What She Said (About Winning)

October 16th, 2013

And she should know.

Jacqueline Burandt, senior director of the Center for Learning Excellence at University Health System, a nationally recognized academic medical center in San Antonio, Texas, knows a thing or two about winning awards.

She has led her team to win multiple prestigious learning awards over the years, including the Chief Learning Officer magazine LearningElite Award, Training magazine Top 125 Award and the American Society for Training and Development’s ASTD BEST Award.

I recently saw Jacque give an outstanding session at the ASTD Learn from the BEST event in Washington DC during which she emphasized the importance of winning awards. Afterward, an attendee asked her why. If only I’d whipped out my iPhone then and there to capture her response on video!

But because Jacque is kind and generous, she sent her thoughts over to me, and here they are (thank you!).

In her own words.

I am often asked why I take the time and effort to submit award applications. Is it really worth the effort?

There is no doubt that writing award applications is a large investment of time and labor.  Although as with most investments, there can be a really big, long term pay off. The reason I choose to invest in submitting award applications is that I have repeatedly seen the value to my organization and to my department.

Here are a few of the benefits:

  1.  TOMA (Top of Mind Awareness) for our brand.  When you think of a top health care organization or learning department, you’re more likely to think of us.
  2. Recruitment of staff for our organization. An award-winning learning organization is seen as a crucial part of any benefits package in attracting new staff in the highly competitive workplace market.
  3. Recruitment of learning professionals.  Every time we interview new candidates to our department, they mention having been to our website and having been impressed with the many prestigious awards we have won.
  4. Retention of staff. (See #2  and # 3 above.)
  5. Differentiation.  Winning awards causes us to stand out from other organizations.
  6. Staff morale builder.  Staff are proud to announce their employment at an organization that wins awards.
  7. Benchmarking.  As an award-winning learning organization, we are frequently contacted by other organizations and are able to share our successes and network.
  8. Free publicity. Most award applications have minimal application fees.  The resulting free press in trade publications, local and national news stories, etc. is truly invaluable.
  9. Respect in the C-Suite.  Executives love to see their organization recognized.
  10. Awareness of areas to improve. In receiving feedback on the applications, we learn where we can do better.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.


    • Lynn Gaertner-Johnston said:
    • Deb, thank you for sharing Jacque Burand’s comments. They make perfect sense. I had expected to see as a benefit that simply working on an award submission would make a training organization more attuned to excellence in training. Perhaps the Center for Learning Excellence at UHS is way beyond the level at which they are still learning from the process itself. But I would imagine that for other organizations, just completing the application would be a benefit.

      What do you think?



    • Deb Arnold said:
    • Hi Lynn,

      Thanks so much for the comment. I think it’s true that once you’ve been applying for a while, the act of creating an award submission may seem like less of a learning experience in and of itself. For my newer clients, however, it is often an eye-opening opportunity to assess what you’ve got vs. what you need to have to win.

      Great insight!


    • Jacqueline Burandt said:
    • Lynn and Deb,
      You are spot-on about submitting award applications as putting the spotlight on excellence in learning. Every time we submit we learn so much about what we’re doing well and what we really need to focus on to get better. That should definitely have been on my top ten list.
      Great catch!


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