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First Advantage’s Debbie Masak to Discuss the SOAR Program in Panel at ATD Conference

Deborah (Debbie) Masak, CRP, Vice President, Global Talent & Inclusion, will moderate a panel during the upcoming Association for Talent Development (ATD) Conference taking place in New Orleans. During the conference scheduled to take place May 19-22, Masak will take part in a panel called, “Proving Value in Top Leadership Development Programs (Case Studies).” Along with serving as a moderator, she has been asked to share about First Advantage’s SOAR program.

In fact, the session will center around the book that features the SOAR Program. In 2021, SOAR was selected as a Best Impact/ROI Study Award Business recipient. A few years later, Patti Phillips, President and CEO, and Jack Phillips, Chairman of the ROI Institute reached out to Masak and asked if she would participate in this panel at what is described as the largest conference in the world for the Learning & Development profession.  

“I’m most excited about sharing the phenomenal impact our SOAR program has had on our company and our people. The fact our capstone project places the spotlight on the employees’ work and its financial impact is something we are all particularly proud of,” Masak said. “But beyond the business benefits, I’m thrilled to showcase how the program has shaped participants into more impactful leaders. It’s not just about the numbers; it’s about the personal growth and development that we’ve nurtured.” 

According to Masak, SOAR was created to address a critical business need and increase employee engagement at the company. The result was the development of a pilot program that launched in 2019 to empower managers and build leaders. When the pandemic started the following year, the company pivoted to a virtual environment which allowed for a more inclusive and collaborative employee experience for participants around the world. The program was also enhanced to include diversity, equity and inclusion components and a capstone project.  

SOAR 2.0 launched in 2021, the same year it was recognized by the ROI Institute, as a fully virtual program. Masak says the program is complete with a detailed data collection plan, otherwise known as “design thinking,” spanning five comprehensive phases and includes instruction from more than 27 certified facilitators globally. Equally impressive is the level of impact generated from the program – to date, 400+ people managers have taken part in SOAR and employee engagement scores are skewing higher. Masak attributes this to SOAR and how it is becoming more than a program at First Advantage. She considers it a core part of the company culture that is continually shaping resilient, adaptable and effective leaders.  

Adding to the success of SOAR is the fact that our global employee engagement favorability scores have seen year-over-year improvement for the last seven years,” Masak said. “This is a direct reflection of our commitment to making our company not just a workplace, but a ‘best place to work.’ SOAR has played a significant role in this achievement, resonating with our employees and manifesting in our sustained engagement scores.” 

Masak joined First Advantage in November 2015 and has held several roles within the organization, spanning from Sales to the Human Resources (HR) department. Since joining the Talent industry, she has developed a profound appreciation for the tangible impact she can make on people’s lives. Knowing that the programs she crafts and builds help others excel in their jobs so they can grow in their careers and, in turn, support their families, means the world to her.  

“Crafting these initiatives with careful attention to the unique qualities of each individual, while ensuring inclusivity for all learning types, gives the work a philanthropic feel,” Masak said. “Moreover, collaborating with a team that shares my passion and values adds a profound sense of fulfillment to my professional life.”  

To learn more about Debbie’s upcoming session and her fellow panelists, visit the conference website 

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