting-edge technology and to maintain their business acumen, we give all of our employees access to as many tools and resources as possible.

 

AppNexus-dev
Image via AppNexus

Adtech company AppNexus has a number of professional development programs for employees at every level within the company. Everything from new hire training to inclusion workshops are covered in the office. Chief People and Legal Officer Nithya Das went through each initiative with Built In NYC.

What kind of professional development opportunities do you currently offer employees?

One feature of our development structure is AppNexus University, which is a program for all new employees to be introduced to and familiarized with the foundational aspects of AppNexus’ technology and culture. In order to speed-ramp time, all new hires starting in engineering roles also attend deep dive courses that help them develop an understanding of our technical systems, the ad tech industry and AppNexus’ strategic roadmap.

Other employees can take advantage of our professional development series, as well as our manager training program. We also offer training aimed at creating a more inclusive work environment for all employees. This encompasses courses like Ally Skills training, in which we teach employees how to use his/her/their privilege to support and advocate for others.

How have you seen these offerings improve an employee’s skills?

Employees have said they approach situations and conversations with their teams, managers, clients and peers differently after trainings, specifically with more empathy and patience. In addition, they have said that having specific tools to structure thoughts and conversations takes the mystery out of working relationships, which in turn enables them to do their best work more quickly and efficiently.

Why are these opportunities important?

One of AppNexus’ values is “learn and teach,” as we believe we learn best by doing and then sharing knowledge to improve other people’s understanding. To this end, we make it a priority to invest in our employees’ professional growth by providing concepts that translate directly and actionably into their current job and long-term career. A lot of professional development happens on the job, through the challenging projects AppNexians work on, as well as through the peers, managers and mentors they work directly with. However, we believe that there needs to be an objective forum set aside for reflecting, diving deep and gaining concrete tools based in behavioral science and leadership research.

 

Common-development
Image via Common

Community-driven housing company Common wants people to work and learn together. Employees will soon be able to take advantage of a managerial training program led by some of the top companies. Director of People Operations Sara Marzitelli told us all about it.

What kind of professional development opportunities do you currently offer employees?

Common is poised for substantial growth over the next couple of years, and as the business grows, so will the number and needs of our employees. Our first initiative will be partnering with LifeLabs, which is one of the go-to training resources for innovative companies. They have worked with companies like Squarespace, Lyft, Venmo and Warby Parker, and now Common. We’re excited to bring them in to help us develop and roll out a people manager training program. This training will help a lot of our most experienced and skilled managers spread their expertise, values and habits throughout the organization.

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