April T. Cole
Director, Learning and Development
Gateway Institute of Technology
Saint Louis University, BA, Political Science
(minor in African American Studies)
Washington University. MA, Human Resource Management (pending)
RBC Young Professionals (also a member of the RBC Young Professionals Steering Committee)
St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative Fellow
In short, what do you do?
I am responsible for developing and deploying custom high impact global learning programs for our sales organization that support our vision – a world beyond cash, and mission – every day everywhere, we use our technology and expertise to make payments safe, simple, and smart. These programs include new hire onboarding, skills based training covering topics such as C-Suite Conversations and Deal Negotiations as well as Digital Fluency for sellers. I also manage strategic learning curriculums for our Country Managers and Division Presidents, covering topics such as Leading Change and Complex Decision Making. I work across 5 regions (North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Middle East Africa) touching 1,400 sellers that manage relationships with key financial institutions, merchants, and governments. In my role I travel 75% of the time to global locations such as London, Singapore, and Dubai to ensure the successful execution of all programs and to manage and maintain relationships with my regional partners and stakeholders.
You have degrees in African-American Studies, Political Science and have completed Master’s course work Human Resource Management. How have these studies helped you in your current role?
It’s interesting because I initially planned for a career in law which is why I majored in Political Science at SLU. After graduation I began work in various areas of Human Resources while studying for the LSAT. Eventually, I found my niche in Learning and Development and decided that I should pursue graduate courses in HR to ensure that I had a good foundational knowledge to match my practical experiences. All of my education has helped me in different ways. Studying political science allowed me to develop critical thinking skills and a global worldview which I certainly pull from in my current role as I develop programs with global consistency but from a local perspective. My HR studies have helped me to understand the full talent lifecycle of an employee and how to develop programs to support them on their career journeys. Lastly, I will say that I have always viewed my minor in African American studies as something very personal to me. My studies at SLU exposed me to aspects of the African diaspora that were completely unknown to me when I graduated high school but have been critical to shaping the person that I am today.
What is the most valuable professional lesson you’ve learned?
The most valuable professional lesson I have learned by far is that it is important to be able to work one level up as well as one level down, no matter your role. I say this because it is always important to be able to get your hands dirty so to speak and do tasks that you may feel that you have moved beyond. This shows that you are a team player and willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Equally important is the ability to demonstrate that you are capable of working beyond your current role/job title.