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Julie Winkle Giulioni has spent the past 25 years improving performance through learning. She’s partnered with hundreds of organizations to develop and deploy innovative training products that are in use worldwide. Julie is well known and well regarded for her creative, one-of-a-kind solutions that consistently deliver bottom-line results.

Since co-founding DesignArounds 14 years ago, Julie has run the west coast operations, leading multi-disciplinary teams that create award-winning electronic and instructor-led training. Previously, she was director of product development for AchieveGlobal, one of the world’s largest commercial training companies. She was also a professor and department chair at Woodbury University.

During her career, Julie has received numerous awards including: Ten Best Training Products Award from Human Resource Executive Magazine, LGuide’s Editor’s Choice Award, and awards from CINDY, JOEY, and AFTRA.

Julie is the co-author of the Amazon bestseller, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want, and a respected speaker on a variety of topics, including career development, leadership, sales, and customer service.

For more information, visit juliewinklegiulioni.com. You can also find Julie on Twitter here

1. Most job postings cite “X” years of relevant work experience and specific education criteria as requirements to be considered for the position. With this in mind, what prior work experiences and degrees/certifications/training helped prepare you for your current role?

There are certainly lots of programs that offer degrees and certifications in instructional design and development… and many are very valuable. I came to this work differently though. I started out as a high school teacher, then moved on to the university level. And everything I learned teaching those aspiring to enter the workforce applies seamlessly to teaching those who are already there! Since making the transition to industry (and now consulting), I think the most valuable experiences have been working with clients – lots of them. Going through countless cycles and rounds of this sort of work helps an instructional designer more quickly understand the needs of a wide variety of organizations… and how best to approach content… and most importantly, learners. 

1B. What (if any) additional knowledge or skills that you don’t currently have would make you even better at your job?

Until recently, I’ve been very US-centric. Over the past few years, I’ve had the chance to work with more global organizations and later this month, I’m off on a whirlwind working tour of Singapore. The international perspective I’m cultivating now supports my work with all clients… and I just wish I’d had more of it earlier in my career.

2. Are there any behaviors and/or attributes that you would say are essential to performing the work that you do?

Instructional design is an odd job, requiring a seemingly competing mix of skills and abilities. An analytical nature is required to be able to assess, discern and internalize critical content and project requirements. But, at it’s core, this work is about communicating. So, being able to speak and write with ease is a huge help. Insatiable curiosity and empathy for the learner help ensure the best possible solutions. Also, it helps to cultivate the mind of an editor… being able to include what’s essential and be ruthless about leaving the rest on the cutting room floor. Finally, the job requirement that always surprises me is the ability to embrace and be comfortable with ambiguity. Every complex project I do comes to the same uncomfortable point where I feel like I’m swimming in muddy water and fear that I’m in over my head and will never make sense of the content. Then the water clears, concepts fall together, and a great way forward presents itself. No matter how long I do this, it feels like a miracle each time.

3. Jobs guru Lou Adler says there are only 4 job types of jobs in the world (producers, improvers, builders, and thinkers). Which type of job are you in?

My role is all of these things.

4. Does your job involve either directly or indirectly supervising or managing people? If so, how many direct (or indirect) reports do you have?

Our organization operates a bit like an accordion, expanding and contracting with trusted contractors/partners based upon client needs. Depending upon the nature and complexity of the project, it could just be me or up to 10 other talented professionals.

5. How does what you do impact the business? Think complexity (different types of impacts) and scale (degree of impact). Put another way: Who and what would be impacted if your job wasn’t being done well, and why would it matter that they were impacted?

Training and development delivers results in two critical areas. From a business case perspective, instructional design impact job performance… and all of the down-stream implications of that (productivity, profitability, quality, innovation, customer satisfaction….) But there’s a human impact as well. When employees feel that they are being invested in and developed, engagement grows. So does confidence, capacity, job satisfaction, retention, and the organization’s ability to recruit top talent.

6. Is your job safe? Rate its safety on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “seated all day in an air conditioned vault” and 10 being “I’m an astronaut going into space”. If your job isn’t safe, what working conditions (specifically) make it hazardous?

The biggest hazards I face are paper cuts and carpel tunnel syndrome. It doesn’t get a lot safer than instructional design and development.

7. Is there anything I missed that people should know about your job? Is there anything else you want to say about what you do?

I firmly believe that I have the best job in the world. I get to work with individuals and organizations committed to helping employees grow, develop, and contribute more of their skills and talents. I get to keep learning myself as I take on new projects (recently, I learned how to apply those cool adhesive graphics to cars while working with a client!). And I’m never bored given the kaleidoscope of industries, business and issues I get to address. This is the sort of work that will keep me so engaged that I just might forget to retire!

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.