We recently sat down with long-time member and CSTD evangelist, Dale Wilcox, CTDP. Dale is President of WATMEC, a performance and learning solutions firm based in Waterloo, Ontario. Dale served on the board of Directors of both OSTD and CSTD and was the inaugural Chair of CSTD from 2003-2007. Enjoy the conversation!

Dale, you have a long history with CSTD that dates back to the OSTD days. In fact, our records reveal that you first became a member back in 1995! Tell us about your volunteer journey with these organizations – what led you to give so much of yourself to them?

In one word: passion. I was on the board of OSTD (Ontario Society for Training and Development) for several years where we voted on two separate occasions to not go national. When I became Chair of OSTD, the board was approached again and asked to reconsider the decision to go national. At that time, over 10% of OSTD members were outside of Ontario and therefore not attached to a chapter. So, we surveyed our members, held at vote at the annual conference, and went national in 2003. I continued on as Chair of the Board of CSTD for 3 years. During that time I worked with the board to push the certification program forward, establish 13 additional chapters, launch Learn@Work Week and established CSTD as a global partner with the ASTD (now ATD).

At the regional level I have chaired my local chapter at various times, and today enjoy simply being on the executive. (Editor’s note: Dale is unstoppable!) I believe that the chapters are the backbone of CSTD – it is here that members find on-going value in their membership. They can network, get involved in planning chapter activities, or initiate new groups. In our area we have a storyboard group and a breakfast networking group, whereas other chapters have book clubs, e-learning, and certification sessions. I have discovered professional friends and resources to help me both in my life and my company through working at the chapter level.

How did you end up working in this field? In other words, did you choose this career or did it choose you?

Like so many others I fell into it. I was originally hired by WATMEC in the role of office manager with some marketing responsibilities. At one point in my career I had worked for the Stratford & Perth County Boards of Education so the partners thought I would understand some of the needs of this job. Instead, I ended up using experience from positions I held in finance, law firms, manufacturing operations, and my own small businesses. I did grow into the business and in 1991 I bought out one of the partners and in 1996 my husband purchased the shares of the second partner. The rest, as they say, is history.

What key strength do you feel you bring bring to the industry?

I’d have to say my business acumen is one of my biggest strengths. I’ve worked in many disciplines, worked in several types of business and have been an entrepreneur for over 40 years. Because of this experience, when I talk to a business owner about their challenges I can relate and help them identify possible solutions. Secondly, I have been able to develop the skill of identifying qualified persons to deliver the needed learning solutions. Lastly, I have tremendous passion for the importance of our profession and the role we need to play in the success of individuals in their work and personal lives.

You recently earned your CTDP designation, what made you decide to pursue your credentials?

Well, this is rather embarrassing. I was one of the original Board members back in OSTD days who pushed for certification which, back then, was largely directed at trainers. At that time, anyone who wanted to, could call themselves a trainer so we set out to establish some defined skills, education and experience. Given that I am not a trainer and never expected to be one, I didn’t feel certification applied to me. Recently there has been a move to include individuals who have worked and contributed to our industry. I submitted some of the training courses that we developed as well as related certifications and designations that I have achieved in the industry and was awarded my CTDP. Knowing that the certification has become more broad-based is definitely a move forward for the organization. I’m proud to have the CTDP credentials after my name!

Looking back on your career, you’ve accomplished so much. What advice would you give your 25 year old self?

Take more time to celebrate the success. There is a wall of plaques with awards and certificates of appreciation in my office and my regret was not taking the time to celebrate each of those accomplishments and successes when they happened instead of racing on to the next project.

If you could change it all today, what alternate career would you choose?

I might have become a trainer. Don’t get me wrong, I love “talking business” with my clients and enjoy seeing them succeed. On the other hand, I know that WATMEC’s facilitators get to see and feel the impact of their work with the individuals in those organizations. That is very empowering.

Name one book or film from the past decade that has had a big impact on you. Why?

David Meier’s The Accelerated Learning Handbook has had a lasting impact on me since I first read it over 10 years ago. His model is just so relative to adult education as well as business learning and development. It also works well in the school systems where it has been tried. When I first picked up his book, looking to re-invent WATMEC – we needed to increase our value proposition and differentiate ourselves from our competitors. His model helped us do just that and, to this day, it is part of who we are and how our facilitators work. Other books have been written on the topic, but his is the 101 of Accelerated Learning.

Tell us something most people don’t know about you.

Well, I used to say that I rode a motorcycle when asked that question. However, Stan White, my successor as Chair of CSTD, blew that best-kept secret at the 2011 CSTD Volunteer of the Year award ceremony when he introduced me! Stan and I have a long history with OSTD and CSTD that stems back to the chapter level and both of us are motorcycle aficionados. So, to answer the question, most people don’t know that I read over a 100 books a year. My goal is 33% business, 33% fiction for relaxation, and 34% of other non-fiction to keep expanding my mind.

Thanks for letting us get to know you better, Dale! You’ve had a long and rich career in the learning space and we are lucky to have you advocating for, contributing to, and raising the profile of the learning profession.

Dale is President of WATMEC and can be reached at watmec@watmec.com

About the source

CSTD professionals enable the success of the Canadian workforce. We are a community of professionals dedicated to excellence in the design, delivery and implementation of workplace learning strategies and solutions that engage, enable and inspire adults to perform at their best and contribute to meaningful societal and organizational impact by driving productivity and innovation.

Our professional practice is guided and reinforced by an evolving framework of evidenced-based principles and certification programmes that help ensure leading edge practice along with desired results. our profession aspires to be a sought-after destination for early and mid-career employees as well as the best and brightest high school and university students. Given the importance of our profession to Canada’s prosperity, our work as CSTD members is a critical input to successful corporate strategy and government policy.

To learn more, visit www.cstd.ca.