CLO Series: Dr. Martha Soehren of Comcast

Cognota® CLO Series features interviews with current and former Chief Learning Officers and senior learning professionals. We are pleased to share the results here in our blog.

We recently were fortunate enough to catch up with Dr. Martha Soehren, Chief Talent Development Officer and Senior Vice President of Comcast.  This blogpost incorporates her responses to questions related to the challenges of designing learning experiences, taking advantage of trends, measuring ROI, and recognizing solutions. 

Martha Soehren Chief Talent Development Officer Comcast

Dr. Soehren shares her top challenges when designing experiences for learners. Because Comcast is strongly focused on building learning solutions designed and rendered to how learners want to consume learning, the company is finding ways to align those learning solutions with the needs of the business. 

The company invests heavily in learning that is self-directed, while ensuring real and practical experiences happen between learners, managers, and peer mentors.  This is especially valuable for customer-facing employees and the company’s high potentials across leadership levels. 

As a result of this strategy, Comcast is seeing positive business impact across many key performance indicators (KPIs).  To speed implementation, Comcast works with vendor partners to ensure the utilization of learning and development (L&D) technologies that simplify the learner’s experience from access to consumption. 

“At Comcast we are well on our way to making the customer experience our best product and the L&D team is at the forefront of this great progress,” explains Dr. Soehren. “We are challenged to ensure that there is a consistent learner experience to drive a consistent great customer experience.  We spend a lot of our thought time and resources to this mission and it’s working for the business.”

As for working with subject matter experts (SMEs), Dr. Soehren explains that the company doesn’t design content without these experts, regardless of the functional or leader content topic.  Her team is very tightly connected to Comcast’s business leaders, the customer experience, and learners.  There are advisory boards or advisory teams to support content design and development.  

“This is critical for Comcast,” she explains. “I don’t have to ask for a seat at the table – the learning team at Comcast is always included up front when a new business is being planned, or when a change is being implemented.”

Comcast leadership promotes and supports a learning culture that tightly aligns learning to the business and to leadership competencies.

As for difficulties when designing learning, Dr. Soehren notes that there are times Comcast spends more time than they’d like creating a pull for training content, although content is always developed with business sponsorship.  Organizationally the company integrates a change management model into how they work and communicate, and the company has experienced great improvement and better buy-in during the awareness phase of training delivery. 

“We are very encouraged – engaged business partners with a solid change management model works,” she adds. “We have the best of both at Comcast.”

Dr. Soehren proceeded to discuss the agility of the L&D team and how they take advantage of changes. “We hire great L&D professionals and ensure they know they’re being hired into roles that require tenacity, flexibility, and forwarding thinking/doing,” Dr. Soehren adds. “Comcast is a dynamic and innovative organization with a business model that doesn’t tolerate anything other than a mindset that moves all work with the pace and mission of the Company.”

As a way to deliver ROI, Comcast constantly and consistently tells the story of how learning impacts the business.  Dr. Soehren’s team works with the business sponsors to stage the KPIs during the scoping phase for a training solution.

Her team does not measure ROI on every solution. “That doesn’t make sense,” she explains. “We measure impact for learning solutions built to address a specific business pain point/need, or programs testing new modalities.”

Looking to future trends in corporate learning, Dr. Soehren believes that we are at a pivotal point of convergence when it comes to learning solutions. “We are going to be challenged with new ways to simplify, innovate, and build even greater efficiencies into what is rendered to the learner – regardless of the source,” she notes.

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CLO Series: Dr. Martha Soehren of Comcast