Beyond the Data: Marilou Chanrasmi, Director of Learning and Development

With just three months under her belt at phData, US-based employee Marilou Chanrasmi has already rolled out a number of fun and impactful initiatives to positively impact the company’s global learning and development program.

In this month’s Beyond the Data, we’ll take a closer look at the foundational work Marilou is doing at phData and explore her volunteer work serving pets in tribal communities.

Tell us your name, where you’re from, and a little about you.

My name is Marilou Chanrasmi and I currently live in Bloomington, Minnesota (USA), on Dakota/Anishinaabe land with my four-legged furry kids (Legacy, Ishkode, and Migizi). My pups came to me from two MN Anishinaabe tribal nations, Leech Lake and Mille Lacs. I am Thai/Filipinx and was born and raised in Thailand. I came to the United States when I was 16 years old and got my B.A. in Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, MO, and my Master’s in Information Systems from the University of Missouri.

A picture of Marilou in front of several trees that have a lot of fresh snow on them.

What does the Director of Learning and Development mean? What do you actually do on any given day?

As the Director of Learning and Development, I am responsible for defining, driving, and refining the learning and development strategy for phData. I also help with expanding relationships with academic institutions to foster creative and innovative programs to support students and our communities.

My days are fun, engaging, and challenging. They are filled with a healthy balance of creating new learning modules, facilitating learning sessions, strategic planning/visioning, connecting with employees and listening to identify gaps and opportunities, and documenting new processes and programs.

What are your short-term and long-term plans to scale phData's global learning framework?

Having only been at phData for three months, I am continuing to assess what the current and evolving needs are for the long run. My current vision for phData’s global learning framework is to create a program that aligns our L&D initiative with our organizational goals while also supporting the wholeness of every employee and giving back to our community. Some areas of focus will be:

Developing people/leadership capabilities – Designing flexible, industry-responsive learning journeys to ensure employees are skilled in the latest and relevant technologies.

Motivate and engage employees – Through ongoing learning opportunities that are both meaningful to the employee and phData, we aim to support a values-based culture with communities of practice grounded in phData’s core values (psychological safety, curiosity, grit, community), and intentional space for relationship-building, trust, and active listening.

Want to work alongside Marilou?

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What are the most exciting things you’re working on and how do you see them positively impacting our customers?

I am excited to have the trust and freedom from executive leadership to create and test out innovative programs without fear of failure. Two new programs we have recently launched under phData Academy are the phData Academy Short (more on that below) and Communications Communities of Practice/CoP. 

The Communications CoP provides an opportunity for new employees to connect with other employees through fun activities that encourage spontaneous and creative ways of communicating. If we want to get better at any skill, we have to practice. We are what we practice. In our CoPs, we spend our time sharing knowledge, reflecting, and practicing a skill we want to improve. 

One of my greatest joys has been witnessing the transformation of employees as their confidence builds and their face lights up as they share stories on a topic that matters to them. I want to get to know every employee and what ignites that fire of passion inside of them. When we bring our whole selves to work, we radiate an energy that is positive and contagious, and that energy extends beyond the phData walls and to everyone we touch including our customers.

Tell us about phData Academy Short.

phData Academy Short is a new program where we share tidbits of phData specific learnings in a light and entertaining video to all employees. Our first episode featured our Chief Data Officer in his role as phData’s Often Wrong Chief Prognosticator! PAS is about learning, stretching our creative genes, and having fun!

A screenshot from the first episode of phData Academy Short that features Mac Noland and Natalie DePenning.

What is your favorite phData core value and why?

This is a tough one as I truly resonate with all four of phData’s core values. But if I have to pick one, it would be psychological safety. It is a unique core value and quite frankly, one that was a critical component of my reason to join phData. I decided to bring my whole self to conversations with executive leaders as we were exploring if I would be a good fit for both phData as Director of L&D and if phData would be a good fit for me. 

The presence, humility, integrity, and open-heartedness of leadership was extraordinary. In all my conversations, I was open, vulnerable, honest, and willingly shared my whole self and always felt the space they created for me was one of trust and safety. Feeling psychologically safe at work is the foundation for bringing out the best in employees. It has certainly done that for me.

Outside of work, what's your life like? What do you do for fun?

I am deeply passionate about my volunteer work in partnering with community members of a few Anishinaabe tribal nations in Minnesota in our work to create community-led programs to serve pets in tribal nations where access to veterinary care or resources is scarce. I serve as a tribal liaison to bring resources to communities I work with and partner with several veterinary universities and non-profits to ensure partnerships are built from a culturally responsive and respectful manner. 

I am also deeply passionate about playing taiko drumming and take classes with Taiko Arts Midwest. 

12 people including Marilou posing around some large drums.

Finally, I am a part of a BIPOC (black indigenous People of Color) Deep Listening for Social Change group that formed shortly after the murder of George Floyd and committed to a process of deep listening, led by a coalition of multicultural, multi-gender, multi-generational skilled facilitators that will amplify and empower marginalized voices. I also take nature hikes every morning (regardless of the weather) and have a daily meditation, qigong, and centering practice.

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