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  • Irina Ketkin - Learning and Development Expert

My year in Telenor, part 2

As you know, after one year in Telenor I left to company to focus on my studies (more specifically, CIPD Level 5 Diploma in L&D). I wanted to take some time and list down all the accomplishments I am proud of. I recounted the first several months in the first part. Here comes the rest of the year.

As I mentioned before, it was very important for me to get to know the business as soon as possible. I decided to meet some people and get their feedback on the L&D offering until then. Most of the feedback was good, some needed addressing and some was irrelevant because there was nothing I could do (for example someone told me that they had never been asked about their development needs; while sad, it had to be addresses in a much larger sense than just talking to that particular manager). One of the key take-aways for me was the need for transparency – people didn’t know who does what, how are people selected to participate in expensive programs and who made all the decisions. On top of this most employees didn’t feel like they had full visibility of what’s happening in L&D. So I set on a mission – come up with a guiding principle for L&D that addresses most (if not all) of our employees needs. After some sleepless nights, I had the answer:

#uptoyou and transparency

These were going to be our guiding principles in L&D. #uptoyou was also an employer branding slogan that was created the year before. All it meant is that we give you the freedom to choose, to make an impact, to be the best version of yourself. What this meant for us was creating a good portfolio of thing people can chose from and then getting out of their way. Almost like a Chinese menu for development interventions – trainings, courses, online videos, reading materials, learning aids, meet-ups (we never got around to doing the last one, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying). All people had to do was chose and do it!

The transparency was harder to do than I imagined. It was historically ingrained in the culture of HR. But we tried – any new program that came our way, we advertised, we promoted, we posted on Workplace and we talked to people about it. All decisions were openly communicated and success criteria clearly defined and discussed. I still believe there is work to be done in this direction but I do believe it’s the right one.

Soon after joining I heard about Ignite – the intrapreneurial programme for Telenor employees. One of my colleague with whom we had successfully worked just weeks before approached me with an idea. It was about dogs so I jumped on board fasted than you can say “I love dogs!”. Through several rounds of pitching, my colleague and I ended up in Singapore. Unfortunately, we didn’t win the ultimate prize – a 3 month incubator where would focus on user research, but it was great experience nonetheless.

I also flew to out business unit in Kuala Lumpur - Digi. A great bunch of people who had already established their reputation as a digital service provider for the people in Malaysia.

Throughout the year I also helped my colleague in Talent Management with a programme for top talents called ENHANCE. It was another pilot we ran for year that included 1-to-1s, 360 degree feedbacks, Thomas personality assessment, acting classes and workshops, even a scavenger hunt to help them with their areas for development. All in all – a great initiative that helped me open up my creative chakra and support 18 brilliant people on their personal development journeys.

One of my favourite accomplishments was called Telenor Chatterbox and the idea came from the business – employees wanted to learn English in a more informal setting, in the office without teachers, homework and useless practice conversations. So we experimented a bit until we found the winning formula – every Thursday morning we meet up with any volunteers and we speak only English. We have a monthly schedule where we rotate around similar format – watching videos or online courses with English subtitles, discussing different non-work-related topics, inviting native speakers and playing funny games. Sometimes we get more people, sometimes less but it is always fun. And people start loosening up and speaking freely without worrying about their level or vocabulary.

Unfortunately, the last accomplishment I am very proud of is not completed. As it is still a work in progress I will not reveal much. But as soon as it takes place, I will most definitely write about it.

Looking back at the my last year I have zero regrets – I met some amazing people, I accomplished a lot of things I never believed I could, I became more social than I thought possible (I have a natural tendency to recharge with a book than with people, which completely changed in Telenor) and I fell in love with L&D all over again. I will forever cherish my Telenor memories and I hope Telenor will do the same.

None of the big and small achievements wouldn't have been possible without 3 very special co-workers and (more importantly) friends. Nikolinka Stoilova was my real 'partner in crime' and managed the entire L&D operations like a pro. It won't be long before she becomes a bright shining star in L&D. Valeriya Doycheva is the Talent Management expert and one of the most empathic and friendly people I've met. In the toughest of times I knew I could count on you and your support (even when I am wrong!). Last but not least, Milena Delcheva is the Talent Acquisition Specialist who with her courage and positivism managed to push through any obstacles that came her way and gave a brilliant start to our Agile efforts.

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