Heineken goes virtual with its Analytics Translator Training Program

Building skills in a hyper-productive approach while teams stay connected and inspired during COVID-19

Heineken chose to shift its Analytics Translator Training Program to an online version with the Virtual Training method of GAIn®. This training method – consisting of a virtual classroom with break out rooms and individual assignments – made it possible for Heineken to continue with their learning plan despite COVID-19. The first group of Heineken professionals completed the opening two days of the virtual program, earning their GAIn® AI Foundation certification. This new training method exceeded expectations and is already regarded as a valuable option for after the COVID-19 period. For now, the training will be scaled up to allow Heineken to stay connected and inspired worldwide.

“This is a perfect alternative given the current situation. In the future I also see us using this for groups with participants based in multiple locations”
Sandra Oudshoff, Senior Analytics Consultant, Heineken

Figure 1. The virtual classroom from the perspective of a participant.

Creating a unique environment by switching from physical to virtual training


Interaction in the virtual classroom creates engagement

In the GAIn® Virtual Training method the classroom still exists, only now it exists online. And exactly like in the physical classroom, the interaction between the trainers and participants plays a crucial role. The participants and trainers communicate with each other in real-time and ask questions or make comments using live chat features throughout the entire session. Participant discussions are encouraged and facilitated through a virtual ‘raise hand’ option, and polls are used to receive and share input from the group. Finally, each day closes with a quiz summarizing the topics discussed (see right screenshot below). This way an 8-hour training is divided into many small sessions making it constantly lively and entertaining.


The same LMS guides the participants

The GAIn® Learning Management System continues to be the core platform of the Virtual Training Method. In the LMS, Heineken participants could access supporting course materials including exercises, pre-work, exams, and documents of the course. The more traditional teaching tools such as a whiteboard or flip chart can still be used by the trainer and viewed by participants through the webcam setup.


“I thought the Virtual Training Method worked really well, I must say that I was skeptical at first but I actually liked it”

“I was very positively surprised by the experience”

Participants of the Heineken AI Foundation training for Business Professionals

Figure 2. The trainer and technical facilitator of the Heineken training at the MIcompany office.


Learning by virtual doing

As with all of our physical classes, only about 30% of Heineken’s training was dedicated to lectures, the rest of the time participants were challenged to experience the topic through practice. For example, on the morning of day one participants completed an exercise to understand the different mechanisms in AI applications. In a physical classroom, participants receive a deck of cards with AI applications and discuss in small groups which category the application belongs to. This exercise was fully transferred to the virtual setup, and instead, the participants did the categorization in an online quiz. In smaller groups, they were placed into breakout rooms and asked to answer the quiz together. A huge benefit of online quizzes is that there is an opportunity to give instant feedback on the answers. Whereas in a training session, there is not always time to discuss all the questions in detail. Here, the trainers were always on hand and checking in with the groups to provide tips and assistance throughout the exercise.

In another assignment, participants worked on creating their own AI use cases relevant to their business. Again working in smaller groups in breakout rooms, they discussed the different components of a use case and prepared a short presentation to summarize the outcome of their discussion. After joining the classroom again, each group was asked to share their screen and present their use case, allowing others from the class to ask questions and give feedback.

As usual, hard skills can be developed virtually using the GAIn® lab environment (built on AWS Workspace technology). To experience the model building steps, participants simply access their own lab which is setup with all the necessary software and packages to start modeling. By first doing the assignment alone and then discussing questions and challenges in small groups, everyone acquires the fundamental understanding of building a model.


 “I loved having a real tangible experience as a data scientist.
I modeled in Python!”
Sabine de Gier, Business Controller at HEINEKEN

The AI Foundation – for responsible AI growth

The first two days of the Heineken Translator Program began with the AI Foundation. The GAIn® AI Foundation Program is designed to provide companies with a complete perspective, by going through all the relevant aspects of AI business transformation; from opportunity identification to solution implementation; from algorithm development to AI engineering; from driving impact to adapting the organization; the course helps teams to steer their business responsibly.

Throughout the course, expert trainers guide and challenge participants to identify and capture AI opportunities while managing the risks involved. They work on AI cases with real data and machine learning algorithms to experience what developing and operating AI models entails. This way, participants learn to better understand the process and what questions to ask to challenge the outcome and quality. For example, the challenge “How do you decide if your model is good?” is discussed during the afternoon of day one in the section on AI Algorithms.

Figure 3. Example of challenges discussed during the AI Foundation course.


Although the fast development around AI can imply that there are no definitive answers to some questions, the AI Foundation course provides a base of knowledge for all participants to kick-start creating value with AI technology.

“I really feel like actually starting a use case.
Let’s walk the talk!”

Bob Dunselman, Senior Transfer Pricing Specialist at HEINEKEN

Three advantages of the Virtual Training Method of GAIn® during COVID-19 and beyond

In more and more countries teams are working from home. For most employees, this is a new situation and people need to adapt to this new way of working. At the same time employers struggle to keep their teams working effectively since priorities are changing rapidly (projects are discontinued or on hold). This raises questions on how to best make use of the current situation to strengthen both effectiveness and productivity in the short term and the long term.

The GAIn® Virtual Training method offers a virtual classroom and individual assignments, so you can keep up with your AI learning from any location and time zone in the world. This means all courses are made available online. All you need is a laptop with a WiFi connection to join a class with the following advantages.


Figure 4. The three key advantages of GAIn® Virtual Training.


Use the time to build skills

The current situation offers a perfect time to ‘sharpen the saw’ and work on upgrading skills that are becoming more and more important. For individuals, the GAIn portfolio offers the possibility to create a personal learning track and choose from a range of courses that are now available in the virtual training environment. Teams and projects can, in the same way, develop a group standard by jointly following a relevant badge. For example, an engineering project team that is working on implementing a model could together follow the badge “Automating Data Pipelines” and directly apply this knowledge to their current project, setting a standard in the broader team. Or a team of business experts in the launch phase of an AI use case project could follow the training “Data Exploration & Insights Discovery” to kickstart their analyses phase and implement the same way of working across the team.

Additionally, the GAIn® Virtual Training method provides a way to learn the best practices for remote working to become more productive. Virtual learning showcases how to work and collaborate online effectively, outlining the dos and don’ts for video communication as the standard. Participants can apply these learnings directly to their daily team interactions.


Learn faster and more efficiently

The GAIn® Virtual Training method is setup in such a way that it optimizes the learning track of participants. Each training usually starts with individual assignments that are focused on the content that is more effectively digested independently (such as theory or working on a practical exercise). Participants can do this self-study part in their own time and pace and ask questions or get feedback from an expert through the online Learning Management System. The training then continues through the virtual classroom, allowing participants to now embark on the curriculum that is best completed as a group – with a variety of group assignments, discussions, and interactive lessons. The classroom is facilitated by an experienced trainer and technical host that tailor the material and discussions to the group’s needs. After the virtual class, participants have access to all the training material (theory, exercises, recordings of the sessions) to prepare them for the exam. Students can go back through the material whenever they want and practice in a way that suits them best (case first, then theory, or vice versa). Testing and exams are available on demand so that the participants can take the test when he or she is ready for it.


Stay connected and inspired

In order to create breakthroughs in teams and build excitement and commitment, group interaction and collaboration are very important. The GAIn® virtual way of working balances the benefit of working alone with creating the right group interaction.


“People are more productive when they’re alone … they’re more collaborative and innovative when they’re together. Some of the best ideas come from pulling two different ideas together.”
Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer


Creating group interaction is not only effective but it also generates energy and an enjoyable experience. The virtual classroom uses many light touches and fun didactic elements to ensure engagement. This way the time spent together in break-out rooms reduces the social distance.


Want to try out our Virtual Training Method?

The GAIn® Virtual Training method offers the possibility to continue and promote active learning and collaboration, whether this is on-site or remotely from home. Everyone can join from any location or time zone by only using a laptop with WiFi (no technical limitations on where or what employees can learn). If you or your organization want to develop your AI skills but cannot attend a physical training, our Virtual Training Method is the perfect solution to ensure continued growth.

GAIn® wants to make it easy for companies to get an introduction to virtual training and understand how it works in practice. Therefore, we now offer a free demo session of the Virtual Training Method, so your company can try it out, get a feel for it and ask questions. If you are interested, contact us and we will set it up.

“The virtual classroom setup is exemplary of our partnership with Heineken on AI education: Heineken has a need, let’s work together to find the best solution, build it quickly and professionally, and learn from the execution. I’m proud to be working with them in this way”
Geertje Zeegers, Partner at MIcompany