We talk with our colleagues about their background in learning and development, the Xprtise projects that make them proud, and their vision on the biggest challenges in learning & development in the coming years.
This time it is our Managing Director of our Xprtise US office Sara Chizzo. Sara has more than 20 years of experience in sales and sales management with a unique expertise in the talent development and data analytics. In her jobs she has been -among other things- responsible for strategy development, new client acquisition, strategic client growth and sales management in the learning & development space. Her background in the L&D industry brings a breadth of experience and knowledge to our offices in the US as well as The Netherlands. ‘I could not be more excited to help our clients become performance-first L&D organizations and our industry reach new levels of measurable performance and impact.’
Who? Sara Chizzo (1971)
What? Managing Director at Xprtise US since October, 2022
Where? Xprtise US
Together with my husband Andy, I live in Oak Park, Illinois. Oak Park became widely known as the ‘World's Largest Village’ and is home to significant Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and the birthplace of Ernest Hemingway. Andy and I both come from a small farming town, but as soon as I had to travel a lot for business, we decided to move to Chicago, central to the airport. Together we have four daughters.
I got in L&D space late 1999’s. At that time, I started working for a technical training company that primarily provided instructor-led training type of education. We also had an e-learning offering. Way back at that time it I already met Alfred Remmits (CEO of Xprtise) for the first time. He had a company which was our distributor and partner in Europe for delivering the technical trainings and supporting our clients in Europe. The next move I made was in measurement and analytics, as more and more of our clients were looking for evidence on their Return on Investment in learning. We couldn’t provide them with a complete report of what we delivered globally, let alone the answer to the question of value. From that moment on I focused on the measurement side of learning. The people in a company are the most valuable, intangible asset that a company has. Understanding not only how those people impact the business but also how developing these people impact the business, is a huge opportunity. We really focused on helping to connect the application of learning with outcomes for the individual and for the company. At Xprtise I can bring my two skillsets together: my passion about the 5 Moments of Need® methodology and the measurement side. If we can solve the problem of impact in the design process and let people learn while they are working, that really optimizes performance on the backend. Finally, I can provide an end-to-end solution to a client. My biggest motivator was to bring all these experiences together and provide that end-to-end solution.
"The people in a company are the most valuable, intangible asset that a company has. Understanding not only how those people impact the business but also how developing these people impact the business, is a huge opportunity."
Where do you get the most energy from? What is your passion?
Actually, I have two most favorite things to do. Or I guess maybe three! That is (1) to be outside hiking and just being active and things like that. And (2) I love travelling, even though I have to travel for work. I never got tired from that! I am going to Italy in September for a couple of weeks, which I am really looking forward to. This is my anniversary trip which got cancelled last year due to COVID. Lastly (3) I really love to cook. We have a lot of fun cooking at home and have a little garden with our homegrown greens, herbs and tomatoes. Since my oldest child is a vegan, we do a lot of vegan cooking, which is a great challenge. I could probably do without the meat, but without cheese would be something else. I come from Wisconsin, which is -same as The Netherlands- famous for its cheese. I use a lot of cheese in my cooking and always say: ‘Life is too short to short not to eat cheese.’ Every time I travel to the Netherlands, I buy a big chunk of cheese to take home. That cheese is incredible!
What makes the field of Learning & Development so interesting to you?
Like I was saying earlier; the largest intangible asset that an organization has, is its people. The people side of the organization is incredibly important and despite the fact that L&D is an expense on the financial statements, I believe it should be treated as an investment. Because people improve and build their capabilities and can contribute more to the organization, that adds tangible value to the company. Why I am in L&D and find it fascinating? It’s both a huge opportunity and a challenge, because I think that companies still don’t understand the true value of developing their people. And how that not only increases productivity, but really can increase their competitive advantage. If you can have a workforce that is more effective, you can compete better with your competitors. L&D is a challenge and I like challenges.
What do you do on a daily basis? And what are you proud of?
The biggest part of my role at Xprtise is in Business Development and Sales, to grow our customer base in the US. I am very entrepreneurial in my thinking; I want to grow the business - not a little bit, but a lot! And of course, I have operational responsibilities as well. The work Xpritse does is super important because the key to making the 5 Moments of Need® methodology as impactful as it can be, is to have an operationalized process. Of course, the most important thing is the methodology. However, if you are really going to scale the 5 Moments of Need® and maximize the value that the 5 Moments of Need® provides, you need to think about enablement and supporting technologies (like AskDelphi and other partners) and things like that to make it scalable. I think therefore Xprtise has a huge opportunity in the market as it plays an incredibly important role to help with the operationalization of the 5 Moments of Need® for clients.
The thing I am most proud of so far is that I am able to build a meaningful pipeline of companies whose challenges are well aligned with the solutions we can bring to the table. Think about healthcare, consulting services, pharma, technology, and others. In a very short time, I’ve built a robust and appropriate pipeline to what we can deliver against.
What do you think makes Xprtise unique?
Xprtise is unique to work with because (1) We are 100% passionate and committed to the methodology. The way Xprtise has embraced the 5 Moments of Need® makes it unique. It is very foundational. Clients need to go on the 5 Moments of Need® journey with us to make a partnership with Xprtise. More than any other competitor in this market, the way that Xprtise has aligned to methodology is really incredible. And (2) the diverse set of solution offerings; foundational to the 5 Moments of Need® solution is enabling the ‘learning while working’ through digital coaches or EPSS solutions such as AskDelphi. Also having the Drillster for adaptive learning, hihaho for interactive video and Performativ for measurement capabilities in our solution allows us to make the targeted training components of a 5 Moments-solution even better. And (3) we are always thinking about outcomes first! Every single conversation we have is about: ‘what is it that you are looking to accomplish?’ What is the outcome, and we build a solution around that.
"The work Xprtise does is super important because the key to making the 5 Moments of Need® methodology as impactful as it can be, is to have an operationalized process."
What do you think are the biggest challenges in L&D in the coming years?
An obvious one is (1)‘how do we appropriately harness the power of generative AI and some of the more cutting-edge technologies to be additive to our solutions?’ We have to have an AI solution. I think that every company needs to think about how it would be additive to their solution. So, ‘what do we do know that is out there and how do we use that?’ And (2) ‘how can we even further integrate our digital coaches into the workflow?’ We do a wonderful job of making resources and information available in 2 clicks and 10 seconds. How can we make it even more integrated and easier for clients to get what they need so they can not only get it while they are working but they just keep on working, with almost no workflow disruption. The third thing (3) is more fundamental: to me it’s so obvious why the 5 Moments of Need® methodology is the optimal solution for almost any training scenario, because it is a performance-first approach. People are not here to be learners; people are here to be employees and workers in the company. And learning is an enabler of performance. ‘How do we make that happen in a way that it is optimized as humanly as possible.’ This is a call to action for me to get the 5 Moments of Need® in every organization! Because I firmly believe that we will help our clients to dramatically optimize outcomes while reducing the amount of time that employees spend away from work. We can really amplify those outcomes. That is why I get out of bed every morning: that is to get the methodology into organizations so to get people thinking of that performance-first mindset.
Or listen to Sara in the Performance Matters podcast of Apply Synergies and the 5 Moments of Need®: 'ROI is Measured in the Workflow'. This interesting podcast is about measurement and analytics in learning and how the embedding of learning in the flow of work can truly measure impact, effectiveness and return on investment for organizations and their learning programs.