How “LinkedIn Lenny” and Other L&D Leaders at CDK Global Put Learning Front and Center in Their Pandemic Response

June 23, 2020

Lenny Deverill-West, Learning & Development Manager at CDK Global

“They call me LinkedIn Lenny,” said Lenny Deverill-West, Learning & Development Manager at CDK Global, a global software company of nearly 9,000 people that provides technology solutions to the automotive and transportation industry.  

Well, that piqued my interest right away when I had the pleasure to chat with Lenny about how he, and the entire L&D team at CDK, is supporting employees through the pandemic crisis and beyond. To help tell the CDK story, he brought along several of his colleagues, including Molly Szabo, Early Career Talent Lead; Iris Johnson, Onboarding Success Manager; Gauri Butti, Senior Manager of Learning & Organizational Development, and Holly Fouraker, VP of Talent.

Tuck in for a few minutes for some great insights and actionable takeaways. And, please join our L&D Connect LinkedIn group to continue the conversation.

Epic nickname “LinkedIn Lenny” is well-deserved

Amanda: LinkedIn Lenny! Of course, I have to start by asking how you earned that nickname.

Lenny: Because I regularly use my own LinkedIn feed to help CDK colleagues learn and grow. They follow me and then I’m always sharing relevant and helpful LinkedIn Learning content in the newsfeed, encouraging employees all over the world to complete courses. Plus, by sharing a course, I make it free for someone else to take—helping even more people learn and grow.

Learning came to the rescue, when it was needed most

Amanda: That’s amazing and I’ll definitely start following you. So, let’s talk about when COVID-19 hit. How did you help support your colleagues and help them manage through the crisis?

Lenny: We responded really quickly, even before governments announced the lockdowns. This time last year, we didn’t have the right content that would have helped us now. This year, we have LinkedIn Learning and it helped us respond to the situation quickly with strong content on remote work, supporting managers, and wellbeing. We created learning paths and worked with our internal communications team to get the word out across the organization.

We also shifted our ILT training to blended online learning, or a mix of virtual instructor-led training (VILT) and online learning. For example, I had two training courses for new graduates planned and we had to quickly pivot and make them virtual courses. We assigned online courses before the real-time session—so learners didn’t go in cold and we had content to discuss—and then after as a follow-up. It worked really well. 

Learning is integrated into CDKs entire talent strategy

Amanda: Holly, as the VP of Talent at CDK, I’m interested to hear your perspective on how learning is integrated into your talent strategy.

Holly: First, LinkedIn Learning is a huge asset in delivering on our global talent strategy.

We’ve certainly seen a lot of success in our first year with LinkedIn Learning—from high adoption rates and integrations with intern programming to elevated onboarding and skill building amidst stay at home orders as a result of COVID. This year, we also launched our CDK Values and we created the value of Stay Curious to accelerate our journey of becoming a learning organization. We believe that when employees demonstrate curiosity, and take the time to learn new things, then they’re constantly improving. LinkedIn Learning creates limitless opportunities for us to demonstrate this value across the globe. 

As we continue to evolve our talent strategy and drive performance within CDK, we’re seeing more and more enthusiasm to leverage the array of content within LinkedIn Learning in strategic ways to deliver on our talent priorities. Whether it’s technical skills paths, role based learning paths and career plans, or blended learning to support leadership programs and offerings, we’re excited to continue exploring all the ways we can help our employees stay curious and grow.

Virtual onboarding helped new employees build critical hard and soft skills

Amanda: Iris, at most organizations (including LinkedIn), we quickly moved our onboarding program from in-person to completely virtual. I hear that you did, too. Tell me about it.

Iris: Yes, we did. While we were already onboarding some segments of our employees virtually, we recently expanded and updated our virtual onboarding program for all our Customer Experience organization—including incorporating plenty of LinkedIn Learning courses. We curated content around important soft skills including time management, communication, and influencing without authority. We also wanted them to improve their skill levels in Microsoft Office. One training some of our teams have found particularly valuable is around OneNote, which is a collaboration and communication platform that many of our team members use. All of these courses have been very well received by our new colleagues and have helped set them up for success here.

Summer interns leveraged learning to acclimate to the (virtual) business world

Amanda: Molly, I understand that your summer internship program was also impacted. I know that a lot of your L&D peers would be interested in how CDK addressed that.

Molly: We were faced with a massive challenge—to create strong, meaningful experiences for our interns while having them work remotely. Many of these students have never worked in a professional environment, so we are incredibly thankful to have LinkedIn Learning at our fingertips to provide them with resources that will help them to be impactful team members and thrive in the current environment. We are using LinkedIn Learning courses to create a curriculum that students can explore at their own pace, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it enhances their skills and helps them address any challenges that they come across in this new world.

CDK India continues to develop talent on a highly personalized, individual basis

Amanda: The show must go on, right? Glad that we could help. Gauri, I understand from Lenny that CDK India has the highest level of learner engagement in the company. That’s amazing. Tell us your secret and how your technology teams have adapted to the new working environment.

Gauri: In the learning world, there is a popular belief that organizations need to strive towards a culture where there is a training pull from business versus a conventional push from L&D departments. At CDK India, we have taken an approach that has yielded some great results in driving user adoption of LinkedIn Learning and creating a continuous learning culture.

The key is that our leadership team actively champions learning and encourages our team to stay curious. We take developing people very seriously and we intensively use individual development plans (IDPs) to map an employee’s performance, and then carefully handpick courses to help them reach their highest potential, based on their role and required skills. That approach is a constant, regardless of whether employees are working from home or in the office.

In closing, the numbers tell the story

Amanda: Lenny, thank you so much for sharing and for bringing in your colleagues to tell a more holistic learning story across several programs and regions of CDK. It’s so incredible to hear how so many of your colleagues have learned through this crisis to help them adapt and build new skills. That said, I’m curious as to what metrics you’ve seen during this time.

Lenny: Since implementing Linkedin Learning in July 2019, nearly three-quarters (73%)of employees have adopted it. When we went into lockdown in March, we saw a 165% increase in course completions, compared to February. This trend continued throughout April and May with CDK employees completing in excess of 11,000 LinkedIn Learning courses. 

We believe the key to this success has been through partnering with key internal stakeholders. We not only encourage them to integrate LinkedIn Learning into their 1-to-1 discussions with employees, but also to curate relevant content into collections and learning paths to drive career growth on their teams.

More importantly, LinkedIn Learning has enabled us to navigate enormous change and will help us emerge stronger on the other end.

Let’s continue the conversation

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