A new approach to learning and development – an interview with Rebecca Chapman, Senior Manager – Performance Management and Development
Rebecca Chapman joined the team earlier this year as the Senior Manager - Performance Management & Development. We recently sat down with her to learn more about her background, her vision for learning and development at BMMI, and more!
Tell us a little more about yourself and your background.
I started my career in Human Resource over 20 years ago in the banking sector. I have worked for several major banks and companies in Bahrain and my last corporate role was Group HR Manager for a large retail organisation where I managed the HR function in five countries. Whilst I enjoyed working in HR, my passion was training and development and in 2008, I shifted focus to a Senior Group Learning and Development role. After several years of working for corporates, I saw a gap in the market for a bespoke quality training provider and decided to branch out on my own and opened my own training institute in 2009. The institute successfully trained over 2000 people over an eight-year period before I decided to move back into a corporate role for personal reasons.
How did you learn about BMMI?
I initially learned about BMMI when I began researching companies in Bahrain as potential clients for my training institute. Through my research, I found out that BMMI had a culture of investing in training, not only for Bahrainis but for all its employees. The fact that BMMI invests in its talent made me very interested to find out more about BMMI and its culture!
What is your vision for learning and development (L&D)
My vision for L&D is to develop and shape a learning strategy based on the company’s business and talent strategies. My hope is that the learning strategy will support professional development and build capabilities across BMMI, on time, and in a cost-effective manner. In addition, the learning strategy can enhance BMMI's culture and encourage employees to live the company’s values.
What can employees expect in the next period, as well as over the long term?
Employees can look forward to a number of impactful initiatives from L&D over the next year. Our first big initiative will focus on the wellbeing and mental health of employees starting off with our Mental Health Initiative, to be announced soon, where we will be offering employees the opportunity to join the L&D team for a morning of insights on taking care of our own mental health and wellness. More details of this initiative will be communicated soon!
What are your thoughts about BMMI's Winning Hearts Culture?
The Winning Hearts Program in theory is excellent, however, I do feel that currently there are some gaps in the programme that need to be addressed through training and development. I look forward to the challenge!
What are some new trends globally regarding training and development of talent?
The digitisation of learning and development (L&D) went into overdrive when the pandemic hit and 2020 has seen corporate L&D catapulted to the top of the business agenda. The cataclysmic shift to remote work called for the immediate upskilling and reskilling of entire workforces in some cases. The pandemic has removed the luxury of time, and with new knowledge being created faster than ever, it's also deterred leaders from spending months creating learning experiences that have a short sell-by date. Agile learning methodologies that focus on speed, flexibility, and collaboration are the future of L&D. This is the approach that will enable leaders to better manage the revolving door of perpetual skills gaps by ensuring people are rapidly reskilled for the benefit of work and business performance.
In situations where we have to work remotely, how do we ensure learning and development initiatives are adaptable?
The way we work has forever been changed by the global pandemic. We will need to adapt, and there will be times when we will need to adopt a combination of remote and on-site working for the safety of our employees. Whilst BMMI has already accustomed its workforce to a hybrid virtual model, there are also downsides that arise when we move away from the organisation’s norms that underpin culture and performance, as well as standards of behaviour and interaction that help create a common culture, generate social cohesion, and build shared trust. We have to ensure that we do not lose sight of them during a significant shift to virtual-working arrangements in order that we don't risk an erosion over the long term of the very trust, cohesion, and shared culture that often helps remote working and virtual collaboration to be effective in the short term.
When culture and social cohesion for the virtual workforce is not managed effectively, remote workers can soon feel isolated and unhappy. The sense of belonging, common purpose, and shared identity that inspires all of us to do our best work gets lost. This can cause organisational performance to deteriorate rapidly. We need to focus on the ties that bind our people together, as well as pay attention to core aspects of our own leadership and that of our broader group of leaders and managers. Our opportunity is to fashion the hybrid virtual model that best fits BMMI, and let it give birth to a new shared culture for all our employees that ensures we provide stability, social cohesion, identity, and belonging, whether our employees are working remotely, on premises, or in some combination of both.
You joined the team while a number of our employees were working from home. Did your strategy need to be adapted regarding onboarding and training? Was training affected since we no longer held face-to-face sessions?
Joining the company during a pandemic was certainly different. As most employees at the time were working remotely, it was difficult to get a sense of the culture of BMMI, and even when I first joined, only a few employees were working from the office. The HR Team did an amazing job of my onboarding process thankfully and I instantly felt at home in the organisation. During my first few weeks, I had the opportunity to meet people remotely through Microsoft Teams, which has now become the norm within the organisation.
Unfortunately, due to the social distancing restrictions and to keep employees safe, the majority of face-to-face training was postponed. Despite the challenges this brought, the team continued to provide the organisation with virtual inductions, customer service and basic selling skills virtually. They did a great job given the difficult circumstances!