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Meet the Harbingers: Aryn Smith-Avendano

Aryn Smith-Avendano is a training lead subcontracted through Harbinger. Aryn’s work includes designing/implementing effective training plans, guiding instructional designers on creating training material, and leading its deployment.

What do you find most fulfilling about being a consultant?

I like doing project work. Project work provides the opportunity for growth, both personal and professional. I find it fulfilling to go into a client’s site and help them resolve an issue that best serves their needs. My projects are usually system implementations which I enjoy as they are tangible—something where people can see the work.

What would you say are the main values you hope to bring to your consulting approach?

I bring confidence to the client by assuring them that, together, we will get the best possible results. Honesty and integrity are important to me. I really like to honor those values at my client sites.

What is the most rewarding experience or situation you’ve encountered in this job?

It is rewarding to meet a client, get to know them and then work together to achieve a common goal. Not only is achieving the final goal professionally rewarding, but often the growth experienced with each client is also personally rewarding. Additionally, it is very fulfilling working, supporting, and pushing forward with the Harbinger team and share in the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing a project.

What is your favourite part about working with Harbinger?

Harbinger is the first firm that I’ve worked with which knows what it is that I bring to a client. Because they are an OCM centric firm, I can say, “I am this,” and they go, “Oh, okay! We know which jobs that are available where we can best utilize your skills.”

What got you into instructional design?

It was a bit of a fluke! I was living overseas and applied for a trainer position at a global retail bank, got the position; the rest is history. Previous to that, I was in the retail banking industry, working my way through school.

What aspects of instructional design/learning do you find most fascinating?

Just putting it all together and figuring out the puzzle. Looking at all the pieces that need to go into something to make it successful, whether that be a strategic plan, a training plan, or instructional design document.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced around training delivery and how did you overcome it?

One of the biggest challenges is the perception of what training alone can do. It is a common belief that a system is created and once everyone is trained, the previous issues disappear and all will be well in the world.

Effective training delivery and learning development is a critical part of the solution but works hand-in-hand with OCM and communications to provide a complete picture, thus increasing the positive learning outcomes. When one doesn’t have that trifecta for implementation, it is very challenging to achieve successful learning outcomes. Training will be delivered, but will it maximize every opportunity to achieve successful learning outcomes? Most likely not.

Luckily, training inherently incorporates some change management and communication techniques, so when the perfect trifecta is not available, I look to incorporate as much change management and communications within the training as possible, to secure successful learning outcomes.

Do you have any advice for consultants starting out?

Specifically, within learning development, take any opportunity you can or are offered and be proactive. Particularly, in consulting, because you generally have a short timeframe, you really need to take the initiative and be proactive to get things done. Take the opportunities offered, regardless of if they don’t exactly fit what you want, to get the breadth of experience, so you understand how all the big pieces work together, then hone down a specific area you want to focus on.

Is there anything that surprised you about what it’s like to be a consultant?

I really like the lifestyle choice. It is a bit of a different type of an adrenaline rush: you get both the extreme highs and lows but with being 100% committed to a project, it makes for a very fun ride.


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