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Author's profile photo Vesela Dimitrova

Our journey towards a learning organization

I am confident that a major step for our company in reaching our goals is to become an organization whose learning culture is part of its DNA (in other words a Learning organization).


SAP Labs Bulgaria is one of the locations with high rated results in the area of People Development (72% with 65 % average for SAP). We have also received a “Best employer award” four times by now and have won a tough competition for “Best HR Team” on the Bulgarian market. All of our achievements make me feel comfortable to share with you our continuous journey as a learning organization.

Here are our five pillars for success in this journey.


Structured approach

To establish а learning culture we need a strong foundation. This includes a well-defined, transparent and simple process of prioritizing, planning and executing on annual basis.

However, there is no doubt that in order to meet the needs of our dynamic environment, the approach should follow the good practices in agile development and allow being continuously revised and adapted.


Let me give you an example: During a development planning workshop in November 2013 we (HR and Business) sneaked into the future and decided on the focus areas for the next year.  As SAP Labs Bulgaria is extensively growing in 2014, we prioritized the following clusters:

1.) Developing future leaders through a curriculum

2.) Strengthening the local leadership community

3.) Investing in the technological expertise for all levels


So, for 2014 we had an ambitious plan that requires resources – a person who is completely dedicated to the topic of training and development  and who works closely with HRBPs and Management (and that’s me 🙂 ). We also needed Leadership/Management that believes in and supports the topic, adequate budget and of course….


Internal experts as trainers, mentors and coaches

In my view you cannot establish a learning organization without the “stars” in the company who believe in our values and future, who experienced what it is to start as a freshmen and who are constantly dedicated to explore and develop their potential.

These are the people who are willing to invest efforts in up skilling their colleagues and showing a great example to the “young talents”.

Of course, if you have big budget you could invite external experts to up-skill your people in specific areas, but this will not “buy“ you the learning culture to become learning organization.


To follow on the example above, after prioritizing and planning we involved our experts to contribute in the different programs.

To make the offerings transparent and easy to find, I created…


Simple communication channels

Here are the 3 channels that we use:

  1.) Kanban board


2.) Training calendar on monitors in coffee corner and canteen area

3.) Special Training & Development Internal Page containing training calendar with planned local trainings; Catalog with description of the content and information about ongoing mentoring program.


Variety of development methods

As we all well know, visiting classroom training is just touching the surface of developing a skill.

If you don’t put it in your focus, think it over, discuss with mentors/peers, reflect it and experience it on your own, the knowledge will disappear.

So, for us it became critical to incorporate mentoring, coaching and practicing as essential parts of the learning cycle.


Cooperation with the Leadership

Finally all these programs, activities and good ideas are only possible thanks to the cooperation with the leaders in the organization.

The management of SLB believes in the endless potential of our people and they passionately engage in building the learning organization.

Our managers act as mentors, coaches, trainers, peer consultants and promoters of all existing learning opportunities.


I am proud to say that thanks to our great collaboration, enthusiasm and proactiveness we have reached a level where the learning culture is an inseparable part of our organization. And we continue with our development journey with the crisp understanding that it is our own responsibility to drive our own development and support the others around us.

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