Speaker Spotlight – Fmr. Caterpillar CLO Dave Vance

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Speaker Spotlight_Dave Vance

Our world has changed so much in a year. COVID-19 has gripped the planet and forced people in all walks of life to re-examine what they are doing daily, to abandon the unneeded and embrace the things that work and matter most in their respective lives. Organizations are having to embrace that strategy as well. It can be felt across the board, especially in the learning organizations.

In many cases, employees are remote and are required to learn in new ways… all while the company is finding its traditional forms of content transmission must adapt to this new reality.

Out of that, the Corporate Learning Network as devised the next iteration of Corporate Learning Week. This year’s event is all virtual and offers sessions on four non-consecutive days:  March 9, 16 & 23. The fourth day features a series of master classes and an interactive group discussion focused on the management principles of Peter F. Drucker.

One of our featured speakers is Dave Vance. He’s the former Chief Learning Officer for Caterpillar University and is currently the executive director for the Center for Talent Reporting. Being a former leader of one of the world’s most recognizable and influential brands, we asked him to look at the current trends and provide learning leaders like you a path forward into a successful 2021.

Dave Vance

Fmr. Chief Learning Officer/Executive Director

Caterpillar University/Center for Talent Reporting

Speaker Spotlight

What’s the most significant challenge facing learning leaders right now?

Managing the creation and delivery of learning in a pandemic. Most are still redesigning learning for virtual or e-learning experiences and soon decisions will have to be made about how and when to restart in-person delivery. All of this is a challenge not anticipated 12 months ago. Beyond Covid, though, the biggest challenge remains to deliver real, lasting value to our organizations which requires laser-focused alignment, efficient processes, effective learning solutions, and measurable & demonstrable impact. These challenges are not new and remain the key to long-term success.

What’s the solution(s) to that challenge?

The solution to the first challenge is to focus your redesign efforts on the learning with the broadest reach and to use this as an opportunity to move toward integrated, holistic learning, including performance support, portal content and communities of practice. The solution to the second challenge is to ensure that the majority of your learning resources are directed to the goals of your CEO and SVPHR as well as to the key organizational needs like onboarding and basic skills training. Then work closely with goal owners and key stakeholders to meet their needs and work within your department to improve processes.

What’s your approach to leading the learning function?

My approach is to run learning like a business, which means that we should be accountable for our results. This entails setting specific, measurable goals, and then executing our plans to come as close as possible to delivering promised results. This requires the same discipline used by our colleagues in sales or manufacturing and will allow us to become better business partners, delivering greater value.

What new strategies or technologies excite you most in this field?

While I am excited to see what technology can do to help us better understand and connect with our learners, I am just as excited to see how much progress we as a profession can make to better align our efforts, design and deliver holistic learning experiences, and measure and report our results. We have such potential!

What are you most curious about?

I am most curious to see whether we can truly transform corporate learning to an integrated, holistic learning experience that will at the same time reduce cost and improve application, impact and ROI.


Dave Vance
Executive Director
Center for Talent Reporting