The Deliberate Volunteer - An Interview with Jeffrey Hansler, ATD-OC President

06/04/2018 1:58 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)
As learning and development professionals, we talk a lot about models. The arguments in favor of (or against) ADDIE vs SAM alone could—and have—filled books. In this interview series, we will look at models that are near and dear to ATD-OC: model volunteers.

Don’t worry. This isn’t going to be a lesson in how to volunteer with endless enthusiasm, boundless energy, and unflinching dedication (although any of those would, of course, be welcome). Rather, we’ll talk with volunteers who are real people facing opportunities and challenges with success and sometimes failure. We hope by exploring these models, you’ll see facets of your own professional journey and goals, as well as a path to volunteering.

Our first interview is with Jeffrey Hansler, a talent development veteran. We talked with Jeffrey to find out what made him want to volunteer with ATD-OC, the skills and competencies he brought to the table, and his strategy for making the most of his volunteer experience.

Article by
Jennifer Puente

The Deliberate Volunteer

At the time that Jeffrey Hansler volunteered to serve as the VP of Marketing for ATD-OC in 2013, he had already achieved many career successes: from being a top sales representative for Apple Computer, to leading an international accounting and manufacturing software company, to following his entrepreneurial calling and opening his own consulting business in 1990 (initially focusing on training; and since 2006, Organizational Development).

Amidst this success, Jeffrey was attracted to serve on the ATD-OC Board for two reasons. One, he saw changes in the learning and development industry—changes driven by technology and ways in which companies approached employee learning—created opportunities for ATD-OC to serve its members in new and innovative ways. And two, he recognized by helping to lead ATD-OC through a period of innovation, he would have the opportunity to hone his own self-proclaimed “rusty” skills.

“Leading an organization is different than supporting leadership,” he said of his decision to join the Board. “I needed to sharpen my leadership and especially my management skills.”

So, while serving as VP of Marketing for ATD-OC in 2013, he threw his hat in the ring to lead the Chapter, and was elevated to President-Elect in 2014. One of his first actions as President-Elect was to ask for help.

“I sought out a few people on the Board who I had developed trust with and told them, ‘I’m using this opportunity to develop my leadership skills. Will you help me?’” Jeffrey recalled.

The act of deliberately identifying those with the skills and willingness to help set Jeffrey on the path towards receiving mentoring and guidance during a time of significant change in the organization. He began meeting every other week with Kathleen Ashelford (then Past-President) and Jolynn Atkins (then President) for what Jolynn coined “PrezConnects.” The group would talk through ideas and challenges they were facing, drawing upon each other’s experience and rallying one another to keep forward progress.

In addition to Kathleen and Jolynn, there were others who supported Jeffrey in both big and small ways. “The ATD-OC Board draws from people with lots of experience,” Jeffrey said. Unlike some other boards he has served on or observed, he continued, “this is a high caliber group.”

Jeffrey’s own skillset supports this assertion. When asked what competencies positioned him for success as a volunteer, he said, “My experience in organizational development has given me the ability to read an audience. I’ve also developed communication and strategic planning skills over the years.” It doesn’t hurt that he thrives on change and pushing innovation.

There have been some bumps along the way—“it surprised me how long things take to get done with a volunteer vs. paid board”—still he’s extremely pleased with what the group has accomplished in the past five years.

His message to others considering a volunteer role: “With the changes in our industry, we must adopt a new way of thinking. Working with the ATD-OC Board provides that opportunity. The Board challenges your thinking and increases your talent development skills.”

More about Jeffrey

Other interests

Writing, surfing, freediving, scuba (instructor), kitesurfing, golf, mountain biking, poker

Favorite learning resource

“I’m a voracious reader. I deep dive into as many as five books a month. When I say deep dive, I take notes in the book as I read and more often than not, create a summary document of the main points. This locks in the lesson points of the book. I keep my personal library tight. If a book doesn’t offer much, it’s out for recycling. And if a book is a keeper, I have likely read it more than once over a 40-year span: Different stages of life provide different perspectives of understanding. So I have 250-300 favorite books at this point.”

Official bio

Jeffrey is an experienced executive, leader, and talent development specialist with expertise in leading business development initiatives. As an organizational development consultant and managing partner of Oxford Company Consultants, he works with companies on the initial implementation of innovative programs during major change initiatives. He has consulted and conducted professional training programs since 1980 and currently serves as an executive board member for two privately-held California Corporations and two non-profits, including ATD-OC. He received the ATD-OC Belisle Leadership Award in 2015.

Jeffrey is also a Certified Speaking Professional, Certified Selling Professional and NAUI Instructor. He wrote and published Sell, Little Red Hen! Sell! and Better Golf with Gene.

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