Gradifi is always looking for new ways to educate people on their benefits, and how they can grow both personally and professionally when it comes to their finances. When we were looking at new ways to reach more people, we uncovered that October was National Learning and Development Month, but it was also founded by one of our clients, Holiday Inn Club Vacations. Together, we sought out to collaborate on various fronts throughout the month, and connected with Tiffany Komendat, Corporate Services Training Manager on the HR Team. Tiffany always knew that she wanted her career path to involve some type of learning. As someone who has an eagerness for growth, she furthered her education, and sought out opportunities for learning and development. Now, she works on a team that oversees National Learning and Development Month which is celebrated every October, and encourages individuals to focus on broadening and advancing their personal and professional skills. We sat down with Tiffany to hear more about the efforts behind what those on the team do, what she is most looking forward to over the course of the month, and what Gradifi means to her.

How did you become involved with National Learning and Development Month?

            A few years ago, our Senior Director, Scott Doggett, submitted to the committee who establishes national days and months for October to be recognized as Learning and Development Month. I have always worked in training, with a passion for learning and development. Our goal is to help people be lifelong learners, and to spread the word about what that means in any organization. We were granted the national recognition and for the last few years we have hosted an event in October to celebrate the month with various seminars, speakers, authors, and over 200 attendees. We have been lucky enough to team up with UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management to share new ideas and inspire one another based on what various organizations are doing for their own learning and development programs.

What else is involved during your event?

            Well, a lot goes in to planning for this, and our entire team is dedicated to learning and development. We have hosted a lot of different things such as a book fair, similar to the one a lot of elementary schools have. We partnered with Barnes and Noble for that, and it really made a lot of people feel like a kid again. We work with various colleges, hosting lunch and learns and certifying trainers across our resorts (28) to educate their employees more about what they can do to advance in their careers. We’ve had a lot of great feedback regarding these events, and it’s a great opportunity to engage with people and learn about what they might be doing during their training processes.

How does Holiday Inn Club Vacations prioritize learning throughout the year?

            As a lifelong learner, I have dedicated my career to employee training, and when the team founded Learning and Development month, I was ecstatic over the possibilities of what we could do not only for our own employees, but for people across the country. Our event in October takes a lot of planning, training, and communicating with different people and partners to showcase what more they can do. We always want to give people more tools in order to succeed. We work with so many different people throughout the year to bring more success to our employees and it’s a great feeling to see such a positive response.

How do benefits and learning play a role together on your team?

At an organization that is deeply focused on its people, I knew there was more we could do, and that is when I started to explore more with our benefits team. When I first saw the Gradifi commercial and couldn’t believe an employee benefit like this even existed. Then, I was speaking with some friends who work at PwC, and they raved about how impactful the benefit was to their finances. I reached out to our HR team internally, and they said they were already looking into developing a benefit around financial wellness for Holiday Inn Club Vacations. From there, the HR department sent out a survey to employees to gauge interest and engagement. When Holiday Inn Club Vacations launched with Gradifi, I couldn’t believe it. A platform that allowed me to learn about offers from different lenders was so great to have from an employer. Refinancing allowed me to learn more about my finances, and I felt good about the next logical step and future with Holiday Inn Club Vacations.

How did the whole refinancing process make you feel?

            After I refinanced my undergraduate loan, I felt so empowered and the stress of my student loans wasn’t as overwhelming. My payment term shortened, my interest rate went down, but I decided to continue to pay the same amount off my loans, and I am actually saving at least 5 years when it comes to payments. I am so glad I work for a company that is taking a stand against the problem of student debt, and I know this allows me to have a brighter financial future for potential children, and the end date for my payments is doable.

What do you encourage other to do when it comes to their refinancing their student loans?

            I talk openly with my co-workers about how much refinancing my student loans has helped me and my finances. I was thankful that my HR team listened to the survey suggestions for more financial assistance, and that the greater pay off is coming. I really encourage others to spread the word whether it involves learning about your finances or more about your career, because it always pays to be a life long learner.

Holiday Inn Club Vacations works with Gradifi to provide Gradifi Refi to their workforce. We hope in this continued relationship we can support each other in all endeavors for greater learning and development across all workforces.