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Celebrating 10 Years: Michelle Bergquist

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It takes a community.

In celebration of our 10-year anniversary, we are highlighting some of our best people, partners, and instructors. Over the next few weeks, you’ll have the opportunity to be inspired by some incredible stories that have driven the success of our enterprise business.

Keep reading to meet Michelle Bergquist, one of our client success managers, who works with several enterprise businesses to help them upskill and reskill their employees into digital roles. 


GA: Where are you located, and what is your role at GA? 

Michelle Bergquist: I am located in London, England, and my role is client success manager. 

GA: Can you tell me more about your role? 

Michelle Bergquist: It’s my job to make sure that everyone who interacts with our program has a great end-to-end experience, so that’s our clients, students, and instructors. We want them to walk away feeling like they had the best learning experience — everything from the first touchpoint where they know exactly what to expect, to their course to their instructors’ content and what we (GA) expect from them. At every point along their learning journey, they should feel set up for success and leave the program understanding how it all applies to their jobs. 

GA: What’s your favorite part of your job? 

Michelle Bergquist: I would say that’s twofold. It’s a job where you get a lot of immediate satisfaction. It can be only a couple of months from kickoff to the point of the delivery, so I’m planning things in real-time. I see the impact of my efforts almost immediately. 

In the same vein, I absolutely love going back to the feedback from students and seeing them in the classroom to see that impact in real-time. You can see in their feedback what they were able to get out of the course and how they can go back to their teams and improve things right away. 

GA: What’s your favorite GA skilling solution? Tell us why.

Michelle Bergquist: The one that sticks out most to me is our Product Management Accelerator. We ran it for a banking client in January 2021, and I did a post-program interview with one of the participants. She was an engineer for about 18 years and had just transitioned into a product management role. Prior to the course, she struggled with imposter syndrome and constantly thought, “I don’t know if I can do this. I don’t have the right skills.” After the course, she said she felt like Superwoman. She felt so confident in herself and knew exactly how to do her job. 

GA: How do you help your customers understand what “good” looks like? 

Michelle Bergquist: It’s about asking the right questions up front, “What does success look like to you? When the program is over, what do you want to say that we’ve accomplished?”

On the Delivery team, we are focused on making sure our customers understand the impact of a learning program, so we do follow-ups post-program at the 30-60-90 day marks. There is a lot of stakeholder management to understand objectives and how we meet them.

GA: What are some common problems you help clients solve? 

Michelle Bergquist: In the data space, it’s the talent pipeline. For example, we’re working with a big bank, and they need staff. So, they’re bringing talent in at certain levels and training them on day one of working with the company. These employees go directly into our programs. 

Within consumer packaged goods, it’s competing with who they see as the leader in their space. If one of their competitors is setting the gold standard in marketing and they want to be at their level, we help them get there with our digital marketing training. 

Consistency across geographies is another challenge. For example, we’re working with a large B2B company in Europe, where they do things differently across their different geos. They want to build that baseline of how everyone should be operating, no matter what country they’re in. It varies across the board, but those are some of the main themes that I see.

GA: What advice do you have for leaders trying to take on the future of work? 

Michelle Bergquist: Be open to new ideas. The old or habitual ways of learning, such as getting a four-year degree, don’t solve the problem anymore. Being open to different ways of learning can make a huge impact. If you’re open, then your employees will be open. 

It really starts with the executive stakeholder setting the bar of what they expect. Some of the best programs we’ve run are when the project sponsors or the client stakeholders are really involved. After that, everyone else steps in and follows behind them. 

For example, we recently had our launch with a consumer packaged goods company, and the general manager of the North American office joined the live launch, which is rare. At the end of the call, she told the team, “I know we’re super busy, but you have to make this a priority. Learning is just as important as your quota. I’m right here with you taking this course. We’re all in this together.” That buy-in helped us to get 100% completion on our CM1 assessment, and that business was immediately able to see the impact.

Stay tuned for more incredible stories from our team and partners in the coming weeks. Want to learn more about how GA can make a difference in your business today? Get in touch

Celebrating 10 Years: Ian Stirgwolt

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It takes a community.

In celebration of our 10-year anniversary, we are highlighting some of our best people, partners, and instructors. Over the next few weeks, you’ll have the opportunity to be inspired by some incredible stories that have driven the success of our enterprise business.

Keep reading to meet Ian Stirgwolt, one of our client success managers, who works on several social impact projects within GA, including Code for Good and our community reskilling efforts in Louisville and Sacramento. 


GA: Where are you located, and what is your role at GA? 

Ian Stirgwolt: I am a client success manager. I am living in sunny Los Angeles. 

GA: Can you tell us more about your role? 

Ian Stirgwolt: I like to think of the client success manager as the center of our Delivery team. We act as the conduit between our client and all of the different other services that GA offers, such as our Learning Experience Architect team, instructional designers, instructor managers, or operations. 

My focus is on figuring out what our clients need after we’ve signed a contract and then continuously checking in with them, making sure that we are on the right track, and helping to lead our team internally to make sure that we continue on the right track.

GA: Talk us through keeping clients on the right track through a program.

Ian Stirgwolt: A good example is putting together a workshop. A client might think, “Hey, we really want a marketing workshop, and we don’t really know that much about the pertinent details, but you, as the learning partner, are going to help us figure that out.” 

Our Client Success team really can say, “I’ve seen this problem before at another organization.” I think the really great thing about the Client Success team is that we have that shared knowledge. It’s such a tight-knit team that works together to share our experiences, which helps us answer the client’s challenges and challenges that might exist underneath the water, the other 70% of the iceberg. 

GA: You’ve had the opportunity to work with our clients on Code for Good, which is amazing. Can you tell us more? 

Ian Stirgwolt: Code for Good grew out of a program called CODE: Rosie which we did with Disney. It was an effort to help organizations take people from within their company — who might be working in customer service or IT — who have had experience with technology before but are not hard technologists; we turned those individuals into software engineers. CODE: Rosie focused on bringing more female voices into engineering.

We have expanded since then. Code for Good now focuses on taking people from diverse and nontraditional backgrounds, such as women or people of color, into technology roles.

GA: What clients have been involved with Code for Good? 

Ian Stirgwolt: The first cohort we ran went from May to August of 2020. The two clients involved were Humana and Guardian. I think that’s an important thing to highlight because this program focuses on bringing clients together. We wanted to create conversations between these two organizations, in addition to providing a reskilling opportunity. 

Guardian signed on for the second year with Union Pacific — that cohort is currently in progress and will end in mid-July. 

GA: How was the experience working with multiple clients at once? 

Ian Stirgwolt: It was great because we could bring together both organizations to decide on the program itself and what that would look like. Being able to decide on a program that answered all needs can be a herculean effort. 

Seeing cross-pollination within the classroom between the employees at these companies was really interesting. Both Humana and Guardian brought in speakers from their organizations to give students an idea of what they might be working on as they transition to new roles. 

We’ve had people from within this program graduate and move into different roles within Guardian and Humana. Some people went into UX and focused on the front-end, while others have gone into data and analytics. 

It’s exciting to see how the program and speakers influenced the careers of these participants.  

GA: You also get to work on our community reskilling programs. Tell us about that.

Ian Stirgwolt: As COVID-19 set in, we saw a lot of people losing jobs, especially within the leisure and entertainment industries, so we turned our focus to reskilling communities. 

We started partnering with local governments, such as Sacramento, local community partners, such as the Greater Sacramento Urban League, and local companies, such as Humana, who wanted to invest in their communities and upskill people who were losing their jobs during the pandemic.  

Louisville is a really interesting example because Humana came with an identified need. They wanted to help those in their community who had lost their job during the pandemic get into a new career.  

The first part of the program focused on awareness: How do we get people aware that digital- and tech-related jobs are available? That’s when we launched our on-demand programs to the community. The mayor and other community partners got involved in helping us spread the word. 

The second part of the program focused on taking those individuals and getting them through a series of programs to ensure they capitalize on the opportunity. We then opened access to our classes and workshops. 

Phase three took those individuals who participated in phase one and two of the program into our accelerators, including UX, digital marketing, and data analytics, to help them get the skills they needed to take the next step in their career. 

Humana also saw a big need for more data skills, so we set up a data science course split into two paths: data analytics and data science. 

GA: So, basically, you have one of the coolest jobs at GA. Tell us what your favorite part of your job is. 

Ian Stirgwolt: I’m really lucky. The team here at GA is phenomenal. It’s a team where you feel supported. There is so much knowledge, effort, and energy on this team; it’s really inspiring to be part of it.

Another favorite part of the job is the ability to impact through community reskilling and social impact projects. I love working with my clients and helping them along this journey. The ability to impact someone’s life — through education — is inspiring to me.

Stay tuned for more incredible stories from our team and partners in the coming weeks. Want to learn more about how GA can make a difference in your business today? Get in touch.

Celebrating 10 Years: Devanshu Mehrotra

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It takes a community.

In celebration of our 10-year anniversary, we are highlighting some of our best people, partners, and instructors. Over the next few weeks, you’ll have the opportunity to be inspired by some incredible stories that have driven the success of our enterprise business.

Keep reading to meet Devanshu Mehrotra, one of our instructors, who teaches data to enterprise businesses to help them upskill and reskill their employees for the future of work. 


GA: Where are you located, and what is your role at GA? 

Devanshu Mehrotra: I live in Jersey City. I’ve been an instructor at GA since 2015. I was involved with GA when we were still in our nascent stages, and I helped develop some of the analytics curricula. 

I do quite a few things: I teach data analytics, data science, and advanced analytics — pretty much anything data-specific I’ve been involved in at one point or the other.

GA: What is your favorite course to teach and why? 

Devanshu Mehrotra: That’s a tough one. For me, teaching is very much more a subject of what the participants are like than the subject I’m teaching. For example, if I’m teaching SQL: I teach SQL within analytics, I teach SQL within advanced analytics, and I also teach SQL as a standalone. The delivery doesn’t change much, but if the participants are engaged, and if I’m able to draw them out of their shells and get them to be themselves while doing some fairly complicated coding, that is very rewarding.

GA: How did you get started working with data? 

Devanshu Mehrotra: I took a very meandering path to data in the sense that I’m not traditionally data-educated. I have a degree in finance and accounting, and I started out as a financial statement auditor accountant at Deloitte.

The more time I spent auditing, the more I saw the need to move away from manual testing. So, I taught myself an audit-related software called Idea and became the “Idea Champion.” Anytime anyone wanted their general ledgers analyzed or wanted a complicated transaction analyzed, they would send me the data even if I wasn’t working on that particular audit.

That got me thinking maybe I should be working on my analytics skills rather than focusing on accounting. Subsequently, I successfully interviewed with Freddie Mac for a data analytics senior auditor, which launched my analytics career.

A year later, Freddie Mac paid for me to attend a part-time data science course at General Assembly. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to become an instructor. Since then, my career has been an intersection of all of my experiences. I’m currently a VP focusing on analytics within the audit department at an investment bank, so there’s the finance part and accounting part. My job is to develop their internal analytics, digitization processes, and building the analytics department out.

GA: What is the role of the instructor, and how do you impact the learning experience?

Devanshu Mehrotra: I was a terrible student because I grew up in India and had undiagnosed ADHD — things were just boring. If the teacher was not engaging, I just could not be bothered to pay attention in class. I would just do whatever I wanted.

When I came to the U.S and started engaging with teachers in college, my classes were segmented into teachers interested in teaching and teachers who couldn’t bother with engagement. For the engaging, I was always in the front row asking questions. For the unengaging teachers, I was in the back of the class. 

I promised myself that if I ever ended up teaching, I would be the kind of teacher that would have engaged me if I was in my own class. I think the instructor’s role in learning is very significant. Part of that comes from empathy; it comes from putting yourself in the learner’s shoes, and it comes from wanting to be entertaining.

It is a very powerful feeling when somebody leaves class knowing, “Analytics is what I want to do,” which keeps me going. 

GA: As a leader in a business, what role do you think learning plays in digital transformation? 

Devanshu Mehrotra: I have worked for two different investment banks where I’ve created an analytics team from scratch — learning was an essential part of the process. 

Think about the skill sets valued in the market right now, and think about the people making a lot of money in the market. 20 years ago, if you thought about people having jobs and becoming millionaires, you would think finance; you would think Wall Street. 

What do you think today when you think of people making millions very quickly? I think Facebook, Google, Netflix, and startups. You’re now competing with companies that can pay more, teach more, and give benefits like free food, etc. How do you compete in that type of market? 

The best way to compete is to identify people who have an aptitude and upskill them internally because you are showing trust in them, and you are willing to put your money where your mouth is and invest in them. 

As a leader, think about when Steve Jobs came onto the stage in 2007 and put the iPhone up. That’s where the revolution started. Since then, the way we do things has completely changed. That computer that you’re carrying in your pocket, your cell phone, has changed entirely. The next 10–20 years are just going to compound it. The future will come at you faster and come at you with more complex problems, so you grow with it or you get left behind. If you’re not learning, you’re dying.

Stay tuned for more incredible stories from our team and partners in the coming weeks. Want to learn more about how GA can make a difference in your business today? Get in touch

Celebrating 10 Years: Callum Goodwilliam

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It takes a community.

In celebration of our 10-year anniversary, we are highlighting some of our best people, partners, and instructors. Over the next few weeks, you’ll have the opportunity to be inspired by some incredible stories that have driven the success of our enterprise business.

Keep reading to meet Callum Goodwilliam, our manager of instruction in Europe, who pairs our expert instructors with enterprise clients to help them upskill and reskill their employees for the future of work. 


GA: Where are you located, and what is your role at GA? 

Callum Goodwilliam: I am currently based in Valencia, Spain, and I am the manager of instruction in Europe.

GA: Tell us a little bit about your role. 

Callum Goodwilliam: I think of myself as a coach first, but my role certainly contains elements of recruitment, as we’re always looking for new instructors who bring specific skill sets and deep subject matter expertise. 

Recruitment is a cornerstone of what we do, but I’ve never described myself as a recruiter because normally, that’s a process where you’re handing that person on to an organization. A big difference for us is once we’ve found the right person, we’re preparing them for the classroom. So, it’s going through extensive training and ongoing support 1:1 with a person to make sure they will become a great instructor.

We stay with the person for their entire life cycle at GA. So, that’s a big distinction and why I really like my work, as I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with so many amazing people.

GA: What is the instructor’s role in learning, and how do you think they impact the learning experience? 

Callum Goodwilliam: The instructors are the center of the learning experience. Of course, great content and the programs designed by our instructional designers or learning experience architects are critical to the learning experience, but the instructor sits at the heart of that experience for our students. They’re bringing the content to life and building relationships with the students in the classroom. They’re also breathing life into the curriculum through their experiences, examples, and  real-world interactions. 

To be a good instructor, you have to have an interest in people and have a deep interest in bringing your subject to life. I’ve asked a lot of people what qualities their favorite teachers have, and it’s usually one of three reasons: 

1. Knowledge: They have deep subject matter expertise, love what they do, and know the subject inside out.

2. Empathy: They care about you, your goals, what you want to achieve, and what matters to you as a person.

3. Challenge: They know how to stretch you beyond what you thought was possible. 

For me, these are all connected. You have to care about where someone’s going to help push them effectively. 

GA: How do you match an enterprise business with an instructor?

Callum Goodwilliam: It depends on the client context and the needs of the organization. For some organizations, depending on the learning goals and objectives, it might be advisable to match a specific organization and a specific sector with an instructor from the same space or industry. 

Other times, it might be more valuable for that organization to get a counter perspective. For example, if the organization running the program is established and very large, it may be best to have an instructor come in from a smaller organization or a startup for balancing and supportive viewpoints and ideas. 

That’s where really understanding what the client’s problem is and what their goals are can help. 

GA: What advice do you have for leaders who are trying to prepare for the future of work?

Callum Goodwilliam: I’m a firm advocate for learning being at the heart of every organization to ensure that a company can cope with the speed of change around us. 

I believe organizations have a responsibility to drive positive change in the world. They should be equipping employees, not just for the future of work in their organization, but also for their own future. 

There’s a lot of uncertainty in the world right now, and I do the work I do because I believe we are all collectively responsible for making work better for people. Hopefully, doing this makes the world a little better along the way. 

Stay tuned for more incredible stories from our team and partners in the coming weeks. Want to learn more about how GA can make a difference in your business today? Get in touch

Celebrating 10 Years: Tara Fosbre

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It takes a community.

In celebration of our 10-year anniversary, we are highlighting some of our best people, partners, and instructors. Over the next few weeks, you’ll have the opportunity to be inspired by some incredible stories that have driven the success of our enterprise business.

Keep reading to meet Tara Fosbre, who works as a technology leader at Guardian Life Insurance — one of our incredible clients. Over the past two years, Tara has partnered with us to deliver Code for Good at her organization to diversify technical teams and prepare more talent for the future of work. 


GA: Where are you located, and what is your role at Guardian?

Tara Fosbre: I’m currently based in our New Jersey office, but I am still working from home because of COVID-19.

I have been a technology leader for over 25 years, building customer-facing solutions, and have always had a passion for early career talent and championing women in technology. I’ve been at Guardian for almost eight years, and for the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to pivot and focus solely on building our tech talent pipeline.

My job is identifying opportunities and building out robust development programs. This is my sweet spot, and I think my leadership background gives me an edge to understand what is needed to ensure that we’re shaping our pipeline for the future.

I’m really excited to be doing this work because it’s super important, especially as we move into a real digital age, making sure that our workforce is ready to go there as well.

GA: How do you define the talent pipeline of the future? 

Tara Fosbre: I think digital is critical so having a digital mindset, having digital dexterity, and thinking about things in a “let’s work smarter, not harder” manner is important.

Not being afraid of technology and thinking about how to leverage technology for a solution first. Really shifting cultures and getting people to think differently about the work that they’re doing — whether that comes in the form of automation or optimization, it doesn’t matter. We have to stop doing manual work because it impacts our customers. 

Then we have to shift to a culture that’s open to innovating, collaborating, and being disruptive; a culture that’s unafraid to try things because that’s how we’re going to start to leapfrog. 

GA: Mindset and culture play a huge part in digital transformation, but those can be incredibly hard to shift. How are you approaching these changes at Guardian?

Tara Fosbre: It’s ongoing. I’m currently building out a proposal for shaping our talent in a digital-dexterous way. When we think about digital dexterity, it’s human beliefs, mindsets, and behaviors that accelerate business transformation; it’s the employees’ ability to adapt and adopt existing emerging technologies to produce better results. 

This is just the beginning. I don’t have all the answers, but Code for Good fits squarely within my plans because it’s not going away. We need developers and technologists, and I think it’s important that we pull them from wherever we can get them because there’s enormous value in diversity of thought. 

GA: You’ve been a part of Code for Good for two years. Why did you decide to pursue Code for Good, and why did you choose GA as a partner?

Tara Fosbre: General Assembly has been a partner of Guardian for some time, and this program sort of fell in my lap. I latched on because it fits into my passions for championing technology and building a diverse talent pipeline.

What really intrigued me about Code for Good was that the cohorts are blended with other companies, which adds invaluable perspective for the students. It’s not just learning the day-to-day; they’re also building a network, collaborating with folks they don’t know, and they’re getting through something together.

GA: Can you tell us about some of the participants that you’ve put into this program?

Tara Fosbre: For both cohorts, we pulled from our customer service operations teams. These are people who are front-lining with customers and have very strong business and system knowledge but zero tech knowledge. 

I am interested in possibly opening it up at the enterprise level because we’ve had amazing people interested in the program. I think the fact that we’ve offered it twice now — resulting in close to 100 people applying — which speaks volumes about our organization’s willingness and desire to learn.

As part of the application process, I instituted something totally new at Guardian, where the application review was blinded. We removed all the biases from the process, which leveled the playing field for everyone involved.

GA: What impact has Code for Good had on your business?

Tara Fosbre: One really amazing thing about Code for Good — and tapping into the operations team and bringing them onto the technology team — has been the partnership. Most tech teams are lower on business acumen but high on tech acumen, so these students coming in high on business and lower on tech have a real advantage.

What we’re seeing is the teams are learning from each other. The tech teams are getting strong on business knowledge while the operations folks — who went through the program — are getting stronger on tech. There are a lot of “aha!” moments that we’ve seen coming out of this. 

GA: What has been your experience working with GA?

Tara Fosbre: We’re in our second Code for Good class, and my experience has been great. I’m really impressed with the teaching support and monitoring of students. GA and I meet weekly, and I meet with the students weekly. 

It’s really important to coach these folks along with teaching them because it’s a scary thing to start a whole new career. They’ve essentially stopped their old jobs, and a lot of them have been out of the school mindset for a long time, and now they’re being thrown into it. I’ve been impressed with how the instructors are on top of the program and the individual needs of the student. I think that’s critical, and I think that’s why it’s been successful. 

Working with GA has been amazing. I’ve tried other programs where it’s a little bit of self-study with different blends of modalities, but without having very knowledgeable and in-tune instructors, it just won’t work.

GA: What excites you about the future of work?

Tara Fosbre: Technology is ever-changing and gives us opportunities to continuously learn something new, continue innovating, and finding ways to work smarter, not harder. These are exciting times. 

I know people are daunted by the words automation and optimization, etc., and I think they have it all wrong. This is about figuring out how to give a machine the boring things that you’re doing and sink your teeth into the cool new things that are coming. I think that’s part of that whole digital mindset shift that we have to go through. 

Stay tuned for more incredible stories from our team and partners in the coming weeks. Want to learn more about how GA can make a difference in your business today? Get in touch

Why DEI Begins & Ends With Learning

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DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) is a business priority that has lasting impacts on the world around us — and it happens to be a current buzz acronym on the tip of everyone’s tongue. The truth is, the “buzz” surrounding DEI is inconsequential. DEI is a cultural shift that’s here to stay — and it must be woven into every thread of our modern workplace culture. While 76% of organizations agree that DEI is a business priority, few actually made good on their promises and pledges last year, with only 5% meeting their goals.

We all know that real change doesn’t happen overnight — pledges and commitments need to be substantiated with real and actionable plans. Companies need to play the long game by cultivating the talent that exists in unexpected and underserved places, drawing on a more diverse workforce’s collective strengths and perspectives, and bridging the diversity gaps in high-growth fields. 

Why We Are Talking About DEI

What does learning have to do with diversity, equity, and inclusion? And how can learning help organizations make inroads when there are clear obstacles in the way?

Learning levels the playing field by building key skills and, in turn, provides full access and opportunity. By partnering with businesses to reskill, upskill, and train people, we help break through obstacles and make real progress in diversity efforts — at every level.

Our internal/external “always learning” culture is incredibly unique. From our Inclusivity committee to our employee resource groups (ERGs) to our executive DEI department and officers, we are passionate about DEI and its primacy in our work culture. We are passionate about always doing better and always moving forward. While we may not always “get it right,” we are determined to make it right for all. And we want to impart our knowledge and experience — wins, stumbles, and falls — to help others establish their rightful course.

“At the heart of learning is community,” says David Porcaro, VP of Learning and Innovation at GA. “Students learn best when there is a culture of belonging.”

Read on to see how we break down the elements of DEI into actions — and how they pertain to our core.

How To Build a Healthy DEI Culture

Step 1: Transform Diversity Promises Into Actions

Leaders understand that diverse leadership correlates with better business performance, but they need help moving from making verbal promises to taking real actions. Whether on the job, online, or on-campus, we believe that learning environments flourish when every individual’s inherent value and unique gifts and perspectives get illuminated.

“I believe it is essential that businesses make meaningful investments in building diverse, inclusive workplace cultures,” said Lisa Lewin, CEO of General Assembly. “True social progress is not possible without the business community taking meaningful action to address the most intractable problems facing our world.”

But what is a “meaningful investment” in the business space? (And how do you make one?) A meaningful (DEI) investment is sustainable, authentic, and people-driven — it’s when you invest in employees’ skills, cultures, and happiness. By showing vs. telling about your commitment to your people, you are instilling a trust-driven culture that can allow for challenging and transformative conversations and shifts. 360-degree changes can shape workforce cultures and provide real opportunities for diverse individuals — and real global change.


Step 2: Really Commit to Equity & Inclusion

When workplace cultures build an inherent sense of mutual respect, trust, empathy, connectedness, and belonging within their shared communities, they allow the difficult work of continuous learning — and unlearning — to occur. So, how exactly is GA committed to an inclusive culture? And how can we help you build one yourself?

To start, since 2011, GA has been building a culture of belonging and an open door to tech careers. We have been advocates of DEI from the very beginning. We take it very seriously.

What this means for you: When we take our inclusive ethos of belonging — and the training of it —  to an organization, holistic changes inevitably and authentically happen. A good DEI culture is fully inclusive, authentic, and communicative.

How to be committed in your org:

  • Form groups, departments, and committees within your organization to start the conversation. We have a director of DEI who helms all DEI-driven initiatives and communications, along with an Inclusion Committee, numerous ERGs (employee resource groups), and a supportive senior leadership team that serve as honesty checkpoints — they, along with all of our employees, are our ultimate feedback loop.
  • Show the work. These said groups and individuals promote an array of awareness campaigns and communications for heritage months, holidays, and beyond — and make them visible. These comms air internally, publically on our social channel, and in evergreen downloadable resources. 
  • Build the culture — from top to bottom — with the right people. Our senior leadership team and human resources department fully advocate for diverse hires, promotions, and opportunities by utilizing diverse job-seeker sites, taking the necessary time to find the best, most diverse candidates. In order to create a DEI culture, an organization must “do the work” by hiring individuals who inherently support and adopt DEI practices — and provide learning opportunities at every turn. 
  • Be open — and open to change. DEI is not a set-in-stone process. There will be “oops” moments — DEI is a quick-pivoting effort that requires agility, empathy, and patience.

Step 3: Give Open Access to Skilling Opportunities

Reskilling existing employees is crucial to diversifying teams. That means opening up access to departments that are historically less diverse, such as software engineering, and to underserved people groups, such as women and PoC.

Some of our examples: 

  • We partnered with Disney to diversify their tech department by training a group of nontechnical women for roles as software engineers in the CODE: Rosie initiative
  • At Adobe, we helped to create a diversified talent pipeline for skilled engineers with Adobe Digital Academy. Instead of recruiting outside the organization, GA identified and upskilled entry-level talent into digital apprentices. 
  • Similarly, through CODE for Good, we developed a custom digital training curriculum for both Guardian & Humana that reskilled a diverse talent pool of nontechnical employees for careers as software engineers within the company. We brought these two businesses together and developed diverse curriculums for each, providing networking and learning opportunities. CfG is our enterprise coalition that reskills women and underrepresented groups into skilled and empowered software engineers.
  • We are also excited to work with OneTen as a training partner, joining their mission to upskill, hire, and advance one million Black individuals in America over the next 10 years into family-sustaining jobs with opportunities for advancement.

How do we keep the momentum going?

We’ve identified crucial areas where DEI and learning intersect to largely impact culture in organizations. Fixing a systemic problem from the bottom up doesn’t lead to solving it at the top. Reskilling existing employees becomes crucial to fortifying teams, like offering existing employees career mobility by reskilling them into tech roles.

Ultimately, we must continuously invest in diverse employee bases and build a culture of lifelong learning by upskilling employees to accelerate careers — for every step of their career journeys. The truth is that digital skills are not static, and change is the only guaranteed constant. So, bottom line, all tech professionals, at every stage, need to be able to have the opportunity to skill up to meet the shifting demands of the industry — for a real chance to reach their full potential.

DEI is not a passing movement or one-and-done action. It must permeate every level of the org. DEI is our present and future.

GA Jobs to Be Done: A Series – Build Teams to Thrive in A Digital-First World

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The Third Step: Accelerate Technical Hiring Sustainably

The race for digital transformation has companies across industries under increased economic pressure to digitize. There’s only one issue: Getting ahead of the transformation imperative requires major changes. 

We can help.

Through our deep experience across many types of organizations, we’ve seen leaders’ transformation challenges boil down to four key goals:

  1. Create digital mindsets across the company. This includes understanding digital trends, growing digital mastery, and building a product-driven organization.
  2. Upgrade capabilities to reflect cutting-edge technical skills across marketing, technology, and data functions.
  3. Accelerate technical hiring by upskilling and reskilling current employees and new hires. 
  4. Understand what good looks like — a skill necessary in achieving every goal.

This series, GA Jobs To Be Done, unpacks each of these four goals, providing actionable recommendations that organizations can put into practice to help set their businesses on the path to sustainable digitization and success.

In this series, we’ve revealed how to build a strong digital culture and how to grow the capabilities that allow transformation — but to holistically scale your technology, you need the right talent. 

How do you get the “right” talent? Look internally — and read on. 

Talent Is the End Game

Earlier in the series, we addressed how to set your business up for digital success by upskilling and reskilling your current workforce and aligning your company — from leadership to new ways of working. But scaling these new digital systems, once again, requires acquiring the right talent.

“Help me accelerate my technical hiring” is one of the most common asks we get from executives. Once digital visions are mapped and job functions scoped, companies see the importance of scaling teams — very quickly. Top-performers who have knowledge of technical skills are spending more time interviewing candidates than building technology, causing a major lag in demonstrating transformation-related ROIs.

Rest assured, there’s a way to stay out of this. We studied it, so you can avoid learning the hard way.

The Zero-Sum Game of Buying Talent

Anyone who is hiring knows that good technical talent is hard to come by. To get desired candidates, companies are engaging in a competitive talent battle that is accruing huge recruiting bills and skyrocketing salaries for qualified potential hires. This competition has created a tragedy of the commons in which a $4,000 cost-per-hire is normal, where a company like Netflix can offer a double salary to poach a new recruit, and 70% of employers either have terminated workers due to the implementation of new technology or anticipate doing so.

This is neither a winning strategy for digital companies or the marketplace as a whole. In the meantime, serious inequities have surfaced in underserved and underrepresented groups and their ability to access necessary skill development needed for tomorrow’s roles.

A Virtuous Cycle With Better Market Results

Getting out of this aforementioned vicious cycle is best for your company and the overall market. 

Good news! There is a new and better cycle: Recent studies have shown a $136K potential savings per person from reskilling in-house tech talent instead of layoffs and new hires. Reskilling high-potential employees whose roles may phase out due to automation means you increase your talent pool and demonstrate a willingness to invest in and grow your employees. Contrary to the common fear many companies share (investing in talent only to see their stars work for competitors), these “talent donors” get an incredible boost in employee engagement and loyalty

In fact, companies that invest in talent become more attractive to skilled employees drawn to their growth culture. These investments create a bigger pie for the job market: the more companies grow their internal talent, the more available talent is for the market. Job-filling efficiency also gets boosted.

Many companies are already successfully investing in talent to save time, money, and turnover. Booz Allen Hamilton’s investment in reskilling and upskilling 25,000 workforces across 80+ locations resulted in a growing data capability that secured a 4% lift in contract value and an 11% growth in employee job satisfaction and retention. Some of the largest global technology, insurance, media, and auto companies are doing the same with skilling programs thriving at Interapt, Guardian, Humana, Bloomberg, and more.

Diversity Is a Winning Strategy

While the bidding war for top talent accelerates, the market only exacerbates the well-documented diversity issues within the tech industry. From vast underrepresentation for women and people of color to wage gaps compared to their white peers, institutional barriers prevent a healthy distribution of diverse perspectives in technology.

The exclusivity of skilling access is an obstruction —  and companies are making moves to change that. For example, Disney launched a program called CODE: Rosie to reskill women as developers — and it resulted in a 100% hiring rate for graduates entering technical roles. Guardian and Humana partnered to create the Code for Good coalition that reskilled underrepresented groups (including women, BIPOC, veterans, parents, and LGBTQQIA+ individuals) into engineering roles with perfect program satisfaction scores.

Bottom Line: Invest To Grow

As these programs grow and flourish, it is clear that building talent is the answer to the vicious cycles of talent shortages we see today. Throughout this piece, we’ve highlighted the many opportunities that make building talent more effective than buying it. 

So, how do you accelerate technical hiring for your new stage of growth? Skilling your people from within is simply the most sustainable way. In addition to solving the hiring conundrum and creating numerous additional company and labor market benefits, investing in internal talent also helps you:

  1. Build a talent pipeline to attract and retain high-potential talent.
  2. Make tangible progress on your DEI goals. 
  3. Lower the costs of talent acquisition for tech and data roles.
  4. Reduce the potential shortage risk for projected talent needs,
  5. Reduce the financial and morale impacts of large restructuring efforts by reskilling laid-off workers with competitive skill sets.

As the shifts in digital innovation only accelerate, growing your talent funnel is the most effective strategy for employees, the bottom line, the labor market, and the future of business.

A critical question companies ask is, “How do I know I’m doing everything right?” While “right” means different things to different businesses, we help you benchmark what “good” looks like, so you can set and attain personalized growth goals. We’ll get into all of this in our final installment.

If you’re ready to invest in your talent, we can help today. Explore our catalog to see the digital literacy and upskilling courses that we provide — from IC to strategic leader, across digital fluency, marketing, data, and technology. 

Want to get specific about how we could help your organization? Get in touch. 

GA Jobs To Be Done: A Series – Build Teams to Thrive in a Digital-First World

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The Second Step: Grow Business Impact With New Ways of Working

With consumers’ accelerated adoption of digital behaviors, the inevitable digital transformation of most businesses within every industry is here. Under increased economic pressure, business leaders across the board are trying to get ahead of the transformation imperative that digitization requires.

Through our deep experience across many types of organizations, we’ve seen leaders’ transformation challenges boil down to four key goals:

  1. Create digital mindsets across the company. This includes understanding digital trends, growing digital mastery, and building a product-driven organization.
  2. Upgrade capabilities to reflect cutting-edge technical skills across marketing, technology, and data functions.
  3. Accelerate technical hiring by upskilling and reskilling current employees and new hires. 
  4. Understand what good looks like — a skill necessary in achieving every goal.

This series, GA Jobs To Be Done, unpacks each of these four goals, providing actionable recommendations that organizations can put into practice to help set their businesses on the path to sustainable digitization and success.

Last week, we explored the importance of mindset resetting to embrace digital philosophies, understand digital trends, and gain the literacy to discuss them across the organization. Now you’re ready to upgrade your business capabilities to reach its full potential. 

So, let’s get down to your business. 

Once transformation initiatives are underway, leaders want to make more business impact through new ways of working, but a stunning 53% of organizations can’t identify what skills they need.1 Regardless of industry, we’ve found that the majority of companies have three transformation goals in common:

  1. Harness data as a strategic asset by enabling employees to adopt data capabilities and mindsets that help them become fluent with data. 
  2. Transition from legacy technology systems by reskilling employees into high-impact technology roles on teams that properly use new tools and technologies. 
  3. Market for today’s digital customer through evolved marketing skills and practices that speak to the behaviors and expectations of the digital-first customer. 

Let’s go through the below steps required to reach each of the above three goals.

Adopt a data mindset to grow your business capabilities.

Data is power. That’s why 97% of executives are investing in big data and AI initiatives.2 As you progress into becoming a digital organization, properly-leveraged data will make you more efficient, more focused on planning, and more effective against your priorities. 

The first step? Invest in data literacy across your organization to help employees understand how to use and drive results with data.  In a digital world, fluency is the key to improving with time. Every team — regardless of an advanced analytics skill set — will need basic literacy to be part of the data-driven culture you are building. As you scale your data capability, your employees will have the opportunity to work with an incredible volume of data to help make better and faster decisions across functions.

Next, incorporate advanced skills to solve increasingly complex data problems. Once you build systems to collect, refine, organize, and analyze your data, those employees who work closest to the data will need advanced skills. Companies often invest in upskilling employees with data modeling and visualization, machine learning, and Python programming to enable them to be higher-leveraged with data. 

Finally, leaders set the data vision. To effectively manage data- or AI-driven teams, leaders must lay the groundwork for a successful data transformation by mapping the ideal flow of data throughout the organization and prioritizing data investment opportunities to make that flow a reality.

Working with data can take a long time, but like many digital technologies, it’s about increasing your rate of learning and improving as you go. Setting clear expectations of where you are and where you’re going is critical to growing your team in the right ways and modernizing your company so that your talent will want to stay and grow. 

Reskill employees into high-impact technology roles.

As you modernize your tech stack and build digital fluency, you’ll want to scale your engineering team to maintain your new and improved business operations. Note: Good engineering talent is hard to come by, but luckily you have options beyond hiring-in talent, which we’ll dive deep into in our next post!

The second thing you’ll need to do is build broad technical fluency across your organization. Your engineers will be powerhouses of systems thinking and advanced skills. Still, their work will not be fully effective unless your entire organization understands the benefit of new technology and how it factors into their ways of working and ultimate company goals. 

From there, you’ll be able to update the skills of existing engineers with modern engineering practices. Tech is a field that is constantly evolving. Today, engineers must understand modern frameworks and methods to support cloud migration and other enterprise technology projects. However, in this fast-moving industry, keeping up with innovation means making learning a key priority of your technology team. Offering ongoing upskilling helps you invest in the culture of learning, so your employees are able to operate at today’s level and continue to evolve with the industry, learn, grow, and become valuable assets to your company. 

Create modern marketing for the modern consumer. 

With consumer behaviors continuously changing alongside technology,  your business faces both unprecedented interaction access and higher-than-ever customer expectations. (Last year, global e-commerce grew by more than 27%, accelerating digital sales to a level not expected until 2022). Many companies struggle with this transition because marketing skills tend to be highly siloed, as marketing was not previously considered a digital role. Today, pushing transformation forward means evolving your marketing skills and practices for digital fluency across the team. 

Start by growing customer insight functions to build a foundation for marketing strategy based on scalable market research, producing tailored personas and detailed customer journey insights to inform your strategies. Use this consumer-centric design and user research to help you up-level creative development. Modern marketing’s fast pace and segmented audiences make it more important to ensure alignment within your teams and agencies. This means enabling multiple people to create at once with tools like writing briefs, branding guidelines, and content strategies to ensure a steady drumbeat of quality, on-brand output that furthers business goals. 

With this content in progress, focus on building out your channels and execution functions. Social media, search engine management and optimization (SEM, SEO), earned and owned media, and e-commerce all require specific skill sets– including the measurement and analytics to know you’re hitting your KPIs. Engineering’s data-driven culture has migrated into digital marketing, which now has processes for testing and optimization at its core.  

Finally, get comfortable using marketing technology, like customer relationship management (CRM), marketing automation, and adtech. These tools help you make the most of digital channels, enabling you to track the details of a high volume of interactions, build personalized messaging, and target the right audiences in the right channels. 

Always strive for improvement.

Once you’ve established a digital mindset, there are a wealth of skills you can invest in to make your business’s digital transformation effective. With broad functional literacy across teams, you can build skills from the ground up, creating data scientists, engineers, and marketers with modern skills, coordination across teams, and a culture of learning that helps your organization grow and lead.

An ever-evolving, skilled digital culture is key to building teams with the best talent — stay tuned for more content from this series.


If you’re ready to invest in your talent, we can help today. Explore our catalog here to see the digital literacy and upskilling courses that we provide — from IC to strategic leader, across digital fluency, marketing, data, and technology. 

Want to get specific about how we could help your organization? Get in touch. 


1 Statistics Source: Gartner
2 Sources: NewVantage Partners

GA Jobs To Be Done: A Series – Build Teams To Thrive in a Digital-First World

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The First Step: Transitioning to a Digital-First Culture

Due to the effects of the pandemic, we know that remote offices are not only surviving — they’re thriving. The digital world is here to stay.

Between consumers’ accelerated adoption of digital behaviors and a permanently changed working culture, the inevitable — and necessary — digital transformation of every industry took unusual leaps forward in the last 18 months. Business leaders across the board are trying to get ahead of the transformation imperative that digitization requires and the economic pressure it adds to their businesses. 

For a problem that requires holistic change, we help make digital transformation manageable. Through our deep and diverse experience, we’ve seen leaders’ transformation challenges boil down to four key goals:

  1. Create digital mindsets across the company. This includes understanding digital trends, growing digital mastery, and building a product-driven organization.
  2. Upgrade capabilities to reflect cutting-edge technical skills across marketing, technology, and data functions.
  3. Accelerate technical hiring by upskilling and reskilling current employees and new hires. 
  4. Understand what good looks like — a skill necessary in achieving every goal.

This series, GA Jobs To Be Done, unpacks each of these four goals, providing actionable recommendations that organizations can put into practice to help set their businesses on the path to sustainable digitization and success. 

In this first post, we will share how to begin creating digital mindsets across your business. 

A digital-first culture: What is it, and how do you know when you’ve got it?

For those embarking on a business transformation initiative, the first problem we often hear is, “my business needs to transition to a digital-first culture.” This is understandable, as culture fit is one of the most important aspects on both sides of hiring, and your high-skill candidates want to work on high-skill teams.

So, what is a digital-first culture? It begins with digital literacy, a competency for using digital technology to find, create, evaluate and communicate, across an organization. This basic skill set is the stepping stone to developing comfort with — and ultimate adoption of — digital practices, such as experimentation, iteration, and “antifragile” working practices incorporating continuous learning and growth into everyday work. 

Once literacy is achieved, you can begin unlocking the skills that are the hallmarks of a digital-first culture, such as data literacy, design thinking, and agile project management. From there, teams can advance their use of practical, hands-on skills in data science, marketing analytics, coding, and beyond.

The transition from digital literacy to true digital culture requires these digital processes and technologies to work effectively across the organization. When these digital practices become core to your business — that is when they are the go-to, standard process by which a majority of your company operates — then you may claim a digital-first culture.

Culture… it matters.

To many business leaders, “culture” is a “soft” word that leads directly to a People team — and keeps it there. This is a great place to start culture transformation, but it reflects the siloed way traditional businesses think about talent. While formal development is critical to digital transformation, it needs to touch every part of the organization to cause a real cultural shift. That means engaging leaders across teams to plan the transition, champion new processes, and set appropriate goals.

A learning culture is critical to staying competitive in a rapidly changing landscape. The days of arguing whether digital transformation is the right path are over; not only does transformation drive performance, it is a key element of attracting and retaining top talent. In a January 2021 study, we found that supporting professional growth is a core value of the modern worker. Many ranked “commitment to supporting my professional development to improve in a current role” as the #1 factor in whether they will stay at their company — rather than finding greener pastures elsewhere.

This all points to a positive feedback loop: innovation breeds innovation, and procrastination pulls traditional companies further behind. This is definitional; digital transformation promises that it helps businesses scale non-linearly while keeping costs low — that is, your investment in digital pays dividends long after the work is done. According to BCG, companies that focus on digital culture are 5x more likely to achieve breakthrough results than companies that don’t. 

How can you encourage digital culture in your organization? 

The Critical Steps:

Digital literacy often develops in pockets among junior staff, hired-in individuals, or specific strategic teams, but it doesn’t work in silos. Building a workforce that excels in a digital-first context requires engagement of all levels in the organization, from contributors becoming literate to leadership driving digital adoption. 

1. Leaders need to role-model digital behaviors and create a culture where teams thrive in adopting a digital mindset. This requires training to accelerate mindset shifts and learn the latest philosophies for innovation in digital strategy. From there, leaders must set goals and hold teams accountable to digital KPIs — and vocally champion the use of new digital practices.

2. Teams need to understand — and be able to communicate — why digitalization is a business imperative and lead by example with their digital mindset. Peer support is key to empowering teams to make more autonomous decisions that avoid cognitive overload as the business scales.

And, while it makes sense for some roles and teams to be more digitally advanced than others, it is important that all individuals at the company have basic digital literacy. This shared language is important to a cohesive working environment where all employees understand the priorities, are motivated by business milestones, and have opportunities to advance.

Diagnose a Digital Mindset

Luckily, you can prepare your organization to develop its digital culture no matter where you are in the process. Likely, there are digital-first practices you do well today and other areas where you might improve. Here are the top characteristics for digital-savvy organizations — how many do you have?

  • Be customer-centric. You solve customer problems through a seamless, consistent experience based on an empathetic understanding of the customer mindset at each engagement journey phase. 
  • Experiment. You take complex problems and break them down into smaller parts to implement for testing your assumptions early and often.
  • Adopt agile methods. You are nimble, flexible, and good at working across multiple departments. You always close the loop on experiments to maximize team learning.
  • Activate growth. You design tactics to target your customer across each stage of the funnel and spot opportunities to grow product usage. You have metrics to evaluate each stage of the marketing funnel and its impact on business success.
  • Be data-driven. You navigate the proliferation of data and use data at the heart of all decision-making. You’re skilled at data capture, analysis, and visualization to generate and communicate actionable insights across teams.
  • Evaluate trends. You are aware of how emerging trends impact customer expectations, and you routinely evaluate evolving your strategy to meet fluid demand. 

How many boxes did you check (or not)? Whether your business is about to begin a digital journey or already has a digital practice ongoing, it’s helpful to return to basics to understand which qualities of digital culture are working for you today and where you can stand to invest. One of the best actions you can take is to advocate for digital maturity across your organization, helping leaders understand the benefits of developing their digital culture and plans to move forward. 

We’ll share more on how to grow digital impact, accelerate technical hiring, and evaluate what “good” looks like at every stage to help your business get the most leverage out of digital culture in the upcoming posts of this series. Stay tuned.

If you notice specific areas you want to grow, we can help. Explore our catalog here to see the digital literacy and upskilling courses that we provide — from IC to strategic leader and across digital fluency, marketing, data, and technology. 

Want further specific advice on how we could help your organization? Get in touch. 

Designing Learning for In-Demand Skills: Cybersecurity

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What does it take to create good learning content? This is a question we, as instructional designers, are asked in one form or another pretty often. When I first started in the field, I would develop an outline, do some light validation, and then build the program — then off to the races! 

Since then, a few things have changed: learning design has evolved as a discipline, and competition for high-quality learning content and experiences has skyrocketed. 

This has coincided with an ongoing multipart effort by our Instructional Design team. Every day, we’re engaged in developing deep learning design processes and rigor around our learning and content design. We’re also striving for a deeper understanding of the jobs market and what skills and bootcamps employers and learners are scouring the internet for. This comes into play when considering backward design, where we start with “why” and focus on establishing the overarching learning outcomes and skills needed before designing the content to support that experience.

So, what does that look like in practice?

Moving from theory, let’s get into a real-life example of a learning solution GA just released this quarter: Cybersecurity for Developers Accelerator. We’ll take a look at three parts: (1) the background research and validation, (2) the skills needed, and (3) the product itself.

Step 1: Research & Validation

When building a program, our Instructional Design team partners closely with a product manager to help us ensure we are building best-fit learning solutions for our clients. This process includes deep market and industry research, performing a skills growth analysis for our target learners, and interviewing our best customers and partners. 

All of these inputs helped us to confirm that businesses, now more than ever, need cybersecurity skills to prevent breaches and that all developers can benefit from upskilling on more secure coding practices. 

Here are some fast facts from our market research:

  • Cybersecurity skills remain one of the top 10 most in-demand tech skills to-date.
  • Preparing developers for security risks has never been more pressing for enterprise businesses, i.e., 2020 was reported as the “worst year on record” for security breaches. 
  • Burning Glass has predicted 164% growth in application development security over the next five years, among other skill areas associated with building secure digital infrastructures from the ground up. This underscores businesses’ shift from retroactive security strategies to proactive security strategies.

Step 2: The Skills Needed

What skills do our developers need to be able to walk away from our course in order to prevent these breaches? We looked at job descriptions for the role itself and worked with a subject matter expert (SME) who is a real-world practitioner and expert in the field to validate our research. Here are some of the skills we identified: 

  • Input Validation
  • End to End Encryption
  • Prevent Injection Attacks
  • Develop and Implement Security Policies + Headers
  • Logging
  • Threat Modeling
  • Hashing
  • Evaluating 3rd-Party Libraries

Step 3: The Finished Product 

Using the instructional design concept of backward design, we sequenced the material for the skills needed and researched into these five units, which can be delivered in a 1-week accelerator course or a 10-week part-time course:

  • Cybersecurity for Web Applications
  • Front- and Back-End Security
  • Threat Modeling and Logging
  • Additional Security Features
  • Applied Practice

As students progress through the course, we have embedded guided demos and walkthroughs of key concepts followed by labs where students can try them independently. This is a key instructional design concept:  “I do, we do, you do,” meaning that first, an instructor walks the class through a concept via a demo, and then the class tries it together. After that, students try things on their own in carefully developed labs.

Lastly, we work to simulate the real world as much as possible, especially for something as specific and high-stakes as cybersecurity. To this end, we developed a project that students work on throughout the course as they learn new concepts. In the case of the Cybersecurity Accelerator, we developed a purposely buggy fictional application where students need to spot the vulnerabilities and use the skills they learn in the course to patch and fix those vulnerabilities to prevent a security breach. 

Now that I’m on the other side of this project, what’s most exciting to me as an instructional designer is that we can get really robust courses for in-demand skills — for both employees and employers — out into the world.  As things inevitably change and the world shifts, we’ll continue to build solutions that bring integral skills to your organization.

Want to learn more about our Cybersecurity Accelerator? Reach out here