Be Your Own Chief Learning Officer


Even for the most experienced learning team, reconfiguring a learning strategy in the event of a global pandemic is no easy feat. For many organizations, what used to be accomplished in person now had to be accomplished via Zoom or with the help of other online tools. FinTech market leader Fidelity National Information Services faced an even bigger challenge, with a learning team that had been established just four years prior in 2016. Still, the small but mighty Global Learning Team has greatly grown its capabilities and its workforce over the years — with a staff of seven in 2016 compared with a staff of 40 in 2020. This relatively new team was able to pivot in the face of COVID-19 disruption and create an effective, forward-thinking learning strategy — earning FIS sixth place among Chief Learning Officer’s 2021 LearningElite.

FIS, an organization with more than 55,000 employees, had to adapt quickly to address the impacts of COVID-19. Notably, it shifted from 10 percent of its workforce working remotely to 90 percent within just a few weeks of the pandemic declaration. The learning team was quick to ensure that these newly remote employees had all the resources they needed. They relied on a recently launched learning platform to provide these resources to employees and managers alike.

Milista Anderson, FIS’ global head of learning

“The fact that we continued to deliver on our initiatives, exceeding expectations in a year of a pandemic, when many organizations were cutting budgets, is testament to the progress we have made and the value the company and our executive team places on development,” says Milista Anderson, FIS’ global head of learning.

Small, but mighty and agile

Agility wasn’t just vital at an organizational level, but at the individual level as well. An important part of the organization’s learning strategy was strengthening and promoting a culture of learning, allowing employees to “take ownership of their growth by becoming their own chief learning officer,” Anderson says.

Especially with the impact of the pandemic, it was apparent that the growth of the company relied on its workforce being able to stay agile, even as the needs of its industry and clients were changing. FIS also launched a series of virtual, instructor-led training offerings, which Anderson says “allowed employees to understand that they were not alone and could access resources on ways to cope and succeed.”

With the new learning platform and resources, it was simple for individuals to take control of their own learning — with the support of their company holding them up. The learning team specifically considered future needs of the industry when creating these learning resources, keeping employees’ skills relevant for years to come and allowing them to “transform to meet the business challenges of both today and tomorrow,” Anderson says.

The learning team also focused on management and leadership training this past year. It had recently made progress in defining what exactly makes a transformational leader— “those with the vision to lead and inspire global, innovative and diverse teams that enable growth in a volatile world,” Anderson says. FIS focused on manager enablement training in 2020 and revamped its high-potential LEAD (Lead, Explore, Aspire, Develop) program to further evolve the careers of talented and motivated employees. The LEAD program was already considered “life-changing” by many people before the pandemic, and a virtual version of this training needed to accomplish similar results, as well.

“We are committed to developing innovative leaders who think critically and intentionally, providing resources for influencing strategically in a way that champions our FIS values,” Anderson says.

A successful 2020, despite COVID-19

According to FIS Chief People Officer Denise Williams, a huge success for the company in 2020 was being about to pivot quickly amid pandemic disruption. With more virtual options needed for people to work, manage and learn, the Global Learning Team was able to redesign several key in-person programs into a blended learning approach that could be administered in this new environment.

Participant feedback supported the success of FIS’ learning strategy. In the LEAD program, 100 percent of participants said they felt like FIS was invested in their development and that executives made time for them. Many of them sent appreciative emails directly to the CEO and described the new LEAD program as a “life-changing experience.”

The company-wide virtual instructor-led training was also a success. “These were extremely well-received by our employees, with more than 3,000 people accessing the training during the first three months as our employees learned to adapt to changing work and life situations,” Anderson says.

Looking toward the future, Anderson says there are three primary areas of focus for their learning strategy:

  • Skills benchmarking and growth
  • Further systems integration for enhanced data analytics
  • Support for comprehensive strategic workforce planning initiatives

“These key areas underpin our overall organizational initiatives, first by ensuring foundational skills are well-established, and that our teams continue to evolve their skills inventory to be future-ready,” Anderson says.

FIS also plans on expanding its efforts in the transformational leadership journey.

“The investment in our talent will include blended development experiences in each tranche of the leadership pipeline, enhancing manager readiness and succession planning so that we are well-prepared at every level for our talent to explore bold moves that progress our growth strategy and propel FIS toward our goal of being a top 50 most valuable company,” Anderson says.



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