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Launching a Learning and Development Program with Humentum

June 8, 2021

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Iris McQuillan-Grace

Senior Manager, Talent
Center for Reproductive Rights


Sarah Squires

Communications & Content Marketing Manager

The Center for Reproductive Rights has partnered with Humentum Learning Services since 2019, growing its first learning and development program for staff during that time. Humentum’s Content Manager Sarah Squires recently caught up with Iris McQuillan-Grace, Senior Manager of Talent at the Center, to hear more about the Center’s journey to date. They discuss where the strength of the partnership lies, the challenges of incentivizing learners, and what success looks like for the team.

Sarah: Could you tell me about the Center for Reproductive Rights and your role within the organization?

Iris: We are a global legal advocacy organization focused on advancing sexual health and reproductive rights around the world. I am the Senior Manager of Talent—I joined the Center almost three years ago. In my role, I oversee all global talent acquisition, including our campus recruiting efforts and all employee professional development.

Sarah: How did you first hear about Humentum Learning Services?

Iris: It was my Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO), who comes from an NGO previous to joining the Center as well, and they had had a partnership with Humentum. When I was doing our landscape analysis to determine what provider and learning and development solutions would work best for the Center’s employees I had been considering LinkedIn and a few other providers.

My CHRO recommended Humentum, and when I became acquainted with the catalog and Gus Curran—he talked me through the connection to a learning management system (LMS) and our ability to create our own content—it felt like a no brainer for us because the preexisting content was so strong and specific to our employees’ needs. As well as the very strong partnership with eCornell and our ability to create and own our curriculum—for me, that ticked all the boxes of what we were looking for. Not just in the immediate, but in the ways that we are hoping to grow the program.

There is a real sense that the content is globally inclusive in a way that I didn’t see from other providers. It’s possible to find self-directed content, and that’s great; however, the content is not always available in as many languages or with captioning. And when we think about what it means to be a truly globally inclusive organization, regardless, we want to be considerate of our needs and all access points.

Sarah: How has Humentum Learning Services supported the Center for Reproductive Rights on this journey?

Iris: The partnership that we have with our HLS partners, Gus and Lourdes Isalgué, has been instrumental in rolling out these programs as successfully as we have. Overall, the strong customer service of HLS is one reason why we chose to use them as a provider, knowing how fast our HLS partners have been. But also, when our employees have had issues logging into the system, accessing e-courses, or have questions about a specific piece of content, there is a real sense of urgency and care that I have observed in the way that the customer support is laid out.

It’s not just excellent service—it’s thoughtful—and it feels like the Center’s learning goals are shared by Humentum as well in a way that put it over the edge and made it a no-brainer for us to choose. Big ups to both of our HLS partners, specifically when we were launching the Intranet and our Humentum site. I can’t speak to how many emails that went back and forth: What about this? Any changes in the curriculum that we should be considering? Are you getting any metrics, et cetera? And that really helped us create a high-touch experience for our employees, resulting in 100% adoption. Every single one of our employees has taken a course through the LMS.

Sarah: Have you faced many challenges along the way, and if so, how did you overcome these?

Iris: Yes, 100%. It’s everything from I can’t log in. What is my login? Where do I go to log in? Why is it a different website? How do I choose this course? How do I make space for this course? How do I tell my supervisor I want to do this course? It’s relentless questions. And I think to be honest with you; we’re not all the way there yet.

The greater thing that we are still trying to solve is how do we incentivize our learners and tie the courses that Humentum provides or the courses that we are creating and servicing through the LMS to every level of the organization? How are we designing programs that speak to what our employees need? I think that’s a ubiquitous learning and development challenge because we want to ensure engagement in the learning platform. But we also want to talk about behavior change and learning outcomes. And they need to serve the organizational goals, but we also need them to serve our employees. I think that’s just the fun part of trying to do this work.

Sarah: What has been the biggest impact since launching the program?

Iris: I mean, the fact that we built a course—it meant everybody had to log into the system, everybody had to complete the course and everybody had to track against it. That, to me, feels incredible because we have only been on this journey since November of 2019.

One of the other things I think is exciting that we piloted this year were community-led study groups. We identified that junior to mid-level employees at the organization were creating an autonomous asynchronous professional development opportunity. They wanted to feel that they had agency over their own professional development. And then also during COVID, there was a lack of community, so we thought, well, what if we did community-led sessions? We took something from a needs analysis; we identified project management as something that everyone could use as a capacity-building exercise, and we offered it as community-led sessions. They were so popular we did that pilot three times—we got lots of incredible feedback.

I joke with Gus that my year one goal was signing in; I just want you to log in. That was the benchmark of success, and to know that we have gotten everyone to log in and complete one course—for me, that’s tremendous.

Sarah: How would you describe the collaboration with Humentum Learning Services?

Iris: It feels that Humentum is invested in the Center’s strategic goals and what our overall learning objectives are. That was not something I was expecting when I was signing a provider contract. I have been really pleasantly surprised that everyone I’ve interacted with has been a thought partner in addition to an implementation partner.

When Gus and I were initially discussing, I said, OK, so this is the road map we’re thinking—and he offered some suggestions. And I kept those notes—it felt like he was a member of our team for those first three months. I’ve implemented other systems throughout my career, and even if you have high-touch, great customer support, they are deferring to you as the customer. And maybe this is not everyone’s preferred way of working with a provider, but I valued the insight, to Well, this is how we’re seeing this trending. And this is maybe something that you could do….

I work at a nonprofit—I don’t have a team of 15 instructional designers or talent managers that I can work with. And so, the brainstorming, I would say, has been really strong in terms of the partnership. And again, just the responsiveness—when you’re in the weeds, it’s so beneficial to have someone who cannot just troubleshoot from a technical standpoint, but who can give you that space to brainstorm and give you their ideas, their creativity, and their energy in a way that I think really does go above and beyond.

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