The L&D and HR Topics that Define 2020
The L&D and HR Topics that Define 2020

A dynamic but highly testing 2020 is almost behind us. Indeed, looking back on the past 12 months may not trigger especially positive feelings for us all. However, many of us can also reflect with pride on a year in which we rose to unprecedented challenges and this should give us a buzz as we head into 2021. 

The HR and L&D community had no options but to innovate the way we lead organisations and to make our presence felt more than ever for our teams. The MERIT Leadership Community has been building momentum despite the turbulence of the pandemic.  

Our 2020 started with the MERIT annual learning and networking summit in sunny Seville and we eagerly re-connected at a unique hybrid event in colourful Paris in September. Thought leaders of the HR and L&D world fuelled our knowledge, feeling of belonging, spirit of responsible leadership, and commitment to innovation in ongoing virtual events. 

Let’s take a look at the HR topics that define 2020.  


Emerging technologies and their role in corporate learning 

For years now, tech visionaries from the HR and L&D circles have expressed their belief in the power of new technologies to disrupt executive education. This year has proved that digitisation is not a matter of choice or preference. In the face of a global pandemic, emerging technologies and the way companies manage to implement them determine not only company progress, but also their survival. 

The Risks and Benefits of Emerging Technology for HR (Interview) with Dragana Beara, Global Messaging Director for Augmentation & Immersive Technologies at Dell 

“Pioneer When Others Retreat”: Why Digital Learning Can Be Powerful (Interview) with Dr Sanjeev Khagram, Director-General and Dean, Thunderbird School of Global Management (US) 

After Covid-19: Speed Up Digital Transformation or Face Extinction (Interview) with Filipe Carrera, speaker, coach, and university lecturer at IPAM Lisbon 


Making diversity and inclusion a priority 

The world will also remember the 2020 social movements and the growing number of conversations on equality and diversity. Organisations of all sizes and from all sectors declared that they want to be held accountable for their efforts in improving D&I practices. What lies ahead now and how can HR departments achieve long-lasting change? 

Diversity Alone Is Not Enough (Interview) with Paul Coyle, head of the international Entrepreneurial Mindset Network 

The Lenses We Need to Grasp Diversity and Inclusion with Karen Grave, President of the Public Service People Managers Association (PPMA) in the UK 


Transforming L&D for the future 

Looking ahead, 2021 will be all about positive transformation. An open mind, a collaborative attitude, and the quest for innovation will go a long way for L&D professionals, helping them face any upcoming challenges.  

According to the HR thought leaders MERIT reached out to, this crisis is also an opportunity to rethink corporate learning. Much more than buzzwords, agile methodologies and bridging the skills gap will be pivotal to the coming transformative year. 

After Covid-19: How to Rebuild Learning and Development (Interview) with Natasha Bonnevalle, partner, THNK School of Creative Leadership 


HR innovation in the face of Covid-19 

While 2020 brought us lockdowns, quarantine, and unprecedented change, it also stretched our boundaries in terms of optimising remote work and re-inventing work methodologies. We learnt to adapt and obtain skills that may not have been so prized just a year ago.  

In what other ways did HR and L&D experts re-imagine their organisational roles in 2020?  

‘Never Waste a Good Crisis’ (Interview) with Gerard Penning, CHRO ABN AMRO & Executive Vice President HR Downstream at Royal Dutch Shell 

Who Can Lead Companies out of This Crisis? CHROs. with Jeremie Brecheisen, Senior Managing Consultant, Gallup 

After Covid-19: The Rise of HR Changemakers (Interview) with Alex Budak, faculty at the Haas School of Business, University of California Berkeley (US) 

After Covid-19: “Help People to Create the New Normal” (Interview) with Sabine Weishaupt, Head of Leadership Development Consulting and Initiatives at Deutsche Telekom 


We would like to borrow some inspiration from our interview with Alex Budak from UC Berkeley Haas School of Business: 

Put simply, dispositional flexibility is the ability to find optimism while being grounded in reality. Applying dispositional flexibility allows us to survive amidst ambiguity. It allows us to honestly recognise that yes, this situation is scary, while simultaneously believing in a brighter tomorrow. 


Stay tuned for an exciting 2021 for L&D and HR. Book your place and keep checking out upcoming MERIT EVENTS 2021.