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Spearheading the creation of the Learning Lab, Booz Allen’s new trainings headquarters, is Jill Mizrachy, a senior associate with People Services. She chatted with us about the impetus for this new space, located in McLean, Virginia.
Q: What is the purpose of the Learning Lab?
A: We’re closing down other learning facilities in the area and following through with a strategy around consolidating and creating a new training center of gravity. The Learning Lab will be just that—all classroom training in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area will be held in this vibrant space with four large, fully outfitted classrooms.
Q: What are some new resources the Lab will feature?
A: We’re leveraging new tech in classrooms and online. For example, we’re publishing a host of new e-learning courses that are compatible with mobile devices. Many classes like orientation and Presentation Skills 101 will also leverage iPads. At the Lab all classrooms are equipped with Video Teleconferences (VTCs) allowing us to bring in virtual speakers.
This new tech won’t just be bells and whistles; we’re improving on efficiency. Before, if guests were speaking in multiple classrooms, they would have to go to one after the other, which was very time consuming for both the speakers and trainees. Now, we can broadcast the speaker simultaneously in each classroom, making the most out of everyone’s time. This is just one example of how efficiencies are being built into classroom designs.
Another fun feature that we’re excited about is the game area. We’re setting up a Nintendo Wii video game console so trainees can keep stimulating their brains during class breaks by playing learning-based games.
Q: About the Lab’s location: Why is it separated from the McLean, Virginia, office space? Why create an entirely new space for trainings?
A: Creating the Lab separate from existing office space was a blessing in disguise. We needed to find a new location due to the closing of our old training center in a Booz Allen office space. But separating ourselves from the hustle and bustle of offices actually helps trainees immerse themselves on the classes. The hope is this promotes the overall goal of trainings: expanding the knowledge of our staff and building a culture of development.
In the business world we’re always using sports analogies (touchdown space, etc.), when in fact the two worlds could not be more different. Athletes practice all the time and only seldom need to perform. As consultants we are expected to perform constantly, always making sure client delivery exceeds expectations. We are not afforded the luxury to practice and learn new skills often. When we do make time, I want to make sure everyone who comes to the Lab gets the most out of their experience.