Leaders in the Limelight: Marianne Carlson

Written By

Susan Jacobs

October 01, 2018

My name: Marianne Carlson

My company: Medline Industries 

My title: Vice President, Sales Training

My location: Northfield, Illinois

Marianne Carlson

Best business advice I ever received: At the midpoint of my career I was eager to continue to learn and grow within my company. I received advice from our general manager that in order to gain new opportunities you have to be exceptional at the job you were hired to do, and then ask for more. I still live by this today. You must thoroughly understand your role in the organization, the impact you have on others, and bring forward the absolute best solutions. Then ask to do even more, and start that whole process over again. This has opened the doors to countless opportunities, while also giving me the chance to continue to learn and grow both professionally and personally.

Most daring personal career move: I spent the first 12 years of my career in marketing and was good at what I did. I was offered an opportunity to move into a role in sales effectiveness, assisting with sales communications and program adoption. This was a fundamental shift in all I knew and was way outside my comfort zone. My first thought was: Not a chance. But I took time to think through the opportunity and the work I would be doing. I recognized that I was no longer challenged in the role I had, and I was not close enough to the customer to understand what drove our business or why a customer would choose us over someone else. It was the best career decision I ever made, and today I never pass up an opportunity to push myself and try something new.

What I’m most proud of: I have been fortunate to work with dynamic and thought-leading individuals throughout my career, and have been part of several great projects that have transformed businesses. This has and continues to provide a great deal of personal reward, but I believe what I am most proud of is the team I work with. I am the first to admit I do not know everything, and building a team of individuals that are strong where I am weak has produced some phenomenal results. Empowering the members of the team to do their jobs and make decisions based on their expertise has allowed our organization to transform the way we teach and accelerate learning retention.

Current workplace challenge: We have recently transitioned our onboarding program to a truly blended approach with online, classroom, and field-based learning. Delivering this program quickly to meet the needs of the business is driving speed to learning for the new sales reps and cost savings for the business, but beyond this it’s been difficult to measure. We continue to see double-digit sales growth, which confirms we have done no harm in the changes we have made. However, this organic growth makes measuring training effectiveness difficult as we support multiple sales organizations, serving established and expansion territories across the continuum of healthcare. The variability in each market, the needs of our customers, and the needs of our sales reps is ever-changing, and measuring training effectiveness is difficult.

Something people don’t know about me: Something that I avoid discussing, especially with my children, is that I was not a good student and not necessarily a rule-follower. I barely made it through high school and did enough to graduate college, but did that just to not disappoint my mother. What I have learned since then is that what you have done, or in my case not done, in the past does not matter. It’s all about what you have yet to achieve.

Editor’s note

Marianne Carlson will be participating in The eLearning Guild’s second annual Executive Forum on October 23, 2018. This special one-day experience, which takes place prior to the Guild’s DevLearn 2018 Conference & Expo, is designed for senior learning and development leaders who want to collaborate with peers and industry experts on cutting-edge strategies that address the key challenges of the modern learning organization. Join Marianne and other senior executives at this exclusive event.

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