Ekstend Skills, talent accelerator
TRENDSMargaux de Saint Vincent, Insights & Learnings Director, reflects on the purpose of our training solutions.
In recent years, new forms of learning have emerged. Programs have transitioned from traditional in-person training to a powerful hybrid model to cater to everyone’s preferences. Blended learning, adaptive learning, mobile learning : learners are demanding increasingly tailored solutions to meet their needs.
Training is now focused on the individual skill development of employees. More personalized than ever, learning is intended to be innovative, adaptive, and, above all, creative. Among the many innovations available in the market, which ones should not be missed ? Response from Margaux de Saint Vincent, Insights & Learnings Director.
What is your role within the agency ?
M.DSV : “I have been responsible for managing the Training and Research department for six years. These two aspects are closely linked and centered around digital. Research provides knowledge about a market, a specific sector, advertising, consumers… and training imparts the right skills to know what to do with this research. I call it a virtuous circle. When we deliver training, there is always a contextual component with data from the studies we have conducted.”
How was the Training and Research department born?
M.DSV : “It was created at the request of one of our clients. The complexity of the advertising sector and its players led the individuals we support to need training to better understand the new solutions. Even if our clients do not implement campaigns themselves, they need to know what to do, how it works, how to measure the impact, and so on. Additionally, we are increasingly providing training on soft skills such as creativity techniques, leadership, and storytelling. So, we offer trainees a kind of toolkit of behavioral and cross-functional skills that, in addition to operational skills, help them perform better in their roles and make their daily work easier
What’s interesting is to combine both aspects. In the long run, if we train without raising awareness about market tools, interest and skill culture will be lost. The research part keeps things current, and the training part delivers the skills that clients need.”
Can you provide an example to illustrate the importance of your research ?
M.DSV : “The inter-industry skills operator OPCO 2i is a client with whom we conduct a lot of research. The first study aimed to understand the image of the industry in France. So, we launched a quantitative study to gather the opinions of as many people as possible (the sample had to be representative of the French population). By analyzing the results, we realized that there were dimensions that had not been taken into account during the initial creative ideas. We delved into this point through a first qualitative study: we surveyed fewer people but in more depth. This way, we identified important points that Sweet Punk, the creative agency of the group, was able to leverage in its creative assets. Then, we pre-tested the logo, visuals, and slogan through a second qualitative study. Finally, we conducted a post-test to quantify the positive impact of the choice of media, visuals, and campaign messages on the target audience.
We draw very practical insights from our campaigns, which allows us to differentiate the levers, objectives, and areas for improvement for the future. Conducting studies enables us to track the evolution of our campaign and compare it to the benchmark.”
Is the way of training the same as it was six years ago ?
M.DSV : ” The teaching methods and programs have changed. We have tested numerous formats like virtual classrooms, gamification, challenges, and more. It turns out that blended learning has become the norm since the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s a sort of comfort with this mix: learners need human contact to enrich themselves – it’s better to have an instructor for workshops, like during training involving role-playing, for example. But digital learning hasn’t disappeared because we train people located all over the country. We had to find a way to align training with their busy schedules.
We have also developed new training topics because the challenges have evolved. And then, we have emphasized participation. We are not yet in the metaverse, but perhaps that will come tomorrow !”
How does Ekstend Skills fit into your research and training department ?
M.DSV : “Ekstend Skills is an offering that originates from what we do in training. Traditional training was somewhat hidden: we did not communicate much about it, and the programs were intricately crafted to best meet the needs of our clients – very in-depth and lengthy formats. This is where Ekstend Skills comes into play. Its creation allows access to one or more links in the training chain. We have streamlined our offering to make it accessible to a wider audience. So, we are more agile. In practice, we gather the company’s needs, analyze the market in which it operates, and leverage concrete cases that work in its sector. All our training is enriched with relevant examples for the client.”
What are the formats offered by Ekstend Skills ?
M.DSV : “You will find the bootcamp, which is an accelerated version of a training. It consists of five intensive days to come out with expertise mastery. There are training sessions that are shorter and where we focus on a particular technique. There are also coaching sessions: when someone is onboarded and encounters a problem, we bring in an expert to find a solution. The expert assesses the individual’s needs, takes control of the tool, shows them how to do it, and so on. And finally, there is the skills development plan, which is an evaluation concept to determine where the learner stands in terms of their knowledge and acquire the missing skills.“
Is the training catalog destined to change ?
M.DSV : “The catalog will always be evolving to adapt to market trends. Today, we offer training on topics like the metaverse, growth marketing, no-code, and more. 90% of our catalog covers digital subjects. The remaining portion relates to offline strategies that typically complement digital ones. Clients can mix and match several training programs as long as it makes sense. However, all our training programs are complementary.
And cross-functional skills are equally important. They are often at the bottom of the priority list, which is a real shame ! Not everyone has the keys to know where to find inspiration, how to recycle their content, or stay in trend. That’s why we have developed training based on creativity techniques, for example.”