Nurturing future company leaders.

Sally Beauty Holdings uses Adobe Connect with custom extension apps for highly interactive online learning.



Associates: 27,000

Denton, Texas

Adobe Connect Channel Partner

Delivers robust interactive lessons with diverse content ranging from breakout rooms to games


Adobe Connect ›

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Provide innovative training to build the skills future company leaders need

Reach more learners by reducing training cost, time, and other restrictions associated with in-person classes

Deliver the same high level of interactivity for virtual learning sessions as in-person sessions

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Increases engagement with virtual lessons that let associates decide where and when to learn

Provides interactive lessons with diverse content ranging from breakout rooms to games

Vantage Point modular tools from Refined Data extend the capabilities of Adobe Connect to provide greater host and producer control of the classroom environment, increased learner engagement and interaction, and enhanced metrics

Sally Beauty Holdings, Inc. is one of the largest professional beauty product distributors and retailers in the world. More than 5,000 Sally Beauty Supply stores reach millions of consumers and professionals, while the company’s wholesale business provides salons with more than 10,000 haircare products from top brands.

To maintain its leadership in the intensely competitive beauty products industry, Sally Beauty Holdings prioritizes investing in what it sees as its greatest resource: its people. The company’s leadership academy is called “Greenhouse”, as it aims to nurture the growth of associates in all positions across the company as individuals and business leaders.

“Our goal for Greenhouse is to be a different type of leadership education,” says Yvette Birlew, Director of Learning & Development at Sally Beauty Holdings. “We challenge people to really think outside the box, and that means presenting material in very creative and dynamic ways. We create highly interactive classrooms where we experiment with paper airplanes, build things with Legos, and do other activities that get people thinking differently. The results have been outstanding.”

Historically, such strongly interactive lessons meant that learning was best conducted in-person. However, this limited Greenhouse to corporate associates, not allowing for inclusion of leaders in the field or distribution areas of the organization.

While learners reacted very positively to classes, in-person training has some other drawbacks. For instance, if participants miss a class, there’s no way to make up lessons another day. It can also be costly and time-consuming for both educators and participants, many of whom need to take time away from business and home to travel to classes. Additionally, accessibility can be an issue for learners with disabilities. And, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the health risk of in-person gatherings has become a concern. All these restrictions made it challenging for Sally Beauty Holdings to easily expand training to reach more associates in leadership roles across the company.

“The richness of the Adobe Connect platform combined with Vantage Point from Refined Data is unparalleled. It makes me feel like I’m standing in the same room with trainees. Other virtual systems just can’t compare.”

Yvette Birlew

Director of Learning & Development, Sally Beauty Holdings

The organization looked at standard video conferencing and e-learning platforms, but these virtual methods couldn’t deliver the same level of interactivity and engagement that were brought to its in-person classrooms. That is, until the learning and development team discovered Adobe Connect. By combining the robust Adobe Connect platform with the Vantage Point Suite of modular add-on tools from Refined Data Solutions, Sally Beauty Holdings achieved a highly interactive virtual training environment that combines the human connection instructors want with the reach and convenience of online classrooms.

“The richness of the Adobe Connect platform combined with Vantage Point from Refined Data is unparalleled,” says Birlew. “It makes me feel like I’m standing in the same room with trainees. Other virtual systems just can’t compare.”

Reaching more leaders with virtual learning

Adobe Connect has helped transform the Greenhouse program at Sally Beauty Holdings. Learners can sign up for lessons at a time that works with their schedule. If someone misses a class, they can simply sign up for a later session. Adobe Connect works just as well across computers or mobile devices, expanding the reach of classes to even more people. District managers can join sessions from breakrooms and can use their iPads to engage with lessons while in the field.

Rather than the traditional in-person approach where Greenhouse courses ran on set, linear schedules, it can now offer much more flexibility. Associates sign up for classes with the ability to complete tracks in the curriculum at their own pace. Adobe Connect integrates with the learning management system (LMS) at Sally Beauty Holdings, keeping track of who has taken what classes and delivering certifications when completed.

“Moving to virtual learning allows us to reach many more associates and expand our leadership education,” says Bri Groves, Senior Learning & Development Program Manager at Sally Beauty Holdings. “Engagement is on the rise and learners feel more invested when we give them more control over where and when they learn.”

The Greenhouse leadership academy at Sally Beauty Holdings uses Adobe Connect and the extension app HandsUp from Refined Data Solutions for highly interactive, engaging, and fun virtual learning.

Designing high-impact lessons

With Adobe Connect, the company can combine dozens of virtual meeting functions, known as pods, to create just the right set up for any type of lesson. Pods can be applied all at once on the same visual and versatile creative canvas that Adobe Connect provides. Teaching facilitators can display video of themselves, switch to a slide presentation, or invite participants to draw together on a whiteboard. Behind the scenes, session producers might display a poll for participants, boot up an interactive game, or separate participants into breakout rooms for more intimate conversations.

“We have about a dozen layouts that we can use for various training sessions,” says Groves. “Adobe Connect is incredibly flexible, allowing us to incorporate any type of content that we want into lessons. It also makes it easy to save and switch between layouts with ease.

Adobe Connect pods enable diverse virtual meeting functionalities for the Greenhouse program, such as breakout rooms, polls, games, whiteboards, slide presentations, and more for multiple training session layout options.

Vantage Point expands upon built-in Adobe Connect features by adding functionality that makes Adobe Connect even more versatile. Refined Data Solutions was an early Adobe Connect reseller and is known for its advanced custom extensions for Adobe Connect including the unique rPhone audio conferencing solution included in the Vantage Point Suite of tools.

“Adobe Connect is the only web conferencing platform that really allows for this sort of extensibility,” says Terry Shane, President & CEO of Refined Data Solutions. “With Vantage Point, customers can build on the extensive capabilities of Adobe Connect to create an incredibly engaging, interactive, and powerful learning environment.”

The Vantage Point HandsUp module turns Adobe Connect interactions—such as raising a hand, giving a thumbs up or a thumbs down—into big, bright, and colorful buttons with audio feedback that invite learners to click and get more involved. During classes, Groves might hold a quick pop quiz where she challenges learners to be the first to “raise their hand” to win a prize. The class can then show their appreciation by clicking the “applause” button—complete with a cheering crowd sound effect that rises to a crescendo as more people participate.

“Adobe Connect and Vantage Point make it easy to read the digital body language of the class and get a feel for how people are engaging with materials. This leads to better classes and better learning.”

Amanda Jones

Learning & Development Design Specialist, Sally Beauty Holdings

Added controls for producers and facilitators

Adobe Connect and Vantage Point don’t just enhance experiences for learners. They also add tools that transform the experience for educators. At Sally Beauty Holdings, each session is run by at least two people: a producer and facilitator. The facilitator interacts directly with learners on camera, while the producer operates behind the scenes to watch for issues, monitor responses, and set up breakout groups. The facilitator and producer can seamlessly collaborate in the Host and Presenter Area, unlike other virtual meeting tools where the backstage and live environments are disconnected.

The Vantage Point rPhone module provides producers with more audio options to further improve the learning environment. They can talk privately with individual students or groups of students to offer technical support or individual coaching and remotely control participants’ microphones to adjust for quiet talkers or loud background noise.

The Host and Presenter Area in Adobe Connect allows meeting facilitators and producers to collaborate behind the scenes.

The Vantage Point Console, running on a second monitor, builds on the capabilities of Adobe Connect to bring even more control and insight to facilitators and producers. They can switch participant camera and microphone devices and remotely control aspects of the virtual environment that are not otherwise possible. This “second sight” view of the class, even allows the instructor to see 50 or more live video streams of students via the Vantage Point Console with no perceptible impact on participant bandwidth. This enables facilitators to read body language and facial cues in the same way as if everyone were in the same physical space. Producers and facilitators can remotely “call” on students, lower raised hands, unmute their audio and activate their cameras with a single click.

With the Vantage Point Console extension for Adobe Connect, training session facilitators and producers can easily view dozens of live video streams of students as well as attendance and response data.

Enhanced attendance tracking, sophisticated polling, and real-time reporting help keep track of interactivity and engagement by participants. Multiple participant camera views help facilitators and producers check on their audience and better understand how participants are absorbing sessions. Best of all, the impact on learners is that sessions are engaging and fun, leading to greater levels of active participation.

“Adobe Connect and Vantage Point make it easy to read the digital body language of the class and get a feel for how people are engaging with materials,” explains Amanda Jones, Learning & Development Design Specialist at Sally Beauty Holdings. “This leads to better classes and better learning. We can decide to start a game to keep people engaged or skip a breakout session if everyone looks like they’re involved in a discussion.”

“With Adobe Connect and Vantage Point, we know that we can deliver the same powerful leadership learning experiences to more people, no matter where they are.”

Bri Groves

Senior Learning & Development Program Manager, Sally Beauty Holdings

Combined in-person and virtual learning for the new normal

Sally Beauty Holdings had already started piloting its virtual learning program when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down in-person training. With Adobe Connect and Vantage Point in place, the learning and development team didn’t miss a step and continued to nurture leaders online. When gathering restrictions ease, the company aims to restart in-person training, but this time also potentially using a hybrid system.

“We could teach from a classroom with in-person participants and also have a screen in the classroom to see virtual participants attending via video,” says Groves. “Either way, virtual learning is here to stay. With Adobe Connect and Vantage Point, we know that we can deliver the same powerful leadership learning experiences to more people, no matter where they are.”

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