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Career learning

Learning to fuel a growth mindset

Five years into his career at CWB Financial Group (CWB), Francis Ho says his view of learning and development is a little different from when he first arrived at the bank.

“I used to equate learning to training – like what are the tactical or technical skills I need to know to do my job well,” says the AVP, Small Business Banking, Digital & Alternative Channels. “Now I look at learning as growth. It’s an attitude and a philosophy and there’s the importance of co-owning it with the organization. It’s like a partnership.”  Cultivating and sustaining a growth mindset like Ho’s is at the heart of the organization’s learning and development approach, says Sr. AVP Learning and Development Bob Treidler.  
“We’re on a significant growth and transformation journey to not only do new things but to do old things differently,” he says. “This means creating an environment or, rather, becoming a destination where employees are so interested in learning that it quite simply becomes a way of life.”
At CWB this kind of mindset is fuelled by enabling learning 24/7, creating time for learning, and taking things to the next level by weaving in opportunities for social learning and personal growth. And that’s where online portals and other virtual tools are playing an increasingly more important role.   Teal Academy is CWB’s cloud-based learning system that provides employees around the clock access to courses and materials from anywhere, including their mobile phones. Its vast library ranges from banking industry learning modules, to Indigenous Awareness Certification, to cross-company mandated learning, to mental wellness classes, to leadership content, to curated Ted Talks, to webinars from the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion.   Planning & Development Analyst Nazreena Anwar joined CWB’s Loan Origination System team three years ago. She says the breadth of material in Teal Academy has not only helped her to perform her job well, but to continue to develop as a person.    “For me, learning used to look like sitting in a desk in a corner taking notes and absorbing information, but it’s become so much more than that,” she says. “I’ve taken mindfulness classes and other courses in Teal Academy that help me look at challenges from a different perspective or viewpoint. I’ve gained skills that might not be role-specific but are transferrable and help me grow holistically as a person as well as professionally. For me, learning is now a two-way process – the knowledge gain isn’t something that just belongs to you, but is something that is shared and will benefit others.”   Speaking of two-way processes, AVP Learning and Development Kinjal Manek says the organization regularly asks employees for feedback to see what’s working and what’s not. As a result, she says CWB is continually introducing new formats like gamification, video and interactive elements, as well as learning strategies that are aimed at saving employees time.  
“We’re using approaches like micro learning, where you’re learning topics in two-minute bursts that are easily digestible and fit well into busy schedules,” she says. “We’ve also introduced pre-testing for refresher courses, so if you pass the pre-test you can bypass the full course and re-allocate that time to building relationships with your clients.” 

Ho says with the fast pace of life these days, creating convenient opportunities for learning is key. “If I have 20 minutes before a meeting I can easily pop onto my mobile phone and complete a course. I think most people have the desire to learn, but making it easy to learn is so important when we’re all running 100 miles an hour.”

Online learning certainly isn’t new to Edmonton-based CWB, particularly with the recent opening of a banking centre in Mississauga, Ontario and the need to deliver learning to employees working for the company from coast to coast. However, the way the organization is leveraging learning in a virtual space today reflects, well, learnings from operating in a pandemic over the past 18 months. 
“Our learning management system is built in the cloud, built to serve people across the world. And while we hadn’t leveraged it to that degree before the pandemic, it definitely sped up the focus on how we use technology solutions to create a sense of equity and access to learning opportunities and each other,” says Treidler. “For example, we’ve really seen technology’s value in opening up things like social learning. We’re able to hold regular coaching circles, or stand up think tanks on a day’s notice because it’s all virtual. That’s pretty exciting for an organization with such a keen focus on building relationships and putting people first.” 

Anwar agrees, noting that by participating in peer working groups she’s gained skills like how to present confidently in stakeholder meetings, which is a requirement in her role.

For Ho, there’s a clear through-line from a growth mindset to both CWB’s culture of putting people first and its obsession with client success. Because in growing the whole person, you’re not just ensuring they have the skills and knowledge to thrive in their career, but they’re also developing the ability to connect at a deeper level with others. 

“It means conversations with clients that are just richer, more meaningful,” he says. “So after a client finishes talking with you they think, wow I really got something from that. And you know what you did made a difference to their day.” 


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