CGB’s Centralized Learning

CGB centralized its learning to great results.

Dave Koll began his career in sales, with Maytag, Nestle and ConAgra Foods, but he was drawn to the learning and performance management side of the business. “I spent 80 percent of every meeting talking about talent,” he said.

He transitioned to head of sales training and eventually became enterprise learning leader at ConAgra. Then in 2015, he was recruited into the same role CGB, a food production and transportation company with an array of businesses that was struggling to create unified approach to learning and development. Each division was completely siloed with its own approach to learning. “There were pockets of excellence but a lot of inconsistency and wasted resources,” he said.

Koll began by meeting with every business unit leader to understand their learning resources and how they aligned learning with performance. “We had many discussions about their goals and skill gaps, so I could qualify their needs.”

Then he worked with them to merge their learning resources in a learning center of excellence, where business units now share learning resources that are relevant to each division and take advantage of the expertise of other business units to close their skill gaps.

By doing this, Koll was able to make better use of training resources and ensure everyone got the same level of investment and support. “It gave me the framework to tackle customer facing development needs, and to build key skills and acumen across the company,” Koll said.

One of the first department heads Koll worked with was the leader of the Crop Insurance Risk Management organization. “He had a lot of reference guides and resources, but no business rationale for using them.”

First, Koll worked with him to understand the business goals, then he helped him take advantage of his team’s expertise and existing sales training tools to build a training program based on his best performers. The new program helps sales people ramp up their skills and better understand the sales life cycle.

Within five months of launching the program, that unit signed 5,000 new farmers to its crop insurance program, a significant jump from previous years that is driving measurable increases in revenue.

Koll attributes the results to the sales team’s improved capability and confidence post-training. “When you are close to the business units, you can see what their needs are and create aerosolized solutions,” he said. “Being there when they need you is the biggest barrier CLOs need to overcome.”

Sarah Fister Gale is a writer based in Chicago. Comment below, or email