Skip to main content

ISPI BABS Chapter Enabled A Unique Learning Journey for Emerging Professionals


ISPI Bay Area/Boise State(BABS) chapter is a young and rapidly expanding professional association. The Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (OPWL) department and the student body at Boise State University joined forces with what was the ISPI Bay Area chapter in Northern California to form a new organization chapter that operates virtually, which is called the ISPI Bay Area/Boise State (BABS) Chapter.

In 2021, thanks to the generosity of our donors, the ISPI BABS chapter provided 10 student sponsorships to attend the Performance Improvement and Sustainability conference that was hosted by the ISPI EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) association from September 30 to October 5, 2021. Eight students were from the Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (OPWL) graduate program at Boise State University.

BABS chapter has started a collaborative partnership with the ISPI EMEA in 2018. This year our partnerships provided students with unique opportunities in their yearly conference. The ISPI EMEA virtual conference is known for its unique interactive format, which aims to give the participants the opportunity to learn and share in an open, honest, and constructive atmosphere. The conference sessions are live-streamed but all sessions are recorded and available to the participants that might not be able to participate live.

For our student attendees, what are their biggest takeaways from this conference?

In sum, our student participants felt empowered to participate and contribute and valued the learn-by-doing and international collaboration.

Furthermore, they all had the opportunity to grow their professional network. Let’s hear them out!

Rachel BarlowRachel Barlow

A Student and Graduate Assistant in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (OPWL) Master’s program at Boise State University

“The value I gained from the ISPI EMEA 2021 conference was immediate and will continue to benefit me as I progress through my career. I had the amazing opportunity to see presentations from the top experts in the field from various countries, have my questions answered by them, network with them and several emerging professionals like myself, AND be provided with expert coaching to present a performance improvement proposal to a real organization. To top it all off, the conference organizers and presenters were welcoming, poked fun at one another, and were supportive of everyone in attendance. Thank you to all who made ISPI EMEA 2021 such a wonderful experience. I was pleasantly surprised each day with how impactful of an experience it really was.”

Chantal CurtisChantal Curtis

“My biggest takeaway from the conference is the importance of networking. The conference provided an opportunity for me to collaborate and connect with people in the field, which provided a different experience from academics. I am grateful that some of the people I met have expressed a willingness in helping me to further my interest.”


Nelumdini SamaranayakeNelumdini Samaranayake

“Having worked for fifteen years in United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), My biggest take-away was listening to the senior executive panel session hearing their thoughts, insights, and vision. It was a more significant challenge to join a group of open assist team proposals according to your preference. We were determined to complete the task while in different time zones and glad our team could compile these together. While all presentations were informative and engaging, I was able to network and build new relationships within a diverse group. I enjoyed presenting at the conference about “Sustainable Education to All” and participating in other presentations.”

Lenz BayasLenz Bayas

Learning and Performance Solutions Consultant, Graduate Student in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (OPWL) at Boise State University

“The ISPI-EMEA conference left me with so many wonderful insights. The one that shines brightest is the continued need for articulating a strengths-based approach to clients. I left the conference with the language and strategies to help clients better recognize what’s going well within their organizations. This constitutes a pivot away from the traditional focus on organizational problems. Prior to the conference, a strengths-based approach had been mentioned but with a more theoretical bent that I wasn’t sure how to apply in practice. Now I’m able to speak more confidently to the strengths-based approach using terms I feel will be more relatable to business leaders.”

Marcella RobertsMarcella Roberts

A Graduate Student in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (OPWL) at Boise State University

“Attending the ISPI EMEA 2021 conference was an amazing and inspiring experience! I am so grateful to ISPI BABS for the opportunity to attend. I found so much professional value in meeting the incredible people who participated, and in learning about performance improvement projects all around the world, with a focus on sustainability. Participating in the Open Assist experience, in which we got to develop a performance improvement proposal to benefit a real organization, was an intense learning experience for me, and really helped put into context the theory I’m learning in my graduate program. I look forward to continuing to get to know and work with the amazing professionals I met at the conference, and to attending other ISPI conferences and events in the future.”

Stephanie HartwellStephanie Hartwell

A Graduate Student in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (OPWL) at Boise State University

“Facing my imposter syndrome struggles headfirst felt exhilarating. I felt inspired and determined to continue into a new HPT career, seeing what a positive impact it can make across industries and countries and cultures. I felt honored to learn with some of the globe’s best HPT professionals.”

Carol M. Panza, the president of ISPI EMEA, said that: “most of the students found a way to “make it work,” was a testament to their focus on and commitment to learning, sharing, and growing together. It makes the time and effort required to organize a conference with our unique format, truly worthwhile.”

In addition to the conference, the ISPI BABS chapter offered all 10 students a year’s chapter membership which includes the amazing member benefits, including but not limited to building a professional network and staying current with evidence-based practices for performance improvement. Although the BABS chapter has strong roots in California and Boise State, as a virtual chapter, we welcome members from all over the world!

About the OPWL Program

The Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (OPWL) program helps prepare students for careers in the areas of instructional design, training and development, e-learning, workplace performance improvement, organizational development, program evaluation and performance consulting.

Interested in learning more about the OPWL program?

Contact a Student Success Coach

Join a Live, Virtual Information Session