Interview with Elena Avery
Grow Learn Connect: What motivated you to become a trainer?
Elena Avery: I believe that training enhances skills development. During a training program, people receive condensed information, distill insights, and leverage knowledge gained to enhance their skills. This entire process of skills development is exciting—it is magic—and I want to be part of it.
GLC: What were the major milestones in your professional career?
EA: Opportunities to keep learning have enabled me to go from strength to strength as a trainer. I would therefore count all these learning experiences as milestones in my professional career. Some of my most prized learning opportunities are: Kirkpatrick’s Four-Level Training Evaluation learning program, IFC’s certification program for Master Trainers, LPI’s training course on ‘Online Design and Facilitation’, and the ISO:2000 Audit.
GLC: How did you start working with IFC?
EA: I have designed, developed, delivered, and assessed training programs—serving micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), banking, microfinance institutions, and non-government organizations—for over 20 years across diverse geographies. Over the years, I built a robust professional network of clients and colleagues. Having worked on projects for the World Bank, I was keenly aware of IFC’s work and felt aligned with the organization’s vision. In 2009, I received my first contract with IFC, which I consider to be a pivotal moment in my career.
GLC: What is the next step in your professional development?
EA: I am currently learning about the latest software programs for self-paced e-learning design.
GLC: Tell us about one training project you're most proud of.
EA: I am proud of many training projects, but top of the list is the one that I conducted for ACBA-Credit Agricole Bank, Armenia. This was an IFC client that began implementing non-financial services for its MSME clients in 2013. In partnership with IFC, the bank organized a Training-of-Trainers program for its internal training team and delivered four training modules for business clients. Given the project’s success, the bank requested additional training modules geared towards their MSME clients. I was one of two master trainers who delivered ten of these training modules on behalf of IFC. ACBA-Credit Agricole Bank noted that MSME clients who participated in these training programs showed superior performance in Armenia’s challenging business climate and became better and stronger customers of the bank.
GLC: Training is a two-way street. As a trainer, you train participants, but you also learn from them. What did your training participants teach you?
EA: My participants have taught me to be more observant, empathetic, detail-oriented, and of course, patient. Training is all about communication. With each training opportunity, I learn new strategies to communicate more effectively.
GLC: What makes you a good trainer?
EA: I believe ‘training’ is in my DNA—I have always had a passion for learning and teaching. It is this passion that motivates me to work with enthusiasm and interest. I love what I do, and I do what I love. I believe this is one of the most valuable qualities of any trainer.
GLC: What is your favorite book on professional development?
EA: I highly recommend ‘Emotional Intelligence’ by Daniel Goleman, and some of Cindy Huggett’s works, as must reads for performance and learning professionals.
GLC: You're originally from Ukraine. What book by a Ukrainian writer would you recommend to someone who is not familiar with Ukrainian literature?
EA: Ukrainian literature is so rich and vibrant that it is difficult to recommend just one book. In the genre of classical literature, I recommend Lesia Ukrainka’s book ‘The Forest Song.’ For more contemporary literature, I recommend Sophia Andrukhovych’s book ‘Felix Austria’ that won the BBC Ukrainian Book of the Year Award in 2015.
GLC: What is your favorite movie?
EA: This is a tough question to answer, because I have so many favorites! I love different genres: detective-mysteries, psychological-dramas, and historical pieces. If I have to pick one, it would be ‘Meet Joe Black’: a romantic fantasy starring Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins that is presented as a wonderful duet.
GLC: When you're not working, you are... doing what?
EA: I love spending time with my family, cooking, traveling, and meeting friends.