Organizations are known to perform best when a balanced work environment exists within. To this end, the developed world hires skilled personnel who can provide the best of services while keeping the work environment healthy. Such organizations also believe in laying down a set of rules to be followed by everyone employed there. To enhance and transform the careers of the skilled, there exist numerous educational institutions that provide a variety of educational courses.
Caroline Gray, the Chairperson of the Canadian Training Institute (CTI) is today a role model for those who intend to enhance and transform their careers and be recognized in their specific industries. While in her 3rd year in university, she moved from the US to Canada to pursue an education in social and political philosophy. She completed the coursework for a Masters in Philosophy with the assistance of a scholarship.
After leaving academia, she worked as an editor for an educational publisher. Within a few years, she shifted to television as a print supervisor for an educational channel, and gained the opportunity to learn television production in Ryerson University’s diploma program. Working in television, Caroline also discovered the possibilities of using television’s rich visual and storytelling capabilities for presenting and explaining concepts, people and ideas.
Her area of focus was technology, and with the arrival of the personal computer, she created a number of programs focused on the effect of this revolutionary tool on both the workplace and individuals. “A highpoint of my time in educational television was creating an 8-part educational series on computers that TimeLife bought and then sold internationally,” says Caroline about those times.
She later began her Masters in Education while working for the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce as an instructional designer. She then moved to Omega Performance, an international training and consulting firm for the financial sector. Beginning as a Learning Consultant, she spent 14 years with the company, eventually becoming the SVP of Technology-Based Learning for the company. There she used her television experience to create simulations for immersive learning, using task-based scenarios and recognizable characters. She also created online programs that accommodated a variety of ways of learning, depending on need and preferred style. These programs were well received and resulted in a number of awards, including:
- “Excellence in Practice” by ADP, the world’s largest training organization
- “Gold Award for Technological Innovation” from Brandon Hall, and
- “The CINDY Award” for Media Production
During her time with Omega Performance she also wrote articles that were cited or reprinted in various international papers and textbooks on the process of designing and developing online learning, as well as an e-book on e-Learning and Performance. She advised on the ISO Standard No. 14915-1, which set the design principles and framework for multimedia user interfaces.
She moved from Omega to KPMG International, as the Head of Global Learning Technology and Performance Measurement. Her task there was the creation of a global learning infrastructure for its internal professional continuing education. This position involved assessing needs, consulting with stakeholders and deploying a variety of standard tools, such as Virtual Classrooms, standard learning evaluations, content management and learning management systems. In her own words, Caroline says, “My job required a strong focus on change management, ranging from convincing senior management of the efficacy of online learning to reskilling large numbers of L&D professionals to master the techniques of online designing and teaching. It was an enormous effort and achievement to put this change in place and was only made possible by the wonderful, dedicated team I worked with to make this happen.”
Today as the chairperson of CTI (www.canadiantraininginstitute.com), she is seen shaping the lives of thousands of individuals through certified courses and services that support safer, healthier organizations and communities. A National Voluntary Organization, CTI also helps government agencies and corporations create safe customer service environments.
Overall Focus of the Organization
As per Caroline, “CTI’s unerring focus is the development of knowledge, skills and services that reduce social conflict and promote active participation that builds healthy individuals, agencies, workplaces and communities.”
CTI’s focus on the overall culture of “helping” organizations and improving that culture through enhancing both the physical and mental health of line staff is what makes it unique. The concepts of behavioural therapy used in their programs – developing self-sufficient and self-reliant individuals – are key to individuals acquiring a better sense of security and confidence in doing their jobs. This enables them to serve their clients better.
Providing the best teaching and learning facilities would not be a possibility without CTI’s experienced and qualified staff. Thanks to them and CTI’s holistic curriculum, CTI is among the top training companies offering courses in behaviour-related topics.
Challenges Faced Throughout the Journey
Caroline was attracted to CTI as an organization since her own learning journey had taught her how important the skills of self management and productive conflict management were. Being at the forefront of new technologies and learning designs meant managing a lot of scepticism and lack of knowledge on the part of clients and staff. She also had to actively apply self management skills not to succumb to the difficulties involved in moving forward, and to remain an effective leader for her staff.
Another challenge along the way was finding like-minded peers to explore innovation in training. There are fewer opportunities and less appetite for innovation in Canada, compared to the US, and this has meant fewer colleagues with a depth of experience in cutting-edge technologies or learning approaches with whom to collaborate and work.
The most significant challenge she faced in her career however was maintaining a good work-life balance. Being away for work for long periods of time when her two sons were young came with a significant cost to both herself and her family. Fortunately, they were very supportive, and it is only with that support that her own achievements were made possible.
Positivity at the Workplace
Caroline believes that an organization runs smoothly only if the staff is happy at the workplace. To make this possible, Caroline has the following steps:
- Create a cross-company identity
- Acknowledge staff successes
- Cross-over learning among different programs and training
- Internal company events and awards
- Provide sustainable employment and benefits
- Provide educational opportunities
Inspiring Message to the World
Caroline says, “We are essentially learning animals. Learning is triggered by curiosity and need, and it is accomplished through genuine effort. We should think of learning as a part of our lives, just like eating and drinking. It occurs individual by individual and can be accomplished in many self-directed ways, outside institutions. The more you learn about yourself and the world the happier you will be and the more opportunities you will have in your life.”
Caroline, working with CTI’s Executive Director, Duncan Gillespie and CTI’s staff will be expanding their services and programs by delivering various programs online. “We also see expanding the audiences for our programs beyond social service training to corporations, and working with clients further afield than currently, as our marketing and online offerings grow,” says Caroline.