Our Story

Why Skills By Design?

Skills By Design founder Tom Palmer is fascinated by life on the edge. This may be rooted in the fact he grew up in Alaska, with one foot in the “civilized” world and the other in the “uncivilized” one. It was here where his ability to question accepted norms and practices was first developed–an ability he has since refined and integrated into creating innovative strategies and solutions for his clients today.
Edges are also places where we confront creative tensions as things collide. For Tom, one source of tension that has inspired his imagination for as long as he can remember is that between formal education and informal learning. He has always loved to learn, but like many others, he found most of his formal education dull and ineffective. From a young age he wondered, isn’t there a better way?
In 2009, Tom set off on the informal learning adventure of a lifetime. He traveled around South America and finally settled in Chile, where he began his career in the learning field as an instructor and curriculum developer. Tom still spends most of the year living on a vineyard south of Santiago with his wife Francisca and their two children.  One insight that has emerged for him through this experience is a deep interest in the relationship between informal learning and culture.
In 2013, Tom became involved with Gaia University, an institution with an innovative approach to blending formal learning with project-based experiential learning and an online community that supports social learning and mentorship. Lightbulbs went off. His vision for the future of learning and education began to develop on a new level. It would, by necessity, involve far less sitting in classrooms, passively consuming information, and far more taking action, learning by doing, and connecting in networks and communities to support real-world practice.
While also working as a program designer at “Gaia U,” Tom decided to enroll in their Master’s program in Organizational Development and Transition Design. This provided him with the opportunity to dive deep into the field of organizational learning, exploring the changes underway as we face increasingly complex challenges. As a project-based program, he was also supported to start his own consulting business, focused on developing learning solutions that blend formal  and informal (experiential and social) learning. Thus Skills By Design LLC was born.
Tom has since worked with a variety of organizations, from startups to non-profits to Fortune Global 500 companies, creating a wide range of innovative solutions. Through his experience he has learned much about his unique strengths and interests, developing a niche working with fast-growth eCommerce companies to build high-performance distributed teams and cultures of continuous learning. He enjoys the challenge of working with leaders in this space, who are both excited about their success and pushed to their limits as they struggle to manage rapid growth.
Organizations experiencing rapid growth also have a critical challenge which fascinates Tom and for which he has dedicated himself to helping his clients overcome: they must develop cultures that will allow them to collectively navigate growth, attract and retain top talent, as well as drive the level of engagement and performance necessary to succeed in such a challenging and fast-paced environment.
With the global pandemic that began in 2020, Tom’s experience with developing distributed teams has become critically important for his clients. Building high-performance teams and engaging cultures in a virtual environment presents its own set of unique challenges, which Tom understands well.
If you are a leader of a fast-growth company who is struggling to navigate rapid change and build the type of company culture that will attract and retain great people, while continuing to serve your customers with the quality they deserve, Tom and his team can help you.
Please book a free 30-minute consultation now, where Tom will help you explore possibilities and identify valuable opportunities for scaling your business, while building a distributed team that will support you to manage and sustain rapid growth. 

Schedule your FREE 30-minute consultation now

You will receive an email with a calendar invite and Zoom link.