Maine ATD thoughts, News, & Happenings

  • Sunday, January 08, 2017 5:23 PM | Deleted user

    Volunteers needed to write articles and contribute content to our quarterly newsletter.
    contact Lynne Richards:    

  • Sunday, January 08, 2017 5:16 PM | Deleted user

    Interested in volunteering at the NE Area Conference and receive a discount on your registration?


  • Tuesday, November 22, 2016 11:36 AM | Anonymous
    The Educational Opportunity Tax Credit (EOTC) can provide substantial tax savings for eligible Maine residents. If you graduated from a Maine college, and live and work in the state, then you may be eligible for tax credits based upon the amount of student loan payments that you have made during the year.  To learn more about this tax credit:
  • Friday, October 28, 2016 11:27 AM | Anonymous

    Maine ATD and Our Mission

    At its core, the Maine Chapter of the Association for Talent Development promotes work-related learning. This is the third in a series of profiles featuring leaders who, acting out of their core values, make positive professional change happen.

    - Bill Maxwell

    Brief Bio

    Katie Vaillancourt works with corporate clients to develop and deliver customized training solutions. She applies her knowledge and past experiences to customize training solutions to meet her client’s learning needs. She also works with clients to develop a corporate learning strategy and infrastructure. Prior to starting her consulting business, Katie served as the Corporate Training Manager at Contech Engineered Solutions LLC where she effectively defined, developed, coordinated, implemented and refined company training programs and initiatives.

    Katie is an active member of the Maine Chapter of the Association for Talent Development where she served on the Board for seven years, concluding as President from 2010-2012. And, breaking news, congratulations are in order: Katie has been chosen to serve ATD nationally as a National Advisor for Chapters beginning in 2017 for a three year term.  

    She is also an active member of the Junior League of Portland, Maine where she served as a member of their Board of Directors from 2013-2014. Katie holds a B.A. degree from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and a M.A. degree from University of New Hampshire.

    A Brief Conversation

    Katie Vaillancourt’s office is in a great location – a short walk from the CIA, the coffee shop in the Mill Creek section of South Portland. Her office, a quiet space with good natural light, offers up a great space for focused conversation. Her office is apparently a good place to read: Katie’s shelves are filled with talent development books Maine ATD members would recognize. In this place, Katie graciously gave up an hour’s time to discuss some of her professional history.

    So let’s start with history; Katie is a historian. She was a history major at Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. This is the same University that husband Mike Vaillancourt (originally from western Maine) attended.  Hailing from Atlanta, she has always loved learning and education in general. Her graduate degree was in American history with a museum studies concentration. Once strongly considering becoming a history teacher, she did become one in a fashion after graduate school at UNH. She served as a curator at the Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk, Maine.

    While at the Brick Store Museum, a professional tipping point came along. A visiting friend introduced Katie to one of the owners at a company that would become Contech Engineered Solutions. This individual suggested contacting someone at the company. She entered the “world of construction products” that she loved, especially “the technical nature of the business.”

    “I love puzzles of learning. I love the civil engineering world – I can’t help but rubberneck at construction sites and always have. So I was well-suited for this new world. They saw that I had problem-solving skills and could articulate things fairly well.”

    I mentioned that I found it interesting that her history degree didn’t disqualify her from working with such a technical company. Katie agreed.

    “I’m a huge proponent for the liberal arts.” Katie’s voice became more expressive. “The liberal arts encourage you to reason and think. And the jobs people might be studying for now will likely be very different in 10 years. We don’t know what many jobs are even going to look like.”

    In Katie’s leadership story, love of history and love of solving puzzles both fueled success in learning projects. Once she moved into the learning work at Contech, Katie aimed her energies into learning how to do learning better.

    “While at Contech, I found ATD, ASTD at the time, and have learned about the profession this way. Also through American Management Association, through Harvard Business Review – and through many other resources and organizations. I have grown up with the profession – and I didn’t even know this was a job when I started working after graduate school.”

    Katie gives practical advice to those who want to become successful.

    “People often are thinking too much about ‘What do I want to do?’ – Well, guess what? You need a job. And if you can find a place where you can grow and try a lot of different things and you’re willing to wear a lot of hats, you’re going to get some great experience.”

    Specializing in corporate work, she encourages talent developers to embrace the real-world ethos of competition in business environments.

    “At the end of the day in corporate America, you have a product you have to deliver. You have to be able to teach people this skill, this knowledge. Deliver this in a creative way – and you have to be very open. You can’t have the solution already in your mind. Given their time and resources, you might not be able to create the solution that’s in your mind – and they needed something yesterday. You put those factors and parameters together and then you create what they need.”

    Working with strict deadlines in a pressurized situation is common with corporate clients.

    “You’re constantly twisting the dials and massaging, and the next version might look a little different. But sometimes you might be creating and delivering simultaneously.”

    What about sustainability of learning in these environments?

    “Sustainability for what you’re creating and teaching and doing is very big. No one has the time to go back and create this perfect, polished version. When I left Contech we had about 1200 employees, and I was the only person 100% dedicated to training. And so you leverage and work in partnership with other managers. You work together to get done what needs to get done.”

    I asked her about leadership in terms of this collaboration. What thoughts did she have on influencing managers and others without the formal authority to tell them what to do?

    “Leading without authority wasn’t in my job description but should have been. Over time you build your own credibility. People know that if they work with you on a project it will get done. Sometimes I would volunteer to help someone on their project and a year later that person would volunteer to help me on something.”

    Katie’s mindset was, and is, “servant-leader” oriented. “How can I help others succeed?” is a core question: part of her job. And she loves the process of figuring out how to assist.

    “What I love about this profession is that you’re constantly learning. Over ten years at Contech we were launching new products, acquiring new companies – so I was learning the business and those aspects and even civil engineering. But now, in a consulting capacity for three years, I am learning different industries, different businesses. I’m rediscovering business in my backyard.”

    We went on to talk about leading through conflict.

    “With conflict, it’s a discussion on priorities. Understanding each other’s priorities requires having open and honest conversations. Doing this allows for reshaping and reframing the priorities – and can help get you through. I’m the type of person who would prefer that someone tell me ‘no’ than to tell me ‘yes’ and not follow through. I’m OK with disagreement.”

    On a practical level, Katie believes “DiSC” can help employees better navigate as they collaborate.   DiSC is a personal assessment tool used to improve work productivity, teamwork and communication.

    “At Contech, DISC became part of the common corporate language. People would have their ‘DiSC wheels posted at their cubicles. It helps communication, and people get to know one another. It’s easy to grasp, understand, and remember.”

    Leadership in the field of corporate talent development must measure up to the focus on ROI. I asked Katie about how she convinces people that learning initiatives are worthwhile. She gave the example of an initiative to teach people how to do a better hiring and early career training process.

    “One of the exercises I like to do is the cost of hiring and firing. We do a spreadsheet and compare costs. If you hire the wrong candidate and make the team toxic, or if you don’t manage to hire someone and your team has more work longer term – that sort of thing. You can see the lightbulbs going on when we do this exercise.”

    We talked a bit about working as an independent consultant.

    “I am very project to project, program to program. What I love is the “Welcome to the Organization – Roll up your sleeves.” Let me get in and see all that stuff. Let me learn your tools, learn your process, and now let’s create something.”

    Katie specializes in helping organizations embed learning processes in their cultures. In short, she customizes solutions to ensure a stronger future. She also does something civil engineers and all organized professionals appreciate: she makes sure that the blueprints are clear and are kept for easy reference and for new versions. The past matters to the present and future. After all, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

    Something historians like to say.

  • Sunday, September 25, 2016 3:30 PM | Anonymous

    Did you know that our monthly meetings feature topics that relate to the ATD Competency Model? The Competency Model redefines the skills and knowledge required for talent development professionals to be successful now and in the future. It captures changes driven by digital, mobile, and social technology; demographic shifts; globalization; and economic forces. Click here to learn more about the model.

  • Tuesday, April 26, 2016 11:21 AM | Anonymous

    Maine ATD and Our Mission

    At its core, the Maine Chapter of the Association for Talent Development promotes work-related learning. This is the second in a series of profiles featuring leaders who, acting out of their core values, make positive professional change happen.

    - Bill Maxwell

    Brief Bio

    Peggy Page’s professional title is Learning Design and Delivery Manager at Goodwill Industries of Northern New England. She manages the design and delivery of employee training. Currently, her team’s focus “is on rolling out a comprehensive suite of management development programs.” Prior to this position, Peggy served as L&D Manager Program Evaluation and Measurement at TD Bank. Earlier at TD Bank, she managed a team of talented instructional designers. Her team built classroom, virtual classroom and online learning opportunities for employees in all roles. Before moving to Maine, she worked in California as a Call Center Manager in Global Customer Service for Applied Materials. Peggy is also a past President of Maine ATD.

    A Brief Conversation

    In the days when California condors were on the brink of extinction, Peggy Page “almost drove off the Pacific Coast Highway” after spotting one flying high above the cliffs. Birds are a passion, as is living the life of an authentic leader. And birds, in no small way, also led her to Maine.

    “Birds, yes.”

    Our talk is in a coffee shop, and hers is the most engaged, expressive voice in the room.

    “I have been a manager all my career. In 2001, even though I loved my work, I was growing tired of California. My family was back east, so I decided it was time – and Maine had a lot of birds I hadn’t seen, so this is what I picked.”

    Well then, I thought, that’s trusting the universe. She shared that she had gotten a financial package from Applied Materials, the California corporation she had left. I asked about how she had found work here in Maine.

    “I saw a notice about a Maine ASTD meeting and showed up. Really. Sounds like I’m making it up, but I’m not.”

    At the meeting, she sat with Susan Butler who matched her up with a master’s program at USM. She also met Carol McCoy, a “job coach.” Carol suggested that Peggy look through and find positions that looked interesting to her – and not to worry about qualifications.  Peggy found a listing that was for a manager position at Banknorth (later TD Bank).

    Carol: “You’re qualified for this position right now.”

    Peggy: “Really?”

    Carol: “Yes, and I know the hiring manager.”

    Peggy: “Really?”

    Little wonder that Peggy believes in serendipity and being open to possibilities. She worked at the bank for over 13 years. In part, her love of birds had led to a professional adventure in Maine.

    I asked about some experiences that have helped shape her as a leader. She talked about a time she was hired to turn around an organization where the local manager in a corporation had hired friends and family. In order to be successful, she had to coach them to get better or manage them out of the company. Not an easy task, ever. The people she had to let go were out of synch with what their jobs were all about. Peggy took the time to help them understand that their lives would be better in other positions better matching their strengths.

    Peggy, as a teacher and a coach, believes in having real conversations.

    “Stop thinking you’re going to fix people and focus instead on finding strengths to build on. Marcus Buckingham [author of Now, Discover Your Strengths] is like my god. You’re doing them a favor if you manage out those who are miserable at work because of a bad fit. You simply can’t motivate without having real conversations.”

    I asked her to elaborate.                 

    “In the leadership learning program we are doing at Goodwill, we talk about who you are and what you do.  Who you are as a person is inseparable to what you do as a manager. I like analogies so I bring in pennies to illustrate this. One side of the coin is who you are, and the other side is what you do.”

    “OK, I said. “Let’s open it up then to who you are and what you do. I’m going to ask for experiences and ideas. Tell me about tipping points. Any aha moments for you?”

    “When I was managing the call center, I thought I was a smart person. I was great at processes and measurement and all that. Productivity. There was no talk of EI back in those days. Being smart, I used to think that the way was my way. Until I got a 360 feedback on my performance. Found out that I wasn’t a good people manager.”


    “Yes. So I had a co-manager friend I adored as a person but didn’t respect because I thought she was a pushover. She was a textbook F and I was a textbook T. I asked for her help, and we became best friends. She gave me a gift. The gift was the chance to turn things around.”

    What impressed me is that Peggy asked for help. I thought about many people in positions of power who can’t bring themselves to do that.

    “I learned that the manager’s number one responsibility is to develop people. You’re good if your people are good. There’s a big divide if you think the success is because of you. Hopefully a lightbulb will go off.”

    “Like it did for you.”

    “Like it did for me.”

    I asked her about how her current position at Goodwill came to be. Her professional life continues to be a bit unanticipated.

    “Melissa Suey called and asked me if I would consider taking the position. I said yes.”

    “Tell me about what makes things great there.”

    “I love the job. New purpose and motivation. Like Dan Pink says, most of us want to have autonomy, mastery and purpose in our work. The purpose at Goodwill is built in. One challenge is to educate people, employees included, that Goodwill is far more than a used clothing place. We assist people in neuro-rehab, residences for people with mental disabilities.”

    As she speaks about Goodwill, Peggy becomes more animated. She loves that Goodwill’s goal is about creating sustainable communities, with a goal of moving 10,000 households into stability in the next ten years. She talks about new opportunities for redesigning employee learning. Recently, her team created a new employee orientation based on telling the stories of ten employees. The stories are posted to their intranet and give people a deeper understanding of what Goodwill in the real world of felt experiences.

    I asked about suggestions she might have for leaders.

    “Be open - the stumble can really open up the new opportunity. And get people excited about their professional learning. You can read all the books, but being who you are keys leadership. Also, Will Callendar at USM gave me some great advice: live the question. The question helps move you forward. There are always new questions. We don’t live in a static world. As I said, be real in your conversations.”

    I asked for an example.

    “Well, for instance, ask someone What keeps you here at Goodwill? or What would make you leave Goodwill? The answers you get will help you understand what motivates people on your team. People say, ‘But what if they tell me it’s the money?’ and I say, well, then you know. And it might be OK that it’s the money. You don’t know the background story. The process helps you understand the motivations and then you can appeal to those as you manage the team. Have some courage.”

    Peggy credits fellow MATD member Fran Liautaud with helping her with how to ask questions well. One good question to develop a person’s thinking is to ask, “What evidence do you have for that?”

    Authenticity is a theme that comes up again and again when you talk with Peggy. She makes the analogy that as a liar struggles remembering his or her lies so a manager struggles speaking prescribed lines that they have been told are the right ones to use. And Peggy has no use for those memorized simple messages sometimes used to put people in the wrong box.

    “There is no I in team? Of course there is an I – and more than one. Individuals make up the team. They don’t put the pitcher in left field, do they?”

    I asked for some final thoughts aimed at younger leaders.

    “Get connected then people will think of you when there’s an opening. It’s why MATD is so important. Being open and visible is better than just being on one track. If you work on things you feel passionate about, without realizing it at a conscious level, you make the right decisions. There’s no one right answer.”

    OK, there may indeed be no one right answer; however, Peggy Page has found one unique path to leadership. It’s a journey we can also take in our own unique stories. If you follow what brings you joy in your work, you put yourself on a track that has been there all the time, waiting for you. The professional life you ought to be living is then the one you are living. You begin to meet helpers who feel that authenticity at a deep level, and doors can open in unexpected ways.

    Following birds is optional. 

  • Monday, March 14, 2016 2:24 PM | Anonymous

    Don’t forget to sign up THIS WEEK for the April 1 ATD New England Area Conference sponsored by Kineo and save $50! The Advanced Registration rate ends March 20th for “Charting the Future of Learning”, this year’s 6th Annual ATD New England conference, conveniently located at the Radisson Conference Center in Chelmsford, MA. If you can only attend one conference this year, don’t miss this one.

    Experience our Opening CLO Keynote Panel, over 20 leading-edge Concurrent Sessions, and our Business Improv Closing Keynote – all focused on sharing new, innovative approaches to learning & development. This dynamic conference offers a full day of professional development and networking. Each registration also includes free entry to our popular jazz networking social event on Thursday evening, March 31. This year, our Sponsor Gallery and Exhibitor Hall is bigger than ever, offering you exposure to some of the finest learning & development products and services. 

    On Monday, March 21, pricing goes up $50 – don’t forget to sign up today for the conference attendees have rated the “best learning & development conference in New England”.


    Conference Website:

  • Friday, February 05, 2016 3:56 PM | Anonymous
    Writing with Clarity

    Ken O'Quinn is a corporate writing coach and the principal of Writing With Clarity. A former Associated Press writer, he now teaches internal classes on professional business writing for such clients as Facebook, GE, Chevron, Visa, Unum, L.L. Bean, Reebok, and Dunkin' Brands.  Ken will be at our February 16th event if you would like to learn more about his services. 

    Sign Up for Ken’s Monthly Writing Tip:   
    Phone:  207‑767‑0112

  • Monday, January 11, 2016 1:36 PM | Anonymous

    Maine ATD and Our Mission

    At its core, the Maine Chapter of the Association for Talent Development promotes work-related learning. This is the first in a series of profiles featuring leaders who, acting out of their core values, make positive professional change happen.

    - Bill Maxwell

    We thought, “Why not start with our President”? Despite Sally’s protests (and her suggested list of more worthy MATD members), we eventually agreed on having a brief conversation. But before we get to that, let’s review some of the facts.

    Brief Bio

    Sally Wilson is the Learning & Development Manager and Innovation Team Leader at Androscoggin Bank. She is also in a Board advisory role for Literacy Volunteer Androscoggin. She is an instructor with Northern New England for Financial Training Center, a non-profit organization. Her business experience includes a career at LL Bean as an Operational Manager, Project Manager and Corporate Senior Learning Specialist.

    A Brief Conversation

    Sally started on the board at Maine ATD after she responded to a flyer advertising a volunteer opportunity.

    “I saw the flyer asking for someone for helping out with finance.  I knew some of the people on the Board, and I wanted to get involved – so I volunteered.”

    In her finance role, Sally accomplished an operating budget and developed a close working relationship with the board – a board she calls “welcoming.” Two of the people she worked with became mentors, Peggy Page and Katie Vaillancourt. Peggy was the President at the time Sally first volunteered, and Katie became President later on.

    I asked her about the most satisfying part of being Maine ATD President.

    “It’s very rewarding getting work done through volunteers. It requires different strategies compared to working with organizations with employees. Motivation is different. The Maine ATD board is a team of people who have diverse reasons for doing the work. Success comes when you are genuine, and you treat people with respect. The people on the board embrace that thinking; there’s no need to pretend you’re something you’re not.”

    Mostly, Sally says, “It’s the people on the board who make it rewarding.” Sally agrees with Jim Collins’s line: “Great vision without great people is irrelevant…” She suggests that “People need to associate authentically. It’s all about finding the truths that feel right to you and living out those truths the best you can.”

    Sally believes one of those truths involves taking care of yourself in order to be of more help to others. She knows firsthand the difficulties of balancing time as you navigate a professional life. Along these lines, I asked her to respond to a Brené Brown quotation.

    “Crazy-busy is a great armor, it's a great way for numbing. What a lot of us do is that we stay so busy, and so out in front of our life, that the truth of how we're feeling and what we really need can't catch up with us.”

    Sally’s reaction was honest and quick.

    “I completely lost my balance one time in my work life. I kept saying ‘yes’ – and I really don’t know the reason why I kept accepting responsibilities. I’m not sure what I thought I had to prove. I know though that getting through this loss of balance made me stronger. After that I became more focused – with a purpose. I don’t want to repeat that experience. Of course I still can have tough times, but I really learned from the episode. I have compassion as a leader in part because of my going through all of that.”

    Quoting Brown again: “Showing some vulnerability makes you a stronger leader.” I am thinking she would applaud Sally’s story, a story emphasizing authenticity and collaboration rather than command and control. Sally believes that talent development depends on “a time for reflection with colleagues.”  She also believes that “Leadership involves creating an environment where you take time for learning moments.”

    I asked her if she had ever experienced this sort of learning environment. Her first thought was of a manager who supervised her at LL Bean.

    “She was open to different ways of thinking,” Sally said. “When we had one to ones, it was a safe place. She listened – and I remember her asking one question at every meeting: What have you learned since we last met?”

    Sally’s manager always had the time to listen and to give appropriate feedback. “One of her strengths was her self-awareness. And her inquisitive listening was at the right level, not too much and not too little. Comfortable, but focused on the job at hand.”

    Sally, it seems to us, mirrors those same traits in her role as Maine ATD President:collaborative, authentic, outcome focused. Sally believes “Each leadership story is unique.” To this we say true enough. As evidence, we offer up what can happen after you respond to a Maine ATD flyer.

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