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Empowering Employee Growth: Harvard Business Publishing's Career Development Framework

Angela Cheng-Cimini

Angela Cheng-Cimini

24 minutes

Jul 14, 2024

Empowering Employee Growth: Harvard Business Publishing's Career Development Framework
Interview Highlights

In today's dynamic work environment, employees seek more than just a job; they crave opportunities for growth and advancement. Yet, according to the 2023 Work in America workforce survey, only 47% of employees report having access to educational opportunities in their workplaces, despite 91% acknowledging the importance of continuous learning.

This disconnect often leads to dissatisfaction and turnover among employees.

To address this challenge, Angela Cheng-Cimini, the Senior Vice President of Talent and Chief Human Resources Officer at Harvard Business Publishing, spearheaded the development of a comprehensive career development framework. In an enlightening discussion, Angela shared her insights into the challenges faced and the strategies employed in establishing this groundbreaking initiative.


Identifying the Need for Change

Angela's journey began with a simple yet profound realization: many employees were leaving the organization due to a lack of professional development opportunities. Through diligent research, including conducting exit interviews, Angela unearthed a common thread – employees felt stifled in their current roles with no clear path to advancement. This not only posed a threat to employee retention but also hindered the organization's growth potential.


Securing Leadership Support

Building a career development framework from scratch is no easy feat. Angela emphasized the importance of garnering unwavering support from senior executives. By presenting a compelling case grounded in data and outlining the tangible benefits of such an initiative, Angela gained unanimous backing from the leadership team. This support was instrumental in overcoming challenges and ensuring the success of the project.

Crafting a Customized Framework

The cornerstone of the career development framework lies in its bespoke nature. Angela and her team engaged employees across various job functions to identify key competencies and map out career progressions. This collaborative approach ensured that the framework reflected the unique needs and aspirations of the organization. Each job family had its own set of competencies and mastery levels, providing employees with clear guidelines for advancement.


Driving Organizational Change

Implementing a new strategy requires effective communication and change management. Angela stressed the importance of keeping employees informed and engaged throughout the process. Regular updates and involvement of key stakeholders helped alleviate concerns and fostered a culture of transparency and trust.


Measurable Impact and Future Outlook

The results of Angela's efforts were tangible and promising. Internal mobility doubled since the launch of the career development framework, with employees gaining clarity and confidence in their career trajectories. Moreover, retention rates improved, and employee engagement soared, reflecting the success of the initiative.

Looking ahead, Angela envisions leveraging technology to further enhance career development processes. Utilizing AI and data analytics, organizations can streamline skill gap identification and tailor personalized development plans, paving the way for continuous growth and success.



Angela Cheng-Cimini's journey exemplifies the transformative power of strategic career development initiatives. By prioritizing employee growth and investing in tailored frameworks, organizations can not only retain top talent but also foster a culture of learning and innovation. As we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of work, Angela's insights serve as a beacon, guiding organizations toward a future where every employee has the opportunity to thrive and succeed.

Official Transcript

In the 2023 Work in America workforce survey, 91% of respondents say it is somewhat or very important to have a job where they consistently have opportunities to learn. But only 47% say their employer offers educational opportunities (

Numerous companies experience employee departures due to a lack of visible career progression options. To tackle this issue, implementing a strong career development framework becomes crucial. This framework maps out career levels and progressions within various job categories while explicitly detailing the skills and behaviors needed at each stage.

It offers employees a clear view of the areas they must enhance to advance. Utilizing tools such as competency evaluations and personalized development plans can enrich this philosophy, if it’s going to be done right.

Today’s fantastic guest is Angela Cheng-Cimini, SVP, Talent & CHRO at Harvard Business Publishing.

Angela, what were the predominant challenges you observed within the business that prompted the initiative to establish a career development framework?

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