Diana Nitu / Antoine Brossard

    • Global Learning Program Manager, PMO / Global Learning Program Manager – Learning Design

    • Booking.com


    This interview is conducted with Diana Nitu, Global Learning Program Manager, PMO and Antoine Brossard, Global Learning Program Manager – Learning Design from Booking.com.

    At the upcoming virtual ATD European Summit 2020, we will be joined by two learning experts from Booking.com, Diana Nitu and Antoine Brossard, who will be part of our expert speaker line-up, presenting a case-study session on “Learning Beyond the Classroom: Building an All-round Learning Organisation.” During this session, Diana and Antoine will discuss:

    1. how to motivate employees who unconsciously resist change
    2. how to build a learning mentality and promote resiliency
    3. how to drive a creative and sustainable learning culture to remain competitive in the market
    4. creating a balanced blended learning model for a multicultural workforce.

    Join both speakers for an interactive Meet the Speaker session during the online ATD European Summit on the 2-5th November.

    Diana & Antoine: The COVID situation has actually accelerated/enhanced a transformational need that was already there, both for the learner and for the environment of learning professionals, as follows:

    • Digitization of learning solutions has become a top priority
    • From reactive to proactive around learning needs and future skills development, L&D role thus becoming more strategic
    • From classroom training to workflow learning
    • Impact of consumption style and type of content: impact of podcasting and Netflix type providers on learners expectations and UX
    • Financial impact in the context of recession: budget cuts trigger the need for more creative and resourceful teams – scarcity drives innovation
    • Shift from creation to curation, and from curation to guidance/contextual coaching
    • Pull vs push learning

    The pandemic has also created unique new opportunities:

    • Need for “skill agility” and its consequence on the need for learning organisations to be able to pivot, innovative and inspire at scale.
    • Motivation: why do people learn in the age of pandemics and uncertainty. The upcoming transformation of our economy inspires people to learn.
    • Higher engagement towards meaningful learning solutions: we are realizing today the need to future proof our skills.

    Antoine: In a nutshell, it is crucial!

    Before answering this question, let us define what a learning culture is in our view:

    • Learning as a value embedded in a company’s culture. At Booking.com this is called “Learn Forever”
    • Leaders role modeling those values at all times all levels of organisation, through clearly documented observable behaviours.
    • Everyone learning with purpose and inspiration: people know why they need to learn, using a clear competency framework through a variety of easily accessible and engaging learning solutions
    • The role of the leader is crucial in inspiring and embedding the above 3 levels and it starts with aligning learning and talent development goals to business objectives and ensuring that this connection is crystal clear for everyone in the organisation.


    • Have clear long term business goals and use learning and talent development as a catalyst to achieve business goals;
    • Embed the learning culture in the company’s vision and behavioural expectations at all levels of the organisation, resulting in everyone learning with purpose and passion
    • Ensure the learning environment is appealing, agile and most importantly embedded in the workflow
    • Create a holistic capability model, a blend of business metrics, knowledge application goals, skills and behaviours.

    Antoine: This is indeed one of the most important changes for L&D over the past couple of years. We believe it starts with understanding the data and strategies for building human skills in the age of AI. How are we approaching this opportunity to evolve?

    • Leveraging a new lense on learning – from the classroom to the workflow
    • The new learning value chain: self-directed, everyday, personalised
    • The workforce decides when and where they learn, but need guidance on what to learn (Netflix analogy)
    • Compelling, trusted resources can create guidance: engaging and compelling, credible and trustworthy, tailored to my goals and preference, easy and quick to access
    • Scaling learning for business impact: building better learning experiences
      ■ Make people feel it
      ■ Remove obstacles
      ■ Activate managers
      ■ Enhance connections between learners

    Diana: Our team’s evolution over the past year is living proof of the digital transformation. Before the crisis emerged, our team worked together out of an office in Amsterdam. When we started to work remotely in mid-March we basically had to fully re-invent our ways of working to ensure business continuity: we have redesigned our processes (mostly through automation and digitalization), our instructional design methodology, our project management approach. We have revamped our stakeholder engagement framework and re-considered the way we interact with our audiences. We have re-assessed and modernized our learning solutions to fit the current needs of our audiences. We have started to focus more on individual and team well-being, mental health, work-life balance and inclusion. Team engagement and individual motivation and focus through challenging times is of paramount importance. Nowadays we feel conversations are more intentional and team members are more focused. The need for a solid and robust project and program management methodology as well as clear processes across the business is becoming apparent. The need to build collective knowledge to ensure business continuity and the focus on employee well-being remains crucial.

    Antoine: There are of course various elements that are thoroughly considered as part of the Learning Needs Analysis, however the most important definitely is how critical are the consequences of failure?

    In practice, we coach our business partners to identify whether the consequences of failure are minimal, with an easy recovery for the organisation, or quite the opposite catastrophic, with a long-term reputational impact and permanent damage to our relationships with our partners.
    This in turns enables us to well prioritise our resources, and design learning solutions that are relevant to the consequences of failure. For example this framework is extremely useful in defining whether we should take people off the workflow to attend a learning intervention or not.

    Antoine: Perhaps the most important technologies driving the digital transformation are: 1) Automation, 2) Artificial intelligence, 3) Machine Learning, 4) Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality (VR/ AR) 5) Learning Technologies (LMS, APIs, Social Platforms). The digital transformation disrupts the learning landscape as is it essentially changing work models and the global workforce. For example, Automation and AI accelerate the shift in skills the workforce needs. The transformation required to sustain and embrace the skill shift must be supported by appropriate and out-of-the-box learning strategies that enable lifelong learning.

    Diana: These technologies can have a massive impact on employee engagement and development and can play a crucial role in connecting learning to business value. For example, AI and LMSs can help learning professionals understand the learner behavior better. Leveraging the data-driven insights provided by AI can help learning professionals create effective and personalized learning experiences. These experiences will in turn lead to better learning outcomes thus ensuring alignment between learning and performance.

    Let’s look at another example – VR/AR. Perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when talking about VR/AR in a learning context is the high cost with setting up the technology and the likely resistance from stakeholders. Nonetheless, the learning benefits of VR/AR, such as enabling practice and application in a safe environment, reducing pressure and enhancing creativity, have a long-term positive impact on employee engagement and learning agility.
    The extent to which learning functions learn how to embrace and incorporate technology in their strategies will increase the likelihood of linking learning to organizational performance.

    Antoine: The data-driven insights provided by AI can bring tremendous value to L&D, when used wisely:

    • Personalising the learning experience as AI can empower us to better understand learning styles. Imagine what we could achieve if we could figure out the very best set of learning modalities for each individual!
    • Virtual Mentoring: as we have seen an increased use of the “chat bots”, we believe there is an opportunity to leverage this technology to automate some of the learning embedding. Thanks to AI, we can understand and address typical failure points within the learning journey and use a “learning bot” to provide user specific guidance and digital nudges
    • Advanced Data Analytics can help us remove or at least reduce bias is self-assessment, performance management and capacity building.
    • Shorten the learning process: leveraging AI in learning could also have a positive impact on the time it takes one to master a skill. By a better understanding of learning preferences, virtual mentoring and data driven learning needs analysis, we could really fast forward professional development.

    Last but certainly not least, these implications and applications for AI also touch ourselves as learning professionals. The previous examples shared can effectively change our roles and responsibilities, which can be perceived as a threat but also as an opportunity. Content curation is a good example. Learning professionals used to be content owners, but we are seeing a shift to context curation and learning program coaching. The effective use of AI can help us move away from creating content that already exists, while we can focus on providing better business partnership to our stakeholders and creating a more efficient learning environment rather than focusing on some of the modalities of the learning framework which content creation is part of.

    Antoine: We will explain how stakeholder engagement and UX is at the core of the below steps:

    1. Analysis
    2. Design
    3. DEvelopment
    4. Implementation
    5. Evaluation

    Antoine & Diana: It is mission-critical, this is our very purpose as a team and individuals!

    Our customers’ expectations are evolving, and so must our commercial capabilities. This post COVID-19 revolution makes L&D a major catalyst in commercial success. With the dynamics of the workforce transforming to adapt to the new reality, there is a need for impactful, partner-centric and just in time agile learning solutions. Our value proposition is strong. Specifically, we have an opportunity to:

    • Boost commercial capability by leveraging a new lens on learning to future proof business processes
    • Amplify our impact for our shareholders by having a more engaged and productive workforce, learning with autonomy and purpose
    • Transform the learning environment by upgrading learning: removing obstacles, activating managers and enhancing meaningful connections between learners

    Now that all sounds lovely but how are we actually going to make this happen and measure our impact as learning professionals? We believe that it’s all about fully aligning learning and development to business strategy.  To do this, we have innovated and created a fully integrated model, think of a balanced scorecard, that helps us identify at any point of time and at all levels (company, regions, team, individual) how well we are doing:

    • Knowledge
    • Skills
    • Behaviours
    • Financial Effectiveness
    • Customer Satisfaction

    This innovative and quite transformational approach enables us, L&D professionals, to make data-driven decisions and recommendations to the business.

    About Diana Nitu:

    Diana Nitu is a resourceful and insightful learning and development professional, experienced in managing large and complex programs, process improvement initiatives and commercial operations. Diana has supported major organisations such as Finastra, Temenos and currently Booking.com in scaling operations, optimizing processes and business transformation initiatives.

    As a Global Learning Program Manager, Program Management at Booking.com, Diana leads the PMO and deployment of the global commercial learning curriculum to ensure an increase in commercial capability, while ensuring adoption, scalability and a seamless learner experience. Diana holds two Masters Degrees – one in Business Administration and the other in Human Resource Management -, and is a Level 5 certified CIPD associate in Learning and Development.

    About Antoine Brossard:

    Antoine Brossard is a passionate learning & development expert, with a proven track record in leading global capability development and agile learning programs to engage and optimize talent at scale. Antoine has supported major organisations such as Accor, Hilton and currently Booking.com in future proofing commercial capabilities through innovative and transformational learning and performance support global programs.

    As a Global Learning Program Manager, Learning Design at Booking.com, Antoine leads the creation, innovation and continuous improvement of the global commercial learning curriculum to ensure an increase in commercial capability, while supporting a culture of continuous learning and growth. Antoine holds a Masters Degree in International Business Management, is a certified Neuroleadership Results™ coach and a practitioner of 5 Moments of Needs™ Instructional Design.