Success Stories
ASTD International Conference and Expo: corporate participants speak

Executives of four companies from United States, Brazil, Chile and Colombia explained to America Learning Media their strategies for maximizing learning at the conference and the importance of attending to ASTD 2014 in Washington DC. Interview with élogos Surlatam, e-ABC America, MOT y PyB Consultants.


(@americalearning) The 2014 ASTD International Conference and EXPO will take place in Washington DC (USA) between May 4-7, 2014, with the presence of more than 9,000 learning professionals worldwide, who will attend in order to learn and share industry best practices and innovative ideas.


During the event, attendees from over 80 countries will participate in more than 250 educational sessions by leading industry experts and visit a world class exhibition, with the latest products and services available in the market.


America Learning Media interviewed Daniel Wilner (CEO élogos Surlatam), Pablo Raganato (Executive Director e-ABC America), Alfredo Castro (President – MOT Training and Development, Inc) and German Paris (CEO at PyB Consultants) as usual conference participants to ask them for tips and recommendations for attendees who want to obtain the best results from ASTD 2014.


Why is it important for you to come to ASTD International Conference & Exposition?


Daniel Wilner, CEO élogos Surlatam (Chile, Brazil, Peru, Colombia): Élogos is a company specialized in talent management. Our area is training, development and performance. In the culture of the organizations, to share knowledge is fundamental to achieve strategic objectives, since the knowledge is a central part of the companies' business and affects directly its results. For that reason, we support the organizations in the accomplishment of their most important projects, promoting the development of abililties among their collaborators, through the permanent training and innovative solutions of learning. The exigencies of the market require us to be constantly updated and informed of the experiences and best practices in the market, and ASTD is the best place to learn the art in our business.


Pablo Raganato, Executive Director e-ABC America (USA): The conference is international, so it gives us the possibility to show our e-learning products and services, to do networking with other companies, learn what everyone is doing, get some ideas of what’s new.

We can get to know customers and suppliers.


Visit e-ABC America at booth #641 ASTD International Conference and Expo





Alfredo Castro, PresidentMOT Training and Development, Inc (Brazil, USA): I deliver global programs in all 5 continents for the last 25 years, and I lead a team who is known for expertise in themes like leadership, storytelling, sales and negotiation, team building.

These challenges steer me to search the state of the art in the learning and development arena. ASTD is the only association which can provide resources to understand the last trends. Being a member of ASTD for so long period it allows me to say that I have gained so much along the way that I could transfer benefits to my customers and team members.

I have also an outstanding experience: for the 2010 conference, organized in Chicago, I was invited by the board to be the Chairman of the Advisory Committee (that selects the 250 sessions to be presented examining the 800 proposals received by ASTD for that conference!). It was the first time a non-American professional set down on that chair and led the Committee: this was an unique opportunity to increase my T&D knowledge in a level never achieved before in my career!


German Paris, CEO PyB Consultants (Colombia): To come to the conference is very important because is the only place where I can see, learn, hear, talk to colleagues, experts, consultants and universities from all over the world about the latest trends in the organizational learning and development arena.






ASTD works to bring thought leaders in the field to its international conferences. Do you find that you learn things at this conference that you would not learn anywhere else?


Daniel Wilner: You can’t compare reading an article or a book with the possibility to participate in a conference, more if it is given by an expert, which enables us to understand his experience and passion on the subject. Understand the emotions and motivations which lead to create a particular theory or process is only possible by listening directly from its creator.


Pablo Raganato: Yes, it’s a good opportunity, because not everyone is from the same industry. You can find consulting services, universities, face to face training, e-learning (like us), roll play games, and more. You can always learn and get ideas. Everyone shows what they are up to.


Alfredo Castro: Yes, for sure. I have also been attending interesting events along the last 20 years (in more than 12 countries in Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa) and I can say I have learnt important lessons from all these events. But, being at ASTD conferences I feel like at the top of the profession.

For example, ASTD organizes “Communities of Practices”, in ten areas (like learning and development, career development, human capital, sales enablement, learning technologies, senior leaders and executives, government, management and global HRD). Each of these communities focuses on a key area of the T&D area of interest and is led by a community manager whose in-depth knowledge will ensure that the content, offerings, and resources are consistent with my needs. I have also made presentations at ASTD conferences.

I have absolutely learnt about diverse audiences, new management models and tech solutions! The opportunity to networking is enormous and you can meet outstanding professionals who are facing the same challenges you are from countries like South Korea, Argentina, Denmark, South Africa, at the same session!

I have also increased the number of invitations to speak and deliver T&D solutions in different countries.


German Paris: The answer is similar to the first question, the most important issue is that ASTD's international conferences is the only place to find everything about organizational Leaning, development and performance under one roof.


How many ASTD conferences have you attended?


Daniel Wilner: We participate in the ASTD’s annual conference since 2008. For us it is essential the feedback that ASTD proposed each year. In the conference we also can share our progress in recent months with colleagues and potential clients, as a consultant specializing in developing talent management projects.


Pablo Raganato: We’ve been in 4 conferences.


Alfredo Castro: 20 consecutives conferences, from 1995 at Dallas to the next at Washington DC, where I will be presenting a session about a chapter I have written in the most recent sales book published by ASTD Press: “The Art of Sales Management”. My presentation will be the number M311, on Monday, 5th may, and I will be speaking about “Strategic Storytelling for sales managers”.


German Paris: About 20, I do not remember exactly.


With more than 250 educational sessions to choose from, how do you plan which sessions you’ll attend? Do you have a strategy for maximizing your learning at the conference?


Daniel Wilner: élogos management team habitually take part of the ASTD’s annual conference. We dedicate enough time to check all the planning of presentations and distribute the topics that we consider interesting among us, to maximize the learning. Having clear what topics are innovative, which is the effective contribution to our company, what number of successful cases we need to know, and the personal preferences of each executive, we plan our attendance to the presentations of each day.


Pablo Raganato: We choose the ones we are interested  from the guide, and if we can’t attend to all of the sessions, we split to assist to the most we can.


Alfredo Castro: Yes, I do and I would like to share this strategy (By the way, Wei Wang, the director of ASTD's international relations departament, had invited me to speak about my experience at the last 4 conferences in front of an international audience who is attending the conference for the first time).

I select sessions by topic. This very year I am interested in all sessions that will cover themes like storytelling, sales development and gamification. I select at least 3 sessions of each time frame, so that I can decide which session I will be attending. I am always interested in “shopping” at the Expo – another unique offer at ASTD conferences: you can understand, share ideas and purchase from different solutions vendors in the industry – and it gives you the idea of what is being more offered in the T&D field.


German Paris: Before I go, I analyze the needs in our company and the decide on one or maximum two topics to concentrate on and then I organize my schedule. Usually I attend to 15 to 17 sessions.


Does the leadership in your organization support you coming to the conference, and do they expect you to bring back tools and resources to apply to your job? Do they expect you to teach what you learned to your colleagues?


Daniel Wilner: The high direction of the company supports, promotes and subsidizes the participation of élogos professionals in ASTD's annual conference. The directors who participate must prepare a presentation to the rest of the company sharing the topics that they consider to be relevant and generally we achieve agreements of deeper presentations with specialists that we have known in the event.


Pablo Raganato: Yes, is very important to learn what’s new out there and to transfer all that knowledge and experience to the rest of the team.


Alfredo Castro: Yes. For the last 15 years, when I get back from the conference I organize a learning meeting at my company (MOT) so that I can transfer the learning I have got from the sessions, research, books, communities of practice.

Due to the fact I lead a consulting company (based in South and North Americas) I have to update my consultants with the state of the art in training and development.

Another way of showing you that I always obtain a positive ROI (return on my investment) attending the conference is the number of large global companies I serve (GE, Sony, Givaudan, Clariant, Bradesco, to name some of them).

One practical example: 3 months ago I was challenged to design a team building for the Digital Energy area at GE Latin America, using a unique approach to evolve and create an environment of improvement (even considering the good results of that group composed by senior international executives). I used, along the business improvement session, two of the last models I have learnt from the last ASTD event I have attended, and it generated a great impact considering the innovative approach I used to deliver the session. This is an only example of how I benefit from the community and the conference.


German Paris: Certainly my company supports me to go to the conference, and it is clear that as a consultant firm we have the commitment of being updated in the latest methodologies and technologies. As soon as I arrive to my country we do training inside our company as well as we usually do an executive breakfast to clients.


Networking is another important aspect of the conference experience. Have you met people at ASTD conferences who you’ve stayed in touch with after the conference? Have those connections benefitted you professionally?


Daniel Wilner: The networking obtained in ASTD is extraordinary and highly productive. In our growth plan as a consulting firm leading in training and talent development in Latin America, a great part of our contacts network has arisen among the participants of ASTD. Even we have met there an important part of our clients!


Pablo Raganato: Yes, we did. As I told before this conference is international and it allows you to do networking with people and companies from different countries.


Alfredo Castro: Joining ASTD conferences really made great difference in my career. I can say I could have access to research, books, news, best practices, trends and all I needed to take my career to the next level. The rare opportunity of meeting and networking with 9000 colleagues in my profession tells me that I have been going to the best place in the planet on the last 20 years, finding the best solutions and capturing the latest trends in our industry!

I hope to meet you at Washington DC, in my presentation, or at the Global Village!


German Paris: Networking has become one of the most important aspects. I have met the authors I admire the most, I have invite some of them to my country, I have met extraordinary people from IberoAmerica and have become friends over the years.

Anybody who wants to be updated in what is going in learning, development and performance should go at ASTD 2014.


April 2014