Faces of HR

Faces of HR: Andrew Scivally on Creating Safe Spaces to Learn and Fail, Decisiveness, and Taking Risks

Fast-forward to today, and Scivally, Cofounder and CEO of ELB Learning, a software company dedicated to creating learning experiences that unlock employee performance, is proud to share that ELB Learning has completely transformed.

Andrew Scivally

“We’re six times stronger after acquiring and integrating industry-leading learning technology and service companies over the past three years,” he told HR Daily Advisor. “We are based out of Utah, an up-and-coming tech hub, and I love getting involved with the local start-up community through mentoring and networking.”

In our latest Faces, meet Andrew Scivally.

How did you get your start in the field?

Believe it or not, a trip to the orchestra inspired my career. In college, my girlfriend at the time dragged me to an orchestra concert to watch her sister perform. There were many other things college-aged me would rather have been doing that night, but the thing is I didn’t even end up paying attention to the music. I was mesmerized by the camera operator. I wanted to do something like that—create and produce visual things. I ended up changing my major to broadcasting and dove into the world of multimedia—editing and creating videos pre-Internet.

I thought I would go down the route of creating content for advertising agencies, but I realized pretty quickly that my skill set was not at that level of production. Fortunately, I was introduced to the idea of applying my multimedia skills to the eLearning industry and the opportunity to become a rockstar there, as it didn’t quite exist yet (and if it did, it likely wasn’t very easy on the eyes). From there, I learned that I truly loved building teams and the business side of it all. I wanted to be aligned with the business units and not tucked away in HR, giving learning a well-deserved seat at the table. Today, we’ve come a long way from the start-up days, and I’m still learning something new every day.

Who is/was your biggest influence in the industry?

Throughout my career, I’ve connected with many players in the industry who’ve influenced me. From meeting and networking with individuals running other companies beyond just the learning tech space, we’ve been able to supportively run ideas past each other and foster collaborative problem-solving. Fortunately, I have the privilege of working alongside six unique founders of companies ELB Learning has acquired throughout the years whose opinions I greatly value and appreciate.

What’s your best mistake, and what did you learn from it?

In my earlier years, I found myself overthinking a lot of my decisions and telling myself, “You really don’t know what you’re doing.” This led to choices not being made quickly enough. Now, I’ve learned it’s more about decisiveness than it is about getting it 100% right. Just make the decisions, and then from there, you can focus on what’s the best course of action. I also didn’t quite fully understand financials early on enough in our business journey. Having known the power of measuring margins and PNL that I do now, we could have seized opportunities to drive more profit.

What’s your favorite part about working in the industry? What’s your least favorite part, and how would you change it?

I love taking on big challenges and tackling things that have never been done before. At one point, no other company had acquired six companies and brought them together under one roof.  Trying new things and taking risks has become fun, too. On the contrary, one aspect in the learning industry that I wish to change is the over-crowdedness in the space—it becomes difficult for true learning companies that do quality, impactful work to be seen.

It sounds like, through your experience, you really care about people, and you want to help them feel safe and comfortable, which is important in the industry. Please elaborate here.

Today’s technology has allowed us to completely reinvent the way we learn and do things. Instead of watching a video, reading a manual, or sitting through a how-to tutorial, we now can put learners in “real” situations where they can practice the skill at hand, facilitating learning by doing. Whether it’s learning safety precautions for heavy machinery or rehearsing a sales pitch, our virtual reality (VR) and video-based practice platforms create safe spaces to learn and fail. More times than not, people remember their mistakes over their successes. The 85% rule actually encourages making mistakes 15% of the time. When learning something new, employees can feel safe failing, knowing their actions don’t have any implications in real life. When employees feel safe, both physically and emotionally, they thrive.

How can HR most effectively demonstrate its value to the leadership team?

Corporate training and HR usually go hand in hand within businesses, often seen as part of the same sector. While online learning does serve many HR purposes and values, it truly is its own entity, and when aligned with the rest of the business, it helps drive overall success. For L&D to prove its value to leadership teams, it must be given its own seat at the table through direct alignment. Having a clear connection to the lines of business allows L&D teams to hear about challenges from business leaders, provide input and solutions to real problems, and drive results for the organization.

Where do you see the industry heading in 5 years? Or are you seeing any current trends?

The obvious trend is artificial intelligence (AI)—for all industries. In the L&D industry, we’ll be seeing a continued trend of microlearning, or learning in smaller chunks. Instead of formal L&D programs that require complicated production, more personalized and less polished content will rise. Especially with attention spans shortening, something like an instructor giving a quick, self-filmed video for a lesson will resonate better with learners. This is what led us to create Studio MicroBuilder. You can create bite-size lessons that can be shared throughout spaces like Teams and Slack and add elements from other ELB products.

What are you most proud of?

My family, hands down. With nine kids and a beautiful wife, raising kids who value family and are making wonderful choices in life is something I take incredible pride in.In terms of business, I’m proud of the perseverance ELB Learning has held against all odds and the amazing people to have done it with. After 20 years with our executive team, I’m happy to say we are here, and we are thriving.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *