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’s consultant Saskia Huussen’s turn. Saskia completed a graduate internship at Xprtise in 2018 as part of her study in Organizational Learning & Development.  Since then she’s continued to work at Xrptise several hours a week during her Organizational Sciences degree at Tilburg University. In June 2020 Saskia graduates and will join the Xprtise team full-time as a Learning & Development Consultant.

Who? Saskia Huussen.
What? Consultant at Xprtise since January 2018.
Where? Xprtise NL, ’s Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands.

“Xprtise showed me that learning is not only a formal training event, but also takes place while we work, in the workflow. That’s why after my studies I wanted to continue with a master’s degree in Organizational Sciences.”

When I was sixteen, I started my study in Organizational Learning & Development at the HAN University of Applied Sciences in Nijmegen. I was a young student, graduating at the age of twenty. Whilst studying at the HAN I also lived in Oslo for six months, an unforgettable and educational experience. In 2018 I did an internship at Xprtise where I developed a performance support solution for customers with AskDelphi. Understanding Xprtise’s approach made me realise that learning is not only a formal training event, but also takes place whilst we work, in the workflow.

The master’s in Organizational Sciences that I am taking now looks at the human side of business. The great thing about this is you get to look at organizations from different perspectives. I am learning to analyze, make recommendations or implement interventions based on scientific evidence. Right now I’m working on my thesis to be ready in June. Then I’m going to work full-time at Xprtise. I’m really looking forward to that. It’s great to combine work and study, but I’m ready to just focus on work now and pick up bigger projects. I come from Berghem, a village near Oss in Brabant where I grew up. During my studies at the HAN I lived in Nijmegen and during my master’s I lived in Tilburg. Last month my boyfriend and I moved to Oss, near the Xprtise office in Den Bosch.

What gives you the most energy? What’s your passion?

Since living in Norway for six months where I fell in love with the landscape and nature, I like to go outside in my spare time. On weekends I can be found out somewhere in nature; enjoying walks in the forest especially when the weather is nice. In my work, I get the most energy when I can really dive deep into something. That’s why I am really excited to work full-time at Xprtise so I can fully focus on that. In my studies I learnt that you don’t have to have a ready-made solution for a problem. We learn to look at all possibilities, to weigh them critically, then choose the most appropriate solution. It is common for a company to choose a solution because it ‘always worked’ or because it’s always done like this’, but I think it’s important to look at that carefully. That’s what’s great about Xprtise too: we also look at a sustainable solution, the long-term is important. Not a fill-the-gap training offering, but a well-thought out learning strategy, using a foundation methodology that really gears for a long-term solution.

What makes the field of Learning & Development so interesting for you?

The combination of my two studies – practical and strategic – gives me the opportunity to look at a situation from two points of view. On the one hand (from my college education) at the employee: does it help the employee, is it useful? And on the other hand (from my masters) at the organization: is it consistent with the objectives, is it important for the organization that we do this? That’s why I’m glad to be able to apply all my knowledge at Xprtise. We work with L&D but we’re also developing the organization itself. Not just learning, but the whole performance of staff and that’s what I find so interesting. Are you busy with creating materials and resources to fill courses? Then sometimes you miss the organizational goal. And vice versa: if you look at it from a strategic point of view, sometimes you can forget about the person: is this really going to help the employee? At Xprtise, these two come together and really bring learning into the flow of work, so that support is provided exactly the time it is needed. A well-thought-out solution that helps both the organization and its employees.

What makes Xprtise unique to you?

Xprtise uses the 5 Moments of Need™ methodology as a foundation to designing learning and performance solutions. That’s really strong. This focuses on what actually helps someone on the job, that knowledge isn’t lost in the transfer from training to work, but support and tools bring learning to the person in their flow of work. Information readily available at their fingertips. Xprtise has a team of professionals with a lot of experience applying the methodology. Because our colleagues have seen so many different contexts and used the methodology in so many places, we use that expertise to help all organizations well.

You work for many different customers. What project are you most proud of?

As I’m still a student and only working part-time, I work in a support capacity in the background. That is good for me because I can support the wider team and get to see a range of projects. For example, currently I’m doing work for the Alrijne Hospital, where we have a number of projects, included a Learning Marketing project: how do you gain internal support for your Performance Support solution and how do you communicate that internally and externally? Alrijne is one organization that has gone a long way in using the 5 Moments of Need™. I have contributed to several projects including the integration of Adaptive Learning with Drillster. It’s great that the fantastic work Alrijne does has been recognized with several L&D awards. Well-deserved!

A current project I’m very proud of is the COVID-19 Performance Support solution Ask Erasmus MC which we launched together with Erasmus MC in Rotterdam last month. This platform allows healthcare professionals to learn and be updated on how to deal with the coronavirus. This was urgently needed because patient care instructions for many departments – including intensive care – were being upgraded. A lot of content was already available, and together with the project group at Erasmus MC, we were able to re-organize that and make new information available incredibly quickly. We get positive reactions from users, both in and outside the hospital. The platform has been made available to all interested parties! I think it’s impressive how we achieved this in such a short period of time and I’m proud we are supporting healthcare professionals in these uncertain times.

What do you think are the biggest challenges in L&D in the coming years?

For me there are two things: (1) use the technology and tools as a means and not an end in itself. For example, often companies will want to use a tool, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI); but without underlying purpose you don’t get much out of it. Xprtise looks at what is really needed, what is the goal and what technology fits to that goal. It’s important that organizations look critically at whether the technology is the right way to achieve that goal, rather than hastily purchasing and implementing something. And (2) that formal training should be designed differently. With the exception of critical job-tasks it should be less technical. And more focused on meta-cognitive skills to learn how to cope with change, how to adapt, be flexible and filter knowledge because everything changes so fast! The rest of what you need to know in terms of content, what is not critical, can then be looked up at the moment you need it, in your performance support environment at your fingertips. That way, everyone is always able to perform a good job no matter how turbulent the situation.

Want to know more about Saskia Huussen? Check her LinkedIn profile or send an email to: s.huussen@xprtise.com