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Introducing the Bell/AWS Training Club: Supporting business transformation across Canada

By Matthew Leppanen, Director of Marketing and Enablement, Bell Business Markets

The Bell team uses insights gleaned from the AWS Skill Builder online learning centre to empower the success of a business.

Matthew Leppanen, Director of Marketing and Enablement at Bell, recently sat down with Reno Vaillancourt, Bell’s Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Labour Relations, Myra Pelowski, Director of the Americas Partner Training at AWS, and Molly Zito, Bell’s Senior Manager of Partner Success, Cloud (AWS). Their discussion focused on the importance of adopting innovative employee training programs to grow talent and advance digital transformation.  With the Bell/AWS Training Club as an example, Matt reflects on this conversation – offering a clear conclusion that a vibrant training and learning culture can make a difference.  

As Canadian enterprises look to embark on or advance their digital transformation, many may be facing a major roadblock: the global tech talent shortage. Advanced skills in areas like cloud and cybersecurity are in great demand and short supply, with 64% of IT leaders citing talent availability as the most significant barrier to adopting new technologies – despite recent layoffs in the tech sector.

Here at Bell, it’s a challenge that we have great interest in resolving. For one, we have the same needs as any technology-driven organization, with skills and certifications needed to support our internal operations. However, more than that, we’re committed to helping businesses across Canada transform with the cloud and develop innovations that can enhance their operations and unlock new revenue opportunities. We are working hard to meet both sets of needs. 

Training and enablement at Bell

Bell is committed to having a highly skilled team that can help meet the technology needs of enterprises across the country. Reskilling and upskilling are essential to delivering on that commitment. By investing in our people, we can arm them with the skills and certifications that our customers require, while supporting their personal and professional development. 

“Our goal is to train our own talent to do what we need in terms of building up our capabilities for network, cloud, and IoT. But we also want to give our customers confidence that we have skills and expertise that they can take advantage of as well.”

Reno Vaillancourt, SVP Human Resources and Labour Relations
Bell Canada

We have achieved many successes to date, cultivating an internal training and learning culture guided by three key principles:

  • Make it accessible – Training is available on demand, letting our staff learn at their own pace and on their own schedules. 
  • Be inclusive – We adapt our training programs to the learner, to suit different learning styles and different roles.
  • Keep it fun – A bit of friendly competition (and exciting prizes) can go a long way towards keeping training interesting and fun.

Equipping our people with cloud skills and certifications has been a particular focus at Bell, given the vast and growing cloud skills gap in the market today. Supporting this is our partnership with AWS, which is helping us bridge critical skills gaps for our mutual customers through the Bell/AWS Training Club.

“Bell is a key strategic telco partner for AWS in Canada. It is exciting to partner with one of Canada’s largest enterprises to support their cloud practice. Together, we are enabling several Canadian organizations on their AWS Cloud journey.”

Myra Pelowski, Director, Americas Partner Training

Introducing the Bell/AWS Training Club

AWS is one of the most popular cloud services among enterprises, with about a third of global market share in 2023. That’s why an AWS-focused training program makes so much sense for Bell. Helping our teams advance their skills and earn certifications in AWS will allow us to serve the cloud needs of a significant portion of customers.

“The cloud really is the future. Every bit of technology will flow through the cloud in some way, and we want our workforce to reflect that.”

Molly Zito, Senior Manager, Partner Success, Cloud (AWS)
Bell Canada

Enter the Bell/AWS Training Club, introduced in April 2023. At no charge, the program gives Bell team members access to the AWS Skill Builder online learning centre – a portal to over 600 training courses that cover everything from foundational AWS skills to deep specializations. The material helps prepare learners to take AWS Certification exams, which validate an individual’s expertise in an in-demand cloud role or technical domain. Aligned with our “make it accessible” training principle, each course is available on demand. This adds some needed flexibility compared to traditional training, which typically takes place at set times and in classrooms.

“It’s important for employees to have training options that allow them to start and stop, so they can train how they want to, when they want to. In spaces where there previously were face-to-face training sessions, there are now distributed digital options to cover the same training at scale and also accommodate the desired flexibility of learners.”

Myra Pelowski, Director, Americas Partner Training

It’s not only Bell team members in technical roles who are upskilling in AWS. The platform includes role-based training and domain-specific learning paths to increase the capabilities of team members in sales positions as well, enabling them to “understand and speak the language” of AWS so they can better identify opportunities to support customers. 

To keep it fun and promote a little competitive engagement, a leaderboard lets team members compare skills development progress with colleagues. It’s not just for bragging rights: the team member with the most points wins a spot to attend AWS re:Invent, a conference held annually in Las Vegas that hosts AWS bootcamps, technical sessions, and other enriching opportunities. It’s an enticing prize for anyone interested in a career working with cloud technology.

Over time, the AWS Training Club will evolve to include internal competitions that task participants with completing real-world cloud scenarios, as well as more in-depth technical training. To date, we are seeing great results. Since launching the program, we have increased our company-wide numbers including: 

  • AWS accreditations: up 467% 
  • Digital training completed: up 53%
  • Certification growth since the launch of the Bell/AWS Training Club: up 367% 

Our goal is to reach 500 AWS certifications by year-end. While it’s an ambitious target, we are very encouraged by these early results.

Helping our customers transform

Amid the global tech talent shortage, reskilling and upskilling are the best ways forward for bridging skills gaps. However, this strategy requires a heavy commitment to training and learning, and it needs to be a continuous process because technology is always evolving.

By investing in training and learning for our team members through programs like the AWS Training Club, we can offer customers access to the most up-to-date skills and certifications – without the burden of cultivating them internally.

“The AWS Training Club is a win-win for Bell and our customers. It allows us as a company to support our employees in their career development journeys, and, ultimately, to support our customers in their cloud journeys.”

Molly Zito, Senior Manager, Partner Success, Cloud (AWS)
Bell Canada

This internal development can benefit customers in other ways, including enhanced sales support and faster delivery times from our professional and managed services. Going forward, our teams will be even better equipped to help customers use cloud and other technologies to reach their goals. 

As Reno reinforced in our conversation, “Bell has evolved from its long roots as a telecommunications company. Today we are a technical services company, and that demands constant learning so we can continue to meet our customers’ ever-changing needs.”

Your cloud technology partner

Opportunities await in the cloud – and Bell is ready to help you take advantage of them. Through programs like the AWS Training Club, we will continue to support our professional and managed services teams in working with Canada’s biggest businesses to assess, design, deploy and support the solutions that empower their success.

Ready to take the next step in your cloud journey? Visit our cloud page to discover our solutions and services.