The Future of Work: Learning is at the Heart
As CMO of Skillsoft, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing numerous guests on our podcast The Edge. In conversations with both seasoned leaders and new recruits, we’ve discussed the powerful role that learning plays as we shape the future of work together.
That open dialogue is something I really enjoy. But, on the occasions I get to be on the other side of the table offering my experience and perspective, I learn a lot too. Recently, I had the real pleasure of being interviewed as part of a global tech firm’s Leadership Summit. The virtual event was attended by close to 700 people from across the globe, and the feedback was so gratifying. It was humbling to hear this from an attendee:
“To be driven by the purpose of making 30 million people employable within defined timelines as the core ethos for your organization was inspiring.”
I thought, “YES.” If we can help teach people to respond to today’s challenges with resilience, we can empower them to thrive tomorrow.
All of the questions were timely and fascinating, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorites, along with my answers, here (lightly edited):
Q: The world is changing. How do you see it impacting the space of continuous learning?
When you think about 2020 — from the global pandemic, to uncertain economic fallout, to widespread calls for social justice — it’s been a time of profound change. Although it caught some us off guard, 2020 sent a clear message. Digital transformation isn’t a theoretical future state. It’s here now and it’s accelerated.
It may have something to do with my being the CMO of Skillsoft, but I honestly believe that learning — as an individual, as a team, and as an organization — will be the key to success in this new age. Whether an organization was ready or not, they’ve had to adapt to enable a remote workforce; change the way they develop, market, sell, and distribute products; and learn new ways to motivate and manage teams.
What’s really exciting to me is that learning has been at the very heart of all of this.
Q: What are you most passionate about in your role? Who and what has inspired you?
On a day-to-day basis, three key themes have continued to inspire me throughout my career.
First, I’ve always been fascinated by the impact technology has on our daily lives both at home and at work. I believe in the value of building a knowledge base and skill set that will benefit any organization in the age of digital transformation.
Second, I’ve always put a focus on continual learning — encouraging my team, and myself, to gather and hone new skills. And people skills are power skills: emotional intelligence is just as important as technical knowledge. Because we’ve had to learn new ways of working together as whole people. Let’s face it — the little surprises at home that can pop up during Zoom calls have made us all a lot “closer!”
Finally, I’ve always dedicated myself to building diverse and inclusive organizations everywhere I’ve ever worked. I’ve been driven to promote and champion the development of women because in many cases women are still under-represented. And these issues aren’t limited to gender. We must look at every under-represented group and do better — across race, ethnicity, age, and orientation, to team members with varying physical and intellectual abilities.
Q: What are the attributes that have stood you in good stead in this fast-changing landscape?
Resilience, agility, and perseverance. Most people believe that you’re either born with these traits or not. But, what’s really interesting is that we’ve found these traits and related talents — like crisis response, leading through change, and thriving under pressure — can be learned.
Q: What is the short life advice that you’d like to give to people to prepare for a world that is continuously changing and evolving?
That’s easy. You can’t be prepared for change unless you are open and willing to learn. Learning is the key. We sometimes think of learning as a moment-in-time exercise. But at Skillsoft, we urge companies to instill and nurture a “culture of continual learning.”
American economist Theodore William Schultz, who won the 1979 Nobel Prize, once said “If you don’t grow, you die.” I agree with him, well theoretically, of course. If a person stops growing, they’ll surely stagnate. And that’s not good for the individual or the organization..
Looking ahead as my professional journey continues, I believe my ability to change lives for the better — through technology, ongoing learning, and genuine inclusion and equity — will be even greater. And I can’t wait to see what we learn together.