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Elliott Masie’s 30 Under Thirty: Interview with Dara Kahn Peskin

Eleventh in our series of 30 Under Thirty interviews is Dara Kahn Peskin, Marketing Projects Specialist at Goodwill Industries International.

Maestro: Tell me a little bit about your company and your role within it.

Dara: I am the marketing projects specialist at Goodwill Industries International, the member services center that supports Goodwill’s network of 165 independent, community-based Goodwill agencies in the United States and Canada. Goodwill® sells clothing and household items in its stores and invests the revenue into job training services—free training and support for millions of people in local communities. In 2012 alone we help 216,000 people earn a job.

As a marketing professional at a membership organization, I help maintain a consistent brand by running live webinars, developing on-demand video training tutorials and holding one-on-one calls with member agencies to teach them about the resources available to them.

Maestro: Tell me about some of the things you are doing to stay current in the world of learning.

Dara: As a journalist by training, I have moved into marketing through on-the-job learning, experiencing first-hand the power of easily accessible, on-demand trainings. I keep up on industry trends by reading as many relevant news and trade publication articles as possible, many of which I find by following industry leaders on Twitter.

Reading anything is helpful, regardless of whether it’s industry specific. I try to absorb something each day that is completely outside my worldview. You never know where you will learn something new or find inspiration. I’m also lucky to work with an in-house expert. Goodwill Industries International’s director of technology-based learning writes articles and gives presentation on various learning topics such as MOOCs, authoring tools, virtual classroom and mobile learning which I incorporate into my marketing responsibilities.

Maestro: What challenges do you see for the next generation of learning leaders - people like you?

Dara: Adaptability meets context. Employees’ core need to learn won’t change; the technology and implementation will. The next generation of learning leaders will need to focus first on the strategy and structure of what their particular learning program looks like, before turning to the tactics and tools. It’s important to understand that the new generation that soon will be entering the workforce would rather learn virtually/through mobile devices and not necessarily through in the form of instructor-led courses. 

Maestro: What excites you about the future of learning?

Dara: The sheer unknown. Look how far we’ve come just since 2007, when the first iPhone was introduced. Soon after came competing smartphones and mobile apps, which have changed the way we shop, explore and most importantly, learn. You no longer have to sit in a classroom or lab, at a desk or in front of a laptop, to soak in new information and experiences. New technologies mean on-the-go, on-demand learning opportunities we can utilize on our own time and under our own terms. Who knows what the technology will look like in the coming years—the changes seem exponential!

Maestro: What advice do you have for companies struggling to keep up with the changing landscape of learning?

Dara: Practice active listening. “Learning” is a fluid field that calls for options and flexibility, not necessarily a one-size-fits-all approach. Before making landmark changes to “improve learning” at your company, listen to what is truly needed. In some cases, developing or expanding a department dedicated to learning may make sense. Elsewhere, a heavy IT lift in the form of infrastructure investments may be the first step. The key is determining your organization’s core needs and building out from there. This means gaining upper management buy-in even through difficult times, ensuring there is a learning champion or evangelist in the organization and attending conferences to learn about the latest in the industry and network with peers facing similar challenges and opportunities.

Interested in learning more about Dara?
 Follow her on Twitter @darakpeskin or connect with her on LinkedIn

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