Designing the future of learning

In the fast-changing world of retail, a workforce that’s ready to evolve with your business is key. Hear how Megan Comerford, Vice President of Talent Development, and Charles Donnell, Director of Talent Development, are focusing on the future at PVH. Find out how an agile approach to learning is building a workforce ready for change. Discover how using local partnerships and business expertise is central to their success.

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Top tips for designing the future of learning

Don’t have time to listen now? Here are some top tips from Megan and Charles:

  1. Keep it agile to build a workforce ready for change: Retail is dynamic. Match this energy and take an agile approach to L&D. Focus on understanding and empowering your people.
  2. Get informed to maximize engagement: Digital natives have high expectations. Take the time to find out what they want. Trial ideas to identify the most effective delivery. 
  3. Strengthen brand identities through local partnerships: From brand identify to store locations, embrace the differences within your organization. Create strong local partnerships to produce effective learning. 
  4. Harness the passion in your business: Your organization is full of skilled and knowledgeable people. Work with these experts to increase the impact of learning experiences.

1. Keep it agile to build a workforce ready for change

Retail is a dynamic a business. Faced with constant change, developing the skills needed for future success isn’t easy. With so many unknowns, where do you start?

For Megan, it’s about focusing on what you know. And the one thing that’s certain is change. For PVH to remain successful, its people need to be ready to evolve with the business. Effective learning and development is key to achieving this. With PVH University, they’re putting people at the heart of business transformation. Not providing learning resources, but enabling people to design their future at PVH. From quick pilots to user generated content, the focus is understanding and empowering learners. This dynamic approach to L&D translates into a workforce ready for change.

Charles: “Traditionally we would spend weeks and weeks developing content. Making it perfect. But we found homegrown content, using an iPhone or using quick online development tools, to create and get it out there quickly – although it’s not perfect – it works!”

2. Get informed to maximize engagement

Used to having everything available at the touch of a screen, digital natives are happy to pick up their devices to learn. Delivering content to these tech savvy learners may seem easy. But how can you be sure it’s effective?

PVH developed their University app in 2018. They released the technology and let the people gravitate towards it. Without heavy promotion, there was huge uptake, particularly in Asia. But the team didn’t stop there. Detailed analytics offered valuable learner insights. Data enabled them to understand how learners were engaging with content. And the ultimate aim is to use this data to predict future learning needs.

Megan: “We’re focused on satisfaction rates and fill rates. Because that tells a story around whether it’s the right content. Is it marketed in the right way? Are we offering it at the right time? Looking to get a picture of what’s happening. Ultimately, I’d love to get to a point where we’re able to be predictive with what we offer. Start to make informed decisions.”

3. Strengthen brand identities through local partnerships

Creating a learning community in a large organization isn’t straightforward. Doing this across different brands and geographies adds further complexity. If you’re going to be successful, you need to embrace your differences. 

From stores to customers, the PVH brands and regions have individual identities. Maintaining these identities is key to the continuing success of the business. Charles works in partnership with a number of regional counterparts. Together they identify each area’s unique needs, and how best to meet them. By trialling approaches, they check they’re on the right path before rolling it out more widely. 

Megan: “We try not to make the assumption that it’s something that everyone needs. It might just be for a small population. We create those strong partnerships to understand what our consumers need – the people working in the retail stores. And then build a quick prototype, to test it out and use that information to inform future decisions.”

4. Harness the passion in your business

Taking in design, manufacturing and sales, retail L&D covers a broad spectrum. How do you ensure your whole organization develops the skills they need – now and in the future?

Megan and Charles aren’t the experts. For them it’s about harnessing the power of their people. What’s happening in the store informs the skills developed for future success. The enthusiasm of product designers translates into great customer experiences. Input from the business is an essential ingredient for successful learning.

Megan: “We often partner with the people who actually developed the design. [Getting them] to explain some of the neat features in short videos. That’s an exciting way to use technology. It’s also a way to get people excited. You can hear the passion. That can translate to the person on the sales floor and out to the customer.”

A quick recap

PVH needed their workforce to be ready to evolve with them. Launching their University app was the start of their learning transformation. Megan and Charles have four strategies to continue this journey. Take an agile approach to create learning that gives your people the skills they need now and in the future. Use data analytics to understand what your learners want. Create strong local partnerships to keep your brands unique. Harness the passion and expertise in your business to maximize impact.

Want to find out more? Check out the full podcast. 

About Megan and Charles

With over six years’ L&D experience at PVH, Megan became Vice President of Talent Development in 2018. She oversees global learning technologies, and leadership and skills development in North America.

Charles Donald is Director of Talent Development and part of Megan’s team. His focus is learning technologies. This includes the implementation of PVH’s global learning platform.

You can find out more and get connected with Megan and Charles on Linkedin.

On Megan and Charles’ reading lists

Find out what reading informs Megan and Charles’ approach to L&D.

Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell 

From rock stars to scientific geniuses, this book explores a range of success stories. It’s made Megan think differently about analytics and user experience.  

Social media

Social media provides a view into what’s happening in the world. For Charles, understanding how people engage with technology is a key input into his work.

Looking for more reading tips? Check out our book blog

Join the conversation! 

We’d love to hear your thoughts on our podcast, so feel free to get in touch on Twitter @learningatlarge with any questions or queries. You can also email Simon, our podcast host, at simon@elucidat.com. As always, don’t forget to subscribe to Learning at Large in your favorite podcast app and leave us a 5-star rating if you enjoyed it. Thank you for joining us, and see you next time.

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