Nick Brown, Learning and Development Director at Billups is on a mission to make sure Billups’ employees have the skills they need to be successful in the industry, both now and wherever their careers may take them.
The Out-of-Home (OOH) industry is changing rapidly, with Billups at the forefront of innovation positioning OOH for the digital economy. Having built a career across education, tech and global marketing, Brown is a Learning & Development expert constructing an L&D function at Billups to aggressively upskill and train on topics related to the evolution happening in OOH.
“Education in our industry is more important than ever.” Brown says, “At Billups, we are investing in innovative L&D solutions supporting our talent to remain at the leading edge of change within Out-of-Home, building skills to deliver best-in-class work to our clients and capabilities to fuel successful careers.”
The following showcases the Learning & Development culture Brown is building across the organization, along with the learning resources and experiences driving L&D experiences today and his plans for the future of Learning & Development at Billups.
Brown joined Billups in June 2022 and hit the ground running. “I could see there were lots of people who really cared about their development and the growth of their teams. Billups employees have a passion and hunger for the Learning & Development - and I immediately knew this was a business that would thrive with a formal L&D practice.”
From day one, Brown began implementing a high-quality and innovative L&D practice that is backed by the latest in adult learning theory and designed for our remote-first organization at a level of sophistication and scale that stacks up to those found at larger global companies.
However, a formal Learning & Development practice was a new concept for many at Billups. To help our talent make the most of this investment, it was important that everyone understood the value that such a practice can bring to the business and to individual employee careers.
“A lot of folks think purely of training when they think of learning and development, but it is more than that.” Brown said. He went on to say that the company is creating a program rooted in Billups values and mindsets, and aligned with our business’ goals and strategic priorities.
In Fall 2022, Billups launched the Billups Learning Lab, our very own branded L&D Center of Excellence. Serving as the link between organizational and individual growth, Billups Learning Lab is dedicated to providing learning and development experiences that are aligned with our business goals and individual career development priorities.
“The word ‘lab’ is very intentional,” Brown said. “Our approach to L&D leverages adult learning best practices. It is very hands-on and lets curiosity and practical application drive employee growth.”
Learning & Development solutions featured within Billups Learning Lab include:
From an employee’s first day, Billups Learning Lab provides opportunities for employees to take the reins of their development within their new roles, and throughout the employee lifecycle to build skills relevant to stages of their careers that lie ahead.
"How long should employees dedicate to learning each month?" Brown gets this question a lot.
“Balancing the demands of day-to-day work with learning priorities can be challenging, and priorities will ebb and flow along with the workload.” Brown said. Rather than prescribing a specific amount of time that should be focused on learning, Brown is building a culture of learning that empowers employees to take the reins of their professional development and, along with the support of their managers and team, put in the time they need to be successful.
However, Brown does offer some advice, “A great practice is for teams to block off regular time on the calendar for learning and stick to it. Though there is no golden rule as to how long or how frequently these learning intervals should last, real gains will come from dedicating time consistently, and more importantly, being intentional in how the learning is applied.”
As Billups’ culture of learning continues to evolve, Brown often shines the spotlight on employees and teams who are taking innovative and meaningful approaches to their learning. “Visibility and connectivity are extremely important in the workplace, especially at remote companies. I love highlighting unique ways individuals take advantage of our L&D offerings, and the impact this has had for themselves and the business. We all have a lot to learn from one another.”
Launching an impactful Learning & Development practice starts with a great deal of work behind the scenes. Where 2022 was spent building the foundation of our L&D practice at Billups, this year is off to a strong start bringing essential learning experiences and resources to talent across the business. Current initiatives include:
This six-month program invests in our people leaders to develop core competencies required to effectively manage individuals and lead successful teams. This initiative kicked off with our Media department, and will be rolled out to managers across the rest of the business in the second half of the year.
Our Leadership Development Cohort Program is designed to break barriers within the organization, creating opportunities for managers across the business to participate in a social learning program that consists of live training and self-paced courses, group discussions and individual learning plans that build people leadership skills for participants to directly apply in their role as a manager, impacting employees up and down the organization.
In addition to providing learning experiences to our people leader participants, full teams will also be brought through live DiSC training during the duration of the program. “This provides opportunities for everyone within Billups to have a deeper understanding of their own workplace behaviors and communication preferences, along with those of their colleagues. This provides a really fun team-building experience, while also building critical communication practices for teams to leverage with one another and other internal and external partners they work with,” Brown said.
We have also revamped our company-wide new hire onboarding experience with an emphasis on connecting new hires to the business and our place within the OOH industry, our culture, and our ways of working. This approach places an emphasis on helping new hires get grounded within the business and their roles in meaningful ways (for example, the New Hire Scavenger Hunt) in order to quickly begin making an impact through their work. Resources have also been launched to assist managers in their efforts ensuring that each new hire has a successful start to their Billups journey.
In addition to company-wide onboarding, Brown is working to further develop customized experiences at the department level. Work on a department-wide overhaul of the new hire training experience across Media is currently in development. This features a robust 8-week curriculum featuring over 25 courses - a heavy lift developed by Brown along with the collaboration of dedicated members across the Media department.
Organization-wide training is a hallmark of Billups Learning Lab, and features critical topics relevant to the success of Billups employees across the business. From topics supporting our tech and productivity capabilities, to supporting performance management practices, live courses supporting company-wide initiatives provide another opportunity to learn socially, tapping into the knowledge of a talented global workforce to take such learning experiences to new heights.
For 2023, Billups is focused on equipping our employees with skills that meet our current goals and business objectives, along with individual growth priorities. Through Billups Learning Lab, this culture of learning and robust learning opportunities will continue to grow and support our global talent.
Work is also underway to continue customizing Billups L&D offerings at department and team levels. “We are creating a learning program that not only serves the masses within Billups, but continually iterates to support individual development paths,” Brown said.
Through this approach, Brown is leading an L&D future at Billups positioned to help employees unlock greater career potential and deliver ever-more valuable work to our clients.
Nick Brown, Learning & Development Director at Billups, is dedicated to driving individual and organizational transformation through innovative and impactful L&D solutions. As part of our People Ops Team, Nick supports the development of learning strategies at the individual, department and organizational levels, along with creating learning programs and initiatives that leverage the latest in professional learning design practices to reach strategic outcomes.
Brown received his BA in Communications & Digital Cinema, as well as his MBA from DePaul University. Brown also holds an Advanced Graduate Professional Certificate in Learning Design from Northwestern University. His education background, coupled with professional experiences in entertainment, non-profit program management and supporting the learning & development needs of global talent across the marketing world has fueled a career that thrives at the intersection of creativity, commerce and education.
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