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HRExaminer Radio

Guest: Daniel Carusi Vice President & CLO, Deltek
Episode: 118
Air Date: September 25, 2015

As current Vice President & Chief Learning Officer at Deltek, Dan Carusi doesn’t know which he likes more – teaching or learning. A father of two, Scout leader and coach, Dan is often learning as much from the kids as they are learning from him (or possibly more). With more than 25 years of experience, Dan is responsible for overseeing Deltek University and the Talent & Learning organization, where he oversees all aspects of talent management, leadership development, organizational design & performance, global employee & customer education and Human Capital consulting – often using what he learns from the kids as tools for teaching, with the end goal of making life-long learners out of everyone.

Prior to Deltek, Dan held leadership positions with Learning Tree International, Verizon Business, MCI, AT&T Government Markets and Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, offering a unique blend of industry experience to include hospitality, telecom and training.

Dan is the recipient of multiple Learning in Practice awards from CLO Magazine as well as Brandon Hall Excellence awards for his work in Talent and Learning. Dan was also previously a full-time Contributor to Fistful of Talent, publishing articles monthly challenging the latest trends in Talent Management. He most recently co-authored “Organizational Change Management for Dummies.”

Leadership Council. Dan, along with the 1989 Men’s Track & Field team, was recently inducted into the Moravian College Hall of Fame.

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Begin transcript

John Sumser:                       Good morning and welcome to HR Examiner Radio. I’m your host, John Sumser. We are coming to you live from beautiful downtown Occidental, California. Occidental is a postage stamp, mountain village at the edge of Sonoma County just before you get to the ocean and it is the home of innovation in California. Today we are going to be talking with Daniel Carusi who is the Vice President and Chief Learning Officer at Deltek. Dan, how are you?

Daniel Carusi:                     Doing well, John. Good morning to you.

John Sumser:                       You’re calling from my home stomping grounds in Northern Virginia.

Daniel Carusi:                     I am. I’m in Ashburn, Virginia just thirty some miles outside of Washington DC, in Northern Virginia right by Washington-Dulles Airport.

John Sumser:                       I think that you could probably walk to my brother’s house from your house.

Daniel Carusi:                     Give me the address, John, and maybe I’ll stop by for a visit later this afternoon.

John Sumser:                       I will. I will, he’s a good guy. He is an HR guy of a software company right over by Dulles. If you run across him and have something interesting to say. Why don’t you take a moment and introduce yourself to the audience.

Daniel Carusi:                     Sure. Hi everyone, I am Dan Carusi. As John said, Vice President and Chief Learning Office for Deltek, based in Herndon, Virginia. My role and what my organization does is I head up Deltek University for Deltek, which really is the learning and development and talent arm of Deltek for both our customers, partners and employees across the globe.

John Sumser:                       How in the world did you get to that job. I don’t imagine that when you were in the third grade you dreamt that you wanted to be a CLO in Northern Virginia. How did you end up here?

Daniel Carusi:                     That’s a great question. How much time do we have again? It’s really been a journey. No, I certainly didn’t at a younger age say when I grow up I want to be a Chief Learning Officer or even in the talent space. Ironically, the funny part to my career path and the journey was, which is perfect with the timing in the political environment and political campaign season now. I actually started in Atlantic City working for Donald Trump in the Trump Taj Mahal. I started off in hospitality and moved into a business development, sales role with the Trump organization before moving to Hyatt Hotels and Resorts. It was then really a couple of reinventions of myself and my career along the way to get to where I am at today. I moved out of hospitality into telecom, after moving to the Washington, DC area out of New Jersey. I spent a number of years in telecom doing market development and business development and regional sales, up and down the East Coast.

The next reinvention came along when I moved out of telecom into learning development and training with the move to Learning Tree International and then eventually on to Deltek. The journey at Deltek continues to evolve as well. I joined Deltek to really support our customers, implementation of our products, and to drive user options of our product and since then it has expanded into the CLO role. I am wearing two hats to develop talent at Deltek as well.

John Sumser:                       That’s interesting, so tell me about the current job and what a normal day looks like.

Daniel Carusi:                     I wish I could say there was a normal day. One of the things I love about the work I do, it is different every day. There are new challenges that I face. It really is split into two different roles that I mentioned a minute ago. One is partnering with Deltek customers to successfully implement our products and drive adoption of our products. There is a lot of work I do around organizational change management and product training and driving the user adoption through those billing performance support tools that adjust in time learning and knowledge that our customers can access to be successful. We do a lot of work in government contracting in this region of the US to help our customers learn how to do business with the federal government. The third part to it is talent and consulting, talent and learning consulting that we do in our customer base.

The second job is bringing it back inside internal to Deltek is partnering with our human resource and chief human resource officer to build out talent management programs and learning development programs to help sustain the long term strategic plan of Deltek to continue to grow and develop talent internally within Deltek. How do we attract, develop and retain top talent across Deltek globally? That includes participating in again, we do internal organizational change management, leadership mentoring programs, mentoring and coaching. Implementing a culture of self directed learning that people can really own their own professional and personal development.

Each meeting I go to is different. I have to take a step back and say, “Okay, what hat am I wearing now and what’s the subject matter for this meeting?” Flipping back and forth and toggling back and forth between the two, and that’s the challenge, but that’s the fun at the same time.

John Sumser:                       That’s great. I’m going to bet that maybe one person in the audience has no idea who Deltek is and what Deltek does. Why don’t you talk a bit about what the overall company is about and then we will move on to some other interesting things.

Daniel Carusi:                     Certainly, I would love to talk about Deltek. I certainly hope there is more than one listener that knows more about Deltek, but I would love to take the opportunity to share a little bit more about what we do. We’ve been around. We are a thirty plus year company. We are a leading enterprise software and information solutions company. What does that mean? We hear enterprise software, what does that really mean? How do we help our customers? Some of the things that we do to support our customers in the marketplace is market research and analysis that helps customers identify new opportunities and hopefully win more business. Financial management, ERP solutions which has been our core products that the company was founded on to really help with that financial reporting and better manage the organization in real time.

Governance, risk and compliance solutions. We work with a lot of public companies that do business with the federal government, so we have software obviously that helps with that compliance and mitigating and minimizing risk. Portfolio and project management. We help our software companies better manager their projects, I guess is the best way to do it. Deliver on time and within budget and a satisfaction level that is acceptable to the customer. Measuring performance management and analytics to better measure the business. Social collaboration tools to better project manage the organizations as well. Most recently, it’s been the acquisition and merger with HR Smart earlier in the year which now allows us to offer to our customers talent management solutions, which was a piece we were looking to fill in and be able to provide that support to our customers.

John Sumser:                       Let’s talk about that. First, how big is Deltek and compare Deltek in size to HR Smart in size. I think people would be interesting in understanding that.

Daniel Carusi:                     We are about 2200 employees globally now for Deltek. That and compared to HR Smart is a significant difference. I would call it a mid size company and a mid size player in the space. The acquisitions that we have, like an HR Smart fits nicely in into us to be able to get the product set that we need to be able to go to market but also to be able to integrate in successfully and continue moving the business forward. That was a good mix when you looked at how HR Smart size wise how they operate and product wise how they were able to integrate nicely into DelTek.

John Sumser:                       How’s the merger going?

Daniel Carusi:                     Merger is going well. We completed it back in February or early March. The first 90 days there’s a lot of heavy lifting on the integration, rolling it in together. Once you got past that then we could go to the market strategy around product and how we are going to bring value to our customers, both existing and new customers in the marketplace. We are extremely pleased with the progress we are making and where we are year to date as far as moving the integration forward and going to market with our product set.

John Sumser:                       The integration on a technical level, I assume that HR Smart becomes a part of a larger enterprise offering. What’s that overall enterprise offering look like?

Daniel Carusi:                     It’s a good question you should ask. I’ll take the opportunity to let everyone know that is listening. We are in the middle of the launch of what that solution is going to look like. Using HR Tech coming up in a few weeks to really be the official launch of our new integrated product launch. When you look at what Deltek does, and I think this is the differentiator, it’s the integration of our talent management solution with our ERP offerings. That’s where the HR Smart products that becomes a better, not better but bigger solution when it gets integrated into our existing software offerings. Deltek talent management, which we are going to launch at HR Tech really is going to showcase and highlight that and show what value it brings. It’s taking that specific focus on talent management, attracting, developing and retaining and expanding it out now to a larger ERP offering, leveraging what you get on the talent management piece of attracting, developing, retaining top talent. I really think it is a strong differentiator in the marketplace and we are excited to be launching it in the next couple weeks.

John Sumser:                       That’s going to be interesting. What are the bits and pieces that the HR Smart component covers? Let’s talk a little bit about the actual functionality footprint is in the human capital marketplace.

Daniel Carusi:                     Think of it as an integrated solution to attract development and retain top talent. When I look at talent management, I think we continue to see it today but it’s certainly been historically trending this way is, talent management was very fractured and siloed. You had efforts going around talent acquisition, recruiting and finding top talent. You had separate efforts around learning management systems and developing talent. HR business partners and others doing work out there to retain top talent. There is different solutions for all of those. You can find technology in software that’s going to be the best for attracting and recruiting and my acquisition strategy for talent. We have all of those components.

We have modules that are going to support talent acquisition. We have learning management [inaudible 00:12:49]. We have the development piece and performance management and all the traditional pieces of a talent management solution. What we’ve done now is combined it all in a unified platform. Single access to be able to reach any of those applications. At the same time, they can be implemented and treated individually as well. The differentiator again is let’s blend it, let’s have one unique unified offering because as we look at the larger talent management strategy, that’s all becoming one talent management strategy. We are breaking down the silo’s. We are integrating it into one approach to develop, attract and retain talent. Now we have one unified platform from a technology standpoint to support that strategy.

John Sumser:                       That’s interesting. How is it being received?

Daniel Carusi:                     Positively. Again, I think it aligns with the larger talent strategies that HR and talent executives and professionals are implementing. The technology is a perfect fit to be able to support that strategy. The siloed fragmented approach is becoming very difficult for people to win the war for talent and even fight in the war for talent. How you develop talent and people within the organization is going to have a direct impact whether you are going to retain that talent or whether you are going to be able to out and acquire top talent if they see you have a robust development program in place for your employees. It’s a perfect solution to tie everything together based on where we are all going from a talent management strategy in the marketplace. We are getting really, really good feedback and just excited to be able to move this forward with the upcoming launch dates of HR Tech and our continue to go to market plan.

John Sumser:                       I’m fascinated. I think that what I hear you talking about is that Deltek is a company that blends technical delivery and consulting into a service package? Is that right?

Daniel Carusi:                     I think that a fair statement. When you look at the talent side, absolutely because we know that there is a transformation going on in HR and talent. When you look a lot at our customers, they don’t necessarily have the resources because of the size of their HR organization or the size of the talent team. We have that expertise to be able to partner with our customers to put the right strategies in place. To put the right talent management people plan in place. To be able to help with drilling down to succession planning and leadership development programs. Even to the point where helping build the job roles and job titles that we can load into the technology to help automate the applicant tracking process and candidates when you are trying to acquire talent. There is a consulting piece to that that brings value to our customers. Leveraging the technology to be able to be successful in that space. We do that across all of Deltek. We lead with our software but we certainly have expertise in consulting to be able to drive that. I do a lot of organizational change management that I mentioned earlier. The change management piece is a critical piece to implementing technology. We are able to support our customers in that space.

The best way, John, that I explain what I do at Deltek and Deltek University is we are kind of the people leg of the business. You have process and technologies and the third leg of a three legged stool is people. We partner with our customers in all aspects to be able to support that part of the solution to make sure they are going to be successful.

John Sumser:                       That’s pretty interesting and the reason that it is so interesting is this is not the traditional model of a technology company in the enterprise space and in the HR Tech space in particular. For the most part those companies are dramatically governed by their refusal to have additional labor hours in their cost base and so they put consulting shops at arms length. I think they do that largely at their peril. It’s very exciting to see a company that blends a learning organization with service delivery. That’s pretty unusual. I hope you are focusing on that as you position the company for HR Tech because it is different.

Daniel Carusi:                     It is different, John. I will be completely honest. We have customers that may from a financial standpoint may not have a budget or see the value of doing that consulting piece. They say, “Hey we don’t necessarily need organizational change management. We sent out a communication and we’re going to implement whether it’s talent management or it’s an ERP and we are fine.” The one’s that really embrace are the one’s who have gone through a technology implementation before and struggled with it and said, we do need to focus on some of these key areas if we want to get our return on our investment for the purchase we made of the product and also get the business impact we are looking for when we started down this path.

There is an educational piece to educate just not our customers but anyone that comes around software implementation, technology implementation. You can’t forget the people. You’ve got to focus on the people and make sure we are doing the right things to drive the success of an implementation and ultimately the adoption of the product.

John Sumser:                       I can’t begin to tell you how refreshing it is to hear this story. How do you keep the consulting crew up to what they need to know? You are delivering a fast changing product set. When you are working in the trenches as a consultant it’s hard to stay current with all the changes around you. I’m sure that’s something that you guys are really good at.

Daniel Carusi:                     I think that what I have and my organization has a big advantage is, when you look at how do we keep up to date on the latest learning development or talent strategies or what’s going on out there is we do this internally at Deltek. My organization is responsible for talent management and learning development within Deltek. We are studying the latest trends. We are being educated at the same conference events you would go as a vendor, we are going as a participant to keep our own learning and knowledge up to date.

I have some really, really good thought leaders and talent experts within my organization and within Deltek, our product side and also our consulting side. We are out there, I won’t say the cutting edge, but the cutting edge helping transform HR and talent and learning development. To take a whole different approach on how we look at develop talent and how we manage talent. Because of that, that allows us to bring more value to our customers because we are already playing in that space to help develop Deltek talent. What we do internally, I’ll repurpose and apply externally. If I do something for customers, I’ll bring that in house and then make that available to Deltek employees. It’s a unique role to be able to have both internal and external but we can leverage that to bring more value for everybody.

John Sumser:                       That’s really wonderful to hear. It’s kind of an extension as I think about what we’ve talked about and what I’ve learned about you. One of the things that I believe is pretty important to you is helping make life long learners out of everybody. This seems to be right in line with that model. Talk about that a little bit.

Daniel Carusi:                     Life long learning is something that I am very passionate about. You know what, I don’t think I was until the last couple of years. I think it was part of my overall journey, the experiences I had from Trump to Hyatt to telecom and through. When I reflect back I learned so much for all of those experiences. Those experiences made me what I am today to be able to do the job that I do, because of those experiences. It was that reflection that I said, we are learning every day. I look back at those experiences and I learned a lot from that but we have to keep learning every day and grow from that. Our former CEO, Kevin Parker, he used to use a term insatiable curiosity. We need to go into everything with that curiosity because that curiosity makes us ask questions. When you ask questions, you learn more. When you learn more, you start to think more and then you become more innovative and more creative and it’s a domino effect on how that cascades across an organization from an innovation standpoint.

It was that insatiable curiosity in my experiences that said that we need to make everyone life long learners. That’s how we are going to be better at what we do at work, what we do in life. That concept is how we then implemented a culture of self directive learning at Deltek where we are challenging people to learn something new everyday. To own their own personal and professional development. Personal and professional is important because we don’t just limit it to professional development, we want to include how we grow outside of work, outside of our jobs, how we tie the two together.

Learning experiences, I do a lot of rock climbing with my son. I take those experiences and I come back and I teach something to the organization at Deltek from what we learned out there on the mountain. I am really passionate about life long learning because I believe that that’s going to help people see more value in what they do in their jobs everyday. Feel like they are doing more meaningful work. Feel like they are growing and developing. That’s how we all get better at what we do. That’s been our philosophy within Deltek and the philosophy we take outside of Deltek to our customers and others as well.

John Sumser:                       So, how do you find the kind of people who flourish at Deltek? How do you get them in? Do they come as life long learners or do you turn them into life long learners?

Daniel Carusi:                     I think its a little of both. I would like to think we turn everybody into a life long learner, we are great and we are successful. We’d be kidding ourselves if we don’t realize there’s a lot of other people outside of Deltek that are good at doing this and enjoy doing it. We look for them as well as bringing our own talent in. We’ve got an awesome culture at Deltek built on this model and built on collaboration and built on the nine values that we have at Deltek. When we look for talent, we look for people that are going to thrive in that culture.

When I interview people for my own team, one of the first things I look at is if they will thrive in this culture. It’s not that they don’t have the talent, but if it’s not a good cultural fit for them, they’re not going to do well. They may do better off somewhere off. That’s part of what we look for. When you are within Deltek, how do we inspire people as leaders? How do we inspire our team to want to learn more? To want to grow? To want to be able to do more than they ever thought they’d do? If we can instill that in our leadership down through the organization, we are going to convert more people to life long learners.

John Sumser:                       That’s really interesting. That’s kind of a viral strategy for growing the business, isn’t it? If you take this message to your customers, and teach your customers how to build life long learning organizations, you get something pretty interesting, really after a little bit. Are a lot of your customers in the same category?

Daniel Carusi:                     Some are and some aren’t and this is where it really lends to the transition between the learning development profession and how we develop and how we train people. There is still a large percentage of people out there that believe, hey, let’s make mandatory training. It’s going to be classroom training. We are going to push as many of the, if it’s a leadership development program for example, we’ll push as many leaders through. We’ll go back and report to our CEO that we made success. We hit our 90% goal of completion of the training and then send everybody back to work and then look at it and say everybody is doing the same thing they did before they went through the training. That mandatory approach to training is not necessarily going to have the impact and be effective at the level we thought it was going to be.

If you inspire people to want to learn, to want to grow, and want to develop, it’s going to have such a bigger impact. They are gong to apply it, they are going to be successful. It’s hard to make that shift, John. It’s hard to measure that type of impact and you can how many people went through a training class and I told my CEO we trained a lot of people. At the CLO Symposium that I am going to in a few weeks, this comes up. How do you measure the impact and should we be mandating people have to get developed and educated or should we be inspiring them to want to learn and grow and be successful? Some customers do it very well and some are still trying to get there. Some, it’s just the philosophy of the learning professionals and the talent professionals on what approach they want to take.

It also comes from the CEO. Mike Corkery, our CEO is topped out. He truly believes in investing in people. He truly believes in inspiring people to want to be successful at Deltek to want to grow and want to grow so there is a lot of opportunity for them to grow and be successful. That messaging coming down from Mike and his leadership team, makes it so much easier in my role and the chief human resources officer I partner with to drive these programs and initiatives out. People are hungry for it and they are motivated for it and that’s a huge difference than if you look at some other organizations.

John Sumser:                       What I find interesting here is you are enunciating the values of the learning industry and that’s a pretty unusual story in the technology industry, in the HR technology industry. We don’t really hear a lot of the enthusiasm for the success of the HR department in its prime initiative, which is the energizing and development of human talent. What we tend to hear are stories about cost savings and process control and those sorts of things. I think if you can get this story, very simple, there’s a real interesting position for you inside of the marketplace.

Daniel Carusi:                     Yeah, and how it ties back to technology, John. Everything I do and everything that we work with our customers on, technology is our platform. You need the technology to support everything that I was talking about. It sounds real soft and consoling, right, this is a philosophy of how we manage talent and do all of that. If you don’t have that technology platform that allows you to do everything you do. I’d mentioned early on with Deltek when I was on social collaboration and doing that for projects. I use that social collaboration internally for social learning and I use that on my leadership development program. It’s leveraging the technology that Deltek has as your platform to be able to have a much more comprehensive, robust strategy around people and around managing talent. That’s where it all ties together and, I think that’s the story that we want to deliver as we continue to go through with HR Smart integration and go to market with our technology and our product is tying that together and communicating that story.

John Sumser:                       We have whipped through our allotted time. Would you take a moment to reintroduce yourself and let people know how to get in touch with you.

Daniel Carusi:                     Absolutely. John, thanks for having me today. I enjoyed the conversation. I expected it to go by really, really fast, because we could talk about this all day. I appreciate the opportunity. For those that joined late and didn’t hear my introduction, I am Dan Carusi, Vice President and Chief Learning Office for Deltek. Contact information, you can find me at my email at  On social media as well, I am on LinkedIn and Twitter. Feel free to reach out to me in either one of those or email directly to me. I would love to keep the conversation going with as many of you as possible.

John Sumser:                       Thanks so much for being here, Dan. It was a delight to hear how excited you are about being in the business.

You have been listening to HR Examiner Radio. I’m your host John Sumser. Today we were talking with Daniel Carusi who is the Vice President and Chief Learning Officer at Deltek in Northern Virginia. Deltek recently purchased HR Smart and they are unveiling their latest product iterations at the HR Tech conference in Las Vegas in October.

Thanks for tuning in today and Dan, thanks again for being here. It was great to have you.

End transcript

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