Training Top 100 Hall of Fame Outstanding Training Initiatives (May 2021)

Details of Training Top 100 Hall of Famers Booz Allen Hamilton’s New Leader Immersion program and KLA’s Leadership for the New Normal program.

Each year, Training magazine requires all Training Top 100 Hall of Famers to submit an Outstanding Training Initiative that is shared with our readers in a print or online-only issue. Here are the details of Booz Allen Hamilton’s New Leader Immersion program and KLA’s Leadership for the New Normal program.


Booz Allen Hamilton developed a leadership philosophy that guides the actions of its leaders in accordance with the firm’s purpose and values. The Leadership Development Team took on the challenge to redesign Booz Allen’s New Leader Immersion program, ensuring newly hired and promoted leaders live the firm’s values and expectations out loud while accelerating their time to business impact.

Then in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The firm could not deliver its quarterly in-person session to 74 leaders registered the following week, nor the backlog of 151 senior leaders awaiting the subsequent sessions. In response, the team worked to create and deliver an immersive experience during uncertain times that would hold the attention of Booz Allen leaders and provide the most useful content and curated resources to lead themselves, their teams, and the business.

Program Details

The New Leader Immersion Program is a four-month immersive virtual experience providing leaders with strategies for effective transitions, critical behaviors, and practices for team success, as well as the knowledge and skills to drive business performance and transformation.

Throughout the program, participants interact with external experts and connect with peers and other firm thought leaders to share experiences and discuss real problems. To protect the integrity of the former three-day residential program, the Leadership Development Team used technology to its full capabilities to not only execute an engaging experience, but also build the digital acumen of leaders to apply to their teams and operate successfully in this new virtual environment.

Partnering with external leadership experts, the team focused on the following plug-and-play content:

Virtual sessions: The program featured a virtual orientation that provides an overview and expectations of the experience, as well as three 90-minute virtual segments. All sessions were conducted using the WebEx Training Center platform and designed to leverage the tool’s full capability for engagement, including annotation tools, whiteboards, and breakouts.

MS Teams: A dedicated MS Teams Channel was created and used for all forms of communication (versus standard e-mail), including posting questions and additional resources, participating in instant conversations related to the topics, receiving content and assignments, and accessing program details.

Peer coaching: Following the orientation, participants were pre-assigned self-managed peer coaching groups for a maximum mix of geography, market, and tenure. These groups met in between formal virtual sessions to build social connections while discussing critical content and sharing different perspectives within the group.

Post-action worksheets: To support continuous learning and on-the-job application, leaders were required to select actions on the recommended post-worksheets to implement immediately and share experiences within their peer coaching groups for feedback.

Office hours: An optional Office Hour was provided to dive deeper into content, discuss CliftonStrenghts34 reflections, and other postactions, as well as answer any questions with various subject matter experts (SMEs) and the Leadership Development team.

Fireside chats: High-performing senior business leaders shared their leadership journeys, expectations of the role, and success factors, and answered questions from the participants.

Digital resource guide: Using the Degreed platform, leaders were provided with additional curated resources aligned to the critical topics covered. From external articles and videos to internal training opportunities, this digital guide continues to be updated frequently with new and relevant content available to all leaders within the firm.


Business outcomes are measured by leadership behavior changes (and/or reinforcement) and Employee Experience Survey results. Kirkpatrick Level 3 (behavior change) program results indicate an increase in building and applying the following:

  • Critical relationship and connections
  • Digital acumen
  • Business acumen
  • Leadership skills

Overall, Employee Experience favorability scores increased 3.4 percentage points from the previous year, and scores improved across every question measured.


KLA created its Leadership for the New Normal program to position its managers/ leaders for success by reinforcing many of the company’s traditional best practices (goalsetting, one-on-ones, etc.), as well as new practices (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.) for remote management in the “new normal” resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Less than 1 percent of KLA’s training programs from 2015 to 2019 were conducted remotely or virtually.

Program Details

Leadership for the New Normal is an evolving program that has consisted of seven components to date:

“Leading in a COVID World” facilitated sessions: These sessions were designed to immediately gather KLA managers/leaders in virtual Zoom sessions to:

  • Review how the company was dealing with the pandemic
  • Share remote/virtual best practices
  • Re-emphasize foundational management skills
  • Identify major challenges managers were facing

These sessions began one week after shelter-in-place was implemented. Multiple sessions were conducted by KLA’s lead facilitator in Europe and a former general manager of the company’s largest division for the U.S. Findings from these sessions were presented to KLA’s CEO, CSO, and CTO by the senior director of L&OD (Learning and Organizational Development) and the former general manager. The findings were used to further evolve KLA’s COVID response.

  1. Formation of the “How KLA Works” project team: The CEO and CTO asked the senior director of L&OD to explore what KLA was learning during shelter-in-place, and present findings and recommendations regarding the “future of work” at KLA. The senior director formed a 25-person global team of high-potential employees representing every region and major function in the company. Formed in May 2020, this team interviewed employees and leaders, while benchmarking other companies and industries. The senior director of L&OD presented the team findings regularly to the CEO, CSO, and CTO. The findings were used by the shelter-in-place action teams to inform their decisions regarding work-at-home policies and tools.
  2. Weekly CEO video messaging: KLA’s CEO began a weekly four- to six-minute global video message to all employees in April 2020, which continues today. These included updates on the business and COVID, plus reinforcement of best management and leadership practices.
  3. Converted and offered legacy management courses virtually: KLA quickly redesigned its offerings, rescheduled its learning management system (LMS), and worked with its vendors to convert and deliver training.
  4. Added new offerings: KLA added Leading Virtually, Managing Your Employees’ Mental Health, a virtual spin on its Presentation course, and a Setting and Managing Boundaries workshop.
  5. Coaching and facilitation from KLA members: One-on-one coaching events were up dramatically last year, as managers reached out to the Corporate Learning Center (CLC) for help with private or unique matters. Team facilitation events also provided support to global teams.
  6. Self-paced learning tools and job aids: Many job aids, videos, and documentation were created and put on KLA’s manager portal.


Growth: KLA’s ability to produce, ship, and install its products has continued to meet customer needs, despite the global pandemic.

Talent: KLA’s third-party engagement survey during the summer returned numbers including:

  • 92 percent agreement on “Great place to work”
  • 86 percent agreement on “I feel supported by my manager”
  • 82 percent happy with “KLA’s response to the COVID crisis”

CLC Operations: The CLC served a 300 percent increase in student participation, while the number of sessions increased by 30 percent. The CLC came in under budget for 2020.

Edited by Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine, owned by Lakewood Media Group. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.