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Efficiency, empathy, and creativity. Three qualities to describe success. An interview with Macarena Zubiria, Sr. Project Manager & Instructional Designer

Post Series: Storytelling

“Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” 

Robert Brault

With plenty of experience in the L&D space, a degree in Economics, and a Master of International Business, Macarena Zubiria, Sr. Project Manager & Instructional Designer for LT, tells us the story of how she learned the value of helping others, how learning became her passion, and how the industry has allowed her to reach new heights in her career. 

1. Tell us about yourself: 

My name is Macarena Zubiria, and I’m a Sr. Project Manager & Instructional Designer at Learning Tribes. I love to travel, read, and practice Lagree Fitness. I have been practicing Lagree for eight years and teaching it for three years. It’s what keeps me balanced!

2. What is your background in L&D?  

I have a degree in Economics and a Master in International Business. Before joining Learning Tribes, I worked for a university running Executive MBA Programs.

3. Why are you in this space?  

There are three fundamental reasons why I love working in the L&D field:

  1. I am a lifelong learner, meaning that being in an environment that encourages and promotes continuous learning is essential for me.
  2. I have a strong creative side, a skill that makes me successful in developing training experiences.
  3. I love helping others. Designing training that supports people skills development and helps them be more performant is very fulfilling.  

4. Tell us about a recent project you conducted. 

The client was a provider of benefits administration and cloud-based HR and financial solutions. They requested Learning Tribes to redesign five curriculums in 6 months, working with multiple SMEs and within a very tight timeline. Even though it was a challenging task, we successfully implemented a blended-learning solution for each curriculum, with self-paced content and VILT/ILT.

5. What made the project challenging?  

We had a tight timeline to complete each curriculum, several client teams to work with, and no access to the customer’s tools. But that’s what made the project fun and challenging for me. I always enjoy challenging projects that put me outside of my comfort zone.

6. Tell us about the training experience for the learners.  

The new training we built was engaging, had a polished design, and used various multimedia such as interactive graphics, explainer videos, and simulations. We also incorporated many agent/customer calls for learners to listen to, time for open discussions with the facilitator, and most importantly, allocated time for learners to practice using their tools and resources.  

We did not want learners to memorize the content and rely on their memory to do their job. Instead, we taught them how to use the tools and resources available to do their job effectively. Additionally, we incorporated several knowledge checks through each curriculum to assess learner’s understanding of the content. 

7. How did the organization benefit from this project?  

The new training we designed helped agents feel more confident and prepared to answer calls with real customers by the end of their training, allowing the client to lower attrition and improve ROI.

8. What is the most memorable experience you have ever had with a client? 

I cannot think of only one. I have many. Finishing a project that took 12 months to be completed and required a lot of time and effort was a memorable experience. It was like being on a plane, taking off, going through turbulence, having the feeling you are going to crash many times, and then finally landing safely; you are like, wow! We made it; that was a crazy ride, but we made it, and we are all alive! What made that whole experience even more memorable was the client coming back and saying: “Ok, we want more. Here are five more big projects for you to do; let’s do this again together!”

9. What has been your most memorable experience with LT?  

Also, I have many. Before COVID-19, I led the Learning Tribes’ Culture Committee. We used to organize several fun events to spend time as a team. As part of the activities, we went to see a baseball game, played paintball (if any of my teammates are reading this, I won!), did an Escape Room (my team won this one too!), and so many other fun memories we built together.

10. Tell us about your upcoming project and personal goals. 

I am currently working on designing onboarding courses for one of our clients. It is gratifying to start with one course and having the client come back for more!
In my three years at Learning Tribes, I have discovered a love and passion for instructional design. My goal is to continue doing instructional design while still supporting my team with project management tasks. On the personal side, my goal is to live a more balanced life. I tend to put too much time into my work and have very little time for personal things, but I’m working with that. Any suggestions?

Macarena is a model of efficiency, combined with empathy and creativity, three essential qualities that give her a clear vision of what she wants to achieve while staying open to new challenges and adventures. 

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