Name: Rebekah Harvey
Hometown: Boise, Idaho
Profession: Vice President of Global Learning Solutions Development at Hewlett-Packard (HP)
Degree Earned from Capella University: PhD in Training and Performance Improvement (this degree is no longer available; a comparable program is Capella’s EDD in Performance Improvement Leadership)
Q. What prompted you to explore a career in education?
A. From the time I was a sophomore in high school, I knew I was going to be an English teacher. I went to college with that intent, but I got to my senior year and thought “What am I doing? I don’t want to teach English for the rest of my life!” I completed my English degree, but didn’t obtain my teaching credentials.
From there, I started a photography business with my sister. I had no business background whatsoever. We managed to survive for 3 years, but didn’t make any money.I went back to school for my master’s degree in English Literature and got a graduate assistantship. I taught English at a community college for a few years as an adjunct faculty member and continued to work for a school photography company, doing sales and principal photography. I really had no clue what I wanted to do when I grew up.
After a short stint as a customer service agent at VoiceStream Wireless, which is now T-Mobile, I moved into a call center trainer position and I’ve been in training ever since. I guess you could say I found my niche and that perhaps my early instincts were right—I did want to be a teacher of sorts. I’m happiest when I really feel like I’m making a difference and helping people perform their jobs better. I took advantage of T-Mobile’s tuition assistance program in order to pursue my PhD at Capella.
Q. What is your current role at HP?
A. I am currently the Vice President of Global Learning Solutions Development (GLSD) for HP. My team and I develop learning solutions aligned to critical business priorities across all HP businesses and functional groups.
My team and I also manage and maintain the HP University and HP ExpertOne learning portfolios, comprised of over 10,000 courses, learning assets, and certifications. The GLSD team creates between 800 and 1,000 new learning solutions every quarter.
Q. How has your degree from Capella helped you in your career?
A. It has helped me in both large and small ways. Most of all, it helped me move forward in my career and profession. Part of it was the academic credentials, but I also have the practical, real world business experience that enabled me to advance. My PhD in Education with a specialization in Training and Performance Improvement is directly aligned with the work I do every day.
As a scholar-practitioner, I employ the academic work I did for my PhD within a business context. My PhD lends me an academic credibility while my practical work experience provides the “street-cred” required to do my job.
Q. Who had the greatest influence on your career path?
A. There have been so many great influences. If I had to pick one, I would say it was a senior project leader from a consulting company who was brought in during a period of mergers and acquisitions. She really knew her stuff. She was very, very, good at letting the room completely wear themselves out on a debate, and then saying “here’s what we’re going to do.” She’d hear all sides and then move forward. She just had this confident expectation that everyone would get on board and we always did. She had a Master’s in Education, and was the leader and training professional that I wanted to be.
Q. What do you enjoy most about your job?
A. Constantly thinking of new ways to drive better performance.
I think there are people who are builders and there are people who are maintainers. I’m definitely a builder; I like to create new things. I love where we are right now from an industry standpoint because it’s this merging of talent and learning which should have always been merged to begin with. We’re really seeing that as an industry trend. We’re moving that direction at HP and viewing training as an enablement function. Not as something separate from what has to happen in the business, but integral to what happens in the business.
Q. How do you stay up to date on industry trends?
A. I attend events like the CLO Symposium for motivation and information on new trends and thinking. I am a member of numerous boards, and they keep me up to date. I also read a lot of industry blogs and actively seek out new thought leaders in the industry.
Q. Do you have any tips for balancing school, career, and life?
A. I think there’s no one success formula that works for everybody. Certainly having a good partner, an understanding partner who was willing to not see me for days on end was an incredible blessing. I restricted Sundays so I didn’t do any school work or any work work; I tried to keep Sundays for us. The thing with Capella that helped was that I was able to use actual work for some of my projects. I was able to do some of it during work time, not a lot. Then I could actually get work done after hours, while I was working on school work. That helped.
You just figure it out. Every person is going to figure it out for themselves.
Capella University offers PhD and professional doctorate degree programs ranging from business to education and health to technology. Learn more about Capella’s doctoral programs.