Learning is a responsibility: How DCMN does employee development

learning is a responsibility

Learning is a responsibility: How DCMN does employee development

DCMN is, simply put, really big on learning. Pre-corona we had experts come to our office to teach advanced Excel, public speaking, feedback skills and positive self-leadership, as well as breath work — yup, that one was a hoot — and vegan cooking. And then there were our colleagues who, encouraged to give workshops and share their knowledge, turned out to be great instructors themselves. They taught us how to win a pitch, how to use design thinking and how to be mindful, to give just a handful of examples.

Learning in the time of corona

So what now, you may ask? In the grim, let-me-turn-my bedroom-into-the-office, pandemic times? “Together with the People Team we were trying to find out what makes people happy with their jobs,” Dr. Nikoletta Tamas, our Chief People Officer, says. “Firstly, people wish to feel valued by earning a competitive salary, so this is a very important pillar for us. Secondly, we know how important work-life balance is. Even before corona, we were offering a very flexible home office policy and unlimited vacation. Now, on top of that, we try to support our employees’ well-being by giving them access to Selfapy, an online therapy platform. And finally, people need to feel they can develop, personally and professionally.” So in January this year a new Learning & Development programme was announced for our offices in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, US and India. 

Freedom of choice

“Instead of signing into any specific tool, we decided to give employees a budget and enable them to decide on their own what is the most interesting thing for them to learn. Then we realised that everyday business can make it hard to prioritise your own growth, so we added six dedicated learning days to our unlimited holidays policy, to make that time more focused and bespoke”, Niki says. “It is not just a right or a gift, it is every person’s responsibility. We provide you with the things you need, but it is your decision when, how and if you are going to use them”, she adds. 

As a result, a lot of people have already signed up for classic classes and workshops, where they can learn new skills. Some, on the other hand, especially more senior colleagues, decided to work on their soft skills with a coach. “It was a hard year and we really want to invest a good amount of money into our employees to give back,” Niki comments.

Coding and empathetic leadership

We chatted to two colleagues who chose two very different paths to grow. Rabea Holtmann, Digital Marketing Manager at DCMN, completed the course HTML, CSS, and Javascript for Web Developers by Johns Hopkins University via Coursera. 

“I was very excited to learn how to code so it wasn’t hard to make time for it or stay motivated at all. Sometimes I even used spare time on the weekends to practise my skills,”  she recounts. So how does coding help a digital marketing manager? “The course improved my general technical understanding and that of websites which I need in my daily job in many ways. It helped me to fully grasp how marketing pixels and their corresponding triggers work and how they are being implemented. Also, it taught me how to build a user friendly website and I can now, for example, use that knowledge to better understand and troubleshoot our clients’ websites and their user funnel. With my newly acquired technical knowledge I can work more independently and also more efficiently. Not having to google saves a lot of time. Plus, I can pass on my knowledge to my colleagues because sharing is caring and we can be even more efficient together,” she laughs. 

Off to deepen our empathy and emotional intelligence. Zilke Grogan, our Head Of Communications, started with Inspired Leadership Specialization through Case Western Reserve University, also via Coursera. “My main takeaway so far is that a big part of managing people is about managing yourself. I took on a leadership role at DCMN right before the pandemic began, so I’m learning strategies for managing my own stress and emotions, and for acknowledging those times where I am struggling and need to seek more support. This self awareness is especially valuable at the moment but I’m sure it will be helpful post COVID too,” she says. “In the bigger picture, it’s also helping me to think about the kind of leader I want to be. I like to work collaboratively and I see my team on eye level, so a more resonant leadership approach that involves meeting people where they are sits much better with me than any outdated top-down approach. Plus, empathetic leadership fits better with both the DCMN company culture and leadership code, so it’s a win win for everyone,” she adds.

Many more colleagues have great workshops scheduled for the upcoming months. They’ll be tackling the R programming language, ad copywriting, agile project management and many hours of coaching sessions. We are in it for the long haul – not only because COVID-19 has locked us in our houses, but because we truly believe in the benefits of creating an ongoing learning culture. Want to grow with us? Apply here.



Development and growing at ones job is one of three reasons that people are happy with their employment, next to a competitive salary and good work-life balance.


DCMN decided to give people a freedom of choice how they want to learn. Within a new Learning & Development programme each employee got a budget and additional days off.


As a result, a lot of people have already signed up for classic classes and workshops, where they can learn new skills. Some, on the other hand, especially more senior colleagues, decided to work on their soft skills with a coach.

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