Tim Burkowske is a Principal at Blueline, where his core focus is operational innovation and execution to support the growth of the company’s capabilities. He leverages the team’s knowledge to improve learner outcomes in fresh and unique ways. To help him stay on top of the field, he is an active member of the Association for Talent Development (ATD).
My entry into the workplace began in the graphics design suite at NewsChannel 8, the NBC affiliate in Tampa, FL. Working my way quickly from apprentice to designer was as much a result of the time and effort invested in me as it was my drive to excel at all the tasks put before me. This experience deeply encoded my love for learning on the job and taught me practical methods for rapidly learning new skills while providing value to my employer—all under the tremendous pressure of working on live TV.
After my time at Channel 8, a variety of freelance experiences helped me to discover a passion for working with teams and guiding strategic visions alongside my interest in visual design. As someone who is always looking to stay ahead of the curve, I made sure to bolster my skill set by integrating web development techniques, which led to the next phase of my career.
In 2010, I entered the world of training and development when I accepted a position with Allen Interactions. My experience with UI/UX, motion design, multimedia technology, and web development techniques made me an ideal fit for the bespoke learning solutions they were creating at the time. Through the generosity of my colleagues, I continued to expand my knowledge beyond my traditional roles and into full object-oriented programming, learning management system integration, instructional writing, design, strategy, and much more. I was given the opportunity to learn and deliver through nearly every role possible in the field of eLearning over the 11 years I spent with Allen.
Prior to joining Blueline, I had a brief, but extremely eventful, role with PricewaterhouseCoopers as a Learning Architect dedicated to high-level curriculum design, overseeing global L&D program rollout, making recommendations for best practices within the training organization, and advising segments of the firm on learning strategy. Working with the incredible staff there helped shape my understanding of global enterprise operations from within and gave me a new perspective on the intricacies of managing a massive, distributed workforce. Having worked with dozens of Fortune 100 companies as a vendor is one thing. Becoming part of an organization of that scale is a game changer.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support and trust of people like Dr. Michael Allen, Angel Green, Dr. Richard Sites, and Mindy Powell—brilliant educators, learning strategists, communicators, and visionaries. Each of them, in their own way, helped me transform my professional working experiences into lenses through which I could view the discipline of instructional design and strategy. Without their encouragement and support, I may have transitioned out of learning and development.
My Personal Philosophy
- Never assume malice when circumstances may be at fault.
- Give more than you receive.
- Speak less often and have something worth listening to when you do.
- Seek wisdom and the strength to act on it.
- A quivered arrow never hits its target.
Why I Joined Blueline Simulations
My entrepreneurial roots beckoned when I had the opportunity to join Blueline in 2022 and help shape the future of the company. Being able to know and grow my team on a more personal level has always been a powerful draw, and the chance to learn from the strength, integrity, and forward-thinking capabilities of our founding partner, David Milliken, and the team he has assembled over the years was too good an opportunity to pass up. The idea of helping a local company transform its time-tested, extremely high-quality services into a form that could take advantage of the latest technology was also perfectly aligned with my skill set and passion.
Today, I’m working to establish myself as a learning leader at the intersection of creativity, technology, and pedagogy. We are uniquely positioned to help organizations identify performance gaps, organizational deficiencies, and communication roadblocks. As technology streamlines many business tasks, we provide a service that will never be automated.
What Still Inspires Me About the World of Learning and Development
I spent my life learning on the job. I believe in lifelong learning, and we spend much more time in the workforce than at university. When we do it right, we help people grow, share that knowledge with their peers, and transform into leaders in their own right, encouraging others to follow in their footsteps. It’s a virtuous cycle that, once instantiated, creates significant opportunities. I have always learned more from teaching than I did in studying a topic. That is what keeps me motivated and driven to improve all aspects of our industry.
- Happiness is rooted in gratefulness.
- We cannot control what happens to us, only how we react to it.
I am most excited to see how we can use emerging technologies to free up more L&D professionals from rote work and data analysis. I encourage all of us to set aside some of that newfound time and mental energy to explore how we can make learning experiences more personalized and human. Rather than stay in the rut of passive knowledge transfer, we have the technology available to create immersive experiences that are genuinely tailored to learners in a way that connects with their needs. Meeting them where they are and providing what they need, when they need it, is an ever-evolving challenge—one I hope to see solved.
My advice to others in the industry:
Spend time with the people you are trying to serve. It’s easy to get caught up trying to achieve what senior leaders ask of you, so much so that we forget who we aim to help. We also must take time to continue to learn ourselves. We are often caught in a case of the cobbler’s children lacking shoes—L&D professionals often neglect their own growth and development. This is a critical mistake. We must stay sharp to serve those who depend on us to guide them.
The advice that has got me where I am today:
- Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress.
- The quote, “Why is the sea king of a hundred streams? Because it lies below them.” This has been my call to humility since my very first leadership role as an assistant program manager over 20 years ago.
I live in Plant City, FL. Whether fostering children in need, volunteering at the local animal shelter, or spending time with folks in one of the assisted living facilities, my family and I are dedicated to sharing the good with which we have been blessed. Most of my time is spent with my kids, dogs, and our family’s chickens! I have been practicing the Wim Hof breathing method for over a year and enjoy playing the guitar to decompress after a long week.