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Elliott Masie’s 30 Under Thirty: Maestro Interviews Kelly Young

Third in our series of 30 Under Thirty interviews is Kelly Young, Program Manager in Learning for Humana, a Fortune 100 Health and Wellness company based in Louisville, Kentucky. Her role within the organization allows Kelly to lead and influence all of Humana’s 450+ Learning and Development professionals. She works within the Corporate Integrated Learning team, leading a group that supports the company’s internal “Learning Consortium.” That team has built a hybrid Learning Organization made up of 35 Business Unit Learning Teams. Kelly is focused on keeping this community connected, collaborating, and integrated. She works to build connections and relationships with each of the learning groups and help them develop shared organizational goals and a common learning strategy.  Her team supports Humana’s enterprise learning standards as well as the development of learning professionals within our Consortium.

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

Kelly: To stay current in the world of Learning, social media is where it is at for me.   I don’t have the time to read as many books as I’d like, so I rely heavily on my Twitter network.   A few years ago, at an eLearning Guild Conference, my eyes were opened to the world of learning on Twitter.   While I don’t use it for personal use, Twitter has become my “go to” spot for catching up on relevant articles I need to read or trends that are happening in Learning.  I get fresh information curated by credible leaders in our learning industry.   A few of my faves are @janebozarth, @Quinnovator, @LnDDave, @tomkuhlmann, and @cammybean.   I also find a lot of value participating in #LrnChat and other live Twitter chats when possible. 

Twitter and Facebook have also been great for staying connected with people I’ve met professionally at conferences, like the other 30 Under Thirty Participants. I also rely heavily on my Google Reader RSS feeds for some of my favorite learning-related blogs, like Flirting with eLearning, The Rapid eLearning Guy, and Misadventures in Learning.  RSS feeds are a great way for me to spend a few minutes and have all the new articles in one place with little browsing required.

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

Kelly: One of the biggest challenges I see for my generation of leaders is that we have to get comfortable making our own opportunities.   Boomers are staying in the workplace longer, organizations are getting flatter, and learning is constantly under financial scrutiny from the C-suite.  There are fewer formal learning leadership positions open.  Because of that, I’ve learned that I need to make my own opportunities and carve out my next role in spaces that might not currently exist rather than waiting for a vacancy to appear.  The people in this industry whom I consider to be the most successful are the ones who have found a niche that previously wasn’t filled and came in and made it their own.

Maestro:  What excites you about the future of learning?

Kelly: So much excites me about the future of learning - trends around interactive PDFs for performance support, learning professionals and SMEs becoming content curators, user generated content, and leveraging agile development principles for instructional design.   I love being part of an industry that is not only constantly changing, but also has a culture where those of us who are day to day practitioners learn from and share with one another.

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

Kelly: Let go of some of the formal control mechanisms that constrain learning.   Be open to new technology, even if it seems risky.   Many companies fear social tools because they worry about the control of information and opening themselves up to two way communication.   I’d argue that those same companies probably used those arguments when email came out as well.  People need to be equipped to learn inside of their organizations in the same natural ways they learn in their personal lives.

Maestro:  What's next for you? Anything you would like to add about what you have planned either on your own or with your company?

Kelly: I’m looking forward to the New Year to do some strategy planning with my team.   I love to push the “reset” button at the start of a new year and do a Start/Stop/Continue exercise to make sure that the work we do accurately aligns with the strategy of the business and where we can add the most value to organizational performance and capability.

Interested in learning more about Kelly? Follow Kelly on Twitter: @kmryoung LinkedIn: Check out Humana at

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