What we learned at Cornerstone Convergence 2021

Cornerstone Editors

In case you missed it — last week, Cornerstone brought together thousands of HR professionals and industry luminaries for the all-virtual 2021 Cornerstone Convergence conference.

Under the theme of "Meet the Moment," Convergence provided HR and talent leaders the opportunity to connect with peers, thought leaders and the Cornerstone team to share strategic insights, lessons learned and success stories on creating inspired, aligned and successful workforces.

Kicking off Convergence with a story of perseverance

International speaker, broadcaster and Convergence master of ceremonies David Meade kicked the conference off with the story of Australian farmer Cliff Young, who, in 1983, ran an ultra-marathon from Sydney to Melbourne (544 miles). With no rulebook to follow or trainer to consult, Young started this grueling race in steel-toed boots and overalls and didn't stop running for five days, even though the best practice was to rest every six hours.

Cliff won the race — beating the competition by 10 hours and arriving two full two days earlier than the record. "He saw a challenge and decided to run toward it," Meade said. "Our people feel the same. It's our job to make sure they're equipped and enabled."

It was a great way to emphasize the strategic role talent leaders play In helping organizations and people achieve extraordinary success together. Here are some ways sessions across the two-day conference reinforced this message.

Empowering people and teams to meet the future, ready

In the Day One opening keynote, Cornerstone leaders shared how the power of personal development can help us all thrive in the "never normal again" workplace. CEO Phil Saunders expressed how Cornerstone's new purpose (and brand) reflects our unwavering focus to blaze trails in learning and talent innovation to help our customers and their people meet the future, ready.

It’s more than a logo change,” he said. “We're Introducing a new system of work born out of our passion for people and innovation as we strive to make this lasting positive impact starting at work."

Cornerstone Chief Product Officer Ajay Awatramani then touched on how the advancements the company is delivering — like our latest innovation, Cornerstone Xplor — make the work experience more accessible, more productive and more rewarding for our customers and their people.

People need a broad range of learning opportunities and soft skills to achieve breakthroughs and growth, which means learning content needs to be the best.

To meet this need, Chief Strategy Officer Heidi Spirgi shared how Cornerstone is advancing new ground with learning content designed for today's modern skills-forward workforce.

Helping employees evolve through change

Several sessions focused on how self-directed learning can help employees grow in new ways that keep pace with an ever-changing workplace.

In their Day Two keynote session, A matter of perspective: Tackling top trending industry topics, Vincent Belliveau, chief international officer, and Summer Salomonsen, VP of content product at Cornerstone, shared how HR leaders can help employees reimagine and embrace new ways of work.

“We’re seeing an upward trend focused on teaching employees to lead projects, influence without authority and to work well across teams. These skills represent the new currency in a changing workplace. We invite you to consider using technology to support greater autonomy and a shared sense of collective purpose for your people to meet the future-ready with agility,” Salomensen said.

That’s especially important, said Sunita Khatri, senior director of product marketing at Microsoft Viva, during today's "hybrid paradox" — where employees crave more in-person collaboration alongside flexible, remote options. In The intersection of technology, culture and employee well-being, Khatri explored the value of a digital platform that streamlines and simplifies, rather than siloes, the employee experience.

The American Bankers Association (ABA) saw firsthand the benefits of using a connected platform to create a digital experience for employees.

In the session Delivering compliance virtually with the Connect learning experience, presenters shared how the association leveraged Cornerstone Learning to create a remote model that maintained a connected, immersive employee experience. Learners were so happy with the program that ABA plans to keep it in place permanently.

An innovative workforce grows from an equitable, inclusive experience

To truly unlock employee potential, everyone must be comfortable bringing their unique background and skills into the workplace. But today, a majority of workers “cover” their identity for fear of being discriminated against.

To prepare for the future, organizations must prioritize people goals (like purpose and inclusivity) to reach business goals (like innovation and productivity).

The premier of Cornerstone’s latest content series, A Seat at the Table, showcased how learning content can help create an environment where employees bring their "whole self" to work without fear or anxiety. A Seat at the Table features unscripted, meaningful conversations about important DEI topics, such as how to talk about pronouns or racial discrimination.

During the Championing Diversity Customer Roundtable, representatives from Cornerstone customers Johnson & Johnson, IYF and Wells Fargo echoed the need for strong learning content around DEIB. In addition to providing localized learning through Cornerstone, leadership accountability is key to driving true equity and inclusivity.

Echoing that sentiment, Chris Geschickter, head of human resources at Johnstone Supply and Robbie Perkins, director of IT, Commonwealth of Kentucky — personnel cabinet, shared their stories in Drive high performance and retention with smart talent management. They discussed the importance of ensuring your talent strategy reinforces your organization's core values.

"Be clear on exactly what you mean by connecting people to purpose," said Perkins. Geschickter added, “As you work with senior management to drive your company culture, be creative and lean into Cornerstone technology to support the company culture you are looking to build.”

Skills and learning drive the employee experience – and power career growth

Skill building is foundational to a future-ready workplace. And delivering the right learning content at the right time with the right modality is integral to effective learning and skill building. In Good to great: Six strategies for driving content engagement, adoption & impact, Cornerstone’s Tom Cush and Jarrad Skinner shared actionable tips for creating a content strategy with measurable impact.

Make career mobility a reality for your people

Meredith Wellard from Deutsche Post DHL and Julia Maria Carvalho from Alstom also emphasized the importance of giving employees transparency around mobility and career aspirations. It’s a two-way relationship, they said in Delivering skills-first careers powered by AI. If employees provide organizations with data about their capabilities, interests and goals, organizations can and should help them develop new skills to drive their careers forward.

Personalize the learning experience for greater impact

Kraft Heinz’s Ownerversity is another success story of HR technology’s ability to transform learning experiences and create a sense of belonging for employees.

Through its strategic implementation of Cornerstone Learning, which the company calls Ownerversity, Kraft Heinz tripled its population of regular learners — and employees responded positively to the company’s investment in their development.

As session speaker, Lan Tran, head of L&D governance, technology and operations at Kraft Heinz shared, the company's strategy centered on helping employees understand that learning and development opportunities were easily accessible and beneficial to their personal development and career growth. "We all know learning is important, but sharing why a particular course is impactful to an employee helps them see the value."

Celebrating RAVE-worthy customer achievements

Convergence also provides an opportunity to celebrate the amazing accomplishments of our global customer community through the annual Cornerstone RAVE Awards. Learn more about the 2021 award winners — like Deutsche Post DHL, SWIFT, Wells Fargo, and more — and the standout ways they are innovating with Cornerstone solutions.

Two big lessons put the future of work in perspective

Ultimately, employees, managers, HR leaders and executives are all on a journey to Meet the Moment together.

At Convergence, we were lucky enough to hear from two distinguished speakers — and hear their wisdom not just about the future of work but of our world.

“Success is not an individual journey; it’s a group activity.” – Dan Levy

Closing out Day One of the conference, it was amazing to have Award-winning actor, writer, director and producer Dan Levy share his journey of using creativity to overcome obstacles and Meet the Moment.

As the creator and showrunner of the series Schitt’s Creek, Levy was able to bring his years of experience in the entertainment industry to shape his approach of being a leader for the cast and crew and uniting the team around a mission and purpose.

“I try to always be aware of how necessary the group is to the process. It goes back to making sure the people who show up to work every day feel welcomed, inspired and like they are a part of something.”

It’s a great lesson in what inclusive leadership is all about.

“It’s really important that we constantly educate ourselves and continue learning.” – Malala Yousafzai

And after an incredible two days of learning, networking and sharing experiences and insights, Day Two of the conference closed out with a powerful message about the impact of education.

It was an honor to hear Pakistani education activist, co-founder of the Malaya Fund and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai share her story of personal resilience and collective purpose in driving global education for girls everywhere.

The hard truth Yousafzai shared: 130 million girls around the world are still without education.

When asked what organizations can do to make sure everyone can learn, grow and lead, Yousafzai has this to say:

“We must remind ourselves that we are not living in a perfect world and there’s still a fight for equality. You could be denied rights just because of your skin color, background, the language you speak. We need to invest in initiatives that focus on equality, but you also need to invest in education. It is crucial that we focus on girls’ education because women are half the population, and if we hold them back, we cannot succeed. We need to ensure that everyone is included in the right to education. I would really encourage all organizations to support girls through quality education.”

Thank you for Meeting the Moment with us at Convergence!

While Convergence took place virtually this year, we hope that the conference provided you an opportunity to connect and learn from each other, to be inspired by other change-makers, and of course, to hear directly from the customer-focused Cornerstone team that you work with every day.

Thank you to our presenters, partners and global customer community for joining us at Convergence 2021 to network, share and learn together.

We look forward to our next opportunity to connect with you!

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