Embracing Learning at Work

May 13, 2019

An interview with Ed Hutner, Senior Vice President of HR, Deltek.

When was the last time you thought about the role that learning plays in career development? At Deltek, taking time to reflect on workplace development is a practice that we have adopted globally as part of our culture of continuous learning. This week we are observing Learning at Work Week, an annual event organized in the U.K. by the Campaign for Learning, to help shine a light on the benefits of continuous development—offering an opportunity for both employers and employees alike to take stock of the role that learning plays in their workplace, as well as their personal investment in it.

To kick off Learning at Work Week, Deltek Project Nation spoke with Ed Hutner, Deltek’s Senior Vice President of HR, for his take on the importance of learning here at Deltek—and, more personally, the role that learning has played in his career.

Question: Creating a workplace culture of learning takes time, resources and a company-wide commitment to prioritizing employee development. What sets apart the companies who manage to do this successfully and authentically?

Ed: I think it boils down to embracing curiosity and innovation—and make no mistake, one leads to the other. At the end of the day, businesses need to create a work environment in which their team members are comfortable asking questions and seeking resources. Employees need to understand the value of curiosity and the important role it can play in acquiring new skills, improving communication, and fostering opportunities for growth. Similarly they must build on those skills to truly innovate—and by that, I mean draw on what they’ve learned to create new ideas, find incremental breakthroughs and challenge the status quo.  Here at Deltek, we think curiosity and innovation are so important that we embrace them as two of our corporate values. At the end of the day, this means that we encourage employees to be eager to learn, seek opportunities to understand “why,” and, ultimately, focus on innovative ways to solve problems and support our customers.

Question: Harnessing curiosity to advance workplace learning sounds great in theory. How have you seen this work in practice?

Ed: Within Deltek, we encourage each employee to “Own Your Career.” This means that, although we provide a range of development opportunities, ultimately each employee drives their own learning journey—which, incidentally, begins with our onboarding program on the first day of employment and continues for the duration of each team member’s career. Those who embrace curiosity tend to take greater advantage of these offerings, whether they are one of the thousands of LinkedIn Learning courses that are available enterprise-wide across Deltek or one of our many learning programs.

Question: You’ve previously spoken about the importance of understanding the multi-generational nature of today’s modern workforce when crafting learning programs and managing performance. What goes into getting that right?

Ed: Today’s workforce is unique due to its generational diversity—five generations working together to collaborate and deliver results. This mix of backgrounds and experiences is transforming how organizations offer a range of programs and benefits, including learning. These programs can be hard to get right—particularly across a global spectrum—but flexibility is critical. Having a variety of offerings, from on-demand learning, to gamification of learning goals, to instructor-led training, allows an organization to meet their employees where they are in their learning journey. Learning is not a one-size-fits all process, and organizations need to recognize that and offer their employees multiple ways to acquire new skills and access new ideas.

Question: Do you have any personal takeaways that you can share about the value of continuous learning?

Ed: In my career, education didn’t just come just from attending training sessions or taking classes—although I certainly have done that. Some of my most important learning came from asking veteran colleagues or other contacts questions about issues or challenges. Critical learning can come simply from seeking information and answers that aren’t readily available, perhaps through available mentorship programs or opportunities to consult with industry experts.

Question: Practically speaking, Learning at Work Week is only five days long. What actions can employees take during this week to jumpstart their learning journeys?

Ed: There are three things that anyone can do this week to start on the path of owning their careers. First, take the time to identify your career goals. Where do you want to be in five or 10 years? What skills do you need to acquire to get there? Be sure to put your goals in writing so that you can revisit them throughout the year and record your progress. Next, research what learning opportunities are currently available through your employer and within your personal life. Does your company offer leadership development programs? Or support your access to industry certifications? Most organizations offer opportunities for learning development, often with a unique spin for their particular industry or subject of focus—you just have to take the time to learn about them. And finally, schedule time with your manager to discuss what you hope to achieve and the logical next steps to get you there.

Question: Other than continuing to develop yourself on the job, what additional words of advice do you have for anyone seeking to advance their career?

Ed: When it comes to moving forward in your career, you can’t wait to be told what to do. Take the time to force yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things. This means added work—and, understandably, sometimes that’s the last thing anyone feels like doing. But at the end of the day, by taking control of your career and seeking out new experiences, you will grow not only as an employee, but also as a person.


About Ed Hutner

Ed Hutner is Senior Vice President, Human Resources for Herndon-based Deltek, the leading global provider of solutions for project-based businesses. A 20+ year veteran of talent management with a solid foundation built on analytics, technology and education, Ed has a successful record of aligning HR goals with broader strategic plans.Connect with Ed Hutner on LinkedIn.