Meet Emma: The mastermind behind Group Services's first ever Digital Learning Week

Meet Emma: The Mastermind behind Group Services's first ever Digital Learning Week

As a Learning and Development professional, it would be hard for me to tell you anything other than why learning is important. However... I have also seen and experienced how hard it can be to convince employees, across the organisation, that they should spend as much of their time as possible learning

by Emma Roper

My name is Emma and I am L&D specialist. The scope of my role reaches employees globally and I'm currently responsible for driving the Digital Learning agenda for Vodafone Group Services.


It's a very exciting time to be part of Vodafone. Our Digital strategy - to provide 'the most engaging digital customer experience' - launched in October. Since then, my role has been heavily focused on creating and deploying digital learning initiatives, which are exciting and relevant, for the whole organisation.

My interest and passion for making digital a more meaningful and accessible 'thing' for people, began shortly after I joined Vodafone, when I became the Group Services Digital Sensei. I was tasked with building a community of Digital Ninjas who would work with senior leaders to help drive the adoption of digital workplace tools and apps alongside their own jobs and as 'digital' became more of buzz word around the business, peoples’ appetite to know more, grew.

Increasingly, I was being asked what learning was available for all employees. Knowing how challenging it can be to encourage employees to prioritise their development, it seemed like a good opportunity to fuel the interest in digital. 

So, digital learning week was created!

This April, I organised our first ever Group Services Digital Learning week. Offered to all employees globally, the week-long learning event took place in the new Innovation Space, in our Global HQ in Paddington. The aim of the week was to provide employees with the opportunity to learn more about key digital trends and technologies, hear from internal and external experts and experience some of the innovations for themselves.


We had 25 (free to join) sessions across the week, hosted by people across Vodafone who shared their stories, learnings and expertise. We also invited our external partners, Decoded and Avado, to talk about creating a digital culture, the future of work, machine learning and more. We were lucky enough to have a session on Digital Ethics, hosted by Professor Luciano Floridi of Oxford University’s Internet Institute. There were also a number of product demonstrations, which gave employees an opportunity to give Digital a go!


Throughout the week we heard inspiring stories, heard how technology is changing just about everything and why learning is, and will continue to be, a critical part of any digital transformation. Matt Beal,  our Director of architecture  and Innovation (who presented during the week) said “Digital is a transformative business agenda. To be successful, every employee needs to take ownership for the role they play in the change”.

Personally, the three biggest takeaways from the week were culture, curiosity and collaboration.


1.       Culture: Creating the right culture and environment for digital transformation is critical. It needs to be inspiring, open to disruption and tolerant of differences. The culture needs to embrace the lessons of failure and be open to experimentation. Culture should be collaborative and brave. What's more, in a digital world, change is the only constant. Speed and agility remain as important as ever.

2.       Curiosity: Everyone should challenge themselves to be more curious. In a fast paced, ever changing environment, the willingness to learn and ask 'why?' is so important. From a capability perspective, it is imperative we spend time learning new skills and developing professionally in order to stay relevant. Learning opportunities are everywhere and we must go and proactively seek them out.

3.       Collaboration: This is non-negotiable. In organisations where operating is increasingly complex, cross-functionality of teams and the ability to work well with others is crucial. As we see Agile ways of working, permeating every corner of our organisation, often a behavioural change is needed to make this shift. All of our employees were encouraged to try new ways of working throughout Digital Learning week. 

One thing is for sure, learning will be a critical part of our digital journey and, as a result, my role as L&D specialist will continue to evolve. 


L&D no longer needs to create content, but curate it from a variety of sources. I will play a role in helping connect those willing to share their experiences with those willing to learn.


Over 7000 people benefited globally from Digital Learning week and feedback from our employees has been amazing. Knowing I have played a role in facilitating this learning opportunity makes me very proud. Having the opportunity to develop this initiative was amazing and I feel very lucky to work for an organisation that allows me to try new things out, on such a large scale. 

     The Future is exciting. Ready? 

by Emma Roper

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