Background pattern

ResourcesCustomer Stories

The Center for Creative Leadership conslidates learning platforms, introduces SSO and integrates existing systems with Totara

The Center for Creative Leadership® (CCL) is a top-ranked, global provider of leadership development. Ranked among the world’s top providers of executive education, CCL has locations in countries worldwide.

The Challenge

From the beginning, CCL’s priority has been to make sure they are offering the best educational experience for their learners, and BuildEmpire has worked to deliver a solution that allows CCL to do this.

Recent project work BuildEmpire has undertaken for CCL has focused on:

  1. Building a unified platform for learners and administrators alike, to provide consistency across multiple areas of learning.
  2. Introducing Single Sign-on across all platforms for learner and administrator convenience, and added security.
  3. Developing gamification throughout the virtual learning environment to further engage students.
  4. Creating activities that allow students to interact with content in an interesting way to improve learning.
The Solution
1. Consolidate Learning Platforms

Previously, CCL had a number of different places to store courses and multiple instances of Totara for different parts of the organisation. One priority during this project was to move to using just one unified platform.

The disadvantage of having several platforms running at the same time was that there was often no consistency for learners, administrators, or educators. The student experience was different depending on the course, the integrations with other systems were not always as reliable, and administrators often had to log in to several different systems which is time-consuming.

CCL chose to use the Totara platform we built (known as the CCL Leadership Accelerator) to replace all others, as this one was the most robust and customised (see 3. Gamification and 4. Interactivty and Social Learning for more info about how the platform has been customised). Within the LMS, we have also extended Totara’s grouping functionality in order to facilitate CCL’s desired cohort behaviour.

An important part of developing this unified platform for CCL was to make sure it integrated with the other systems CCL was using in other areas of the business. As part of the customisation, we built an auto-enrolment plugin for Totara which integrates with Service Bus (Microsoft Azure Suite), their CRM, and their SSO security ‘Grand Central’ (see 2. Single Sign-On Security for details).

2. Single Sign-on Security

As well as creating a bespoke plugin for the Service Bus — Totara integration, CCL also needed their Totara platform to work with their Single Sign-on Security software, Grand Central (built using Auth0). We have integrated Single Sign-on and security software with Totara in the past, but this integration required a bespoke plugin for Totara to meet CCL’s needs.

Our Totara plugin collects the user details from Grand Central and then logs the user into their appropriate user Totara account. From here, the students can access any other materials and systems they might need. Some of the other CCL systems Grand Central links to are CCL Compass™ and their Internet Assessment System (IAS).

3. Gamification

One way CCL wanted to engage their students was by using gamification. CCL’s concept of a ‘Skills Tracker’ and ‘Impact Points’ means students can track their progress as if they are playing a game, and compete against each other.

Impact Points are earned by engaging with the course content and interacting with peers, and skill points are earned by completing course content and different activities. Individual scores and progress are always visible for the student in their menu at the top of the screen, and the new interface designs make it really easy for users to see what they can earn points for.

4. Interactivity and Social Learning

CCL wanted to offer students a different way to interact with their learning content in order to engage students and enhance learning. In order to do this, BuildEmpire enhanced various Totara activities to make them more interactive and allow much more social learning to happen, including…


Takeaways are a good way for students to collect information throughout a program which is particularly interesting to them, and they can export this information in a PDF format for future review purposes.

Group and Direct Messaging

Students are encouraged to learn together by communicating with each other, and their teachers, within the VLE.

Interacting with Videos

Students have the ability to interact with the video activity by bookmarking and highlighting certain parts of a video. Highlights can also be added by teachers for all students to see, as well as added to individual student takeaways.

Space for Reflection and Discussion

Students are also encouraged to reflect on their own learning throughout by adding comments to activities and discussing the content with their peers, which not only demonstrates their engagement, but is also proven to enhance cognitive skills.

CCL’s Leadership Accelerator platform is truly a place for pupils to learn through collaboration, interact with content to enhance their learning, communicate with others, and engage with their learning journey through gamification. 

The Results

We believe the Totara solution we built for CCL has given their learners the opportunity to benefit from the Four Totara Freedoms…

Freedom to Innovate — Because Totara is so customisable, this allowed BuildEmpire and CCL to be innovative with the solution. The platform allows CCL to offer capabilities to their learners that other competitors are not providing, including interactivity, engagement, and communication. All this is combined with face to face training which complements the eLearning (and vice versa) for a holistic approach to learning.

“There are many new features to expand participants’ engagement and collaboration before, during, and after the face-to-face sessions…We’re excited about the updated look and all the additional features​.” — Nancy Haller, Faculty (CF Industries, Frontline LDP)

Freedom to Save — Using just one instance of Totara, as an overarching learning platform, is much more cost-effective for CCL than paying to maintain several different platforms, from several different vendors. The new platform is also more time-efficient for CCL staff to use with the convenience of SSO and the auto-enrolment functionality.

Freedom of Choice — Choosing a Totara solution has allowed CCL to shop around and select the Totara partner that meets their needs for flexibility and partnership in customizing the LMS – in this case, BuildEmpire.

Freedom to Learn — Above everything else, CCL wanted to give their students the freedom to learn. This Totara solution has enabled them to offer students access to more learning materials and different activities, enhancing their learning experience.

The success of the CCL Leadership Accelerator platform can be seen in these statistics provided by CCL. We can see a huge uptake of students using the new platform within the first month it was available, and how this has also contributed to more cohorts registering for their ‘Frontline Leader Impact’ program.

“BuildEmpire was able to take our design goals and the feature set core to Totara, and build us a platform that is truly unique — a truly engaging user experience on the front end for students coupled with Totara’s ease of administration for our staff. ” — Kyle Epps, Senior Product Manager (CCL)

Background pattern

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