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Nissan’s Jim Irvine on Culture and Learning

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Nissan’s Jim Irvine on Culture and Learning

CLO Breakfast Club Podcast

CLO magazine,

5 min read
4 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Learning programs should address the roots of many business problems: trust and credibility. 

Editorial Rating



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By his own admission, Jim Irvine “hated school but loves learning.” His enthusiasm for his field and skill at implementing successful learning programs are on display in this interview for the Chief Learning Officer Breakfast Club podcast. Irvine joined Nissan in 1999 when it was $21 billion in debt. Since then, he’s witnessed massive change in the company, due in part to his own efforts at introducing foundational skill courses in 25 countries. His method involves discovering employees with an enthusiasm for learning, then letting them shine as he offers guidance from behind the scenes.


The core mechanisms for building trust, connection and great relationships are the same regardless of country, department or culture.

Jim Irvine runs the learning and development (L&D) program for the Renault-Nissan alliance, serving employees in countries all over the world. He suggests that the challenges he encounters when offering learning initiatives to this diverse international community are “bigger, broader, but the same” as those he faced when he primarily worked with US employees. Misunderstandings are more likely to arise between departments than between cultures. An engineer from Japan and an engineer from France are likely to understand each other, while an engineer and someone who works in sales and marketing – even if they’re from the same country – might struggle to find common ground.

An effective learning and development program pulls dissimilar groups together by focusing on the root of an issue rather than symptoms. One competency model is unlikely to work for all employees, but trust, connection and strong relationships are the same across departments and cultures. The key is to...

About the Podcast

For the CLO Breakfast Club podcast, CLO magazine editor in chief Mike Prokopeak and veteran chief learning officer Justin Lombardo interview learning executives, authors and industry leaders about corporate education trends. This episode’s guest, Jim Irvine, is the global program manager for learning and development at Renault-Nissan Alliance. 

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