An Introduction to the Vancouver Tech Community

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With its vibrant startup culture and budding talent pool, Vancouver is a popular hub where creativity, entrepreneurs, and startups intersect. Ranked as the Economist Intelligence Unit’s number one Most Liveable City in North America, more than 2 million people choose to call Vancouver home. 

Over the last five years, Vancouver has experienced a 42.6% increase in total tech occupations — even becoming the city with the fastest high-tech job growth in North America1 — and houses nearly 100,000 skilled workers and permanent residents2 within the British Columbia (BC) area. 

The city’s forward-thinking culture, natural surroundings, and diverse community leave no shortage of opportunities — its tremendous growth in tech has earned it the nickname, “Techcouver.” By 2027, this market is expected to add 83,400 new tech-related job openings.3

General Assembly is proud to announce our arrival and help cultivate thousands of meaningful connections through thoughtful partnership building and learning opportunities. Join us for expert-led classes, workshops, and inspirational panel discussions each week.

Companies and Jobs

  • Top industries: construction, film and television, high technology, manufacturing, and tourism.4
  • Major employers: Amazon, TELUS, Best Buy, BC Public Service, Fraser Health Authority, Interior Health Authority, University of British Columbia (UBC), and the City of Vancouver.5
  • Other well-known tech companies have a major presence in Vancouver, including Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Cisco Systems, Samsung, Hootsuite, Absolute Software, ACL Service, Dwave, 1Qbit, and Slack.6
  • The city also hosts growing sectors, including AI, Software as a Service (SaaS), business intelligence, cybersecurity, and FinTech.7

The Vancouver Tech Community

  • The tech industry in BC employs around 100,000 people with 75,000 working in the Vancouver metro.8
  • With a lower cost of living than other major cities, it’s a compelling environment to launch a business and attract top global talent. They introduced the Global Skills Strategy which offers highly-skilled employees work permit exemptions and faster application processing times. 
  • Vancouver Startup Week is a week-long event where entrepreneurs, investors, and community leaders connect and celebrate the city’s startup community. 
  • Go-to startup hub, Startup Vancouver, serves tech and non-tech entrepreneurs with resources for every stage of their business. 
  • Vancouver Women in Technology (VanWIT) and BC Tech — through their #WhatWorks Women in Tech Series — provide women with educational opportunities to grow their businesses and careers.

Stay in the Know

Here are just a handful of resources to help you dive deeper into Vancouver’s tech and startup ecosystem:

  • Subscribe to BC Tech, Venture Vancouver, and Vancouver Tech Journal for the latest local tech news and trends. 
  • Startup Grind Vancouver hosts regular virtual events from entrepreneurial stories from startup 101 to DEI-related topics. 
  • Check out the annual Future Technologies Conference for insight from education leaders about the technology industry. 
Browse Workshops

1 https://www.cbre.us/research-and-reports/North-America-Tech-30-2020
2https://www.cbre.us/research-and-reports/Scoring-Tech-Talent-in-North-America-2020
3https://www.straight.com/tech/1247521/demand-tech-talent-vancouver-25-percent-2018
4https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/data/statistics/business-industry-trade/industry
5https://vancouversun.com/sponsored/top-employers-vs/headline-bcs-top-employers-winners-list
6https://www.lighthouselabs.ca/en/blog/tech-companies-vancouver
7https://www.vancouvereconomic.com/focus/technology/
8https://www.vancouvereconomic.com/focus/technology/

An Introduction to the Calgary Tech Community

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Calgary has been reinvented from the ‘energy capital of Canada’ into an innovative and thriving center of digital transformation. Quickly becoming the largest driver of new solutions within the tech sector, Calgary is embracing opportunities that make a difference.

In a recent report, tech companies in the area have more than doubled in the past three years alone — and despite economic impact due from the pandemic, 14% of those new tech companies launched in 2020. Additionally, 40% of businesses are reporting annual revenues of over $1 million,1 showcasing the power of Calgary’s energetic ideas and transformative solutions.

Calgary is diverse in culture. More than 29% of the population immigrated from elsewhere, representing 240 different ethnic origins.2 The numbers will only go higher thanks to an investment of $18.4 billion in digital transformation — 77,000 tech jobs will be added across Alberta in the next few years. In fact, Calgary is expected to have a tech boom with the number of companies at least doubling by 2030.3

General Assembly is proud to announce our arrival and help cultivate thousands of meaningful connections through thoughtful partnership building and learning opportunities. Join us for expert-led classes, workshops, and inspirational panel discussions each week.

Companies and Jobs

  • Top industries: agribusiness, creative industries, energy & environment, financial services, healthcare, and technology.4
  • Major employers: University of Calgary, Alberta Health Services, Shaw Communications, Suncor Energy, Inc., and Imperial Oil Limited.5

The Calgary Tech Community

  • Alberta has a higher percentage of women tech company founders than the global average (27%), compared with 20% globally.6 Organizations such as The Chic Geek, Making Changes, and SheInnovates, Alberta design programs and provide resources to accelerate the careers of women entrepreneurs and innovators.
  • There are local organizations in Calgary founded to support its growing tech community, where you can discover opportunities to network and learn: 
    • Startup Calgary serves early stage entrepreneurs and strengthens the city’s innovation ecosystem through networking, partnerships, and programming.
    • Pixels and Pints connects web developers and digital designers through monthly meet-ups.
    • Assembly Coworking Space offers affordable spaces for tech startups and social enterprises. They also host events in their common areas to connect and learn from fellow entrepreneurs. 
    • Innovate Calgary, a business incubator and member of the UCalgary innovation ecosystem, offers startup support programs.
    • Immigrant Techies Alberta organizes regular networking events for highly-skilled immigrants in the tech industry. 
    • Digital Alberta supports the tech community with new talent and partnership opportunities through a membership network.  

Stay in the Know

Here are just a handful of resources to help you dive deeper into Calgary tech: 

  • Subscribe to Platform Calgary and Venture Calgary for the latest local tech news and trends. 
  • Check out Startup Calgary and The 51 for your upcoming local events. 
Browse Workshops

1https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/tech-companies-alberta-doubles-1.5998124
2https://calgaryeconomicdevelopment.com/why-calgary/be-part-of-the-energy/working-in-calgary/
3https://calgaryeconomicdevelopment.com/newsroom/diversifying-economy-changing-opportunities/
4https://calgaryeconomicdevelopment.com/sectors/
5https://calgaryherald.com/sponsored/top-employers-ch/albertas-top-employers-winners-list-3
6https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/tech-companies-alberta-doubles-1.5998124

One Team, 200 Years of Educational Experience

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“Attitude will get you the job, but skills evolve the job — a perfect metaphor for what GA does… we bring the essential skills.”

— Roger Lee, CMO of General Assembly

First, let’s talk numbers.

Ten years ago, we began our journey in one tiny NYC working space with less than a handful of founders and leaders and one BIG idea — we wanted to offer people the necessary skills to prepare them for the future of work. Ultimately, we wanted to transform lives.

Fast-forward to today. 

Our BIG idea is still the same, but now we’re a pioneering global leader — with a seat at the head of the table. Sometimes, we can’t quite believe it ourselves, but we’ve done our due diligence and will continue to. And we will continue to lead.

Looking back to look ahead.

As we have reiterated throughout our history, we could never be in the place we are without the feedback of our global community of instructors, industry leaders, students, business partners, and, yes, competitors. We will maintain our position in the space and keep evolving with the guidance of our multifaceted senior leadership team — a mixture of new yet seasoned executives and GA veterans. This formidable group believes in our mission of innovation, global expansion — SLT members are located in Boston, Mexico City, Miami, New York City, Paris, San Diego, San Francisco, and Zurich — and the endless possibilities of the future. 

We meet people where they are — with the right people.

GA’s SLT has grown and evolved in response to growing employer demands and the aspirations of worldwide professionals. They bring a collective 200 years of education experience and a range of perspectives and insights that span the globe across multiple generations, cultures, and sectors. This group acts, thinks, and dreams big — global-scale big — in order to meet the industry’s shifting demands.

Meet the Team

Without further ado, we’d like to introduce some of GA’s newest movers and shakers on our senior leadership team and encourage you to explore some of their driving insights:

Shweta Bhasin, SVP of Human Resources

Shweta brings 20 years of experience in HR consulting and corporate HR roles across the telecom, professional services, and education industries. She joins us from Pearson, where she was part of the Global HR Leadership team.

  • Quote To Note: “The strong attraction for me was GA’s mission — feeling the employability skills gap and transforming lives through education. This is a powerful and purposeful mission — so, being part of this journey, with new, more global markets, brought me here…”

Ella Balagula, SVP & Global Head of Enterprise 

Ella brings 25 years of general management, digital transformation, and EdTech growth experience. Most recently, she was EVP and GM of knowledge and learning at Wiley, managing a portfolio of education businesses.

  • Quote To Note: “This is a dream job! I believe that in today’s world, corporations and governments have both a responsibility and an acute need to upskill employees and communities and take charge of preparing people to face the future.”

Alberto Cavero, SVP of Strategy & Transformation

Alberto joins us from Laureate Education, where he served as the chief transformation officer and formerly as the strategy director. Previously, he worked on strategic consulting at Boston Consulting Group.

  • Quote To Note: “GA is a great success story, has great talented people, but mostly, it has huge potential — that’s what I really like about this opportunity. I can encourage bottom-up innovation and transformation to achieve our goals.”

Danielle Chircop, SVP & Global Head of Product

Danielle joins us with 16 years of experience in adult education and over a decade of leadership in instructional design, product, and technology. Most recently, she was VP of digital products at Kaplan North America.  

  • Quote To Note: “Being able to be a huge part of the next wave of innovation at GA and bring it to its next big phase of life is something that’s so incredibly exciting… helping people change their lives and change their careers is hugely important.”  

Roger Lee, SVP of Marketing & Admissions

Roger brings 25 years of marketing experience, most recently as VP of performance marketing at the University of Phoenix.

  • Quote To Note: “Everyone here must find qualified hand-raisers, scale the number of them, personalize their journey, and give compelling reasons to help meet their career goals. We have one goal, and that goal is to help everyone interested understand that GA does it better than anyone else.”

Jason Fournier, VP of Product Management

Jason spent 15 years at Pearson, most recently as VP of product management and AI products and solutions. 

  • Quote To Note: “I’ve spent my entire career in education because I believe that it can have an exponential impact. What I found compelling about General Assembly is that we aren’t just helping people find jobs; we’re helping them build careers, gain confidence in themselves, and change the trajectory of their lives.” 

David Porcaro, Ph.D., VP of Learning & Innovation

David most recently served as director of learning engineering at the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative. 

  • Quote To Note: “I came to GA because I’m passionate about providing access to the tech field to diverse learners on a global scale. My job as a leader is to help surface the principles, examples, evidence, concepts, and tools that have effectively got people in similar contexts to their goals.”

These impressive individuals will join our existing team of seasoned leaders, including Catie Brand, VP of human resources; Philipp Lustenberger, SVP of finance; Jayshree Mahtani, general counsel; Tom Ogletree, VP of social impact and external affairs; and Scott Zaloom, SVP of campus operations.

With new and veteran insights governing the entirety of our business, we are equipped to take on the now, the new, and the next levels of our journey with a balanced collective of game-changing executives who will be led by CEO Lisa Lewin, recently hired in 2020. Although our leaders’ 200 years of combined educational experience is quite substantial, their insatiable curiosity and quest for better is infinite. And we’re just getting started.

“These hires reflect a commitment to innovation, in response to accelerated demand for upskilling + reskilling at scale. They’ll leverage remote learning best practices that we honed during the pandemic to reach new global audiences and geographies.”

— Lisa Lewin, CEO of General Assembly

Hungry to hear more? Read Our Latest Press Statement

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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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.

Our Plan to Reopen GA San Francisco

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It’s a season to assemble. After over a year of Zooming and screen sharing, we’ve missed rubbing elbows with our community of students, instructors, and tech leaders.

We’re thrilled to be safely reopening our downtown campus and giving students the option to return to in-person learning. We’re kicking things off with limited events and will be launching our Software Engineering Immersive program in-person on September 13. 

Check out our upcoming in-person workshops below, and click here for complete details about how we’re keeping campus visitors safe, plus answers to questions you might have. If you have any additional questions, please email us directly at sf@generalassemb.ly, and we’ll get back to you ASAP.

In-Person Events & Workshops 

Note: Attendees are required to show proof of vaccination and wear masks at all times. See complete safety policies.

  • Campus Reopening Open House with Free Headshots (Oct 7)
  • Free Intro to Coding Workshop (Oct 14)

In-Person Long-Form Courses

Note: In-person students will need to be vaccinated and show proof of vaccination on or before the first day of class.

  • User Experience Design Immersive (Nov. 15)

Browse All Workshops