WATCH: Degreed is helping corporations reskill their employees by bringing a fresh approach to learning
Degreed defines itself as a “lifelong learning platform”. The US-based learning and skill tracking platform, founded in 2012, believes that it is imperative to stay ahead to stay relevant. With technology and the way we work, play, and relax seeing constant evolution, reskilling, certifications, corporate training, or just starting on a new hobby requires people to stay on top of what’s hot.
Todd Tauber, VP,Product Marketing, Degreed, was in India recently, talking to clients about the new way of reskilling employees in a world where technology and markets are changing rapidly. He believes teams that are nimble understand what their employees want to learn and scale up a company.
Watch Todd in a conversation with YourStory here:
Most organisations working with the company are blending their traditional learning management systems with Degreed’s new-age learning formats. This seven-year-old company recognises learnings from books, podcasts, articles, and videos – across different subjects – and tells corporates that employees can learn from other sources too.
In a chat with YourStory, Todd tells us how he markets one of the most radical companies in the world.
Edited excerpts of the interview:
YourStory: The old ways of learning in corporations are changing. Can you tell us how Degreed is doing it?
Todd Tauber: We are changing learning because traditional learning in corporations has always been a top-down approach through their learning management applications. Our system empowers individuals and their teams to learn together. It allows them to learn from different sources and helps individuals and organisations achieve goals. Degreed allows people to learn and evolve through their careers. This was how David Blake, the Founder, set up the company. His hypothesis was that there has to be continuous learning, and university education does not make a difference, especially after one puts in time working for several years. You have to recognise that people learn differently as they get older.
YS: What made you join Degreed, and what are your thoughts on the future of learning and the gig economy?
TT:I just recognisedthat I could not work in a corporate structure. My task was to identity chief learning officers in big companies to help them, and in turn, identify best practices, tools, and services in learning.They were trying to have a more employee-driven learning culture, but it was always within the ecosystem of a company.
Everyone who goes through a mandatory compliance course has no choice but to complete it. However, it is no reflection of whether the person has learnt something.
Sometimes, a student may take a course not to complete it but to learn specific aspects of, say, a 16-week course. How do you measure that when someone takes a course from a massive open learning course (MOOC)? Young people today are still psychologically similar to those who were young 20 years ago; it is just that the economy and mode of working has changed. It was a very different time back then, when one would get employed out of college and be trained in the company through their career development. Now the dynamics are different: there may be several roles in different companies. Many of the people that work for you will not be working for you always. We use a lot of contractors in our company too.
YS: How does Degreed work?
TT: We sell software-as-a-service (SaaS) and a technology platform where we aggregate a lot of content that people use to learn for life. This includes internal corporate material and videos, podcasts, and articles. Every big company has enlightened folks who want to help employees with non-traditional learning methods, and my task is to find them to influence their companies. We sell Degreed as a platform and charge customers on a per-individual basis, which is an annual licence.
Airbnb, Mastercard, and Unilever, who are Degreed's clients, have realised that the old way of learning does not catch up with market shifts. For example,there is a need for customer behavioural changes and people with new skills. Mastercard wanted their employees to learn microservices architecture and blockchain, and help people use new ways to pay using the Mastercard infrastructure. The company has a progressive team and they are always looking at ways to incorporate new technology. I have worked with hundreds of companies and it is by far the most progressive. Mastercard wants to use employee learning to change the way they do business in this digital world.
Let us look at automobile companies; they too are looking at new ways of learning. However, they did not catch up to shared mobility, autonomous, and electric vehicles, and this is the reason you hear of losses and layoffs in that industry.
In India, we have a dozen clients and we plug into existing learning management systems. A lot of companies have millions of dollars invested in content, and these legacies cannot be thrown out. They are mixing and matching this old content with new content from Degreed.
We are still in our early days here in India. We are talking to some big companies. Bigger companies want to augment their learning systems. Startups get to a point where globally they have a lot of people who have been in leadership roles at a very young age, and they need to be taught how to handle people.
YS: What is the difference between product marketing and digital marketing?
TT: There are a lot of people who try to sell us software everyday and I see so many marketing emails. Digital marketing is very cheap, but there is a lot of noise. We need to marry art and science for digital marketing. This is where product marketing comes in; product marketing is about customers and why they are buying from you, how you are different, and how you use insights to get people to gravitate towards you.
Our approach to content marketing is different from others; we have our own proprietary insights and data sets. We studied 800 people in large companies around the world about how they learn.
Our dataset looks at how people learn at work. Human resource outsourcing(HRO) does not get what employees want to learn: it is shared learning and values that companies have to create today, and Degreed wants to create that culture in companies. My five-member team handles the whole of content marketing efforts for Degreed.
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)