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Behind the List with Jessica Diehl

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Jessica Diehl is the managing principal of Knovex LLC. The Gettysburg-based employee development consulting firm provides custom training that includes e-learning tools and online coaching.  Photo/Amy Spangler
Jessica Diehl is the managing principal of Knovex LLC. The Gettysburg-based employee development consulting firm provides custom training that includes e-learning tools and online coaching. Photo/Amy Spangler

principal of Knovex LLC

Q: As a management consulting agency, why is Knovex focused on training and e-learning?

A: At a fundamental level, we believe that knowledge is what helps people run their organization. So when you think of any aspect of a company, it's really the knowledge of the people who are in that organization that makes it run. What we're really passionate about is helping people figure out the best way to distribute and share knowledge throughout their employee base. As Knovex first started, we realized that there was this great opportunity to use technology and e-learning to help with that distribution of knowledge.

When you started Knovex, had you observed that training and e-learning were underutilized by other management consultants?

When we first started, we were really focused on knowledge management. It was really within that first six months that we realized that technology was what was going to solve most of our clients' concerns. It really impacted how we built our internal resources and our expertise in order to address those issues.

How does Knovex tailor its methods to clients of different sizes, with different missions?

We spend a lot of time in the discovery stage. We view consulting as a process. All of our e-learning courses are customized; we don't offer any standard e-learning program. We go in, we get to know our customer, we find out what their concern is, we meet with their staff, we learn their software or their process, and we help them put that course together and we figure out how to distribute it. We spend a lot of time with the client.

Is there a big difference — or similarity — between consulting with a very large company versus a very small company?

They are both so different. We've worked for small nonprofits like Setebaid Services Inc. and with very large government agencies like the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. With learning, it is about the culture: the culture of the organization and especially the culture of the learners.

The way we approach learning about that culture is going to be different when we're talking about a smaller organization. A smaller organization is great — we're able to sit in, attend a client training or meet with multiple levels of the staff.

Some of the larger organizations will already have some training personnel on their team that is already aware of that culture, so they're able to communicate that.

Does your background in higher education inform your approach to management consulting?

Of course. That was part of the reason that I wanted to start Knovex; I saw how I was approaching problems and wanted to bring that into some different sectors. I have a project management certificate from Lehigh University. Project management is how we developed our process for how we move through our client process.

We want to be thorough and we want to get all that information, but with training, there's an immediate need. We're on a very tight turn-around. Project management is where our process comes from, and we use a lot of technology and tools to help develop e-learning programs quickly. That background is what helped me put Knovex together and figure out how we are going to build this process where we're able to pay attention to quality, efficiency and cost all at one time.

How has Knovex's expansion into Washington, D.C., gone, and is there more growth on the horizon?

That's always the plan! We're looking forward to expanding our executive coaching process. That's a somewhat newer service. Since the beginning of 2013, we've built an incredible coaching faculty currently working with some government clients right now.

We do a lot of assessment around our projects, and the assessments are showing that it makes such an impact. In addition to e-learning and instruction, this idea of coaching as a development tool is extremely successful. We're looking forward to expanding that, not just in the D.C. area where it started, but also to our Central Pennsylvania clients.

About Jessica Diehl

Jessica Diehl founded Gettysburg-based Knovex in 2010 after three years of working on leadership programs at Lehigh University. A project management certificate program that Diehl took while at Lehigh was the catalyst for the idea for Knovex, a management consulting agency.

Diehl graduated from James Madison University in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in political science. She earned an M.S.Ed. in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania in 2007.

Now 29, Diehl and her husband live in Gettysburg, but they dedicate every spare dollar to travel. Her favorite destination is Hong Kong.

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