Growing Your Corporate University from a Small Seed

Katherine Mehr

Barilla’s Corporate University launched in 2007. Prior to this, Barilla did not have a structured learning organization—it was ad hoc and consisted of compliance-related training. They focused much of their learning programs on behavioral and leadership skills and did not have a technical framework for specific skill sets.

Since the corporate university launch, Barilla has grown incredibly. The grass roots need has grown to a full-blown education program for employees, which now consists of over 5,000 training hours in their corporate office and over 12,000 hours in just North America alone.

Though Barilla University has been very successful over the years, they did come across obstacles. Their biggest challenge, which still exists today, is business growth and combining the education and development strategy with the core growth strategy while factoring in people’s time. Employees want to learn new skills and be ready for future growth, but at Barilla, they are competing with business priorities.

Barilla University’s focus is making sure the learning initiatives are linking back to business strategy. According to Laura Birk, Director of Talent Development for Barilla America, Inc, this is a challenge. They must make sure every dollar is targeted to drive business strategy.

Birk said they are getting better at finding what their learning strategy is and prepare for future growth.

In this podcast, Birk discusses with Human Resources IQ the strategy and struggles Barilla University has experienced throughout their journey, from conception to today.