Phillip Tanzilo, Trainer, Facilitator, Consultant

Phillip Tanzilo is an award-winning expert in the field of organizational development and workplace learning. 

For more than fifteen years, he has partnered with clients to articulate and strengthen their leadership development efforts, cultural transformation projects, employee engagement initiatives, customer loyalty programs, and workplace communication.

Philip is known for his thoughtful approach to projects, his can-do attitude, and his eagerness to learn.


Air France, Skechers, Staples, Edwards Life Science, Cardinal Health, Saint Joseph’s Health System, Toyota, BMW, Kia, Moss Adams, Cushman and Wakefield, Cognizant, Evans Hotels, University of California, the USDA, the United States Navy, and a range of other organizations have worked with Phillip.

Professional Background

Phillip had his first experience in talent and development while working with the McDonald’s Corporation to put himself through college. As a swing manager, he routinely trained employees to perform a range of restaurant operations and customer service functions. Phillip learned he had a knack for helping others understand and follow the company’s processes. In fact, three of his protégés won a national standards competition when they outperformed over 200 of their peers while demonstrating their skill at adhering to the company’s standard operating procedures.

Upon graduation, Phillip began a career in banking. He started in collections and then worked as a branch manager and loan officer. In addition to his primary function, Phillip once again found himself in training when he became the “go-to guy” for training new managers.

Comfortable with money, finance, and sales and eventually eager to try something new, Phillip said “yes” when he was asked to invest in a pest control management company. He exchanged his suit and tie for work boots and a hard hat and learned the ins and outs of entrepreneurship and building a start-up business. Under his influence, the company grew from 200 accounts to over 5,000 customers located across multiple states.

After the sale of that business, Phillip took on a role in real estate and leveraged the relationships he’d built with contacts in the construction industry. As an agent, Coldwell Banker recognized him as “Rookie of the Year” for his record-breaking numbers.

Phillip’s career took another turn when he had the opportunity to relocate and refine his skill set. He accepted a position as a sales manager for a computer wholesale distributor. Believing he could improve his ability to service clients by knowing the technical aspects of the products he sold, Phillip learned how to build computers and networks as he earned his A+ certification from CompTIA.

His hunch paid off. Phillip achieved the company’s highest sales. Eager to replicate his success, the organization moved him into a training role. There, he designed, developed, and delivered new-hire sales training.

When the company made the decision to convert to SAP, they asked Phillip to serve on the project implementation team. He was responsible for defining and documenting processes, establishing best practices, and designing and delivering a change management and training-support strategy.

Qualcomm then recruited Phillip to initiate the training function in support of its launch of the first 40 Cricket Wireless retail locations. He headed the team responsible for designing and delivering training for call center, field, retail, technical support, customer care, and operations employees.

At the time he was working with Qualcomm, Phillip also became active in the Association for Talent Development (ATD) and quickly earned a reputation as a skilled leader, facilitator, and instructional designer. The 500-member San Diego chapter elected him as president. The chapter’s successes caught the attention of ATD headquarters staff, and they invited him to serve as a national advisor to support struggling chapters. They also asked him to work on the launch of the group’s Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CLP) industry credential.

From his work with ATD, the Welk Resort Group learned about Phillip and recruited him to build and launch their training infrastructure. On that project, he quickly learned all aspects of the hospitality industry. His initiatives won him the Society for Human Resource Management’s Workplace Excellence Award in recognition of the competency-based new-hire orientation and leadership development program he designed and implemented.

Having learned of his training and culture transformation work, Avis/Budget Group asked him to partner on a culture-change initiative. That effort led to similar projects with Mercedes Benz, BMW, and the Kennedy Center.

Phillip joined Business Training Works in 2014.

Books and Publications

Competency Study: The Training and Development Profession Redefined (case study)

Education and Certifications

Phillip holds a BBA with an emphasis in computer information systems from Campbell University and an MBA and an MHRM from the Keller School of Management.

He also has a CTM designation from Toastmasters International and is certified in DISC instruction, situational leadership, emotional intelligence, cultural intelligence, and StrengthsFinder.

An Interview with Phillip

What three or four words describe your facilitation style?

Deliberate, relevant, entertaining, and interactive.

How do you design your programs?

I take the trust clients have in me seriously.  Typically, what I do first is confirm a client’s needs and key objectives. Once I understand those, I will work with a client to create relevant examples I can use to cater my message, activities, and delivery.

What’s your “secret” to good facilitation?

You’ve got to care, and you’ve got to enjoy learning different businesses and what makes them special. For me, this line of work is in some ways a calling. If you’re not prepared, passionate, flexible, and resilient, you shouldn’t be doing it.

How do you typically begin a training session?

I think participants have to see value in what I’m facilitating. If they don’t, it will be a waste of their time. So, early on, I work hard to make a connection with each person to get to their WIIFM (What’s in it for me?). In other words, I make the link by sharing how the program will help them perform better to achieve the results they want and support organizational objectives.

You’ve done a lot with culture change and employee engagement. What do you like about that work?

Cultural transformation and employee engagement are at the core of the major project work I’ve done. Both work hand-in-hand and determine whether a business is going to be around after a few years. My role is to serve as a trusted partner to make that process easier. It’s different for every employee, and one size doesn’t fit all. So, I make it personal by understanding where people are in their support of the shift and help them see the value in a new future. 

How do you stay current with what’s happening in talent development?

It is important to me to be on the cutting edge to best serve my clients.  I’m still involved with ATD. I also served as chapter president for the International Society for Performance Improvement.

I’ve recently been invited to participate in a task force to outline new global standards for education and workplace learning for the International Association for Continuing Education and Training

What would you do professionally if you weren’t in learning and development?

I was fortunate to have learned my strengths early in my career.  I know what I’m good at; not everyone can say that. If I weren’t in this field, I’d be doing something where I could continue to influence people to get what they want out of life, I could always be learning and growing myself, and I could make a difference in how people work together.

When you’re not working, what are your interests?

I enjoy socializing with my friends, learning, doing anything outdoors, going to the theater, and spending time with my puggle, Oscar.