Honoring Excellence in Employee Growth: Meet the 2024 BEST Awards Champions

In an era where digital transformation and artificial intelligence (AI) are redefining the corporate landscape, the 2024 BEST Awards shine a light on organizations leading the charge in employee talent development. These awards recognize enterprises that harness learning as a strategic business tool to achieve extraordinary outcomes. This year’s recipients—Zoetis China, Chegg, Power Grid Corporation of India Limited, Allianz Turkey, EPAM Systems, and WNS—exemplify how innovative training programs can empower employees with the skills necessary to navigate the complexities of the digital and AI realms.

As the digital and AI landscape accelerates at an unprecedented pace, organizations are compelled to ensure their workforces remain adept and agile. The 2024 BEST Awards celebrate pioneers who have demonstrated exceptional success in employee talent development through forward-thinking initiatives. These winners illustrate that cultivating digital proficiency and AI literacy is not merely a trend but a critical imperative in today’s competitive business environment.

Zoetis China epitomizes this progressive mindset by augmenting digital skills among its leadership. “We recognized the pivotal role of e-commerce in today’s business landscape and understood the necessity of equipping our people-lead managers with the requisite knowledge and skills to adeptly navigate this digital terrain,” remarks Eric Zhu, Greater China Learning and Development (L&D) lead. Zoetis employs a blended learning strategy that amalgamates on-site training, visits to industry giants, and collaborations with sector leaders, ensuring employees remain ahead of the rapidly evolving digital curve.

Chegg, a global education technology enterprise, underscores the significance of AI upskilling and reskilling. “AI is instrumental in our company’s strategic goals, from our Chegg Study product line to our Chegg Skills courses,” asserts Lora Kyle, Vice President of Talent Development. Chegg’s Talent Development team has rolled out a combination of skills courses and self-paced learning modules to cater to diverse learning preferences and schedules, fostering an environment where innovation flourishes.

Similarly, Power Grid Corporation of India Limited is making substantial investments in cultivating in-house expertise in AI, machine learning, and data science. “The organization needed to embrace world-class technologies and prepare the workforce for the future with advanced digital competencies,” says Yatindra Dwivedi, Director of Human Resources. Collaborating with the International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore, they crafted a 15-month postgraduate diploma program to train executives in AI and machine learning.

Allianz Turkey’s Digital Hunters program focuses on enhancing employees’ digital literacy skills. “Recognizing the need for development across our organization and the technical nature of topics related to technology and digitalization, we employed various learning methodologies,” explains Ilkay Ozel, Chief People and Culture Officer. The program includes in-person and digital training, digital coaching workshops, gamification, and lunch & learn sessions.

EPAM Systems, in response to client interest in AI, offers comprehensive training for its employees. “By offering courses in a self-paced format, we empower individuals to take control of their learning journey,” explains Ina Novikava, Head of L&D. EPAM also leverages AI technology to evaluate practical tasks within the courses, ensuring a cohesive learning experience.

WNS has established an AI Council that collaborates with various business units to guide the organization into the era of AI-driven innovation. “The AI Council has been vital in creating a robust AI capability framework, reviewing program curricula, and providing thought leadership for various learning initiatives,” says Rajnish Borah, Global Head of Learning.

Implementing these advanced training programs is not without its challenges. Allianz Turkey encountered reluctance and apprehension from employees regarding digital literacy improvement. To surmount this, they developed engaging communication strategies and collaborated with a technical university to design the program as a certification process.

Power Grid also faced resistance to change from staff. To address this, they implemented a change management process and communicated the benefits of the project to stakeholders. They allotted participants 15 days off to focus exclusively on their projects, ensuring dedicated time for skill development.

The 2024 BEST Awards underscore a pivotal trend in the corporate world: the rising importance of digital competency and AI literacy. As businesses continue to embrace digital transformation, the ability to adapt and innovate becomes a key differentiator. Companies like Zoetis China, Chegg, and Allianz Turkey demonstrate the value of strategic talent development initiatives in driving business results.

Moreover, the varied approaches taken by these organizations—from blended learning strategies to partnerships with academic institutions—show that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Companies must tailor their training programs to meet the unique needs of their workforce and business goals.

The challenges faced by these organizations also highlight the complexities involved in implementing such programs. Resistance to change, the rapidly evolving nature of technology, and the need for ethical considerations in AI training are just a few of the hurdles that must be navigated. Nevertheless, the measurable results achieved by these companies—such as increased participation rates, improved performance, and tangible business outcomes—demonstrate that investing in talent development is a wise endeavor.

Looking forward, the emphasis on digital competency and AI literacy is likely to intensify. As AI technology continues to advance, the demand for skilled professionals in this field will grow. Organizations will need to stay ahead of the curve by continuously updating their training programs and investing in cutting-edge technologies.

Furthermore, the focus on ethical considerations in AI training will become increasingly important. As EPAM Systems highlighted, aligning training materials and methodologies with ethical principles and addressing concerns related to bias, fairness, transparency, and accountability will be crucial.

The success of talent development initiatives will also depend on the ability to create a culture of continuous learning. Companies like Chegg and Allianz Turkey have shown that fostering a dynamic learning environment can drive innovation and sustainable growth. As more organizations recognize the value of such an approach, we can expect a greater emphasis on creating robust learning ecosystems that support ongoing skill development and career advancement.

In essence, the 2024 BEST Awards attest to the power of strategic talent development in driving business success. As digital technologies and AI continue to reshape the business landscape, organizations that prioritize employee learning and development will be well-positioned to thrive. By investing in innovative training programs and fostering a culture of continuous learning, these companies are preparing their employees for future challenges and setting the stage for long-term growth and success.

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