In this issue, we are excited to spotlight Michelle Thill, CPTM, who has been working in the learning and development (L&D) space for over 25 years. Michelle has gained experience in fields like banking, education and instructional design. Today, she works as a senior L&D manager at DaVita, a national health care organization that specializes in kidney care. Her role involves developing and executing strategies to support people and organizational development for learners in front-line and mid-level leadership roles. Michelle is a certified professional in training management (CPTM) and was awarded DaVita’s Core Value Award for Service Excellence.  

Read on to learn more about Michelle’s career journey.  

How did you get started in L&D?  

As an operational leader, I was asked to deliver compliance training, and I loved the challenge to make the content memorable. After supporting the programming for a renowned executive banking school, I chose to develop my own skills as a trainer and instructional designer within corporate and nonprofit sectors.  

What’s your most memorable training experience, good or bad?  

I have two: The weight of creating an “approachable” active shooter eLearning has been burned in my mind forever; and the time when the AV quit working as I was approaching the stage to deliver content to a room full of leaders, so a senior vice president began to sing my walk-up music! 

Who would you consider your most valuable role model? What were some qualities that made them great?   

A senior director has demonstrated a perfect balance of warmth and empathy with clear and direct communication. She asks great questions, delivers helpful feedback and drives progress to stand up large initiatives through strategic prioritization. She is unflappable and polished without sounding scripted. 

What are the most pressing issues on your professional plate right now?  

Influencing an enterprise training model and scaling a highly effective leadership development program. 

What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?  

We operate in a dynamic organization, so I find that managing to the tipping point of influence is a healthy tension to navigate. For example, I am always challenging the team to create training that is scalable, sustainable and sticky.    

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?  

Developing people into their potential and transforming cultures through initiatives and influence.  

What’s your preferred training methodology?   

It depends on the desired outcomes and constraints. An effective model is tell/show/observe/feedback, which can be effectively executed in various modalities. If I were on a deserted island and had to create content, my default methodology would be instructor-led training.  

How do you find the time to continue your own professional development?  

This is non-negotiable for me. I set aside 20 minutes every morning to continue a podcast, article or course. I also set appointments with myself to learn something specific.  

Any recommendations for folks out there: books, partners, resources, etc.?  

  • The 5AM Club – don’t knock it ‘til ya try it.  
  • “What Makes Training Really Work: 12 Levers of Transfer Effectiveness”  
  • I fan-girl crush over anything by Britt Andreatta and Cindy Huggett. 
  • My copy of “The Trusted Advisor” by David H. Maister is unabashedly dogeared.  
  • Shout out to the CPTM community, which has been a helpful peer group over the years! 

“If someone wants to follow in my professional footsteps, I’d tell them to be sure to …”  

When you hear opportunities, just say yes. Even if you fail, you’ll do it forward. Start attending vendor demonstrations and workshops; there are many great learning professionals in those spaces who are a wealth of knowledge and support. Rigorously prioritize your own skill development; don’t kid yourself that you don’t need it because you are exposed to creating content.