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The New Bertelsmann University

For many years, the two institutions have been synonymous with effective, long-term vocational training at our company. Thousands of managers and employees have completed their courses. Now Bertelsmann University and Bertelsmann Academy are merging. A unified learning organization is being created for the entire Group – for employees at all levels and around the world – under the “Bertelsmann University” brand. The new Bertelsmann University will be led by Steven Moran, who in his position as Chief Learning Officer reports to CHRO Immanuel Hermreck, and who will be responsible for the Employee Survey as well as for corporate training from now on.

Immanuel HermreckFor Hermreck, merging the training organizations is a milestone in the implementation of his human resources strategy, which he had announced shortly after his appointment as Chief Human Resources Officer. Regarding vocational training, he explains: “We want to offer our employees the best options for their further development, and to do so across divisions, regions and functions.” Hermreck sees a direct link between the corporate and HR strategies, because “ultimately it’s the managers and employees who have to put the Bertelsmann strategy into action – but they must also be able to do so. We want to help them build the necessary skills with state-of-the-art learning and training solutions.”

The CHRO says this is especially apropos in light of the transformation to digital: “Digitization is changing our business model and our working world. It requires – and creates – new skills and competences. We want to respond to this by promoting and developing our employees in a targeted way – which is precisely the remit of the new Bertelsmann University,” says Hermreck, who was head of the University himself for several years. “Bertelsmann was a pioneer in the field of corporate universities – and the first company in Germany to offer dual-study programs. We will now expand innovative initiatives like these both in terms of content and internationally, and adapt their methods to the possibilities and requirements of the digital age. Online learning will become much more important at Bertelsmann as elsewhere.” He concluded by saying that for him, digital transformation in HR work means learning to become digital on the one hand, and learning digitally on the other. The new University will systematically focus on this. “The proportion of online learning programs will increase markedly. We will significantly expand the learning opportunities in Bertelsmann’s learning management system, Peoplenet,” explains Steven Moran, “because we believe that continued training can be offered more efficiently and effectively than ever before thanks to digitization. It also makes learning possible anywhere and anytime – independent of instructors or classrooms. All of this benefits employees as well as companies, because it will change the learning culture at Bertelsmann.”  At the same time, as digital learning is expanded, the proportion of physical training offers at Bertelsmann is to be gradually reduced.

So the University is not only a response to the new requirements and opportunities of digitization, but also follows a worldwide trend towards lifelong learning, e.g. with the help of Udacity, a Bertelsmann shareholding in the education sector.

Steven MoranThe opportunity to educate oneself anytime, anywhere, job-specifically, individually, as well as in completely new fields of knowledge, is to be offered to all employees. And though much will be new and different in vocational training at Bertelsmann, at the same time the new Chief Learning Officer assures us that: “We will continue many tried and tested University and Academy formats, such as supporting the businesses in developing and executing customized learning and development measures, as formerly offered by the Academy; the Mastering New Challenges Program, which the University developed in cooperation with the Harvard Business School; and the renowned State Of The Art forums on topics such as digitization, in Silicon Valley in 2013, and creativity, in London in 2014.”

In fact these forums, which also always serve as networking opportunities for the participating Bertelsmann managers, will be consolidated into one of four new Bertelsmann University departments: the Strategy Campus, where large, Group-wide formats are held with the participation of the Executive Board, GMC and CEO. The focus here is on strategic guidelines and their implementation. A second department tackles the topic of leadership, no less relevant for Bertelsmann: the ​​Leadership Campus. The idea is to continually improve managers’ skills and thus leadership at Bertelsmann, and to bring them in line with Bertelsmann’s high expectations in this area, through specific offers.

The Function Campus deals with professional development in various specific topics. It focuses on the employees’ tasks and functions, and helps them in their own development and to identify new trends. For example, this department is responsible for the summits in areas like HR, finance, and – coming up in Berlin a few weeks from now – IT. The new University’s fourth and final department is the Individual Campus. As the name suggests, it is about the individual acquisition of new knowledge for a very specific job or for personal development. The University’s offer is as varied as the tasks at Bertelsmann, ranging from Office and language tutorials to courses on interview techniques and management. This is precisely where online learning will increasingly come into play in future. It will make courses more independent of time and place – and make more and more of them available internationally.The international expansion of its training offers is one of the main goals Bertelsmann is pursuing with the new University – and therefore is a top priority for its boss, Steven Moran. His very biography gives him plenty of internationality to work with in his new position: Moran is an American and Belgian citizen with German roots. He studied in Houston, at Harvard and in St. Louis before joining Bertelsmann in 1999 through the Central Trainee Program, working for the Bertelsmann University team in 2003 and 2004. After stints in Corporate Development and executive positions in HR, he temporarily left Bertelsmann in 2005 and joined Apple, where he was responsible for establishing iTunes in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

In 2007, Moran returned to Bertelsmann, initially as Senior Vice President, Corporate HR Strategy & Controlling. In February 2011, he went to BMG in Berlin as COO. As a member of its Management Board, he took over global responsibility for Operations, HR, and IT & Systems at the rapidly expanding music rights company. His main tasks additionally included the integration of numerous newly acquired companies and publishers into BMG. From December 2013 to its dissolution at the beginning of this year, Moran was in charge of the Transformation Management Office at the Corporate Center. Commenting on Moran's appointment as Chief Learning Officer, Immanuel Hermreck says: “I have had a close and trusting working relationship with Steven Moran for many years, and am delighted that he is taking over responsibility for the new Bertelsmann University, a strategically crucial field at Bertelsmann. He takes over two areas that Gerd Bührig and Heribert Sangs, who remains Head of Corporate Education (ZA) at Bertelsmann and reports to me, have done an outstanding job managing and positioning. Steven will now further develop the structure, content and methodology of corporate training at Bertelsmann, and above all expand it internationally. Together with Gerd Bührig, he has already laid the foundations to do this in the past few months, and provided decisive impetus for the realignment. I wish him every success in this important task.” (benet)