Catherine Baker | Maher & Maher
Maher & Maher, an IMPAQ Company - Investment Advisors for Talent Development.
Menu

Latest Thinking

Posts By Catherine Baker

How Do You Learn?

An Interview with Michael Colella, Information Technology Manager at Maher & Maher

As Chief Learning Officer at Maher, I like to connect with team members on how they view professional development and how they develop themselves.

Michael Colella joined Maher in March of this year as our Information Technology (IT) Manager. I wanted to get his perspective on development as a systems and technology expert.  He was ready and willing to let me pick his brain—thank you Mike!

Question: “Why do you think professional development is so important today?”

In our age of technology and connectivity the business landscape has become extremely competitive. Successful businesses aim to acquire the most talented individuals to drive innovation. Companies often expand their talent pool search by offering employees the ability to work remotely.  With an expanded talent pool for employers… Read more →

A Digital Transformation is Upon Us. What Does That Mean to the Workplace?

The digital transformation is a key business initiative at the forefront of most leading organizations. It is not a trend that is losing ground; rather, it is picking up exponential speed.  Those that plan to wait until the ground settles to find their place in the transformation will be left behind.  It is undeniable that our workplace will change significantly in the next five years, and this new way of work, more than any other in recent history, will have a profound impact on how we ready our future workforce. Job-seekers, as well as those who are currently employed, will need to upskill to adapt in the workplace.

I just spent two days at the Future Workplace Summit in Boston, Massachusetts.  The event focused on how the workplace is changing and presented best practices for leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual and Augmented Realities (VR… Read more →

Artificial Intelligence Changing the Way We Learn

When I first heard the term, Artificial Intelligence (AI), it reminded me of the 1968 iconic film, 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick. Yes, I realize many of my coworkers were likely not even born yet and might see that film as dated and old-school; but for me at eight, it was a glance into our future. As an adult, I can imagine how my father regretted his decision to take me to that movie after being bombarded with questions like, “Why is that computer talking?” Yet, here we stand, asking for guidance from voice-powered personal assistants like Alexa, Siri, Google, or Cortana. 

Many companies are exploring AI technology today.  Being in the learning and development field, I ask myself, “What effect will AI have on learning and performance improvement strategies and on the professionals that are accountable for Talent Development?”

Read more →

Development of Leaders through Experiences

In this newsletter, we talked about leadership and the importance of communication, digital savvy, and agility to their roles and to the success of any organization.  Many leaders have been organically grown and therefore these traits may or may not have been as inherent in previous roles as contributors.  Gallup recently shared an article on experiential development for leaders and the importance of learning while doing.  It notes that today’s leaders must operate in a remarkably agile and ever-changing business landscape, different from any that came before it. And the demands of leadership in that environment will only grow more intense.  To learn more about experiential learning and its role in leadership development, see the Gallup article on Experience Reigns in Leadership Development.

Agility and Continuous Learning Essential Components to Economic Success

At Maher, we love to share insights into trends that impact the world of Talent Development.  Across the board, in both our Private and Public-sector clients, we are seeing growth in the investment of training, technical assistance and performance support work.  The goal is to expedite onboarding to dynamic processes or policies, and provide ongoing upskilling to address the ever-prevalent cycles of change in the workplace. 

It isn’t surprising to Maher, as Change Management and Talent Development experts, that a culture of agility and continuous learning are key indicators of an organization’s ability to compete in today’s economic times.  However, the pace of technological change leaves us asking, How do we accurately predict what skills are most critical to our success in the future?

A LinkedIn article entitled, How do we train workers for jobs… Read more →

Congrats, Dr. Jen Chingwe!

Congratulations to Jen on receipt of her Ed.D. in the Design of Learning Environments from Rutgers University! 

Jen diligently completed and defended her dissertation on Affordances of Community of Inquiry Methods in Measuring and Evaluating Teaching Presence to Guide Practice, while working full time at Maher, and being a mother of teenage twins. 

Jen has brought a new level of expertise to our firm spearheading some of our most innovative technology-driven learning including the MOOC, Leading Change While Implementing Innovation, for Workforce Innovation Fund (WIF) leadership, and online peer problem-solving cohort groups for leadership implementing the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA). 

Additionally, she expanded Maher’s online Academy on Lean Principles and designed and developed University platforms on topics such as Sales, Sales Management and a multitude of operations functions. 

Jen has also provided… Read more →

How Do I Learn?

An Interview with Maher General Manager and IMPAQ Executive Vice President, Tina Barretto

As a busy executive at Maher and IMPAQ, I would like to understand how you approach your professional development. Since Maher is a Talent Development firm, we believe sharing our personal development journeys with peers and organizations is just one way we can expand our commitment to continuous learning and the upskilling of our workforce.  I would like to share a little about your passion for learning, so, let me ask you…

“Why do you think professional development is so important today?”

Professional development should be an important part of everyone’s career path. We should continue to strive to make ourselves more marketable, by learning a new skill or content area. This not only makes the individual feel more productive and good about themselves, it also… Read more →

Learning Trends and Beyond in 2018

Maher Chief Learning Officer, Catherine Baker recently had the honor to serve on a Mid New Jersey ATD Panel along with the Head of Field Force Development at Bristol-Myers Squibb and Head of Talent Development for the Linde Group. The topic of the panel was “Learning Trends.”

Participants at the event generated three key areas of interest within their table groups, and panelists responded and shared their experience relative to those needs. Topics of great interest were microlearning, adaptive or personalized learning, and the future of learning as a profession. Maher will share the summary from this event in our next newsletter. In the interim, we are sharing a different perspective on trends: one that focuses on Talent Strategy in the Data Age. As our colleagues at our parent company, IMPAQ, know too well, use of data in decision-making is essential. This article goes beyond… Read more →

Bringing Home National Titles

Two National Champions were added to Maher’s extended family at the end of 2017. The daughters of Donna Batt, Payroll Specialist, and Catherine Baker, CLO and Director of the Private Sector, brought home American Youth Cheer first place titles with their respective cheerleading squads. It was a first-time journey for Catherine’s daughter, yet a familiar experience for Donna’s daughter who made her sixth trip to the Florida-based competition. Both girls had amazing teams and leadership, and they worked hard to achieve this impressive goal.

“What made the experience manageable as a working mother was also the leadership that took place off the mats,” Baker explains. “Being a life-long learner, I tend to connect wins in my personal life to my professional world. In this case, it was a masterful use of online peer groups and virtual leadership. After… Read more →

Retention Gains Tied to Onboarding and Mentoring

Chris Mokros, National Training Director of StoneMor, came to the organization with the intention of creating and implementing a Training Strategy aligned with business goals. StoneMor was growing quickly and, at that time, there was not a centralized learning function or technology infrastructure.  Chris’ key focus out of the gates naturally was the sales function.

StoneMor Partners L.P. worked with Maher to launch an online university. New hire onboarding for Sales was the first blended solution offered and was rolled out in 2015. It includes a mix of eLearning, classroom instruction, on-the-job training, and post-training pull through tools. Last year, StoneMor added a formal mentoring program for new hires in the Sales function, as well. The combination of these two offerings has doubled retention and has proven to more rapidly improve sales performance of new hires who completed the new training path when compared to… Read more →

What’s Trending in Learning?

Moving to microlearning is just one shift that we have been helping our clients navigate as they refine their Talent Development strategies.  There are others that are essential to engage Modern Learners and allow them to excel by onboarding and upskilling in both an effective and efficient manner.   We focused on the value of storytelling and social / peer learning in our last newsletter, but there is even more we can do.  Time is money, regardless of industry.  It is critical that as our workloads expand and continue to shift to address the pulls and pushes of our economic times, we are driving a learning strategy that is framed for success.

We’d like to share an article that summarized key learning trends in the corporate world to give a flavor of what can be done to move our learning strategies in… Read more →

Peer to Peer Learning

As Maher is working with several organizations to redesign their customer service flows, and others to shift to a culture of continuous improvement, including both Kaizen and Lean principles, we see firsthand the value of peer to peer learning. We work with our client organizations to leverage peer insights in Communities of Practice, online and in-person forums, and other peer collaborative activities embedded in Technical Assistance and Learning Solutions. We, too, use peer networks to capture and share best practices relative to the way we work and service our clients. We'd like to share an article we found of value that discusses some key trends, defines peer to peer learning, lists its advantages and discusses participation options.

Maher & Maher is a specialized change management and talent development consulting firm based in Neptune, NJ and in Washington, D.C. The Firm’s Private… Read more →

Meet Sue Brown, Maher’s Newest Instructional Design Talent

Susan (Sue) Brown joins Maher as a Senior Instructional Designer in our Private Sector Practice. She works directly with our Chief Learning Officer and Learning Strategist to assess client needs and craft innovative and effective learning solutions for our clients. She also works with our Project Managers to ensure design workflows are effective and timely to produce high-quality learning deliverables.

Sue comes to Maher after serving as a Lead Instructional Designer and Project Manager at Optimized Learning Solutions. Prior to that she was Manager of Multimedia Training at U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP).

Bringing 20 years of experience in a mix of learning roles from sales trainer, systems training design and facilitation, eLearning producer, lead designer, and Project Manager, Sue is a versatile new asset for the Firm. She is not only knowledgeable in adult learning theory, she excels in technology-enabled learning, with a passion for visual… Read more →

How Do You Learn?

As Chief Learning Officer at Maher, I get asked, “How do I develop myself professionally? What do I do to learn and advance my knowledge base and skills?”

While I’ve always wanted to pursue my PhD and I’d like to say I’m actively engaged in some formal advanced education, I don’t have that personal bandwidth to do so at this point in my life. However, I DO believe, and always have believed, we must continue to grow as professionals. We need to own that and be accountable for it. The world continues to change; we must keep up. One thing I know from working in the Talent Development field for more than 20 years is that a key trait of top performers at any organization is that they are continuous learners.

So, what does a busy… Read more →

Personalized Learning – the Future of Talent Development

We’ve known it for years; we’ve experienced it personally. “One size fits all” is dead. In his essay Death to the Mass, Jeff Jarvis develops an argument he has been making for years. Treating the public as “a mass” is no longer appropriate or effective. Google allows us to organize the entire web to answer a specific question or find a product. We choose what news we want to see, what programs, movies, or sports we watch when, and who appears first and frequently in our Facebook timeline.

Put simply – if the “mass media” is moving to “me media”– we wonder why corporate training too often seems to be clinging to a “one size fits all” learning model?

What if we could transform corporate training the way Jeff… Read more →

The Role of Business in Closing the American Skills Gap

The skills gap in America offers an opportunity for the private and public sector to merge their missions and develop true partnerships. The skills gap may be one reason why, since 2004, U.S. worker productivity has been expanding at its slowest rate in the post-war era.  This ominous gap is a key focus for Maher as we partner with our clients to create talent development solutions to up-skill workers. It’s also top of mind as we provide technical assistance to workforce systems challenged with helping job seekers advance their skills to achieve economic security and a meaningful career path. 

For our two worlds (private and public) to share common challenges is not new.  However, the pain associated with this specific challenge goes deep for both private and public entities.

The skills gap is a real and growing challenge – and… Read more →

A Fresh Look at our Processes

Maher is a firm that has always valued process; it’s one of our key strengths. At the same time, our clients expect us to be flexible and responsive to changes in work flow and their business priorities. Our Private Sector team came together in April to work on bringing the best of our agile workflows into consistent practice while maintaining client-specific flexibility in our process.

We met at our corporate offices in New Jersey to reflect on the growth and expansion of our Practice and the firm as a whole. We’re proud of how we’ve launched innovative learning solutions for our clients and for our peers’ public-sector clients, cross-pollenating new methods of learning born out of private sector initiatives.

It was also a chance for us to review and evaluate the way we serve clients. We wanted to… Read more →

Maher Attends LTEN Conference in Nashville

On Monday, June 5th, I started day one of the 46th Annual LTEN Conference in Nashville, Tennessee at the Gaylord Opryland.  LTEN is the Life Sciences Trainers and Educators Network, previously known as the Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers (SPBT) and prior to that, for us older alumni, the National Society of Pharmaceutical Sales Trainers (NSPST). 

I’ve attended this conference almost every year for nearly 20 years.  After all, my foray into Learning and Development after graduate school was in this market, working on product training for market leading brands like Pfizer’s Lipitor® (atorvastatin calcium).  

The LTEN conference offers a unique inside view of the Life Sciences industry and how the Learning and Development functions within these organizations are challenged to drive efficiencies, compliance, and performance improvements to ultimately result in better business outcomes, whether that… Read more →

Maher & Maher Makes a Difference for Kids with LTEN and the Pajama Program

This year I was so pleased to return to the annual Life Sciences Trainers & Educators Network (LTEN) Annual Conference at the Gaylord National Harbor in Maryland. The conference is the nation’s largest and is dedicated to life sciences trainers & educators. I’ve been attending the conference almost annually since the early years when it was referred to as NSPST and it has been interesting to see how it has evolved over time. This year’s conference was a rewarding experience providing the networking, benchmarking, and learning experience I had hoped. And, I was pleased to see so many in attendance.

Each year the LTEN choses a philanthropy to support at the conference. This year was no different. The organization of choice was the Pajama Program out of the Maryland and DC area.  The mission… Read more →

Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Are work simplification and continuous improvement on your organization’s radar?  They should be. 

According to the 2015 Human Capital Trends Report produced by Deloitte University Press, “Organizations are simplifying work in response to employees becoming overwhelmed by increasing organizational complexity, growing information overload, and a stressful 24/7 work environment.”  Deloitte goes on to note that, “More than 7 out of 10 surveyed organizations rated the need to simplify work as an “important problem,” with more than 25 percent citing it as “very important.”[1]

Organizations are striving to perform, innovate, and compete, all while providing work-life balance for employees. Add to that advances in technology, a globalized economy, and compliance needs, and we realize a vast complexity in our world of work. Left unaddressed, the challenges of a  highly demanding environment result in a workforce that is disengaged,… Read more →