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Building Business Acumen for Trainers.

Building Business Acumen for Trainers, by Terrence L. Gargiulo, Book, 2006, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, $50.

Don't let this happen to you. Some years ago during an interview with a Fortune 50 company, the interviewer said, "And of course, you can write a business case." I had only the dimmest idea of what that meant!

Who would have thought that you would need an MBA to be a trainer! However, that is the trend. It seems to be a prerequisite for learning professionals and HR people who wish a "seat at the table," a position they have wanted for decades!

In order to claim a seat, you must speak the language of higher management. Talking learning objectives and assessment levels or bragging about achieving x number of butts in seats means nothing to CEOs. They trust numbers, but the numbers must reflect how your function helps the company meet or exceed its business objectives.

Don't have an MBA? Consider a small investment now that can help you claim that coveted seat at the table. An MBA affords you the knowledge to write a business plan, analyze financial data, and even create some numbers of your own.

Here's where Building Business Acumen for Trainers comes in. It is a "TSL" book; it teaches the trainer's second language--business. It addresses three critical areas of knowledge: finance (section 1), consulting (section 2), and communication (section 3).

A CD-ROM that comes with the book includes balance sheet information; templates for budgeting, ROI analysis, breakeven analysis, vendor selection and evaluation, and request for proposal (RFP); and report writing exercises.

What better way to start your journey than with a vocabulary lesson? After all, learning any language starts with the words. Chapter 1 introduces a list of business terms and concepts. The first section covers financial concepts and tools such as financial statements (income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement) and financial analysis (vertical, horizontal and ratio) are introduced. So are budgets and forecasts including variance analysis, breakeven analysis, and "pricing training courses."

Three business functions--project management, consulting, and business financial analysis--have found their way into the training function, or, as it is increasingly being called, the workplace learning and performance (WLP) function. Section 2 speaks to the consulting aspect of the WLP professional's job, including building institutional support and partnering with internal and external customers. Section 3 gives advice on writing a business case and reports.


I wish I'd had a copy 10 years ago! On rating scale of one to four, I give this book a 10! It is by no means a substitute for an MBA degree, but it combines the fundamentals of business acumen with the function of training. For workplace learning professionals without an MBA, I highly recommend that you consider purchasing this book.

Review by Barbara Fillicaro
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Building Business Acumen for Trainers

Overall rating ****
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Copyright 2007, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Fillicaro, Barbara
Publication:Training Media Review
Article Type:Book review
Date:May 1, 2007
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