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Interview with Jeanne Bakker Chief Vision Officer Brain Bakery | Keynote Speaker | Trainer | L&D Professional of the year 2020

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“What I most wish to accomplish is to have a world in which learning is some awesome and amazing instead of something obligatory “

Jeanne Bakker

Interviewer: Sarah Suliman

Brief Biography about the Interviewee:

Jeanne Bakker is a game-changing, idea-generating ball of fire whose rare blend of humour, substance and personality have made her one of the most memorable Trainers.

Voted Learning & Development Professional of the year 2020.

20 years in Learning and Development. 10.000 people. 1000 organizations. Speaker. Best-selling author. Three books. Human Relations Expert. Background in psychology and the science of education. Topics on influencing, sales, leadership, change, life balance and success. And (what we all probably could use now and then)…a Comedienne.

Specialties: Professional Speaker, Trainer of Trainers, Human Behavior Expert, Thought Leader in Learning & Development, sales, leadership, change & transformation, hospitality, productivity, work/life balance, career development, recruitment and retention.

Industry expert in: Retail, Sales, Hospitality, Automotive, Employability, Child-services, Franchises and Hotels.

Founder of Brain Bakery.

1- HR Revolution Middle East: Learning seems your passion and the message you want to spread worldwide. Has your younger version dreamt of learning what you learnt now?

Jeanne Bakker: I think I didn’t know as a child how much I could learn and the world of possibilities out there. I think as a child, there is so much that you don’t know that you don’t know so there is a world of possibilities. I do know of myself that I was always very curious into many different things but I was also super shy. So, growing up, I never thought of all the opportunities that I would get.

2- HR Revolution Middle East: With staple educational systems for kids worldwide and training programs for adults that mostly don’t encourage anyone to get the best out of these processes. Was this your only motivation behind Brain Bakery or there was something else?

Jeanne Bakker: I meet lots of children all the time and I see that many of them love to learn but as soon as you call it ‘learning’ then they don’t like it anymore. And I think that what we have been doing as a society with our schools is that we’ve made learning so much ‘top-down’ and so obligatory that many children almost lose their love of learning. And that’s why I’ve started the movement of ‘No More Boring Learning’. And I always try to challenge myself and the companies I work with and the participants I work with and the children I work with to make it even more exciting to learn such that people lose track of time and fill their brains, those magnificent machines up in our heads, with the most wonderful stuff all the time.

3- HR Revolution Middle East: Being a great supporter of football club, do you believe that your passion for football helped you develop a sense of team management skills?

Jeanne Bakker: What a great question! 😉 Yes, I do think that my passion for football helped me develop a sense of team management skills, absolutely. When you are fan of any sports, you always watch the sporter themselves and the players and you watch the coaches and the managers. And from that I think you can learn a lot. You can almost sense, especially in football when the team is having a great time and when the team is not heaving a great time. You can always observe the manager; what do they do? Do they get passioned, do they show anger, what do they do to motivate their team. And I think playing a sport yourself, which I did a lot, but also watching sports even if you’re not in the stadium can give a sense of learning and wanting to do better. And I think that’s fundamentally what sport is all about. Always wanting to do better but also dealing with a lot of setbacks and overcoming them.

4- HR Revolution Middle East: From mastering Psychology and Science of Education, how did both majors help you in building and improving your management and leadership skills?

Jeanne Bakker: To be quite honest I failed a lot in studying. I had so much to learn about life and living on my own that I started with psychology and started to fail a lot. But those failures also thought me a lot. And I think that one of the things as a leader you need to be able to do is to be able to fail and to make the best out of the failing and getting back up and, you know, dusting yourself of and reinventing yourself. So after my two years of failing in psychology I started to become really good at studying and even fanatical so that helped me a lot. And I think that if you look at leadership for anybody to complete any studies takes a lot of leadership because you have to create time, you have to have discipline, you have to, you know, be able to empower your own curiosity all the time. And I think that’s what’s giving me great strength in traveling the world and sharing my insights about learning with many people.

5- HR Revolution Middle East: “Brain, Impact, Audacity, Passion, Love and Adventure”; these are Brain Bakery’s values. Do you follow these values in your everyday life? How did they affect your life?

Jeanne Bakker: Brain always influences me. It’s so fantastic to know that there is 86 billion brain-cells in your brain and that they can make each of them, each single one of them can make 200.000 connections. That means that there is something so incredibly powerful and wonderful up in our heads that I am constantly in awe of that. And whenever I hear people talk about somebody else with a fixed mindset, of ‘oh they can’t do it’, I think you’re underestimating the enormous potential that is up there in anybody’s brain. So, brain is always a guiding principle anywhere in my life. And then I think with that comes lots of love. I think any program or design that I make, or my team makes always has to do with: how can we make the world a little bit better, a little bit more of a beautiful place. How can we show respect to any religion, to any walk of life, how can people come together and work together in great ways such that their work, which we usually touch makes them a lot better but also makes them greater human beings? And I think that’s part of our mission as well. They often come back in our life and with the COVID crisis right now, the changes of having an adventure outside of your own home are very diminished. I miss those adventures a lot. So, missing adventures and trying to create them in your own home is a lot harder than just going out in the world and traveling. I think the lowest one I’ve been on for the last three months has been adventure so it’s great to be connected through the Middle East right now, I love to travel and I love to come there more than be connected to you in the virtual way.

6-HR Revolution Middle East: Being a best-selling author is not something to be surprised of from you as your unfading passion, humor, great personality and astonishing experience is something worth to be combined in a book. What inspired you in writing your books?

Jeanne Bakker: My books where all inspired by what I wrote down as a 12-year old. I wrote down: I wanna write a book before I’m 40. So, I had these dreams about writing a book. I didn’t know what book at all but all three of my books that I’ve written so far have been inspired by my participants. By people around me saying something is impossible or something can’t be done… and then I thought let’s figure out if it really can’t be done and that’s my best-selling book ‘Dealing with Dragons’ is originated in there. There was a participant of me who said: “no no no Jeanne, I can’t influence that other person they truly are like a Dragon” and that’s why I wrote that book. So, most of my inspirations comes when people say something is impossible and then I try to figure it out anyway.

7-HR Revolution Middle East: 20 years in learning and development-along with being in 1000 organizations- was such a long journey for you to walk. Through your upcoming years, what do you wish to accomplish?

Jeanne Bakker: What I most wish to accomplish is to have a world in which learning is some awesome and amazing instead of something obligatory, something where you have to listen to others or something that’s Boring. I wanna touch as many people and as many Learning & Development professionals as possibly, humanly possible, such that we spread this sense of how awesome this learning is! And that learning is everything!

8-HR Revolution Middle East: Lastly, as the founder of Brain Bakery, how will you leave an impact on ATD conference participants?

Jeanne Bakker: I would love to instill a sense of wonder, curiosity and maybe even a sense of being challenged to all the participants to see, how can we make more beautiful programs or learning journeys. How can we challenge our learners even further such that learning becomes an experience that is full of wonder and full of hearts and full of awe…

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Interviews

Interview with Stephanie Runyan, PHR, the Director of Learning for the HR Certification Institute

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“HR professionals must be prepared for anything.  The roles of HR professionals continually change, there will be a continued need to expand their areas of knowledge and expertise.”

Stephanie Runyan

Interviewer: Mariham Magdy

Brief Biography about the Interviewee:

Stephanie Runyan, PHR, is the Director of Learning for the HR Certification Institute (HRCI).  Previously, she served as an HR Content Manager, Recertification Supervisor and HR Products Manager.  She has worked for HRCI since August, 2010.

Stephanie has more than eight years of HR experience and is PHR-certified since 2009.  Previously, Stephanie worked as an HR Generalist for an engineering firm in Virginia and as an HR Manager for a law firm in Washington, D.C.  Stephanie earned a BS in English from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and an MS in Human Resource Development from Villanova University

HR Revolution Middle-East: Ms. Stephanie, welcome to HR Revolution Middle East Magazine. It’s a great pleasure to have the opportunity to make this interview with you.

The HRCI has recently developed a rich Learning Catalogue for Professionals World-wide in addition to the International Certification Exams. This Learning Catalogue includes diversified courses, covering a lot of important fields, offered to learners to study at the ease of their homes online. As the Director of Learning, can you please share with us how was this differentiated product born?

Ms. Stephanie Runyan:

With the release of HRCI’s upSkill product in 2018, HRCI entered the learning space. Over the past two years, the demand for upSkill has increased. HRCI is now committed to continue offering current and relevant learning options to our global HR professional network. In 2020, this evolved into our establishment of a diverse and affordable learning catalog.

2- HR Revolution Middle East: The HRCI Learning Catalogue offers for Professionals the upSkill™ & the Online Professional Development Certificate Programs & Courses. Can you please explain to us the difference between the two products?

Ms. Stephanie Runyan:

HRCI’s certification exams require a combination of education and experience, as well as successfully passing a rigorous exam.  Upon successfully passing the exam, successful candidates earn a credential that requires recertification every three years. HRCI’s upSkill product is available to anyone, regardless of education or experience. The program offers a timed assessment for upSkill courses. After completion of an upSkill course, a digital badge is issued and does not require recertification efforts.

3- HR Revolution Middle East: We have really noticed that the upSkill™ micro credentials gives the HR Professionals the opportunity to learn about very specific and totally new areas in HR like or example “California HR” & “HR in Social Media”. We would love to learn from you how those products were that intelligently tailored to cover missing areas in the traditional HRM education?

Ms. Stephanie Runyan:

HRCI developed our UpSkill content based on feedback from our certified network of professionals. HRCI offers the PHRca certification, and those who earn that certification offered extensive feedback for the development of learning around California labor and leave legislation. In addition, HRCI identifies new topic areas based on what is happening in the world. For example, HR in Social Media, is a topic that impacts everyone, regardless of location or type of organization.

4- HR Revolution Middle East: The current Learning Catalogue for upSkill™ micro credentials  include California HR, HR in Social Media, Confidentiality and Technology, Risk Management, and Workforce Analytics.  Are you planning to add more specialties for the micro-credentials catalogue? Would you consider tailoring certain micro-credentials for the Middle East?

Ms. Stephanie Runyan:

As HRCI continues to expand its learning offerings, we will continue to evaluate our certification population. Based on such data, HRCI will tailor programs on based on certain geographical areas or needs.

5- HR Revolution Middle East: The upSkill™ is considered by the HRCI a bite-sized e-learning program that allows professionals to efficiently learn from top business experts, gain new skills, and impact decision-making at their organizations. Can you share with us more about how such content is developed and the huge efforts played in the background in order to enrich the market with this unique product?

Ms. Stephanie Runyan:

The entire upSkill development process was based on HR practices from current HR professionals.  We reached out and established micro-panels of experts in each of the content areas to build out the content and assessment for each of our upSkill courses.  In addition, we worked with third-party vendors to fill the gap for additional learning topics and products.   

6- HR Revolution Middle East: The Online Professional Development Certificate Programs & Courses include a variety of courses that don’t limit to the HR only but it even includes certificates in computer applications & cybersecurity. Can we consider this an opportunity from the HRCI to provide reliable courses’ content to professionals from other disciplines as well? Would this product be elaborated in future to turn into certifying professionals from other disciplines?

Ms. Stephanie Runyan:

HRCI continues to explore additional learning areas where HR professionals can expand their knowledge.  While our upSkill courses address specific topic areas, our learning catalog also offers educational opportunities that range from topics such as Agility, Women in Business, Data Management and Business Strategy. As far as learning is concerned, HRCI will continue to explore different disciplines and topics that impact the practice of HR.

7- HR Revolution Middle East: To what extent do you believe HR professionals shall not limit their study to HR related subjects only, but shall expand to learn about related disciplines to excel in their field and serve their organizations differently?

Ms. Stephanie Runyan:

HR professionals must be prepared for anything.  The roles of HR professionals continually change. I believe that there will be a continued need to expand their areas of knowledge and expertise.  I also expect that there will be a desire to learn more about specific industries, in greater detail.  For example, if you have a manufacturing organization, I can easily see HR professionals looking to learn more about the manufacturing industry, it’s competitors, and challenges that a specific industry may face.

8- HR Revolution Middle East: The Product Development dynamics have recently become very aggressive due to the technological disruption, so we would like to ask you finally, to give an advice for product directors and managers; how can they increase their creativity and innovation skills to cope with such dynamics?

Ms. Stephanie Runyan:

My recommendation would be to continue to monitor the needs and wants of your specific audiences.  As the world responds to the effects of the global pandemic, there will be an increased need for virtual capabilities and enhanced technology that can support your organization’s initiatives.

THANK YOU

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Interviews

Stevie Awards Winners’ Articles Series – Gate 10 LLC (Muscat)

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Your mind is your first enemy, if you challenge it you can challenge others”
Shadi Al Hroub

Winner Name: Shadi Al Hroub

Winner Title: Sr. Creative Director

Winning Organization: Gate 10 LLC  (Muscat)

Nomination Category: Marketing Categories

Nomination Sub Category: Most Innovative Advertising or Marketing Agency of the Year

Brief Biography about the Winner:

Shadi Al Hroub has 16 years’ experience in design and communications, including over 7 years of research in branding and advertising specifically. Al Hroub won more than 23 international awards at the prestige level. His experience ranges from creative direction, packaging, branding, and multimedia (both traditional and digital). Shadi worked as a professor in creative design in various American universities and creative consultant at Leo Burnett, Hilton Worldwide, Jordan Aviation, Royal Falcon, Jordan Duty-Free, Samsung, Macdonald, G2000, Hublot, The One, International Trade Centre (UN), and various international NGOs such as UNRWA, Global Health Development, and USAID. He was a final judge for the Stevie Awards for Creative Communications & International Business Award, final judge for Future Ideas Amsterdam, Adobe Achievements Awards 2014 until now, the A’ design awards, and grand jury panel at Vega digital awards, global trend awards 2018 and muse creativity awards. Al Hroub currently working as Sr. Creative Director and Creative Partner at Gate10 for marketing, Oman, and Chair the Media Awards Judging Committee of our 2020 (17th annual) Stevie Awards for Women in Business.

Stevie Award Winning Case Study:

We established our creative philosophy, objectives, and strategies that will lead us to have a creative output. It doesn’t matter how good you are today. What really matters is how fast you progress and what steps you take every day to improve your creative thinking. Therefore, our purpose is to make life better by design.

Our vision is a world where the role and value of design are recognized as a fundamental creator of value, enabling happier, better products, better processes, and better performance, setting us “apart from the crowd.”

It also gives our team morale a boost by highlighting team and individual achievements, plus help to cement our credibility. The creative industry has been driven by changing consumer behaviors and expectations, especially among younger generations who demand instant access to content, anytime, anywhere. So, the creative industry is growing and will continue to play an important part in the future. The uniqueness in the industry is the diversity of people making it happen.

More about Gate10 Story

Every company has a story that makes it unique, and that story should be compelling and inspiring. Across the industry we are known for our expert ability to simplify complex processes and promote clarity. Our beliefs and core competencies in user focused design across multidisciplinary areas allow for seamless consistency and a greater focus on the details that matter.

Gate10 has received many awards and honors throughout 2019 for our work from Italy three awards, and US two awards. We are very proud of all we have accomplished over the last years. We even more excited and passionate about the next years. We have come a long way, and we are looking at reaching many more milestones and achievements. We continue to improve in every area of our business and our goal is always to anticipate our customers’ needs and exceed their expectations. We are a company built on people and great ideas.

Needless to say, on our team, we have some of the brightest minds and talented team players that are a valued part of our success, even though many of them are working in the background. If you’re just hearing about Gate 10, we welcome you to further explore our reputation from our past clients and projects. We are looking forward too many more years as we continue to grow and improve together.

We grow our business beyond any possible limits

Our reputation is one of excellent customer service and exceptional creative solutions. We have experience custom designing everything from market research and marketing data analysis, full branding & communication strategizing, creative writing, advertising campaign strategizing & Execution, Digital Marketing strategizing & Execution. We have the skills and passion to deliver only the best. User-centered design is just a starting point. Equipped with insights from best practices to analytics, our solutions are strategic and based on analytical discovery. Driven by both skill and magic, the result is a cohesive product that spans both print and digital.

Common sense creativity

We think common sense is really special. That sweet spot where all our common values align. That’s why we create things that make sense to the people who share it, to the people who work on it, to the people who skip over it, and to the times we live in. 

Our client’s corporate image and content are represented consistently, effectively, and accurately with every project we engage in. However, we do accept clients from all over the world. Our team’s expertise, combined with our unmatched creativity and problem-solving experience, ensure our clients receive professional and reliable service regardless of geographic location.

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Empathy at Work. Interview with Mimi Nicklin: Empathetic leader, Author and Business strategist

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Mimi Nicklin is an Author and the host of the Empathy for Breakfast Show & Secrets of The Gap podcast.

She is an experienced marketer and communications specialist, business strategist and a wellknown empathetic leader. She is a natural coach, writer and creative mind, and has held roles as diverse as Strategic Director, Vice President and Creative Officer in some of the world’s leading advertising agencies.

Her passion for balancing humanism with capitalism, drives her commitment to leading the practice of Regenerative and empathetic leadership, as well as her ‘principles of people’, into organisations and communities worldwide.

Softening The Edge is Mimi’s debut book – out on 15 September and available for pre-order now on amazon.com 

INTERVIEWER: Cinzia Nitti

HR Revolution: Hi Mimi, it’s our honor to make this interview and thanks in advance for what you will share with the HR Revolution Middle East Family. Many people assume that Empathy is generally about “being there” when someone is going through a difficult life path. Would you tell us more about the value of Empathy and how the whole concept relates to corporate life?

Mimi Nicklin: After thirty years of data that shows empathy is declining, we have a deficit on our hands; a corporate humanity deficit, an Empathy Deficit. The Empathy Deficit has been formed by a gap in connection with each other at the deepest social and corporate levels over many decades, and it undermines the fundamental principles of our ability to thrive in at work. Workplace absenteeism and apathy are reaching endemic proportions. Corporate anxiety, depression, and extreme proportions of burnout often complete the picture. Never has there been a time in history when we needed an intervention into our working lives more than we do today and empathy and ‘Regenerative Leadership’ is a powerful driver for this turnaround.

HR Revolution: Why Empathy in the workplace matters and how it impacts employee productivity?

Mimi Nicklin: As the environments we work within become ever tougher and sharper edged, especially during 2020, we are seeing employee productivity and performance dwindle. We have a deep problem at the exact point where humanity meets capitalism, and there is a lack of balance between the two which is impacting the performance, focus and capability of team members. This is a problem fuelled by three key parts. First, an ubiquitous obsession with growth at all costs which sees employee wellness drop in importance; second, a never-ending stress cycle which is impacting staff at all levels; and third, a widespread disconnection between our people and corporate culture at an unprecedented scale.

HR Revolution: Mimi, as a consultant and business strategist, do you have a human-centric “recipe” to develop Empathy at work? What would you suggest to HR Departments to improve their effectiveness in supporting employees through Empathy?  

Mimi Nicklin: The key of all empathetic organisations success lies in truly listening to our teams. Both overtly and directly, and through confidential channels such as questionnaires or feedback forms. After many months of 2020 have seen us working from home, as HR specialists we have had an opportunity for the first time in a long time to truly slow down and to consider the wider context of our teams and culture. We can’t expect our teams to not want to make change, to push back against old patterns and to want to work for a higher, more impactful purpose with a more flexible approach. It is in embracing this desire that will lead HR teams to be able to innovative and make sustainable changes to employee performance and health. At the top of our lists should be to listen to our teams as they re-enter their working environments and reassess each area of our business in light of the new world we are facing.

HR Revolution: Vulnerability has been a critical factor for business leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Is there any kind of professional-empathetic method that balances both a company’s ambition and highlights the employee’s role?

Mimi Nicklin: I often talk about principles of people beyond profit. This is not to say people ‘before’ profit. Our businesses need to remain profitable and sustain our organisational imperatives, but we can lead a culture that looks at the value of the strength of our people as something that has commercial value. Empathy in leadership and culture is a data set and an input for your business and the method of balancing them reduces risk and improves uptake and trust from staff, leading to improvements across KPI’s.  Without being able to walk in the shoes of our employees and understand their diverse viewpoints, it is nearly impossible to inspire and lead teams to success, and even harder to create marketing, powerful business decisions or innovative products and services that truly and deeply resonate with people.

HR Revolution: How Empathy, Emotional Intelligence and Technology coexist in response to the post-pandemic era?

Mimi Nicklin: We have more technology to connect with each other and our clients than ever before, and more data to leverage an understanding of what people want, yet the systematic dehumanization by corporate agendas and over analysis has damaged our ability to connect. Zoom calls and team applications can brilliantly connect us and facilitate our business processes but we must be aware the technology can lead to inauthentic and ‘cold’ culture’s between leaders and teams. As HR leaders, it is our intuition and integrity in empathising with the real and honest problems that our teams have (on and off screen) that will allow us to really make an impact and leverage technology without losing our humanity and connectedness to each other at work.

HR Revolution: “Softening the Edge.” A leadership book on Empathetic Influence and Emotional Intelligence is your first book (out on September 15th). Would you give our readers a glimpse of its content?

Mimi Nicklin: Softening the Edge focuses on something I have been passionate about for my entire career—the sustainable wellness of our workforce, treating people with kindness and decency, and the future of Regenerative Leadership that sustainably promotes human values as well as the financial value of every business. It addresses the Global Empathy Deficit from within our organisations, based on my own experiences leading teams around the world, and inspired by the turnaround story in my current organisation. The goal is to create wider understanding that the world of leadership and business is critically responsible for playing a role in protecting and improving our social future. Today, many people do not enjoy their work, burnout is at all-time high, depression is impacting over 33,000,000 people and the younger generation is leaving the corporate workplace in droves. By failing to proactively nurture empathy in our future leaders, we are failing to protect our future. Softening the Edge is part business tool, part corporate culture guide and part social eye opener to a downward trend impacting all areas of life and work. It shows how by harnessing and exercising empathy for employees and each other we can reverse the trend, build happier, more productive businesses and create a kinder, healthier world.

Thanks for your precious contribution, dear Mimi. The whole HR Revolution Crew wishes you all the best!

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