Career Interview: Remembering Deb Colky

Deb Colky was one of my best friends. She was intelligent, personable, hardworking, and downright funny. Those who had the great fortune of a first-hand experience with Deb know exactly what I mean.  Most of all, Deb loved the profession of Training and was a highly skilled presenter and designer. I feel fortunate to have worked with her for 7 years. deb-colky1





As I remember Deb, I’d like to share with you the content of a professional interview that Deb gave one of our TRDV 400 students back in 2006 that really explains her passion for training and her love for learning.  Here is the interview content:

Interview with Professor Deb Colky, Program Director of the Graduate Program in Training and Development at Roosevelt University

Can you explain the path you followed to get to the T & D field?
It was a circuitous route! I started out as an English major and high school teacher. I moved into Higher Education Administration and stayed at the college level where I enjoyed adult students and adult education. Being an educator in different educational fields I was asked to speak to groups and that lead to being asked to train! Back then there were no expectations for “trainers.”

Would you choose this field again?
Yes! Training is very much needed! There have been great strides in making this a respected profession. And, trainers are working hard to get the recognition and respect they deserve.

What do you like best about T & D?
It’s exciting! It’s always different! I like the fact that it is helping people learn and making information easy for them.

What do you like least about T & D?
The profession is misunderstood, and this leads to it getting cut from the budgets.

If this is generally the first thing to be cut when businesses are cost cutting, where does that leave the trainer? What options do they have?
Most businesses are not really cutting their training budgets. Only those businesses that are not forward thinking! We have been moving away from a manufacturing economy and are now moving into a service industry which is people important. Most training occurs in the workplace where “Learning Departments” are being led by performance professionals. There is a big boom in training, and from what I read and hear, I believe training is in good shape.

What skill sets are developed in this field and to what areas can these be transferred?
The communications skills, speaking, and writing are very important. Business understanding and strategy and an understanding of learning and teaching also are good skills to have. These skill sets can transfer very easily into sales. I also see them being used by coaches. Not physical trainer coaches but life or job coaches.

How much difference is there between online teaching/learning and training?
As a teacher you are more of the expert, you develop thinking skills and the effect is more long term. As a trainer, your goal is different; it is skill based. You provide the tools and the solutions. Training needs to make behavioral changes and changes in attitudes. The end goal is to help people perform better. It is a short-term solution. It is on the job and informal.

A trainer’s job is to train. The trainer is not the expert and generally is not the subject matter expert. You have the Designer, the Instructional Designer and then the Trainer.

 Today, how much training is face to face as opposed to computer based? And, how quickly do you think that percent will change?
Face to face training used to be the norm. But now, computer-based training has finally surpassed that and is now used for over 50 percent of training. There is a saying: “High tech needs high touch.” I believe the trend is for training to be blended.

 Where do you see this field going in the future?
The trend for the future is in blended learning. We must have a seat at the table in business. Our job is to help humans learn how to work.

What is an average day like for a trainer?
On an average day, the trainer will rise early to check out the presentation area. He will go over his notes and then train for ½ or a full day. After that training session, it is back on the road (traveling can be a big part of training) and back to work to begin working on the next training session.

Comments from student interviewer:
I appreciated the time that Professor Colky spent with me and the insights into the Training and Development field that she shared. What I wasn’t expecting was her joy and enthusiasm for this field and this profession.   Having attended my first professional meeting and having conducted my first T & D professional interview in the same week, the enthusiasm shown by all of these T & D people was overwhelming.

It has become very apparent that people who work in this field LOVE their jobs and it shows! Positive Mental Attitude is a must! Their joy is contagious!

Like a few other students, I too found it hard to capture all that was said as the conversation moved more rapidly than I could write. When you find a person who is so excited about their job/career and is so willing to talk about it, you get drawn in and start soaking up their enthusiasm and wisdom. After these two assignments, it has become very apparent to me that this is a field well worth looking into!

As we remember Deb, please take a moment to share a story or an experience if you had the great fortune of knowing this wonderful teacher and friend.

One comment

  • I had the privilege of knowing Deb since the 80’s, and then worked with her at RU beginning in 2004. She was brilliant and fun. It made me look forward to coming into the office. I learned quite a bit from her. We all miss her!

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