Top Challenges of the Global Corporate Universities

Top Challenges of the Global Corporate Universities

 By Catherine Upton


At the 2017, Global Council of Corporate Universities Forum in Paris, more than 70 learning leaders across five continents were in attendance all grappling with a series of new challenges. In a roundtable discussion, these leaders candidly revealed their challenges, opportunities and strategies.

The Challenges

Disruption has arrived. Between the digitalization of business, pace of technology and the changing demographics of the workforce, all regions of the world are equally impacted. Learning leaders also struggle with aligning learning to business strategy. Many revealed that training does not have a seat at the c-suite table, contributing to the misalignment. Issues of culture, skills of the team and cost of infrastructure to respond to the digitalization of business were also revealed. Some leaders run one corporate university for multiple business lines, and struggle to meet their unique needs. With all these challenges, the team elected to select the 3 most critical challenges to address potential solutions and strategies.

>>Demographic Shifts within the Workplace

With five generations working within the organization, and millennials soon to reach 40% of the workforce, the leaders conceded that training had to change. But where to start? First, create an inventory of information needs of each segment/demographic. Each group has difference preferences and skillsets. This will provide a framework for development efforts. Providing learning in a variety of modes is important. But, it is important to keep an eye to creating a common purpose for learning. Use more blended learning as well as mentoring with an eye on reverse mentoring whereby millennials can coach boomers in areas of expertise. All this should be accomplished with a succession plan in place.

>> Alignment with Business Strategy

Many learning leaders in attendance shared that their role is not well represented in the corporate suite. To create a line of communication between the c-suite and the corporate university, some leaders host board members on the Corporate University Board. The presence of corporate leaders in learning was an area for improvement. It was important to “Walk the Talk.”  Other learning leaders considered their role to be as change agent, empowered by the board or corporate suite. Finally, it was recommended that learning align with each business unit by business line. This enables the corporate university to understand the whole business strategy and build programs to execute to these initiatives.

>>Learning’s Return on Investment

To begin the process, it was recommended to use Design Thinking. Design thinking is a way to apply design methodologies to any of life’s situations. There are four steps: Define the problem, Create and consider multiple options, Refine selected options (multiple times if necessary), and, Pick the winner and execute.

Secondly, it is critical to measure. What matters is measured. If it’s not measured, it doesn’t matter. Measurements offer a means to compare different options and the cost and benefits. This analysis will allow learning to set a course with impact. Warning, filled seats, hours of training are not effective measurements. Focus on the impact of learning and employee performance.

These types of brainstorming collaborations are the norm at Global Council of Corporate University. They offer an online collaborative community to tap experts and peers for advice. GlobalCCU also provided corporate universities certification programs in performance, compliance and excellence.  To learn more visit


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