Educating the World Starts From Within:
Meet our Senior Manager of Learning and Development

A photograph of a smiling brunette woman with an illustrated background, with pictures of the world with a graduation cap, lightbulb, and hands with a cartoon heart.

ApplyBoard’s Learning and Development (L&D) Team strives to ensure that ApplyFam’s professional growth is encouraged, so we can support students worldwide with their study goals. In this post, we’ll connect with the leader whose work makes it possible for all ApplyBoard team members to learn and grow.

Gwen Brambilla joined ApplyBoard as the Senior Manager of L&D. She brings her experience as an executive and leadership coach to ApplyBoard, and has implemented coaching opportunities throughout the organization. Under Gwen’s guidance, our Learning and Development Team has created dynamic professional development content for all ApplyBoardians. We know that supporting employee development and well-being is both the right thing to do and essential for our company’s success. 

Note: Some of Gwen’s responses were edited for brevity.

Tell us about yourself and your professional journey.

I was born and raised in the Prairies in Manitoba, and I live in Winnipeg. My background is extensive in all facets of the supply chain, and I spent years in a manufacturing environment learning about business from end to end. I always say this is the environment in which I grew up! I also had an amazing opportunity to work on national projects across Canada as a Six Sigma Black Belt. This was a pivotal role, as during these five years. I fell in love with the concept of change management.

From there, I did a 180 and started leadership coaching. This is my passion and what gets me excited to wake up every day: I have been a leadership coach for over 10 years, in Manufacturing, Retail, and Tech. I’m a certified leadership coach and a certified Gallup Strengthsfinder [now CliftonStrengths] coach. 

I am continuously learning new skills and am absolutely motivated by growth. Everyone, regardless of their role, can benefit from coaching. Even I have a coach to support me with my personal goals.

I came to ApplyBoard from another startup that became part of a global organization. Just like ApplyBoard, they had to scale up, and that’s what I helped them do. The scale-up phase moves fast: decisions need to be made quickly and everything is a priority. So, as leaders drive the company’s vision, I ensure leaders have the skills needed to thrive. I like to call scaling up the Wild West, and it’s the best place to be: in my opinion, you’ll never learn more than you will during scale! 

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What are you responsible for at ApplyBoard, and what are some unique challenges of your job?

I lead the amazing team of Learning and Development professionals who support the growth of our entire ApplyFam. We’re creating the foundation of what learning looks like in our environment while ensuring we create what our team members need.

One unique challenge in this role is branding. In a role that takes time away from people executing on assigned tasks, there’s a delicate dance between time and value. During scale-up, we’re all focused on creating structure and processes. So, it can be challenging to make time for professional development. Our job in L&D is to create content that aligns with our brand, expectations, and needs while being cognisant of accessibility and the power of microlearning. 

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Why did you choose to join ApplyBoard?

ApplyBoard has an inspiring mission to educate the world, and I wanted to be a part of that. As someone whose passion is in growing others, we create growth opportunities inside and outside the organization with our customers. I also love working with companies during scale-up, as it gives me the opportunity to create and build while making an impact and levelling up my own skills. 

How does the work you’re doing excite and inspire you?

I am passionate about helping others succeed. Every day, I see the impact I am able to make through helping others develop, grow and stretch themselves.

What do you like most about working at ApplyBoard?

What I love most about ApplyBoard is the people. I’m fortunate to be part of an incredible team who are dedicated and passionate about our mission to not only educate the world but to educate our ApplyFam. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet and build relationships with so many amazing people from different teams located around the world.

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What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career, and how did you overcome it?

As someone who’s motivated by growth, the biggest challenge I’ve faced is stagnation in my career. To overcome this, I seek new opportunities to apply my skills and support the organization. I am a big-picture thinker and find there are lots of opportunities all around me when I stand back.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I’ve received comes from a manager I had when I was in my twenties. I was moving into a leadership role, really expanding my circle of influence, and he said to me: Gwen, don’t ever forget where you came from. What he meant was to remember you had to learn once, you had to develop your skills, and you too were once at the beginning stages of your career. 

That has always stuck with me. As a people leader and leadership coach, I continuously remind myself of that advice to balance my expectations, to know when to push someone to expand their reach, and equally when to dial back.

Want to join our Learning and Development Team? Head over to the ApplyBoard Careers page to find current opportunities on this team and with the broader People and Culture Team.