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News Stories · Organizational Learning

How an IMD organizational learning program helped establish the UEFA Academy

The impact of Organizational Learning in Action
May 2019

Thomas Junod is Head of the UEFA Academy at The Union of European Football Associations. Last year, he participated in IMD’s Organizational Learning in Action (OLA), a program designed to help learning professionals develop and implement successful learning strategies across their organizations, and drive business growth as a result.

In his role, Thomas leads UEFA’s executive education, research and university relations team, which delivers educational programs, research and knowledge-sharing services for UEFA’s 55 member associations and other stakeholders in European football.

For Thomas, participating in OLA was a key step in bringing UEFA’s educational offerings together and creating the UEFA Academy. Through the Academy, Thomas says that he and his colleagues have raised the profile and increased interest and engagement in UEFA’s learning programs.

“The program really came at the right time for me,” said Thomas. “I was able to test and refine the ideas that I had for the UEFA Academy in OLA. What I learned helped me transform our learning programs from being a catalogue of courses into a fully formed academy with a true vision and a clear purpose for our stakeholders.”

According to Thomas, in the year since he has completed OLA, the UEFA Academy has exceeded all expectations: “Thanks to the creation of the Academy a larger share of the UEFA community is aware of our efforts to develop people in world of football. We’ve received many new requests to participate since the launch. It’s been extremely successful.”

Organizational Learning in Action

Discussing the OLA program at IMD, Thomas said it helped him develop a broader understanding of the learning and development profession. He has always had an academic approach to learning but understood that learning in a corporate setting had a much broader scope. His participation in OLA confirmed that and helped him gain a deeper understanding of the range of methodology used in organizational learning.

“I wanted to compare what other organizations were doing, and I actually discovered that what we had been doing in the field of learning at UEFA was advanced even in comparison to a number of other large organizations,” Thomas said. “OLA confirmed that we were working in the right direction and validated some key ideas regarding the way we were envisaging our future”.

One of the motivating factors for Thomas to participate in OLA was that he became a learning and development expert on the job with no formal training, so he was interested in a program that was targeted at his field of work.

In addition to “great content and great speakers,” as Thomas phrased it, he said OLA included an excellent selection of learning and development professionals as fellow participants.

“The program was audacious and pushed me to challenge myself. It’s great to see that IMD challenges its own way of doing things by introducing so many innovative new features in the program,” said Thomas, referring to modules like the visit to the “Swiss EdTech Collider” on EPFL campus and the discussion at Musée de l’Elysée the famous photography museum in Lausanne, to learn about knowledge transfer through exhibitions.

“We created this program for people who oversee learning and development in order to further establish their role as trusted advisors for their business and to get a seat at the leadership table as well as to further codify the learning profession,” said Shlomo Ben-Hur, Professor of Leadership, Talent Management and Corporate Learning at IMD and Director of OLA. “Having visited Thomas at UEFA nearly a year after his participation in the program, I was proud to see how he implemented so many of the things that we recommend in OLA and the impact they are having on learning in his organization”.

Find out more about Organizational Learning in Action (OLA)