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A Culture of Learning: Why Training Happens Every Day at OMERS


"You don’t need to attend a formal learning event to learn something new. We develop programs that make it easy for our employees to embed both formal and informal learning into their day-to-day activity."
A Culture of Learning: Why Training Happens Every Day at OMERS

by Melissa Ramos

A year ago


Robin Mahadeva works at OMERS, an Ontario-based pension fund and one of Canada's largest institutional investors. OMERS is home to OMERS Ventures, a venture capital arm that backs some of Canada's top tech companies like Hootsuite, Wattpad and Wave.

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Can you tell me a little bit about your role as Director of Learning and Development at OMERS?

In my role as Director, Learning and Development at OMERS, I am responsible for the oversight of our Enterprise-wide Learning and Development strategy and programs. My team of Learning Consultants works in partnership with our HR Business Partners to design and deliver Learning Solutions for all levels of the organization. We specialize in the design and facilitation of programs like New Hire orientation, role-specific training curriculum, interpersonal skills and Manager Effectiveness. We also support the design and execution of Leadership events and conferences.

Employees are often busy focusing on their day-to-day responsibilities. How do you motivate people to care about learning?

OMERS has a culture of learning. My philosophy of workplace learning is that, whether you know it or not, learning happens every day, all the time. You don’t need to attend a formal learning event to learn something new. We develop programs that make it easy for our employees to embed both formal and informal learning into their day-to-day activity. Learning should not feel like an “extra task” in your day. It should feel natural and a necessary part of your work.

Self-evaluation is difficult, how do you help employees identify the skills that they need to improve?

We believe that a robust development plan is the foundation for every employee at OMERS. When employees think seriously about their career development, the necessary skill, knowledge and behaviour tends to be identified easily. These needs change and grow regularly. Ongoing career development conversations between employees and their Managers are a critical part of the process. Our Human Resources Business Partners also play a role in guiding employees through their career options.

When developing a new training program, how do you determine what the best method is to deliver it?

As a starting point, my team of consultants are skilled at conducting needs assessments at the beginning of every business interaction. Once we get a thorough understanding of the audience and the business need or problem, we can identify the best method or solution. Sometimes it’s not a training solution at all, but we still help them identify the best and most effective way to address the business need.

What do you think is going to be one of the biggest trends in the future of training design?

Short, fast, and visual. People will access learning from their personal devices in their work environments. I believe that social learning hubs and peer-driven spontaneous learning labs (virtual and face-to-face) will become more popular as people tend to solve problems and come up with new ideas. 

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