Nov 02, 2023

Our Top Learners Inspire and Share Their Upskilling Stories

Thinking about picking up a new skill? Here are insights into how two of our own are flying through their learning journey.
by Justin KornEditor

Two adidas colleagues popped up on our radar in their pursuit of knowledge. Dana Kassymova and Jamie Lawless received emails surprising them with the news that the 3-Stripes had recognized them as a LinkedIn Learning top learner. As part of the learning opportunities offered at adidas, Jamie and Dana saw the benefits of acquiring new skill sets. And they continue to role model their nonstop quest for knowledge on a wide range of topics.

Dana is a yoga practitioner based at our Herzogenaurach Headquarters and, according to our records, one of only two native Kazakhs on-site at our HQ. And Jamie is an outdoor lover working out of our North American site in South Carolina—and learning how to ride a motorcycle in her spare time.

As someone who finds inspiration from athletes as well as colleagues determined to up their game, I wanted to learn more.

Here are some excerpts from my chat with Jamie and Dana on their upskilling journey.

What's your role at adidas?

DK: I’m a senior manager for information security governance within the TECH function. I’m therefore responsible for Tech & InfoSec risk management and I also support our enterprise risk management teams.   

JL: I’m a reporting analyst, and I pull information from multiple sources and then design Power BI reports for action-oriented reporting for the account operations team on the wholesale side of the business.  

Why did you start your learning journey?

DK: Learning is an important aspect of my life. It gives me the opportunity to grow as a person and professionally. It also allows me to adapt to changes, achieve my goals, and continuously improve myself. 

One area that sparked my interest in learning had a lot to do with recent digitalization trends. We’re so deeply intertwined with new technologies – which can also be relevant to our work – and I thought it would be important to gain new insights into the latest tech trends and changes.  

And I also wanted to work on my soft skills too – and one of the coolest resources I use at work is LinkedIn Learning. 

"Learning is an important aspect of my life"

Dana Kassymova

JL: It’s always been part of me to try and learn how to do something. I’ve always enjoyed starting at the bottom of something and trying to work my way up because you learn all the aspects from the bottom to the top. 

And, you know, life happens on the way of making plans, and I have attempted to go to school multiple times throughout my life, and something has always come up to prevent me from completing that journey. But I’ve always wanted to make sure that I continued learning along the way. 

Why LinkedIn Learning?

DK: These are my top three reasons I use LinkedIn learning.

  1. LinkedIn offers a variety of soft skill trainings I’m interested in, such as developing your emotional intelligence, building productive working relationships, and educating yourself on diversity and inclusion topics; I think all of these areas are essential for effective communication and teamwork collaboration.
  2. To upskill myself for new tasks and projects I’ve been assigned and to maintain my professional certificates.
  3. I particularly like that LinkedIn Learnings can be customized to a specific role or skill that you would like to develop; and you can also pause these trainings and continue the next day.

JL: When I started as a new associate, I wanted to know what we could access. A friend said, “Have you checked out the Learning Hub on our intranet?” And so, I went on to the adidas Learning Hub and saw the LinkedIn Learning link. 

When my manager came on board two years ago, he wanted to take us to a new level as a company. And he said I’d like us to Start learning some SQL (SQL is a programming language used for extracting and managing information from databases). And I’m like, okay, so I immediately jumped back on to LinkedIn Learning and started pulling stuff up. 

How much time do you spend learning?

DK: I block 30 minutes on a weekly basis. 

JL: Now, I pick a specific hour out of the day that that I block off and that I list on my calendar that I’m in a meeting during that particular time – because technically I’m in a meeting with my mind. 

What's your prime motivation to keep learning?

DK: I think my main motivators are my sense of curiosity and to stay on top of the latest technological advancements. That curiosity has also led me to take some of the most interesting courses, which were about interpersonal behavioral skills; and these skills are so  helpful because we are a global organization made up of many different cultures. 

JL: I’ve always liked to take things apart and put them back together to understand how they work. And so, in my personal life, my wife and I are not mechanics, but here in the last year, we’re like, okay, we think we can fix this issue on the car. So we’ll go and figure it out. We’ll watch some videos and say, oh, that doesn’t look too hard. 

"We just finished rebuilding a 2004 Honda Element for my father. We redid the entire engine and brought it back to life because it was in pretty bad shape when we bought it."

Jamie Lawless

What other learning tools or platforms do you use to upskill yourself?

DK: I also make time for the Manager Development Experience available on our internal Learning Hub. This program is designed to help you to be better every day as a manager, to support your team members to achieve their best and to enable your growth as a leader at adidas. 

JL: I explored other options that adidas offers, and adidas is partnered with Arizona State University (ASU) for North American-based employees. So, my learning journey that started with LinkedIn learning and Excel files has progressed to ASU courses. Thanks to the partnership with adidas and ASU, I was accepted into their program and I’m currently taking classes for a bachelor’s degree in data science. 

How would you encourage someone to start taking advantage of the learning opportunities around them?

DK: Things are changing constantly, so if you want to remain an expert in your role, I think taking the time to learn is essential. It’s important to stay in sync with everything happening around you.

"And learning is a must, because the future promises to be even more dynamic as time goes by."

Dana Kassymova

JL: Just take 10 minutes and read an article or watch a video.  

People can learn in multiple different ways; for instance, I found out that I learned better from watching versus reading. Pick what you want and then pull it out of the learning, which has helped me for years. Learning can be overwhelming, so just take it in small pieces. 


This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.