AXA XL

Moving to the Cloud with Confidence

How AXA XL leveraged Cloud Academy’s structured skill-building to get teams certified and mature towards DevOps

AXA XL is a division of AXA, one of the world’s largest multinational insurance firms offering insurance and reinsurance to enterprises of every kind and size. AXA XL has more than 100 offices on 6 continents.

  • 509%

    Increase in cloud fundamentals skill growth

  • 612%

    Increase in DevOps skill growth

Challenge

Before partnering with Cloud Academy, Clive Roberts,  Organization, Skills & Capability Lead at AXA XL, described the company’s tech training as relatively ad hoc and informal. While the Human Resources department encouraged teams to emphasize personal development, individuals were responsible for identifying their own training needs and requesting training if they felt they needed it. Many employees had a willingness to build new cloud skills, but struggled to identify what type of training they needed and how to go about it, and lacked the formal structure to see their training through. AXA noticed the training budget they had allocated for each person was rarely being used, and for those who were using it, the training wasn’t targeted for particular outcomes. 

When the company committed to a big initiative to move to the cloud, Clive knew it was time to seek a comprehensive skill-building solution, and looked to Cloud Academy for the guidance that was missing. 

“We knew that simply moving to the cloud wasn’t going to be sufficient. We needed our people to not just understand the benefits and pitfalls of the cloud, but to really leverage automation, DevOps, and Agile methodologies and put them into practice. We wanted to be cost-effective in the cloud.”

– Clive Roberts, Head of Change and Release Management

When AXA evaluated cloud training solutions, Dawn Burnham, Head of Talent Management and Employee Experience at AXA XL, commented, “You have an exceptional product at Cloud Academy! From a learning standpoint, I really appreciate the thoughtfulness you all have put into creating a meaningful learning journey that goes well beyond a repository of self-led, non-interactive courses we currently have access to.”

They were confident they had found not just a content provider, but an in-depth platform behind it to back them up and hold them accountable as they scaled.

Solution

AXA XL launched Cloud Academy with a pilot of 50 people to dive deep into all the features, content, and courses, and after vetting it out, they quickly decided to expand to more teams. With 230 users in the platform now, they’re already set to roll out another 100 licenses by the end of this year. 

From a learning perspective, their first priority was for everyone to build a foundation of cloud best practices and Agile methodology, and especially, to understand the why behind it all. They wanted teams to buy into why AXA was moving to Agile in order to truly benefit from it, and Cloud Academy’s wide range of cloud content helped them do exactly that.

“Let me say, the content is very well done and it’s clearly articulated as well. The delivery of content really makes a difference in the engagement, and the instructors are personable and casual, so it doesn’t feel like you’re being lectured to at all, which is great.” 

In the platform, you can organize your teams and sub teams in the platform however you choose, and AXA XL structured its teams by splitting them up into focus areas within the organization. They assigned personalized training based on delivery teams so they could build the right skill set for the initiatives they’re working on internally.

One of their key focus areas was a major certification initiative to get over 100 employees certified in Microsoft AZ-900. Being in the insurance industry, each year they have a strict audit requirement that ensures a certain number of people are certified. 

To do this, they set up Cloud Academy Training Plans, which provide structured learning with interactive activities including courses, hands-on labs, and constant quizzing to provide a holistic approach to training, all while keeping teams on track with due dates and reminders. 

Using the hands-on labs, team members have been able to train for certification readiness and practice in real cloud environments that translate into real-world skills. Some of them have already surpassed AZ-900 and have moved to other certifications including Azure Security Technologies and Azure Solutions Architecture, and they’re able to easily track these results within the Cloud Academy insights dashboard.

Clive attests to the support of his Sales Rep, Mark, and Customer Success Manager, Sam, as being key to their cloud training success.

“Sam has been quite responsive to our requirements because half the time we didn’t necessarily know what we wanted, but then we got actionable advice from her. It was great having somebody who you could get prescriptive guidance from and bounce ideas off of. We needed the partnership as well as the raw material, because you could probably get the raw material from anywhere.”

In addition to their Customer Success Manager, company leaders leverage the metrics and insights they gain in the platform to steer them in the right direction and help them narrow their focus so they can spend their time wisely.

Outcome

Being a part of the wider AXA group, AXA XL has a constant demand to show progress to the leadership team who emphasizes analyzing the numbers, so it was important to gain tracking capability to validate training effectiveness. Having visibility into who’s completing training, who’s falling behind, and where their skill levels are increasing has made a big impact. Not only does this help keep them accountable, it allows Clive to understand who needs more support, and he works with team managers closely to ensure teams are continually progressing toward their goals.  

One of the biggest performance wins they’ve seen is a major increase in engagement, and they’ve received a lot of positive feedback from their employees. The platform is designed for on-the-go learning to fit their lifestyle, and because of this, teams are now training more than ever before. In fact, many users are able to knock out training during their commute.

“Some of our teams are putting up training numbers that are really quite incredible. When there’s a culture of continuous improvement, the Cloud Academy product really enables you to learn new skills and excel in your learning.”

Users enjoy the ease of use of the mobile app, the ability to increase the playback speed, and the way the platform always saves your progress so you can pick up where you left off.  Many are even asking to take on more training than required, and Clive says it starts with having the right mindset for self-improvement. He encourages employees to recognize the need to develop cutting-edge cloud skills, and to take advantage of the opportunity in front of them to better themselves. There’s an importance in building a culture around training and being self-sufficient to increase your potential and excel in your career, and he believes in making that a priority. Having a platform with everything they need under one roof made that possible, especially when it’s easy to use for all stakeholders involved. 

“We chose Cloud Academy because it was important for us to partner with a company that can support us on the journey, not just provide content. Any platform can provide you with the raw material, but we wanted a partner who could advise us on it and take us through all the steps.”

Deploy Training Plans. Train with Purpose.