Welcome to My Kiwi story! The ongoing series about our dedicated employees and their lives at Kiwi.com. On this occasion, we chatted with our Senior Learning Specialist, Karen Tharrington about learning and development opportunities in Kiwi.com, the challenges in her work, as well as her life in the Czech Republic.
You joined us from North Carolina! How did you end up in Brno and Kiwi.com?
I did! I was working as a professor at NC State University, mostly training university students how to teach languages. I really enjoyed my job but after seeing students graduate and go abroad, I decided I wanted to work abroad too. I began applying for all sorts of jobs and that’s how I found Kiwi.com!
After interviewing with several team members, I realized I really wanted to work for Kiwi.com. I chose the job before really knowing exactly where Brno was! The team created my current role, Senior Learning Specialist, and I was excited to continue using my curriculum and teaching skills with corporate training programs. It’s only a crazy dream until you do it, right? I really like the international diversity of the company and I love Brno, it’s the perfect place for me. The Czech Republic has so much to offer – great public transportation, cafes, hiking, castles, beautiful architecture – all the things we Americans love about Europe!
How does the work of a Senior Learning Specialist impact people in Kiwi.com?
My job is very much “behind the scenes”. Since joining in February of 2018, I have worked with amazing trainers, helping them develop and design engaging curriculum, lesson modules, and assessments that will help increase learning transfer for Kiwi.com employees. I have a few other projects that I also work on, including data analysis and reporting on the satisfaction of our training programs. I enjoy helping people grow in their job skills, knowledge, and confidence.
I am the most satisfied with great training. I love when I see trainers getting creative with their training methods, engaging employees in hands-on learning, and generally anything related to delivering information in the most engaging format possible. One situation that stands out, obviously, is the coronavirus lockdown back in March of this year. Our trainers had to suddenly move all face-to-face training to a remote format. It was challenging for them but I immediately put my experience to work, helping them prepare for remote training, what to do, how to use Zoom and other online tools.
What are the development opportunities available to Kiwis today that help to guarantee the success of the company?
I feel that continued learning is critical in today’s changing market. Employees want companies that will help them grow professionally; it’s a value-add for companies to offer this. The new Professional Development Plan initiative will assist Kiwis in developing goals for themselves, with the help of their supervisors, to help discover how to use their strengths to expand their knowledge and skills for the job they have and the job they want.
Our department has also spent the last year developing robust eLearning courses on a variety of topics that can help Kiwis do their job more effectively. The pandemic has been a stressful time for many people, including managers who suddenly had to manage a team remotely. To support our Kiwis in this new situation, we added specific courses to our catalog, such as Coping with Stress and Uncertainty, Employee Health and Wellbeing and Managing Home Office. I think these courses are important in supporting and assisting our employees with the transition to the new normal.