2020 Award-Winning L&D and HR Case Studies
2020 Award-Winning L&D and HR Case Studies

HR and L&D changemakers are in the spotlight with the case studies that made the biggest impact according to corporate learning and education leaders from over 20 countries globally.

The most powerful stories of HR and L&D transformation were honoured with the awards of the MERIT Annual Summit 2020.


#1 Case Study: Unlearn – How Learning Innovation Enables Business Transformation to “Unsmoke” the World, PMI

Award: “Leading and Motivating Teams with Emotional Intelligence” training module from PeopleSmart

How can learning support and accelerate business transformation? To power PMI’s shift from cigarettes to smoke-free products, employees across the global company had to adopt new priorities and ways of working. What are the design principles behind PMI’s new learning framework?


Nina Kreyer of Philip Morris International presents a L&D transformation case study at the MERIT Annual Summit


Dr Nina Kreyer, global head of Learning, Philip Morris International (PMI), impressed the audience with her clear and inspiring presentation of the L&D approach and contribution to business transformation. Nina shared examples of learning innovation at PMI as well as a perspective of where learning@PMI has come from, its vision, and progress to date. She highlighted the challenges, what comes next, and how this may be useful for other organisations and settings: sustained communications, change and momentum; from flagship solutions to delivering at scale; social enablement and peer-to-peer support; getting the technology right; offering choice and being globally integrated; balancing the need for expert and generalist capability; easy evidence tracking for sustained behavioural change; integrating strategic workforce planning, talent and learning; and winning hearts and minds.


#2 Case Study: Can HR Innovate? CERN

Award: Leadership programme from IE Business School

Arguably, the third industrial revolution was triggered by the invention of the World Wide Web at CERN. Recreating the big bang and studying the origins of our universe is a tremendous driving force for CERN’s engineers to innovate. But what about HR? Can an innovative workforce leave HR behind? How can HR create its own innovate mindset generating its own HR innovations? Well, at the home of the Large Hadron Collider, CERN HR leaders are trying an experiment in HR to achieve just that. Will it work for them and could it work for you? Can HR innovate?


James Purvis, Head of HR, CERN, presents a case study of HR biases at the MERIT Annual Summit


James Purvis, head of HR, CERN, challenged the audience to recognise the statements they hear every day, or say themselves, that can hinder innovation, the most detrimental of all being “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” His long list of innovation-busting attitudes included “Millennials are just too demanding”, “How do we know it would even work?”, and “It’s already been done.

James argued against crowd-sourcing innovation proposals from your employees. He suggested that employees themselves may not be the best judge of what would improve HR services. At CERN, idea boxes, interviews, and brainstorming sessions generated a total of 250 proposals – yet none of them were that innovative. The highest-rated idea was to “simplify HR processes”; a runner-up was “enhancing well-being”. He quoted Henry Ford, who said, “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have asked for faster horses.” James proposed a disruptive, iterative approach to HR – daring to try new things first, and validating them later.


#3 Case Study: Inclusion-for-All Strategy within the Entire Employee Lifecycle, Vodafone

Award: Executive education programme in Strategic Leadership, Change Management, or Corporate Social Responsibility from the Maastricht School of Management

How is Vodafone creating an impactful inclusion-for-all strategy within the entire employee lifecycle?


Felizitas Lichtenberg, Global D&I Lead, Vodafone, presents a case study on creating a culture of inclusion.


Felizitas Lichtenberg, Vodafone’s global Diversity & Inclusion Lead, brought up some thought-provoking and uncomfortable questions. “Is it okay to discuss a colleague’s looks at work?”, “How about looking into their personal life?” The answers of the HR audience varied: for each given workplace situation, some believed it was okay, while others found it unacceptable or a grey area.

The takeaway from this interactive presentation? There is no right answer, and no workplace rules can address all uncomfortable or confusing situations that can and will arise. Rather, HR’s main goal regarding diversity and inclusion should be to empower employees to speak up about how they feel. In a space that is safe for conversation, diversity will thrive.


#4 Case Study: Pioneering Talent Management in an Agile World, ING

Award: Coaching from LIVEsciences

More than two years ago, ING decided to change its organisational structure based on the agile principles. As a consequence, all HR processes needed to be rethought. Why Agile at ING? What was the impact for HR and the people in the organisation? Where are ING in the journey? What have they already learned?


Christophe vanden Eede presents a case study on Agile talent management at ING


In his case study, Christophe vanden Eede, global head of Career Management, ING, led the HR and L&D audience to turn the focus inward towards themselves as the main source of transformation. “Agile starts with YOU”, as he put it. Christophe acknowledged that work and careers in HR and L&D are in a state of disruption. “The whole world around you looks dangerous,” Christophe said, but this “does not mean you need to be afraid to move forward.” Based on his experience, he advised that HR leaders focus on their sense of purpose and build on that to move forward, even as specific roles change.


Why the MERIT Awards

The award-winning case studies were selected by over 150 corporate learning and education leaders from over 20 countries at the global MERIT Annual Summit, Seville, 5-6 February 2020.

Sharing real-business case studies boosts peer learning among HR and L&D leaders by bringing first-hand insight into challenges, failures, journeys, and achievements. Presenters themselves gain fresh perspectives and feedback from peers in the unique interactive and collaborative environment of MERIT.


Adiós, Sevilla! À bientôt, Paris.

Coming really soon – the next opportunity for immersion in HR and L&D leaders learning: “Rethinking Learning in a Connected World”, the MERIT European Summit co-hosted with LinkedIn, Microsoft’s headquarters, Paris, 23 June 2020.

Connect with peers and find learning strategies that will make your organisation more innovative, resilient, and future-ready. With digital innovation, global connectivity, and the constant need for upskilling and reskilling, new frontiers are opening in corporate and executive learning. Explore them now.

Check out: MERIT Events


Join the learning loop

Take advantage of the open loop of learning with unlimited access to MERIT events, on-demand peer-to-peer personal consulting, and complimentary leadership training. Join the exclusive professional HR / L&D / C-level network of like-minded peers who exchange ideas, share best practices, and co-create solutions to common challenges. Apply for membership to the MERIT Leadership Community.