Michelle Fanfarillo grew up in Arizona and gained both her undergrad and masters’ degrees from Arizona State University. After playing school as a girl, she never thought about doing anything else. She began her career as a school teacher and had always been passionate about school and learning. She taught 5th graders in her 20s, then she was recruited to the Intel corporation. At Intel, she held numerous L&D roles, including Latin American L&D manager. After rolling out numerous L&D programs and honing her skills as an organizational development professional, she decided to take it to the next level by pursuing a certification in coaching. She studied at the Hudson Institute in Santa Barbara and then was fortunate enough to land a position simultaneously in executive development. This role gave Michelle insight into how business leaders think and the pressures they face.

Bill Harrison gravitated to L&D through some very non-traditional roads. He began his career in law because he always had a keen interest in how people interact. He realized early in his legal career that he was more interested in developing a mutual understanding than winning arguments. He then started looking around for ways to explore non-litigation problem solving. He then ended up in arbitration and mediation where he met L&D folks who shared his same interests. He ended up working at Andersen Consulting in their L&D department. His facilitation skills, learned in law, were applicable to the learning simulation labs being designed at their training center and he spent several years designing and delivering various simulations and experientially-based learning events.

About his work with Andersen Consulting, Bill says:

“I fell in love with the idea that learning can be fulfilling, fun and make the world better place. It became very clear to me that making better leaders led to better organizations and more fulfilled people. I really loved seeing the positive results of the programs we were running.”

On the strength of his work, he was recruited to Intel, where he spent time working in various organizational development roles. At Intel, he found that he could then move the ideas he had been using in the training environment into the frontline industry. He learned how to create developmental experiences for teams and leaders in a wide range of circumstances, and the demand for his work just kept growing.

This is where he met Michelle, they teamed up to design and deliver many impactful programs and events that emphasized interaction, awareness raising and relationship building. Over time, their work together allowed them to tailor their offerings in ways that business leaders wanted, with clear results. Teams were formed more quickly and managers were operating with more savvy and intention. Hallmarks of their work could be seen by the gains in motivation through values-based communication and action, rather than fear and manipulation.

After many years at Intel for both, they decided to form Level Up LLC which focused on developing leaders. For two years, they focused on creating their own brand of high quality leadership development experiences.

It was at this point that PeopleFirm became interested in what they were doing. PeopleFirm wanted to see what adding a devoted leadership development capability to their already robust organization-focused service lines would do. In 2015, they joined forces and have been exploring new ways of impacting leaders since.

Michelle says about her work at PeopleFirm that:

“In particular we have been focusing on developing large scale, customized ‘cohorts’, in which multiple leaders get a highly tailored and interactive experiences emphasizing leadership skill and awareness building.”

When asked what makes them both love L&D, they say:

“We continue to love this work because I believe it makes lives better, business better AND leads to higher profit. People do better because they are better when they focus on developing!  For us, it’s almost like no other work matters.”

They especially value what others do and their passion is supporting leaders in their quest to become excellent at leading others, no matter what business or activity they focus on. That’s why they are super excited to be able to share their insights with us at TLDC18.

At TLDC16, they spoke about some of their ideas of what makes a great leadership development program and how to design a program to emphasize interaction and engagement. They exposed TLDC16 to the design notions that they have honed over the years, to make great learning experiences in the leadership development space.

For TLDC18, they are returning to move that ball farther down the field. Their session 21st Century Management/Leadership Development Strategies will expand on their rigorous year of experimentation and productive risk taking in the programs they have designed and run. They will share ‘case study’ evidence that they think shows the truth of the effectiveness of leadership development programs with their approach.

Michelle and Bill say that joining them for their session:

“We want to share some specific ways which we have now road tested to help you improve the learning experiences you design and deliver. We have a number of best practices which have led to some extraordinary results. As always, we want to discuss with our peeps at TLDC!”

It’s still not too late! We would love to see you at TLDC18. If you want to connect with Bill and Michelle, you can catch them at the links below.

Bill: LinkedIn

Michelle: LinkedIn, Twitter