The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of building agility in the organisation and spotlighting the role of the Chief Learning Officer (CLO) more than ever before.


CLOs can take this moment to build and empower a global workforce to meet tomorrow’s challenges and seize disruptive opportunities.

Chief Learning Officers now have new opportunities to transform talent and learning, refocus organisational priorities and create a better tomorrow.


According to John Bersin, a Global Learning Industry Analyst, the role of Chief Learning Officer has never been more important. Today CLOs are being asked to take on a transformational role: creating a culture of continuous growth, skills development, and future planning for the company. Some of the evolving and very interesting responsibilities for this role are highlighted below:



  • Pattern Matching: CLO’s must understand the myriad of new technologies being applied to learning and must understand and be aware of new skills and jobs being created. CLOs should recognise economic trends and how supply and demand for talent are changing.


They need to be very well-versed in the company’s culture and what kinds of programs and interventions will work (and which will not). Every company has a culture of learning (or non-learning), and it often conflicts with the culture of execution. The CLO is the executive that must teach other executives how to “learn” while they “execute” and institutionalise the idea of continuous learning into every business unit, every executive, and every employee.


  • Change Drivers: The role of the CLO has shifted from just providing skill-based and compliance course training to staff to reshaping capabilities and organisational culture. The CLO should always challenge leaders and L&D staff to innovate, adapt, and improve. Corporate learning Is a continuous effort, and people learn in a myriad of ways. Great CLOs will encourage their teams always to find agile ways to execute and deliver multi-modal learning for diverse learners. They must also cultivate a growth mindset among employees.


  • Design Thinkers: There is no doubt thatlearning drives performance in organisations. However, as digital transformation redefines business practices and skills, great CLOs realise that driving learning in a company is not about “delivering lots of learning programs” — it’s about “delivering great learning experiences”. CLO’s are exploring outside training rooms and learning management systems; they are building learning ecosystems and experiences that enable learning to happen in the flow of work and life.


  • Culture Officers: Almost every major company today needs to focus on adapting to change, transforming its products and services, and reskilling its workforce. None of these things goes well if the company is not able to unlearn, learn and relearn.This means the CLO must be keenly aware of the company’s culture, reward systems, and values. They should cultivate every employee’s ability to learn and grow.


  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I): The CLO is responsible for championing inclusion through learning. They provide access to learning resources to eliminate barriers between executives and employees and enable equity across the organisation. To ensure the advancement of diversity, equity, and inclusion, CLO’s should continue to provide just-in-time, open-access learning opportunities respectful of dynamic and diverse schedules and responsibilities. Learning that is accessible anywhere, anytime, and that offers an opportunity for self-assessment, reflection, and action.


At pcl., we believe the CLO plays a vital role in the ongoing success of every company, and this role will become even more critical in the future. As a result, we are committed to providing continuous support to these Learning Leaders across various sectors to keep honing their transformative roles towards building capabilities and talent agility required for the future of work.


Written by:

Modupe Thomas-Owoseni

Head of Advisory, Digital Learning