Listening: The key to understanding the problems behind solutions
Degreed, a unique startup focused on helping organizations develop their skills their workforce needs, integrates organizations' internal talent systems with the world's largest ecosystem of open learning resources. The Chief Product Officer, Kat Kennedy, shared about the opportunities and roadblocks in the Indian learning space and key focus areas for Degreed in India. Kennedy recollected that she prefers polishing skills and giving the opportunity to people sans a fancy degree.
"If we are only using a small percentage of skills that we have, we are only solving a small percentage of problems," said Kennedy in a conversation with People Matters.
Here is the excerpt:
Q How has your problem-solving attitude helped you in your role as the chief product officer? How have you journeyed from an engineer and a technical leader to the role of Chief Product Officer?
I see them as one and the same. As an engineer, you are finding solutions to problems and then writing the code. The product is just the wider view of what you do as an engineer. The traits you employ as an engineer are beneficial for solving problems of all sizes, and it is also what enables us to be great partners with the companies we work with. We can apply those same principles to any set of problems, whether it is engineering or organizational challenges.
Q What are those principles?
Before we build anything, be that a line of code, product, or organizational changes – we need to maintain a focus on the problem to be solved - the “big why”. Doing so empowers us to create great solutions.
Q As a CPO, can you share any growth? Do you still continue solving problems?
Very much Yes! My view is much wider as a Chief Product Officer than it was as an engineer, and that enables me to see bigger problems and opportunities. I spend a lot of time with clients and prospects, talking about the challenges they have and the solutions Degreed can bring to the table to empower them in those challenges.
Q What are the problems that you think organizations are facing today in the context of learning?
Having the right skills inside the organization to take them into the future. Knowing what skills your business needs to thrive, what skills your people already have, and what skills still need to be developed. Currently, a chief learning officer can’t go to their CEO and say – here’s the skill map of our organization.
The ideal state would be that organizations have a truly universal way to measure the skill levels of employees, regardless of age, race, or gender. They would be able to see what gaps exist in their current workforce and fill them, and they can see the best candidates for open jobs based on real skill level.
Q Apart from skilling professionals, can companies request you to hire ideal candidates for them? Would Degreed become a potential company or a source of candidates for corporates?
Degreed is focused on empowering individuals internal to the organization and doesn’t currently solve for recruiting. Degreed exists to empower people and businesses with the resources, tools, and insights they need to continuously discover, build, and measure the skills they need to the workforce development challenges of today and tackle whatever’s next.
Q How does the Indian market look? What are the country’s demands in terms of learning and what will be Degreed’s key focus areas for India?
India is a very important market and Degreed is very optimistic about the opportunity there. The demands of our clients in India are very sophisticated and this makes it all the more enticing for a solution like to Degreed to have a larger market presence here.
Considering the positive market response, we are investing in India, including expanding our team across all regions. The hiring is already underway to achieve this.