Blog Post

Convergence Day 1: Today’s New Normal Promises Future Opportunities

Cornerstone Editors

The first fully virtual Cornerstone Convergence kicked off today and there is just so much to tell you about the event! Under the conference theme of "unbound thinking," Cornerstone clients, partners and employees from across the globe engaged in sessions, networking chats and Q&As to explore how organizations—and their people—can revisit and replace yesterday’s thinking with fresh perspectives needed for our new world of work.

On behalf of everyone at Cornerstone we’d like to send a special thank you to our remarkable customers for sharing how they're using our technology to drive talent development outcomes in their organizations.

Now, let's check out some highlights from Day 1!

Navigating the Now of Work—Opening Keynote from Cornerstone CEO Phil Saunders

"Is this what you expected?"

To kick off Convergence 2020, Cornerstone CEO Phil Saunders asked a question that over 17,000 attendees likely had the same answer to: definitely not. None of us could have predicted that we’d be attending Convergence from our home office (or couch or kitchen table). The future of work is now, and this new reality is calling on people and organizations to think and act differently.

Phil touched on the changes that are on the horizon for Cornerstone that will enable people to rise to be extraordinary and be drivers of innovation. The company’s new mission and vision is customer-centric, focused on investment in innovation and a continued commitment to the work of the Cornerstone OnDemand foundation. Phil also introduced three key tenets guiding Cornerstone’s vision and mission: to help people be understood, be guided and belong.

Phil closed his talk with a note of appreciation for the opportunity to foster connections and conversations with customers, partners and employees at Convergence. With over 50 sessions across five tracks, Convergence 2020 delivers an unmatched opportunity to learn from an amazing group of talent leaders and innovators about navigating change, empowering employees, embracing innovative technology—and much more.

Navigating Constant Change—in 2020 and Beyond

The need to navigate constant change echoed across almost all of the sessions on Day 1—no matter the topic.

In the panel discussion, Identifying the right skills and content strategies to navigate unprecedented change, Cornerstone’s own Summer Salomonsen and Mark Lamswood engaged Liggy Webb, award-winning author and thought leader on human resilience, in a conversation adaptability. They discussed how curiosity and an openness to challenging ourselves are key to handling unprecedented transformation. Learning content can also help drive change in the workplace—so that organizations can transition from a place of anxiety to action, achieving in a matter of weeks what might have taken years.

Another critical role of learning content is its ability to advance diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives across companies. Several sessions today reminded us that addressing racism doesn’t have an end date; and fostering a more diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace is more than an HR strategy. Supporting leaders in developing inclusive leadership capabilities is just the start.

Embracing a Personalized, Enriched Employee Journey

The three key tenants (be understood, be guided and belong) CEO Phil Saunders outlined in his keynote came alive in many of today’s sessions focused on putting employees first.

The onboarding experience is a critical step to encourage new hires to feel welcomed and have a clear vision about their role. In Building a world-class onboarding approach, Pamela Greenwood, IT Officer and Makarand Kulkarni, Senior Business Solutions Officer for World Bank Group shared how they used Cornerstone Onboarding to successfully onboard 940 new hires in one year!

In LEADing the way: Innovating an award-winning leadership development strategy, John Niedzielski and Lynda Cribari from Davenport University shared how they partnered with Cornerstone to develop a suite of leadership offerings to increase employee engagement.

Driving Innovation with Disruptive Technology

Once employees are comfortable navigating change and feel engaged in their growth, they’re able to lean into new technologies to drive innovation.

Candidates, employees, hiring managers, and HR are all feeling the impact as talent acquisition teams undergo a period of unique change. In Assemble the best people for today and tomorrow, TalentLink experts shared the key to better communication—trust, transparency and authenticity—and the capabilities available within TalentLink to enable it.

Another session highlighted the massive opportunity of blockchain to match talent to career opportunities with a single, employee-owned source of truth.

Finally, Talespin CEO Kyle Jackson engaged Manal Houri, Head of Digital Transformation, Facebook Learning and Development and JoAnne Rossouw, Head of Digital Learning at Nestle in a discussion aboutBuilding leadership and communication skills using virtual reality.

Both Facebook and Nestle are at different stages of their journeys in implementing VR as a learning modality but the potential is recognized. "It provides a safe space for learners to learn," commented Rossouw. "Once we started using the format where a person gets in a VR headset, we started to see mindsets shift," Houri added.

Of Course, Cornerstone Made Several Announcements at #CSODCONF20

While sessions kicked off on Day 1 of the conference, Cornerstone also made several key announcements aligned to its new vision, strategy and innovation commitments, and we’re excited to share them here.

  • Cornerstone welcomes Ajay Awatramani as Chief Product Officer! Ajay will lead product strategy, management and design as the company doubles down on its vision to accelerate innovation and further strengthen its leading people development solutions.

  • Introducing the Cornerstone Skills Graph, an AI-powered skills engine that has been built into the company’s portfolio of products. The technology enables organizations and their people to implement "strategic skilling" — the practice of matching skills to people, learning content and job roles — to predict, prepare for and quickly respond to dynamic business changes.
  • Cornerstone report on Skills Development reveals significant confidence gap between businesses and their people. This global study uncovers the greatest challenges organizations face when it comes to helping their employees develop new skills and offers practical advice for closing confidence gaps related to skills development. Read a conversation about the findings between Heidi Spirgi and Mike Bollinger on Cornerstone’s ReWork, or click here to access the full report "A License to Skill: Embracing the Reskilling Revolution."

  • Expanded collaboration between the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation and Project HOPE, a nonprofit global health and humanitarian organization. This new online curriculum teaches frontline healthcare workers how to safely screen, triage and treat COVID-19 patients in remote regions. Starting today, the courses offered through Project HOPE will now be available in more languages, including English and Spanish, and in new regions, including Africa. To date, more than 2,800 learners in 139 countries have taken approximately 5,000 hours of training, and demand for the online learning program continues to grow. Amazing!

Academy Award-winning Actor, Producer and Philanthropist Viola Davis on "Being True to Yourself"

Day 1 of Convergence ended with an inspiring closing keynote with the truly awesome Viola Davis and Cornerstone's Chief Learning Officer and VP of Organizational Effectiveness Jeff Miller. Their conversation centered on why we need to embrace and own our life story.

As Viola explained, we are the amalgamation of everything that has come before us. Not only must you accept and own your life story, you also need to share that story. Because when we share our stories, we begin to understand ourselves and others more, which fosters empathy.

Viola's final guiding message was centered on developing a giving mindset. Recognize that every decision you make leaves a crumb, a legacy for the future generation. Accept your past to release your blessings, then give of yourself - however small, to build something better.

Fun, Networking & Food! Yes, Food!

Finally, it wouldn’t be Convergence without great conversations, fun and food!

Live from Los Angeles, Chef Curtis Stone joined Convergence to teach us how to cook a mouth-watering pasta dish: ricotta cavatelli with sage brown butter and parmesan. Yum-mazing! And for the home chefs who really wanted to kick it up a notch, Chef Curtis taught attendees how to make homemade ricotta. The chat was buzzing with hungry attendees - and if you watched live, you know that the automatic pepper mill really stole the show!

Take a look at a few of the Day 1 moments captured and shared by attendees!

Look at that mise en place!

And That’s a Wrap for Day 1 of Convergence!

Thanks again to everyone who participated. There were so many insightful speakers and sessions today—with more to come in Day 2!

To watch any sessions you missed on Day 1 and to see what’s planned for the Day 2 agenda, visit: And keep the conversation going! Follow Cornerstone Convergence 2020 on social media channels: Twitter @CSODConvergence, Instagram @CornerstoneOnDemand and Facebook @Cornerstoneconvergence. You can engage with the conversation using #CSODConf20.

Related Resources

Want to keep learning? Explore our products, customer stories, and the latest industry insights.

The Future of Work: An ’Un-Panel’ Discussion at Convergence

Blog Post

The Future of Work: An ’Un-Panel’ Discussion at Convergence

What does the future of work look like, exactly, in the view of some leading HR and talent management experts? Instead of tossing such questions to his three panelists Tuesday at Cornerstone Convergence 2013, Cornerstone OnDemand marketing VP Jason Corsello polled Convergence audience members for their thoughts and then had the panel dissect the results.

Schedule a personalized 1:1

Talk to a Cornerstone expert about how we can help with your organization’s unique people management needs.

© Cornerstone 2024