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Featuring Mario C. Diaz, Director of Aviation for the Houston Airport System

This interview with Mario C. Diaz, Director of Aviation for the Houston Airport System, was conducted and condensed by Mahogany Johnson.

MJ: You’ve had an expansive career in the aviation industry, spanning several decades. You’ve served at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (ATL), John F. Kennedy International (JFK), Newark Liberty International, (EWR) and Teterboro (TEB), and you’re even a licensed private pilot. How have your experiences influenced your path?

MCD: I began in New York where I worked for the Port Authority of New Jersey. That’s where I learned the business, and I learned the business in a very competitive environment and multi-airport environment that required us to develop strategy. I learned how to position each of the airports, whether it was JFK, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia or Teterboro. I learned how to position each and made sure that the products and services offered in each differed but were complimentary to create synergies for the new region. I took that experience and I brought it to Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport, where the environment was different, because it’s a single airport that happens to be the busiest airport in the world. Over 96 million people travelled to that airport last year. It has complexity, but there’s not a whole lot of strategy involved, because you don’t have multiple airports and everything is done within one terminal. This was a big factor that attracted me to Houston, in that I was back in an environment of multi-airports. As a result, strategy became very important to me.

I think the lesson that I learned throughout all of these experiences is that the very first thing that directors or heads of an organization or an enterprise must ask themselves is, what is the purpose? What is the mission? What does society expect? Why do we exist and what do we produce? Businesses, whether they’re public businesses, public agencies or private businesses exist in the fabric of society and they exist only because society allows them to exist. That’s the first thing that you have to ask yourself in order to determine why you’re in business, and establish the mission and purpose of your organization. From there, you need to determine how to carry that out. How do you provide that mission? One of the things that you’ve got to learn is what the theory of the business is. How do you make money? How does the organization make money? How do you organize to deliver on that mission and then how do you develop good objectives and then drive people with goals and objectives so that everyone is aligned and headed in the same direction. And how do you motivate them to do that? Those are the things that I think I’ve learned sequentially and locally since I’ve moved from Atlanta, New York and now to Houston.

MJ: Houston is well known as the ‘Energy Capital of the World,’ particularly for oil and natural gas—as well as for biomedical research and aeronautics. We recently passed New York to become the most ethnically and racially diverse city in the U.S. Houston is also home to the largest and longest running annual Livestock Show and Rodeo in the world. So it’s fair to say that there’s no shortage of reasons to pay Houston a visit. How do you market the destination in a market where there’s already high awareness of the Houston experience?

MCD: We have multiple reasons for people to come here if they want to do business, but not recreational, not for tourism. That’s where I think the marketing has to take place, and that’s where we are working with Greater Houston Partnership and the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. Yes, Houston is the energy capital, we have the Texas Medical Center, we have logistics, we have the Port of Houston, and we have aviation, aerospace, and manufacturing.

Whenever I’m conducting a marketing call and people bring up Dallas, I always say, “If you want to make a movie go to Dallas, but if you want to do business, come to Houston.” And they get that, but when you talk about the flipside of the coin, which is tourism, that’s where we are not as focused and are lacking in strengths. Sometimes, people will ask me, “Well, why should I come to Houston?” And some of the things I can mention to them, for example, are the Galleria for great shopping, there’s Galveston beach that’s nearby, although it does not rival the Florida beaches, California beaches, or the nice waves of San Diego or the west coasts of Florida or the Florida Keys even.

And while we don’t have the mountains that the West has, it becomes a question of what is the recreation or the tourist attraction or draw. What we do have is visitors, friends and family, because we span the globe and we are more diverse than any other city in the United States, even New York at this point, not in terms of total population, but in percentages of population that reflect the world. That’s certainly one of our strengths, and I would say that we need to market more on the tourist side. We should first identify venues like an amusement park or some other venues that would really be attractive to Houston. Atlanta has the same problem that we do in terms of tourism, but what Atlanta does have is the ability to draw conventions. Most of that is not business, it’s entertainment, and Atlanta knows how to throw a party. The same goes with Dallas and conventioneers, who go there to work hard and play hard. That’s an area where we could do a better job here in Houston.

MJ: According to estimates from Euromonitor International, it is expected that until 2017, the growing demand for international tourism will be led by the so-called emerging economies. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) also forecasts that the market shares of these economies will continue to grow gradually until 2030. What do you do to ensure a positive experience for travelers, particularly those from emerging markets like Brazil, Russia, India, China and Africa?

MCD: I don’t necessarily look to any particular part of the world and question what we should do for them. We acknowledge that this in an international terminal and this is an international experience. We began with the products that we offer. One of the things that we’ve been saying at the Houston Airport System (HAS) is that we have to do better with the chief product and the terminal buildings, which are not up to international standards. We have some of the most well-heeled people in the U.S. travelling through our airports. And the facilities that we have, principally terminal D, do not reflect the lifestyles of these people.

Fortunately, this will change due to a recent ruling by City Council, but for example, the current Duty-Free shops have pillows, Swatch watches, liquor and cigarettes; but, you can’t buy an Omega watch, a Chanel handbag, a Cartier watch or Geoffrey Beene, and these are the things that people want to spend money on. When it comes to our restaurants, one of the things that you need to understand about people from around the world is that they may want some barbeque, because they might want to sample what Houston is like; but, when you’re on your way back home, especially when you’re looking at a 15 hour trip, you don’t really want something that’s going to make you feel weighed down. You want something light, Mediterranean, you want salads, fresh food, and that’s something that we’re missing. We’re also missing coffee concepts. If you go throughout the world, whether it’s Latin America or the Middle-East or Europe, there’s always coffee, lattes or Nespresso at sidewalk cafes. We’ve got to create that same kind of environment. If we do that and provide good customer service, that would be great.

One additional thing that we need to do and are pursuing is providing accommodations for our Muslim travelers. And they have special needs with respect to their prayers and ablutions; and, we need to provide them with those services, which we currently don’t. And as more and more Middle-Easterners, Africans, and even Eastern Europeans come to this country, particularly to the City of Houston, we must make sure that we meet their needs for quiet space, and a place for their ablutions where they can do their prayers in peace. In total respect, we can provide those facilities for them to do that, and it really increases our standing as being sensitive to those in the world who we want to attract to the City of Houston.

MJ: Word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing, particularly when it comes to consumer recommendations and even online reviews. How do you manage and mitigate the consumer climate? People are far more connected today than they ever were before. The world has changed in so many ways since the advent of social media, which expedites the transfer of information. What is your department doing to leverage more effective communication in the digital space?

MCD: Remember that Asiana airplane crash in San Francisco? Within minutes of the crash it was already being tweeted, even before the rescue trucks were in motion. From that we’ve learned that you have to have your ear to the ground, and to be ready to respond to the tweets and postings on social media. Fortunately, we have a great team here, with Bill and Katena, ready to spring into action and correct any misinformation to the public via social media. The second part is to not view complaints as a bad sign. Complaints, when handled correctly, can lead from a negative to a positive experience. The person who has made the complaint turns from someone who is unhappy or dissatisfied to someone who will then tweet or post a positive response. When someone complains and you make a mistake in handling the complaint, you become defensive. That’s where you get into trouble, and it’s happened to me before as well. I “play customer” all the time, not only at our airports, but also abroad. If I purchase something and I return the product in good condition, but the vendor refuses to accept it, I then feel compelled to take to social media and tell the world about my negative experience.

However, if you handle it properly and you have good policies in place and great customer service to ensure that these things are handled properly, situations like this are less likely to occur. For example, I wouldn’t know who to call if I had a problem with my iPhone, and the reason for that is because you don’t have problems with the iPhone, it just works! With that said, the number one thing to ensure is quality of product. Number two is to make sure that what you’re offering is something that people will want. At the end of the day, we’re not in the business to make profits, we’re in the business to make sure that people are satisfied and that we give them good service. That’s what this city is about. It doesn’t matter that we’re a different department and that we’re enterprise. Number three, when someone is dissatisfied, don’t try and talk them out of not being satisfied. Acknowledge that you may have missed something, and make sure that you’re open to any suggestion to make it right for them. Then make it right and show them how much you value them by giving them something to make amends. For example, if someone was really unhappy with the condition of the restrooms, make sure that those restrooms are clean and say, “Here’s a coupon. Have a Starbuck’s on us.” You’d be surprised by how you can really turn someone around. I’ve seen negative comments come in and the person suddenly realizes that they’ve been heard and their issue was resolved.

As I stated earlier, the first thing is to focus on creating a quality product or service for the customer. Make sure it’s what the customer wants at the price the customer feels is fair value. Then engage in customer service recovery. When something goes wrong, don’t deny it, and don’t be defensive, simply help the customer to resolve the issue.

MJ: How are you tracking your department’s goals?

MCD: We have eight areas where we set goals, and those areas are: products and services, innovation, productivity, personnel manager productivity, employee productivity, attitude, and community service. For each one of those areas it is the CEO’s or the head of the organization’s primary responsibility to ensure that the organization has goals and clear objectives. They also need to articulate what those objectives are each year. Secondly, objectives don’t stay fixed for a year. A lot of people say you set objectives once a year, well I believe that’s silliness. Objectives are constantly changing; we review and revise our objectives every quarter. New objectives come along and we put them in place, and identify who’s responsible for the objectives, and set the timeframe to accomplish the objectives. The most important difference is that in the Houston Airport System (HAS) that’s what we discuss every week. When I get together with the senior staff, we talk about the objectives and where we are on the objectives. Every month, when we get together with the middle-management staff, the topic is not small talk, it’s about objectives; where the organization as a whole is on its objectives.

Every quarter, the entire organization convenes to discuss objectives. That’s very important because when managers ask what they should be discussing during their weekly and monthly staff meetings, they know what the discussion should be about. Where they are on their objectives, and that’s also the time to clarify things and make sure that everyone is aligned, aware of what the objectives are, any perceived challenges, why we’re pursuing them, and budgetary constraints. I think that’s what has truly led to our good performance. For example, one of our very clear objectives is, “go global.” What does that mean? Bring in Airlines, assess where you are on airlines. I went out and brought in the first two; Air China and Turkish Airlines. Then I turned to my staff and said, “That’s how you do it! Now, where are you?” And they picked it up with Korean Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, EVA Air, All Nippon Airways, West Jet, and they got it. Every week or every month, I follow-up with them on where they are and I ask about the status of South African Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, and New Zealand Air.

Then there are other examples that involve projects that have to do with the capital. The runways, the taxiways and the design process involved. I ask my team how many taxiways we expect to complete this year and how do we expand them? Then we discuss strategy, because strategy really precedes objectives. We determine our strategy and our focus. Do we focus on the Houston Airport System (HAS) being the best hub, meaning transferring passengers, or do we focus on the Houston Airport System (HAS) satisfying primarily the needs of the local people? Do we want to focus on operations and really be the best in operations? Do we want to focus on maintenance and asset management and be the best in that space, or do we want to focus on things like capital development, design and construction? Where do we want to be leaders? What area would we like to be able to say we’re excellent in? Knowing those things helps you to determine your objectives.

Finally, we have to determine what the customer wants. What do we have to deliver to the customer in order to make sure we are meeting our mission? Also, and this is something that is oftentimes forgotten by heads of organizations, but we must identify what our responsibility is to the community. We shouldn’t forget that when we operate in communities, there is collateral environmental impact. Whether it’s congestion or noise, there are needs within the community. The local people want jobs and they want to be part of the organization, and it is the responsibility of the CEO to look at these things and to take the appropriate action that we can. For example, at Hobby we’re in the process of redeveloping the airport, so we decided to completely beautify and landscape all of Airport Boulevard.

Here at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, we decided to open a training center, to train the people and ensure that they have quality; high-paying jobs so that they can better themselves, pull themselves up by the bootstraps so to speak, and then go back into the community and help others. Finally, and as a part of the social responsibility aspect, we have a duty to mitigate environmental impacts. We, to the extent that we can, make changes to the roadways; we make sure that the water runoff from the airport has a secure tension basin so that there’s no flooding. We encourage airlines to make investments in modern fleets, so that the sound footprint that many of these aircrafts make is diminished. That’s our responsibility. Forget that and you’ll have a problem with the community.

With regard to the internal aspects of our organization, we have undergone a restructuring. It’s a flattening of the organization. When I arrived to this department, there were eight or nine different levels within the structure. From the person who is doing the most day-to-day job, such as cutting grass or cleaning restrooms in the terminal buildings, to this office. When I went out into the organization and asked people who they worked for, they were only able to give me maybe two levels up and then they were unable to articulate the next person up in the organizational chart. They couldn’t draw a chain of connection to me and I thought that was too complicated, so we flattened the organization down to five levels. There’s the employee, supervisor, manager, section, division and myself.

Now that there’s a far less convoluted process, employees can articulate who they work for to the top of the organization. The reason that I did this wasn’t because I expected them to come to me, but I wanted them to know what their appeals are all the way through the organization. I wanted then to know who the general manager for a division is, who the section chief within that division is, who the manager of that function is, and who their supervisor is and how they all relate to one another. One of the philosophies that I brought to the Houston Airport System (HAS), and I told my staff this very early on, is that I had one of two choices to make. I could’ve taken the choice where I played the role of the psychologist. Where I’d say, “Come into my office and tell me what the problems are, let’s all make nice and sing Kumbaya.” That was the one thing I renounced when I went from New York to Atlanta.

One of the lessons that I learned in Atlanta was, if you really want to motivate people, give them a challenge. Say to them, “I don’t know what you’re dealing with here, but you see that mountain, in three weeks I want to be halfway up the side of that mountain. Are you with me?” And here’s what’ll happen; there will be those who say, “Wow this guy’s crazy!” Others will decide I’m coming along for the ride. I want to see what this excitement is all about. I want to take a trip. Then they’ll be those who say, “I don’t really know this man, but what he’s saying sounds interesting, but I think he’s really crazy. I’m going to wait here and look to see what happens.” Then there are going to be those who are going to say, “I’ve been here 25 years and I’ve never worked a day in my life, and I don’t expect to now.” So, three weeks later you’re halfway up the mountain and the people that are with you are excited about what you’ve accomplished, and the people that you’ve left behind suddenly look up and say, “Look, they’ve made it, let’s go!” Then they’re there at the base providing supplies, and then you look back through your binoculars and you see everyone else that is dead weight. They’re all still sitting there under tents, making coffee or what have you and you know they’re not going to move. At that point, you have identified within your organization where you need to make the effort.

Another very important lesson is not to take your best people and ask them to solve problems, take your best people and put them on the best opportunities for growth, because you don’t make a difference in the world by being mediocre or competent. You make a difference in the world when you are the best. Understand that when you become the best, it won’t be for long, because someone is going to challenge you. You’ve got to constantly be reinventing yourself to ensure you remain the best. The only way that you can do this is by taking the few resources that you have, because human beings don’t follow a bell curve, it’s a societal phenomenon. What you need to understand is that within the first 10 to 20 percent of that bell curve is where most of the work gets done. Within any organization, it’s mostly two or three people who really get it done. It’s one or two or three operations that really make the difference. It’s one or two or three stores or managers that are truly the best. That’s why it’s so important to focus on what you want to do in order to be the best, and identify the best opportunities in order to make a difference. This is not about problem solving, because problems have to be solved every day. The best that will happen when you solve the problem is that you will be functional, but who cares. The customer doesn’t care; they expect you to be functional. If you measure your performance on the basis of another airport or city, it’s because you see that they’re doing something phenomenal. At best you’re going to be less marginal, but you’ll still be marginal. You’ve got to always want to be the best. You don’t follow other organizations, you figure out how to leap frog them and how to get ahead, and have them catch up to you, because that’s what leadership is about.

We’ve got a lot of firsts. There are people calling the staff requesting sessions and attendance at different conferences for panels. It makes me realize I’m part of a winning team, and that’s the essence of it. The job of a president or an executive is to make sure that they create a winning team that people want to be a part of. It’s not by giving them a lot of money, perks, and choice jobs. It’s about giving them choice opportunities, strong objectives, putting them on good problems that they can solve and then, by being part of a winning team. I can’t tell you how many people came up to me after the State of the Airport Address on Monday and said how wonderfully proud they were to be a part of the HAS. I always remind my team that they are responsible for our success, not me. I just take the credit. I stand up there and I say, “We did this, and we can all be proud of it.” I always like to say, “We hunt as a team.” It’s a tight formation. I’m in the lead, and we take down big game.

MJ: Tell me about a time you realized you had the power to do something meaningful.

MCD: If you recall in 2010, as I was arriving, United Airlines decided to acquire Continental Airlines, and there was a huge merger. Continental notified everyone that the headquarters would be relocated to Chicago, and I remember that everyone was up in arms and worried about what we were going to do. I recall thinking it was great, because now we’d have the ability to show this city the power of the economy of Houston. One of the very first things I thought was, “Now’s the time to move to convert Hobby into an international airport of the Americas.” I went to Mayor Parker, and in October of this year we will be opening Hobby as an international airport of the Americas.

We will be driving more than one million incremental passengers through Hobby, and Houston will be the connecting point for the Americas, given its location. It’ll pump another 1.5 billion dollars annually into the economy. It will create 10,000 more jobs and provide a phenomenal, closer-linking connection with the countries that we do business with, which is principally Mexico, Central America and the northern rim of South America. I think for the people as well, all the Latinos that live in this city, all the companies that we do business with in North America, Canada, Central America, South America and the Caribbean, we will be connected like we never have been before. I am so happy about that and humbled by the ability that we were actually able to do it. Talk about a goal and objective, and this isn’t theory; it’s going to open in October.

MJ: Is there anything that you would like to share with the City of Houston’s workforce, or something you wish people knew more about you or your department?

MCD: For all employees, there’s this misunderstanding that management is responsible for their development. I always tell the staff here that you are responsible for your own self-development, and there are a number of good techniques to develop. I’ll give you a few examples; the first is called feedback analysis. Over the years, every time I’ve made a major decision, I write it down, along with my expectations. Then 6-9 months or a year later, revisit that document and see the outcome. It’ll give you information about yourself, your intuition, insights, strengths and weaknesses. A lot of people think they know their strong suit and they really don’t. Then there are other areas that they feel weak in, but actually thrive. Nothing creates confidence like success, so when you start down that path and find something that you’re really good at, that’s when you become successful, and success builds on confidence. Every 2-3 years I take on another area of knowledge and I study it for that time frame. It’s something I do on my own; I even take courses online and courses in school. While it may not make you an expert, it certainly rounds you out as a person.

For anyone interested in running a city department, understand that management is not a position, it’s not a title. Management is an area of expertise. There is a body of knowledge, a distinct collection of tasks, practices, and decisions that need to be learned that as a manager you must apply. Third is that as a manager, there are two sides to a coin. You never want to simply function as a manager; you need to move between your areas of expertise. Occasionally I am called upon to help work out a negation, or to run interference that I’m doing in my area of expertise. Then I slide back into my management position, and I have to identify where I am with my objectives, my budgets, and strategy. If customer needs are being met, if revenue is being generated, and whether or not apt product investments are being made. Those are management issues that are separate from expertise; and those who don’t understand that don’t manage, because they forget about managing. Their in basket takes over and all day long they’re just reacting to things, and they stay within their very narrow area of expertise. They never get to manage.

We are very pleased to announce that we have been awarded the Leadership 500 Excellence Award for distinction in internal programs!

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Prestigious Leadership Awards salute the world's top leadership practitioners and programs and highlight their roles in developing their most important asset - their people.

Dallas, Texas (PRWEB) April 01, 2015

Dallas, Texas - Distinguished recipients of the Leadership 500 Awards for 2015 were named today for outstanding achievements in leadership development and programs at the LEAD2015 forum being held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Dallas, Texas.

For the past 30 years, Leadership Excellence, now a part of has identified and recognized the top 500 leadership organizations and their strategies and solutions in their yearly ranking. The complete list of this year's award winners will be published in the April edition of Leadership Excellence Essentials. The Leadership Excellence publication will also feature interviews from select top award winners in each category in the year's upcoming July issue. These interviews will outline each program's unique qualities that made them a Leadership 500 Winner.

"We were pleased to have a large increase in applicants this year and have only published the top 500. I think the Leadership500 Awards in combination with LEAD2015 demonstrates top organizations that not only value leadership but also have innovative programs. This year's list of winners reflects the importance of reinventing leadership development and the need to bring leadership to a wider audience," stated Debbie McGrath, CEO of

Awards were presented to the top 3 companies for their remarkable internal programs in each of the following award categories:

Small Companies (less than 100 employees)
1st place - TTI Success Insights
2nd place - Financial Finesse
3rd place - Executive Medicine of Texas

Midsize Companies (100 - 999 employees)
1st place - Paycom
2nd place - Sikich LLP
3rd place - Council On Aging of Southwestern Ohio

Large Companies (1000 + employees)
1st place - Alaska Airlines
2nd place - Cerner Corporation
3rd place - General Motors Company

Government / Military
1st place - Baldrige Performance Excellence Program
2nd place - City of Houston Learning and Development Center - The Center for Excellence
3rd place - Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Non-Profit Organizations
1st place - University of MD Faculty Physicians, Inc. (FPI)
2nd place - Plan International Canada
3rd place - LeaderSource SGA

International Companies (program was deployed outside of the USA)
1st place - Emirates Airline
2nd place - Fletcher Building Limited
3rd place - Halogen Software

In addition, selections were made for the top leadership partners and providers in the following categories:

Educational institution (University Business School/Technical Trade School)
1st place - The Gerald P. Buccino '63 Center for Leadership Development, Seton Hall University
2nd place - Florida International University Center for Leadership
3rd place - Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College

Leadership partners and providers - Large (50+ employees)
1st place - The Leadership Circle
2nd place - Talent Plus, Inc.
3rd place - Bluepoint Leadership Development

Leadership partners and providers - Midsize (5 to 49 employees)
1st place - Career Systems International
2nd place - Align4Profit
3rd place - Verus Global

Leadership partners and providers - Small (less than 5 employees)
1st place - Quiet Excellence, LLC
2nd place - Partnerwerks
3rd place - Brainard Strategy

International Leadership partners and providers (Most of the work done outside of the USA or HQ outside of the USA)
1st place - Knightsbridge Human Capital Solutions
2nd place - The Secretan Center Inc
3rd place - TalentC - People Services Inc.

Complete list of award winners in the April edition of Leadership Excellence Essentials

This year's award recipients were selected based on both an application or nomination process, reviewed by's expert leadership panel, as well as feedback from the program's participants. The voting was promoted by the nominees as well as through social media campaigns over the course of the nomination period.

About, the largest global social networking and resource site for HR Professionals is committed to providing a deeper understanding of the HR function for 250,000 members by offering a Global Leadership annual event, Leadership500 Awards, an innovative Personal Excellence app, 12 interactive Excellence Essentials monthly e-publications, SPHR/PHR certification prep courses, 4,000+ webcasts, 300+ virtual conferences, blogs, community networks, industry news and advisory boards.

For more information, contact:
Debbie McGrath,
Chief Instigator and CEO

We are very pleased to announce that we have been awarded Saba's Customer Excellence Awards for excellence in talent management!

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Customers Including Dell, Equity Residential, Guitar Center, RR Donnelley, Toshiba and US Army Win Excellence Awards

LAS VEGAS, CA -- (Marketwired) -- 04/02/15 -- Saba, a global leader in cloud based intelligent talent management solutions, today announced the recipients of its 2015 Customer Excellence Awards. The annual program held at Saba's @Work 2015 Summit, recognizes organizations that are setting the bar in delivering significant business results, using Saba to engage, develop and inspire their people.

"We are proud to celebrate customers who are thought leaders in talent management and inspire us and their peers with creative approaches to some of the trickiest problems in business-engaging and developing the right people to lead their organizations at all levels," said Chief Customer Officer, Paige Newcombe. "All of this year's award winners have helped transform their organizations using Saba's solutions."

This year's 2015 Customer Excellence Award winners include some of the world's best and most innovative brands with a cross section of applications, including:

  • First Year Migration to the Cloud Award: Ciena

In addition, Saba launched a new recognition program this year, the Intelligent Talent Management Showcase. The showcase featured mini documentary films of the most nominated customers in this year's award process for their breakthrough strategies and results.

The inaugural Intelligent Talent Management Showcase winners were:

  • Dell -- GSD learning and Development Organization
  • Equity Residential
  • Guitar Center
  • RR Donnelley

For more great talent management in action visit:

About Saba
Saba delivers a cloud-based intelligent talent management solution used by leading organizations worldwide to hire, develop, engage and inspire their people. With machine learning at its core, intelligent talent management offers proactive, personalized recommendations on candidates, connections and content to help employees and organizations lead and succeed. Saba Cloud is a highly scalable platform that exceeds industry security and reliability standards. Saba has more than 31 million users and 2,200 customers across 195 countries and 37 languages. Learn more about intelligent talent management at

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Contact Information
Didi D'Errico
VP, Brand Advocacy

Source: Saba Software

News Provided by Acquire Media

New Education Partnership Announcement

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We are pleased to announce that the City of Houston has partnered with DeVry University, and its Keller Graduate School of Management, to bring high-quality degree programs to you!

  • Classes are taught by professors who have business and industry experience in your chosen field
  • Courses are available on campus, online, days, evenings, and weekends
  • Earn an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree, or complete a graduate certificate from an accredited university

DeVry offers a wide variety of programs through their six Colleges:
  • College of Business and Management
  • College of Engineering and Information Sciences
  • College of Health Sciences
  • College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • College of Media Arts and Technology
  • Keller Graduate School of Management

Check out the City of Houston employee educational benefits offered by DeVry University, and its Keller Graduate School of Management.

  • 10% tuition savings
  • Application fee waiver
  • Deferred tuition billing

To learn more, visit:

Currently attending DeVry University or its Keller Graduate School of Management? To begin receiving complete, sign and fax the
Eligibility Form
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Technology Expo: Learning Technology Applied

Join us for a day of technology-based learning. The day will include a keynote presentation, break-out sessions, vendor expo and lots of time for networking with your peers.

ATD Houston Technology Expo April 9, 2015

Thursday, April 9th, 8am-4pm

Learning & Development Center | 4501 Leeland Street Houston, TX 77023

Keynote Speaker(s): Chad Udell, Managing Director of Float Mobile Learning

As managing director of Float Mobile Learning, Chad Udell designs, develops and manages interactive Web and mobile projects. Chad has worked with industry-leading Fortune 500 companies and government agencies to concept, design and develop award winning experiences. Chad is recognized as an expert in mobile design and development, and he speaks regularly at national and international events and conferences on related topics. In 2012, Chad released his first book, “Learning Everywhere: How Mobile Content Strategies Are Transforming Training.” In 2014, he co-edited the book, “Mastering Mobile Learning: Tips and Techniques for Success” with Dr. Gary Woodill, Ed.D.

Featured Session: Eddie Turner

Eddie will walk you through the process of preparing for a facilitated session. Next, Craig Weiss will present his forecast for 2015 as well as his insights on eLearning tools. After signing off with Craig, Eddie will provide post-events tips and his summary for successfulvirtual meetings.

Craig Weiss, CEO of E-Learning 24/7

Craig is a thought leader and expert in the eLearning industry, including mLearning. Named recently as the most-influential person in the world for eLearning, Craig is an analyst and blogger.

Event Hashtag: #ATDHOUTK2015

Mobile site: Send a text message to 56512 with “ATDHOU” in the description. You'll get a link back for the site.

Register online:

ATD Technology Expo | Guest Speakers

ATD Technology Expo | Vendors

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ATD Technology Expo | Session Schedule

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This traveling crew has extensive knowledge from around the U.S. and is available only once every four years. Be sure to reserve your spot today!

Mobile Product Training

Monday, May 4th, 8am-3pm

Learning & Development Center | 4501 Leeland Street Houston, TX 77023

Let the industry’s leaders in quality, technology, and service help you learn in a relaxed environment:

  • Safety, Installation, Security, and Maintenance
  • New Product Developments
  • Tips from the field

Materials Covered: Hydrants, Valves, Valve Restraints, Service Materials, Drilling Machines, Security, and More!

Contact: Bobby Briskie

214-335-1222 |

Register online:

Check Out Our Latest Course Offering(s):

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Conducting Productive Meetings (00023479)

Thursday, April 16th, 8:30am-12:30pm

Learning & Development Center | 4501 Leeland Street Houston, TX 77023

Do you find meetings running too long? Have you had people disrupting your meeting by talking, going in and out of the meeting, getting off subject, etc.? Do you have people coming to your meetings unprepared? Are the minutes sometimes too detailed for people to be willing to read? Are people arriving late or not attending at all?

Upon completion of this course, participants should be able to conduct productive meetings by organizing ahead of time, handling difficult situations with tact, and following the agenda.

This course focuses on:

· Creating and following an agenda

· Setting up the meeting space

· Incorporating electronic options

· Defining meeting roles and responsibilities

· Chairing a meeting

· Dealing with disruptions

· Taking effective minutes

Instructor Led: Bonnie Sandberg

Price: $35.00

Manager Approval Required: Yes

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Excel 2010 - Level 1 (00023418)

Tuesday, April 14th, 8:30am-4:30pm

Learning & Development Center | 4501 Leeland Street Houston, TX 77023

Become comfortable using Excel by:
• Opening, modifying, and saving files
• Creating a new workbook
• Entering basic formulas
• Entering common functions
• Adjusting font and number formatting
• Preparing the file for printing

This course focuses on:
• Creating and formatting workbooks
• Entering basic formulas and functions
• Working with page layout for printing

Instructor Led: Bonnie Sandberg

Price: $35.00

Manager Approval Required: Yes

Excel 2010 - Level 2 (00023419)

Tuesday, April 21st, 8:30am-4:30pm

Learning & Development Center | 4501 Leeland Street Houston, TX 77023

Learn to be more efficient with Excel by:
• Entering more complex formulas
• Using Conditional Formatting
• Sorting and filtering data
• Creating and modifying charts
• Creating a custom number format

This course focuses on:
• Working with more complex formulas and functions
• Using Conditional Formatting
• Sorting and filtering data
• Creating and modifying charts

Instructor Led: Bonnie Sandberg

Price: $35.00

Manager Approval Required: Yes

Excel 2010 Tips & Tricks (00023420)

Tuesday, April 28th, 8:30-10:30am

Learning & Development Center | 4501 Leeland Street Houston, TX 77023

This course focuses on:
• Rearranging data
• Modifying and printing comments
• Using keystrokes for creating charts, performing AutoSum, and formatting cells

Instructor Led: Bonnie Sandberg

Price: $35.00

Manager Approval Required: Yes

MS Access 2010 - Level 1

Tuesday, May 5th, 8:30am-4:30pm

Learning & Development Center | 4501 Leeland Street Houston, TX 77023

Learn to be more efficient with Access by:
• Building tables with relationships
• Generating queries to filter data from multiple tables
• Creating forms for easy data entry
• Generating reports

This course focuses on:
• Developing a database
• Creating relationships between tables
• Creating simple queries
• Sorting and filtering data
• Creating forms and reports

Instructor Led: Bonnie Sandberg

Price: $35.00

Manager Approval Required: Yes


Become a Learning and Development Center (LDC) Adjunct Instructor

We're expanding our instructor force to meet the growing demand for our learning programs.

The LDC is seeking third-party support on matters related to the Center for Excellence's quality of professional education programs offered as part of our newly developed course curriculum. This information is also designed to help your Learning and Development Center more effectively serve you to ensure that all requirements for course instruction have been met prior to the start of class.

Our Awesome Courses:

Come Partner with Us:

Turn your technical expertise, on-the-job experience and great communications skills into a rewarding volunteer training opportunity.


Monday - Friday

8AM - 5PM

Please complete the following form and provide as much of the information as possible.

Upcoming Industry Webinars & Local Events

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Build Your Organization To Innovate – Or Watch It Deteriorate!

Despite the popularity of thought leadership materials promoting creative epiphanies, innovation rarely comes from out-of-the-blue ideas. Rather, it comes from connectivity with your customers, insightful information, strategic intentions, and everyday execution. All too often, these critical connections are ignored. The key to continual performance is to build an organization with an approach and structures that are interconnected and explicitly defined, and that possess sufficient flexibility to keep pace in an ever-changing world.

In this webinar, Dave Hamme, author of Customer Focused Process Innovation: Linking Strategic Intent to Everyday Execution, presents a natural and methodical approach to embedding innovation practices into any enterprise. By dissecting innovation into its critical elements and showing how to address each one, Hamme has provided any organization the ability to outwit, outmaneuver, and outplay their competition.


Date: Thursday, April 9 2015

Time:12:00 p.m. EST
Host: Association for Talent Development


About the Speaker(s)

Dave Hamme, Ephesus Consulting

Dave Hamme is the managing director of Ephesus Consulting, a boutique consulting firm that focuses on driving game-changing initiatives for its clients. He also is the author of Customer Focused Process Innovation: Linking Strategic Intent to Everyday Execution. Contact him at

Dispelling Myths: Understanding Learning and Knowledge Management Teams

Knowledge and learning teams are the suppliers of information and training within an organization. Often, instead of collaborating eagerly, the teams are notorious for misunderstanding each other. This webcast will explore the two teams and examine key organization objectives that compel them to work together effectively.

During this session, the presenters will discuss:

  • common misconceptions each team has of the other
  • key organization objectives each team contributes, and their similarities
  • ways these teams can work together to demonstrate extraordinary value within the organization.


Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Time:1:00 p.m. CDT
Host: Association for Talent Development


About the Speaker(s)

Adam Krob, Co-Founder and CIO, Klever

For more than two decades, Dr. Adam Krob has studied how to use knowledge management behaviors and practices to uncover and deliver tangible, long-lasting value for organizations. He is the co-founder and CIO of Klever and lives with his wife and daughter in New Orleans.

Emily Dunn, Enablement Designer, Anaplan

A lifelong learner, Emily has spent her entire career enhancing her skills in the training industry. Much of her focus has been spent on e-learning design and development, and most recently, she has been exploring the connection between knowledge management and learning. She and her husband live in Minneapolis.

Detoxify Your Work Environment Using The 5 Languages Of Appreciation

In spite of the growing number of employee recognition programs, employees still report high levels of not feeling valued. Negativity, cynicism, and apathy continue to increase in many workplace environments. Discover the difference between “going through the motions” recognition and authentic appreciation by learning the core conditions necessary for individuals to truly feel appreciated. Empower your staff by giving them the tools to encourage colleagues in the ways that are meaningful to each individual.

As a result of participating in the session, attendees will be able to:

  • delineate the differences between traditional employee recognition activities and authentic appreciation
  • identify and apply the core components necessary for appreciation and encouragement to be effectively communicated in work-based relationships
  • implement practical actions to “hit the mark” in communicating appreciation to team members and colleagues.


Date: Friday, April 17, 2015

Time:1:00 p.m. CDT
Host: Association for Talent Development


About the Speaker(s)

Paul White, Appreciation at Work

Dr. Paul White is a psychologist, author, speaker, and consultant who makes work relationships work. He has written articles for and been interviewed by Bloomberg Businessweek, CNN/,, Fast Company,, Huffington Post LIVE, U.S. News and World Report, and Yahoo! Finance.

Dr. White is the co-author of three books including, The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, written with Dr. Gary Chapman (author of the number one New York Timesbestseller, The 5 Love Languages). Based on their extensive research and expertise, Dr. White and Dr. Chapman have developed a unique way for organizations to motivate employees that leads to increased job satisfaction, higher employee performance, and enhanced levels of trust. Their Motivating by Appreciation Inventory and Appreciation at Work training resources have been used by numerous corporations, colleges and universities, medical facilities, schools, non-profit organizations, and government agencies.

For the past 20 years, Dr. White has improved numerous businesses, government agencies, and non-profit organizations by helping them to reduce the level of cynicism and negative communication within the workplace, eliminate supervisors’ frustration from not knowing how to effectively encourage their staff, and communicate authentic appreciation.

Great Leadership Creates Great Workplaces

The key to making extraordinary things happen in organizations is great leadership. Leadership author Jim Kouzes will present evidence that exemplary leadership makes a meaningful difference in people’s engagement and in the performance of their organizations. He will explore the engagement difference through the lens of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership, offer concrete advice on implementation, and show how they create higher levels of performance and engagement.

As a result of participating in this webinar, you will learn:

  • The one attribute that is the foundation of all leadership.
  • The factor that most distinguishes leaders from individual contributors.
  • The condition that is most likely to produce personal-best leadership and how you can create it.
  • The factor that rules innovation, brand image, acceptance of leaders’ influence, commitment— just about everything else important in organizations—and what leaders can do about it.
  • What exemplary leaders do that enables them to become the best.
  • How great leadership impacts engagement and the bottom line.
  • The secret to success in life—seriously.


Date: Monday, April 20, 2015

Time:1:00 p.m. CDT
Host: Association for Talent Development


About the Speaker(s)

Jim Kouzes, Dean’s Executive Fellow of Leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University

Jim Kouzes is the dean’s executive fellow of leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University, and the co-author with Barry Posner of the internationally award-winning and bestselling book, The Leadership Challenge, with more than 2 million copies sold. He has co-authored more than 30 other books, including The Truth About Leadership, Credibility, Encouraging the Heart and A Leader’s Legacy, as well as the Leadership Practices Inventory—the top-selling off-the-shelf leadership assessment in the world.

The Wall Street Journal has recognized Jim as one of the 10 best executive educators in the United States. In 2009 he received the Distinguished Contribution to Workplace Learning and Performance Award from ATD, and was presented the Thought Leader Award by the Instructional Systems Association. Jim was also named one of HR Magazine’s Top 20 Most Influential International Thinkers from 2010 to 2013 and one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior by Trust Across America from 2010 to 2015.

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Unleashing Your Hcm Potential - A Four-Part Webinar Series

At its core, human capital management is about one main goal – getting great talent into the right role to deliver results. But organizations need to have the right plan in place to make sure they can achieve this goal, and those plans fall under two critical categories, buy or build. When organizations "buy" talent it's all about the external marketplace, and creating the right talent acquisition strategies and using the right selection tools to help ensure that the right people are brought into the organization. People that will not only deliver results in the near-term, but stay with the organization to deliver long-term performance. "Building" talent is about developing, mentoring, and putting the right career paths in place to ensure that you are growing talent internally to take on new challenges. So how do you know whether buying or building is the right choice for your organization? And no matter which path you take, how do you ensure that you are selecting the right people to move into or through your organization?

Join Mollie Lombardi, VP and principal analyst, Brandon Hall Group as she explores key issues around finding great talent, including:

  • Aligning business and human capital strategy to identify talent gaps
  • Integrating talent acquisition, development and succession data to understand your internal and external talent pool
  • The tools and strategies you can use to create success profiles and assess against them to ensure you are making the best talent decisions


Date: Webinar: Buy or Build: Finding Great Talent #1 of 4 - Tue, Apr 28, 2015 1:00 PM EDT

This webinar meets 4 times.

  • Tue, Apr 28, 2015 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM CDT
  • Tue, Jun 23, 2015 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM CDT
  • Tue, Sep 29, 2015 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM CDT

Time:1:00 p.m. EDT


About the Speaker(s)

Mollie Lombardi is the Vice President of Workforce Management Practice and Principal Analyst at Brandon Hall Group.

Formerly Vice President and Principal Analyst for the Human Capital Management research practice at Aberdeen Group, she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Brandon Hall Group clients in the workforce management practice area. - See more at:

About the Learning and Development Center-The Center for Excellence

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At a glance...

The Learning and Development Center (LDC) develops and provides programs designed to empower and enhance employee skills and competencies for improved performance and job satisfaction. Our services also extend to external businesses, organizations, and communities.

Our mission is to build a world-class, responsive and results-oriented workforce by providing the following:

  • Learning that meets critical business goals and needs
  • Lifelong learning opportunities that will prepare employees for life and work in an increasingly technological society

Facility Features

The LDC is a two-story, 54,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility featuring:

  • An auditorium capable of seating 150 with fold-down desktops
  • Instructor computers connected to HD projectors and the Internet
  • 170 available campus parking spaces
  • Break-room area with microwaves and refrigerators
  • Welcoming lobby area
  • Open atrium for al fresco activities

Internal & External Room Rental Request Forms

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Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't

This book addresses a single question: can a good company become a great company, and if so, how? Based on a five-year research project comparing teams that made a leap to those that did not, Good to Great shows that greatness is not primarily a function of circumstance, but largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline. This book discusses concepts like Level 5 Leadership, First Who (first get the right people on the bus, then figure out where to drive it), and the Flywheel.

The Challenge
Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the verybeginning.

But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?

The Study
For years, this question preyed on the mind of Jim Collins. Are there companies that defy gravity and convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? And if so, what are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?

The Standards
Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great? After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world's greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck.

The Comparisons
The research team contrasted the good-to-great companies with a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to make the leap from good to great. What was different? Why did one set of companies become truly great performers while the other set remained only good?

Over five years, the team analyzed the histories of all twenty-eight companies in the study. After sifting through mountains of data and thousands of pages of interviews, Collins and his crew discovered the key determinants of greatness -- why some companies make the leap and others don't.

The Findings
The findings of the Good to Great study will surprise many readers and shed light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice.

The findings include:

  • Level 5 Leaders: The research team was shocked to discover the type of leadership required to achieve greatness.
  • The Hedgehog Concept (Simplicity within the Three Circles): To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence.
  • A Culture of Discipline: When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great results. Technology Accelerators: Good-to-great companies think differently about the role of technology.
  • The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Those who launch radical change programs and wrenching restructurings will almost certainly fail to make the leap.

About the Author

Jim Collins is a student and teacher of leadership and what makes great companies tick.

Having invested a quarter century of research into the topic, he has authored or co-authored six books that have sold in total more than ten million copies worldwide. They include: GOOD TO GREAT, the #1 bestseller, which examines why some companies and leaders make the leap to superior results, along with its companion work GOOD TO GREAT AND THE SOCIAL SECTORS; the enduring classic BUILT TO LAST, which explores how some leaders build companies that remain visionary for generations; HOW THE MIGHTY FALL, which delves into how once-great companies can self-destruct; and most recently, GREAT BY CHOICE, which is about thriving in chaos – why some do, and others don't – and the leadership behaviors needed in a world beset by turbulence, disruption, uncertainty, and dramatic change.

Driven by a relentless curiosity, Jim began his research and teaching career on the faculty at Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992. In 1995, he founded a management laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, where he conducts research and engages in Socratic dialogue with CEOs and senior leadership teams. In addition to his work in the business sector, Jim has passion for learning and teaching in the social sectors, including education, healthcare, government, faith-based organizations, social ventures, and cause-driven non-profits. In 2012 and 2013, he had the honor to serve a two-year appointment as the Class of 1951 Chair for the Study of Leadership at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Jim holds a bachelor's degree in mathematical sciences and an MBA from Stanford University, and honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Colorado and the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University.

He is an avid rock climber, with one-day ascents of the north face of Half Dome and the 3,000 foot south face of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley.

LDC Tip: Adopt Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve

If there’s one management expert who is synonymous with the term “high-performance organization,” it is Jim Collins, who has spent the past 20 years trying to understand how some companies are able to sustain superlative performance.

It may seem surprising that of the seven factors Collins identified as essential to take a company from good to great, he chose to focus on leadership in this 2001 piece. However, even a casual rereading of the article will convince you that he was right to do so.

Collins argues that the key ingredient that allows a company to become great is having a Level 5 leader: an executive in whom genuine personal humility blends with intense professional will. To learn that such CEOs exist still comes as a pleasant shock. But while the idea may sound counterintuitive today, it was downright heretical when Collins first wrote about it—the corporate scandals in the United States hadn’t broken out, and almost everyone believed that CEOs should be charismatic, larger-than-life figures. Collins was the first to blow that belief out of the water.

Read more: Harvard Business Review

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