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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

Celebrating 10 Years: Sarah Hakani

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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 Sarah Hakani, one of our senior learning experience architects, who creates programs for several 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? 

Sarah Hakani: I am a senior learning experience architect based in Brooklyn, New York.

GA: What is a learning experience architect?

Sarah Hakani: I like to say it’s a hybrid between being an instructional designer and a consultant. What we do is think about what types of learning solutions map to different client needs. What makes us closer to instructional designers is that we’re thinking about adult learning principles, ways to engage with people who are already on their learning journeys, building on prior knowledge, and understanding business context and industry to customize our learning experiences. 

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

Sarah Hakani: My favorite part of this role is the impact reports. At the end of a program, there’s always a lot of curiosity, and a lot of “How do we connect this to our business, what’s next, and what do we do tomorrow, based on what we learned today?”

In those moments, there’s always this flood of gratitude and an outpouring of intention that feels really beautiful because it’s all this work that you’ve put in, and you can see, this tangible way that our clients are saying, “This is what I’m going to do with it today.”

I think that very directly translates to the impact reports that happen right after each program. We create a really detailed, honest, and transparent summary of how learners in the room felt about different things. The most rewarding part is that collaborative reflection moment where a client says to us, “You pulled it off; what can we do better next time?” It shows that there’s this desire to continue to get better, and that’s really beautiful — and often rare — in learning experiences.

GA: How do you help businesses find their best learning program?

Sarah Hakani: We start by understanding the business challenges. Leaders come to us and say something like, “We need more first-party data,” or “Our data strategy is weak.” They come to us with a big problem, and we ask, “Have you considered XYZ?” Or “What about this XYZ solution?” Or, “Our instructors work directly in this XYZ field, so what about a workshop that encompasses blank, blank, and blank?” 

It’s a very iterative process, which I really love. 

GA: What is your favorite discipline and why? 

Sarah Hakani: The most fun, for me, is digital marketing because it has the most psychology. So much about digital marketing involves all of us as consumers. We go into the workshops and think, “I am a consumer, and so, these are the ways that people are thinking about targeting me. These are the ways that I am personally thinking about when it comes to empathy mapping and consumer decision journeys.”

There’s a human element to digital marketing that has made it an easier entry point for me to target. It makes our instructors so phenomenal within it, too, because they’re all thinking; they are all consumers. It’s the one discipline where every person has a very personal investment in what digital marketing is, what daily content we consume, and the decisions that content leads us to make.

GA: Tell us about the most exciting program you’ve built for a client. 

Sarah Hakani: My favorite was the UX for Marketers program that I built for a Fortune 100 CPG company in their health care division. Hybrid programs are really exciting for me because we’re designing for people in a different discipline to think about working better cross-functionally, which is half the battle for our enterprise clients. 

How does a marketing team know what request to make of agencies to have the proper UX to guide their consumers? This program was a three-day program, and the most beautiful part was that UX for Marketers — for personal health care — looks different than simply UX for Marketers. 

When you’re thinking about personal health care, often, people are in a frenzy searching for serious topics. There’s an intimacy that comes with searches and understanding their behavior through their searches. Bad UX can completely stress someone out.

This specific learner audience was my favorite because there was so much empathy in the room for the consumer. 

GA: What are some common challenges you hear from enterprise clients? 

Sarah Hakani: I would say the biggest one for digital marketing is definitely the death of cookies and tracking issues. People have been coming to us saying, “We have been collecting this first-party data, and we don’t totally know how to activate it.” 

Another one I’ve seen a lot is this fear of AI. The challenge is thinking about ways to simplify it and make people understand that they’re not going to lose their jobs and that AI is a tool that will help them be much more efficient and have stronger processes that allow people to do better work. 

I’ve also been seeing a lot of UX-related questions because, during the pandemic, people were thinking about their virtual audiences and translating products to a salient digital experience, and iterating. 

GA: We’ve had an incredible 10 years; what are you excited about for the next 10? 

Sarah Hakani: What’s exciting to me about the next 10 years at GA is what reskilling can look like on a community level and what it means to take care of our people… Our mission is rooted in targeting underserved people. 

The pandemic showed that a lot of that is still a reality, and what we need to be doing is thinking about reskilling — not just from an enterprise or consumer level. What GA does really well is equip people with the skills that they need to be okay and for generations after them to be okay. 

If there’s anything I’m excited about, it’s that we took a stance during the pandemic and that the success of that is going to lead to much more shareable knowledge — especially with the most marginalized. That’s a future state that became much more apparent in the last (very unfortunate) year, and I’m really excited to see where we go with it. 

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

Two Refreshed Skilling Solutions To Access In-Demand Engineering Skills

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It’s no secret that technology has forever changed the way we approach and do work. However, while budgets and headcount on technology teams continue to rise, technology leaders still have a hard time finding engineering talent with the right balance of skills.

Prior to COVID-19, businesses were already thinking about transformation initiatives that would help them transition from legacy systems to allow technical teams to work in more flexible, efficient, and secure environments. Post COVID-19, these attributes are more important than ever. However, just like with any transformation initiative, these transitions require hard skills, which are in high demand but short supply.

In fact, leaders report that Cyber Security is the number one skill shortage and top investment priority, made increasingly urgent due to moving to a fully remote workforce, which has increased the likelihood of malware and phishing attacks.

From becoming cloud-native to defending against cybersecurity attacks and breaches — organizations need a wider range of engineering skills on their teams than ever before. In order to solve skill gaps and talent shortages, businesses need to consider upskilling their existing engineers on must-have skills, such as cybersecurity and rethink engineering talent acquisition and onboarding strategies to ensure they get the right balance of skills and knowledge on their teams.

Two Refreshed Programs Help to Upskill Your Engineers

Over the last ten years, we’ve been helping organizations, such as Disney and Humana, acquire and build the engineering talent they need to compete in today’s digital economy. Through deep customer, industry, and market research, we’ve updated two programs to help more organizations meet their engineering talent goals.

Get a sneak peek of what those programs entail below:

  • Java Developer Immersive: Expand your Java development workforce with experiential training in the most in-demand skills. Participants will build core skills in Java, Spring Boot, test-driven development, troubleshooting dev ops, cloud, and agile development. Use this program to reskill junior engineers or onboard fresh computer science graduates to your teams. 
  • Cybersecurity Accelerator: Bulk up your cybersecurity practices by training existing developers on best practices. Participants will learn how to add security features to their web applications to minimize the chances of an attack. Use this program to upskill existing engineers to increase cybersecurity skills and knowledge within your engineering team. 

These refreshed programs allow you and your team to:

  • Access Transformative Tech Skills: Level up your engineering team by embedding must-have cybersecurity and java development skills.
  • Learn From Real Industry Experts: Give your people practical, hands-on training created and taught by leading subject matter experts.
  • Build and Develop Engineering Talent: Invest in existing and new talent by offering them learning opportunities that move your business forward.

As Always, More to Come

We’re working on more exciting things that we’ll be releasing over the next few months, such as useful workforce insights and updated skilling solutions. Keep your eyes on the GA blog or get in touch with us to hear the latest.

Want to learn more about how we can help your organization build essential engineering skills? Download the full catalog of GA’s tech skilling solutions here.

Data Literacy for Leaders

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For years, the importance of data has been echoed in boardroom discussions and listed on company roadmaps. Now, with 99% of businesses reporting active investment in big data and AI, it’s clear that all businesses are beginning to recognize the power of data to transform our world of work.

While all leaders recognize the needs and benefits of becoming data-driven, only 24% have successfully created a data-driven organization. That is because transformation is not considered holistically and instead leaders focus on business, tools and technology and talent in silos. Usually leaving skill acquisition amongst leaders and the broader organization for last. It’s no wonder that 67% of leaders say they are not comfortable accessing or using data.

We’ve worked with businesses, such as Bloomberg, to help them gain the skills they need to successfully leverage data within their organizations & we haven’t left leaders out of the conversation. In fact, we know that leaders are crucial to the success of data transformation efforts & just like their teams, they need to be equipped with the skills to understand and communicate with data.

Why Should I Train My Leaders on Data?

When embarking on a data transformation, we always recommend that leaders be trained as the first step in company-wide skill acquisition. We recommend this approach for a few reasons:

  • Leaders Need to Understand Their Role in Data Transformation:  Analytics can’t be something data team members do in a silo. They need to be fully incorporated into the business, rather than an afterthought. However, businesses will struggle to make that change if every leader does not understand his or her responsibility in data transformation.
  • Leadership Training Shows a Commitment to Change: According to New Vantage Partners, 92% of data transformation failures are attributed to the inability of leaders to form a data-driven culture. In order for your employees to truly become data-driven, they have to be able to see a real commitment from leaders to organizational goals and operational change. Training your leaders first sends that message that data is here to stay. 
  • Leaders Need to Be Prepared to Work With Data-Driven Teams: Increasingly, leaders are expected to make data-driven decisions that impact the success of the organization. Without literacy, leaders will continue to feel uncomfortable communicating with and using data to make decisions. This discomfort will trickle down to employees and real change will never be felt. 

Just like your broader organization, leaders cannot be expected to understand the role they play or the importance of data transformation without proper training. 

What Does Data Literacy For Leaders Look Like? 

Leaders need to be able to readily identify opportunities to use data effectively. In order to get there leaders need to:

Build a Data-Driven Mindset:

While every leader brings a wealth of experience to your org, many leaders are not data natives, and it can be a big leap to make this shift in thinking. Training leaders all at once gives you the opportunity to get your leaders on the same page and build a shared understanding and vocabulary.

So what does building a data-driven mindset look like in practice? To truly have a data-driven mindset leaders must be aware of the data landscape, as well as the opportunity of data, be mindful of biases inherent in data with an eye towards overcoming that bias, as well as being curious about how data can influence our decisions.

Leaders should walk away from training with a baseline understanding of key data concepts, a shared vocabulary, knowing how data flows through an organization and be able to pinpoint where data can have an impact in the org.

Understand the Data Life Cycle

Leaders are responsible for having oversight of every phase of the data life cycle and must be able to help teams weed out bias at any point. Without this foundation, leaders will have a hard time knowing where to invest in a data transformation and how to lead projects and teams.

All leaders should be equipped to think about and ask questions about each phase of the life cycle. For example:

  • Data Identification: What data do we have, and what form is it in? 
  • Data Generation: Where will the data come from and how reliable is the source? 
  • Data Acquisition: How will the data get from the source to us? 

It is not the role of the leader to know where all the data comes from or what gaps exist, but being able to understand what questions to ask, is important to acquire the necessary insights to inform a sound business strategy.

Get to Know the Role of Data Within the Org

In an organization that’s undergoing a data transformation, there’s no shortage of projects that could command a leader’s attention and investment. Leaders must be equipped to understand where to invest to put their plans into action.

Based on existing structure, leaders need to understand the key data roles, such as data analysts or machine learning engineers, why they are important and how they differ. Once a leader has the knowledge of the data teams, they will be able to identify the opportunity of data within their team and role.

Make Better Data-Driven Decisions

Leaders who rely on intuition alone run the huge risk of being left behind by competitors that use data-driven insights. With more and more companies adjusting to this new world order, it’s imperative that leaders become more data literate in order to make important business-sustaining decisions moving forward. 

Leaders should walk away from training with a baseline understanding of key data concepts, a shared vocabulary, knowing how data flows through an organization and be able to pinpoint where data can have an impact in the org.

Getting Started With Leadership Training 

Including data training specifically for your leaders in your data transformation efforts is crucial. While leaders are busy tackling other important business initiatives, they, just like the rest of your organization must be set up with the right skills to successfully meet the future of work. Investment in data skills for leaders will help you to forge a truly data-driven culture and business.

To learn more about how GA equips leaders and organizations to take on data transformation get in touch with us here.