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Through a different lens

As a budding journalist, Diane Senffner learned a valuable lesson years ago: Education matters.

When bright-eyed Diane Senffner was a young woman breaking into broadcast journalism, her enthusiasm was soon dampened by the uncomfortable realities of the job. “Horrible things happen, like children dying in a fire. Then they expect you to stick a microphone in the face of grieving parents,” she says of an example that soured her on the business. “It didn’t seem true to me. It didn’t seem like something I would want to do long-term.”

Today, instead of earning her living doing something that wasn’t aligned with her values, Senffner’s made it her business to do something that embodies them. As owner of Cine Learning Productions, she’s helping others harness the power of education to make a positive impact on their organizations, which is an endeavor that is true to her heart.

Dead end

Her own road to an education wasn’t as smooth as the one she provides for her clients. In fact, at her journalism job, she was encouraged to forgo school. “My news anchor at the time told me if you don’t know what you want to do, why don’t you leave school for a while? You can always come back,” she recalls. “I kind of curse him for that,” she admits.

For a while, her lack of a degree wasn’t an obstacle for her. She began working in hospitality positions, eventually landing a job as a meeting planner. Then she was offered a position with a top technology company, but when she met with the human resources representatives in person, she found herself at a dead end. They said, “Oh, you don’t have a degree. That’s a prerequisite,” she remembers. “I lost a plum position.”

Onward and upward

That’s when Senffner made the decision to return to school and pursue her education. At first, she enrolled in a human resources certificate program at University of Phoenix®. Right away, she was impressed by the quality of her courses and decided to continue with the Bachelor of Science in Business Management program.

“All the instructors were at the top of their fields, and I learned lots of great practical information that I could use right on the job the same day,” explains Senffner, who earned her bachelor’s degree in 2002 and immediately began the Master of Arts in Adult Education/Distance Learning degree program at University of Phoenix, earning her degree in 2004.

Senffner applied her newly learned skills in her role as director of training and development at Merv Griffin Hotels and later at Research International, where she served as the global organizational development manager, working in London and the U.S. on the professional development of employees in 25 countries.

In 2006, then-Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano appointed Senffner to oversee virtual office training and e-learning for the state’s Medicaid program. “It was specifically geared toward public health education,” she explains.

For three years, Senffner worked on the grant-funded program. “My group won a number of awards in public health for the programs we created,” she says. When the grant ended, Senffner worked for the Arizona Department of Health Services (DHS) for two more years. “I ran their multimedia education department,” she notes.

Getting down to her own business

Though her career had been exciting and fulfilling up to this point, Senffner was inspired to start her own business, a goal that had been percolating in the back of her mind for a while. “I had seen the popularity of the kinds of programs we had produced, and I knew there was a market for it,” she says. “It was terrifying, but at the same time, I had enough experience and education to know I could do it. The confidence was there.”

Senffner and some colleagues from DHS left the agency to found Cine Learning Productions, an interactive education company. “We help companies transform their learning organizations from something strictly classroom-based to a more 21st-century model with multiple learning modalities,” she says.

She and her core team of 12—along with dozens of consultants— develop content and curricula for e-learning, virtual instructor-led training, video and other media platforms to provide clients with relevant and dynamic education tools for leadership, soft skills, new hire orientations, customer service, sales, job skills and compliance training. Clients run the gamut from public health agencies to corporations in a range of industries.

 “We put together curriculum and content, we have people who develop the programs, we have filmmakers who film our videos,” says Senffner about her team, which is known for its story-based approach. “People learn best through storytelling. When it becomes more relevant, they remember more and are more engaged.”

“All the instructors were at the top of their fields, and I learned lots of great practical information that I could use right on the job the same day."
– Diane Senffner, MAED/AEDL '04

The mentee becomes the mentor

With a successful career that continues to flourish, Senffner finds herself mentoring others. Over the years, it has nagged her that her own mentor steered her away from higher education, something she considers faulty counsel. When she finds herself in the position to dispense advice, she tells people, “You may not love your field of study, but just get your degree.”

Despite the long road to her own education, she has no regrets about how her life has played out so far. “I don’t feel like any of my time was wasted,” she says. “Everything in life has given me perspective and experience that has brought me to the point where I am today.” And that’s right where she wants to be.



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