The moment you arrive in India people and activity immediately surround you. The infrastructure, and the lifestyles must adapt quickly to the incredible demographic shifts facing India’s growing population. While India’s growth slowed in recent quarters, 5.7 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2017 remains a face pace compared to many other countries, especially those considered mature economies.
But despite of the rampant economic activity over the last several years, 9 out of 10 engineers find themselves out of work. That number was shared with me in many customer meetings. How, in this vibrant Indian economy are 9 out of 10 engineers out of a job? Reports like the 2016 Aspiringminds National Employability Report on Engineers offers more detailed figures, some of which are even worse. Their most recent study puts employability at 19.9% for the software services sector, 3.67% for software products and 40.57% for less demanding roles in Business Process Sourcing.
Because the wealth of candidates, it is a real challenge for companies to ensure they recruit the best people for their openings. Many leverage good English communication skills as a primarily qualifier. Many companies use screening assessments to evaluate candidates fairly and consistently.
According the report:
IT Services companies today realize that within two years of the job, the candidate will have to communicate with international customers. This makes English a much more important parameter right at the time of entry-level hiring. As these trends catch up across industry, the employability for IT Services sector, which is the largest employer in engineering will diminish further. To remain competitive in the job market, colleges and students both need to have a sharp focus on programming and English
—Aspiring Minds. National Employability Report [India]-Engineers 2016
But the War for Indian talent in still hot specially because organizations can’t find the talent they need to get their work done.
Companies looking for specific skillsets have no choice but to go to tier-1 institutions. They change the way they use assessments because of talent limited talent in many markets. Many organizations, for instance, use assessment during recruitment to take a snapshot of the individual at the moment of hire. This helps identify the development required to help them grow in their career.
Companies integrating talent development from the first day of hire improve retention as individuals tend to stay in a company they know is investing in them and providing opportunities for growth.
The Aspiring Minds report points to three fundamental areas of readiness deficiency: quantitative ability, computer programming and English. This puts English at the same level as some of the highest valued skills that differentiate technology-based firms. That means India’s future hinges as much on its ability to scale English as it does C#, Java or Python.
A new kind of energy for the UAE
Unlike many countries that curtail immigration to protect jobs, the United Emirates embraces it, out of necessity. Native born citizens make up only 20% of the UAE workforce. Immigrants make up the other 80%. This disparity arose because of the vast wealth from oil and gas, which drove mining operations and economic growth, including construction, in a very small country.
The situation is changing for highly educated expatriates.
As the golden era of energy-driven economics wanes, uncertainly increases about the UAE’s ability to maintain highly paid job for highly educated expatriate. A growing culture clash also adds to the strain on the workforce as UAE citizens return from studying in the United Kingdom or the United States. While the expatriate and immigrant workers typically welcome egalitarian management approaches, pressure within organizations forces returning managers to act more authoritarian, making the UAE a less desirable destination for workers.
A weaker economy also means fewer jobs. Abu Dhabi-based Technodip recently decreased the number of employees (mostly expats) from 2000 to 700 in the last 24 months. More layoffs are expected. In parallel, The British Club lost about 200 family members in the last year in Abu Dhabi. Similar membership reductions hit the Dubai-based Emirates Golf Club.
The UAE’s continued standing as an international business center, will continue to require more workers, perhaps with a shift toward services. The Expo 2020 Dubai, for instance, will likely require a huge influx of immigrants to fill services jobs.
In recognition of these shifts, Dubai’s new Minister of Education, H.E. Hussain Ibrahim Al Hammadi, sponsors a strategic initiative to create more ‘global citizens. ‘ The program starts with English skills.
The UAE currently is recruiting teachers from the United States charged with developing a full curriculum for their public boys and girls schools. While the formal program launches in September 2017, they are already getting familiar with the school system and interacting locally. In many cases these U.S.-based teachers represent the first female teachers in local schools, an incredible change that offers the opportunity to infuse global culture in the classroom beyond the language learning.
For more world tour content see: World Tour Insights: Mexico Discovers Value in English
Mexico Discovers Value in English
Doing business in Mexico requires people to know Spanish. Unlike Europe, where a multi-national gathering usually becomes a predominately English-speaking encounter, a similar business meeting in Mexico would be primarily conducted in Spanish. The expectation that companies working in Mexico require Spanish-speaking employees in agents may limit the desirability of partnerships in Mexico, and limit the scope of ventures that might otherwise find Mexico attractive. This also limits the talent pool, because success in a Mexican global company requires speaking Spanish.
To help bring the wider global conversation to Mexico, GlobalEnglish partners with Fundación Televisa Bécalos. This program empowers young adults looking for work with English prior entering the workplace.
Hugo Sancen, the Fundación Televisa Bécalos program director in Mexico, shared several fascinating statistics on the Mexican job market. He recently met, for instance, with a group of students participating in their scholarship program and learned that many use, OCC, the largest recruitment website for those seeking jobs right out of college. When looking at job listing, this group of students found that 6 out of 21 jobs required English. Although they could apply for the majority of the jobs without speaking English, those the jobs only offered salaries around 8,000 pesos. The ones with English where closer to 12 000 pesos. From this sample, English speakers landing jobs could earn up to one-third more salary!
The landscape changed when they looked at jobs that required 4 years of experience. Out of the 24 discovered in the search, 16 required English. Six where actually written in English. The students quickly understood that English was a fundamental skill for a good career in Mexico.
During our discussion, business leaders expect an announcement from the Secretary of Education’s office that Mexico will commit to be bilingual learning by 2020. We look forward to this announcement, and will work closely with our team in Mexico to support the country during this transformation.
The need to master English for Mexican workers may not always arise in early jobs, except for those focused on serving English speaking markets like outsourced customer service. But English mastery becomes a real need for those who want to move up the career ladder—and critically important to those who need to work with other team members outside of Mexico, or on international projects. The college students saw this during their job searches. Many entry level jobs did not require English, but for those looking to build a career, English was the key to higher paying jobs that required cross-country and cross-region collaboration.
I don’t really like to talk about myself, but when you win an award, people talk about you even if it embarrasses you. So I’m going to share my thank yous here from this week’s French American Business Awards.
I had a great time at the French American Business Awards (May 26, 2017), organized by the French Chamber of Commerce in San Francisco. My special thank you to Sophie Woodville Ducom and Laurence Fabre Bordet for creating such a wonderful night.
This 4th edition of the event was special, as it launched a brand-new category close to my heart: 2017 Woman Role Model. Not only was I blessed to be a nominee, along other very inspiring women, I also received the special distinction award for being a Woman Role Model.
Thank you also to Merci Odile Roujol, and the rock start female executive team of the chamber who worked so hard to add this award to the event.
There are so many amazing people who helped me on this ongoing journey—some acted as role models, some played cheerleader during the tough times, some provided support, some challenged me to go beyond what I thought I could achieve, and others provided the love necessary to make it all worthwhile.
I want to start with thanking my mum Chantal Michelon, without whom I wouldn’t be here, nor would I be the woman I have become. I also want to thank my partner in life Julien Salanon, my Best Friend Cheerleaders (BFCs) Aurelia Rivier Setton, Murielle Thinard, Karina Sobieski, Virginie Maitre Infanti, Stephanie Jaffre, Aude Quancard Sun, Aurelie A Vincent, Aurelie Ferre, Olfa Zorgati, Danielle Reid, Céline Goudy, Olivier Lauzeral, Cedric Sellin, Michal Sellin, Sandrine Clouin, Ariane Gorin, Nicole Collet – I cannot tag them all! My apologies and my appreciation to anyone I missed!
For those of you who want to watch it, here is my acceptance speech:
Our host Eve Chaurand, and French Consul general in San Francisco E. Lebrun-Damiens, reminded us how fortunate we are to live in an area where two wonderfully innovative communities come together—and how much further we can grow together. I was constantly enlightened by the new talent brought to my attention as the Chamber presented their awards. Every one of them praised the quality, cooperation and support found in San Francisco’s French community.
As many of you know, I have been traveling a lot over the last month. This evening offered a great opportunity to nurture my roots with the help of many good friends as I return home.
And finally, a little bit of laughter still comes to my lips as I think of Clara Bijl, a talented French stand-up comedian who made the night go as a breeze.
Thank you ALL! I am honored to be considered a role model!
More pictures. (Thank you to Octamedia for taking some great shots!).
In early March, I had the chance to attend SXSWEdu 2017. I attended with many education stakeholders, from teachers to policy makers, from education investors to for-profit and non-profit staff and leaders.
The event covered a wide range of topics, but many focused on industry pain points like the price of education, teacher quality, workshop skilling and reskilling.
What follows is a snapshot of my takeaways on education for the workforce and educatoin-related technology.
Workforce Skilling and Re-Skilling
There is an increasing number of alternative educational pathways that help people succeed in developing their careers.
This skill-oriented innovation is focuses first on program of limited duration, second, a “teacher-less” environment — some do not have are 100% project-based with mentors active in the professional works to facilitate learning, and finally, emergent business models where learning is sometimes free, or it has no up-front cost. In some cases these new models calculate payments based on a percentage of student income following the program.
Example: The Shortage of Developers
Being in the Silicon Valley we are well exposed to the shortage of developers. Several solutions have emerged to help bring advanced technology skills to interested learners.
Coding boot camps, for instance, like Ecole42 [covered on the blog here] initially founded in France and funded by French entrepreneur Xavier Niel, co-exists with other institutions and companies like the Holberton School, General Assembly*, Trilogy, and Thinkful. Programs in areas outside of programming, such as inside sales training, are also beginning to appear.
Most individuals now find themselves facing more choices. Some companies, like Burning Glass, are exploring the implications of learning programs choices. They help people decide which skills to develop next, and what sort of salary boost those skills will likely deliver.
Given the non-traditional approaches to learning, it becomes incumbent on Employers to implement better ways to assess the skills and aptitudes of potential hires and current employees. We all need better ways to demonstrate what we know, and what we can do. One interesting innovation employs bitcoin blockchain to verify academic credentials. Degreed offers a lifelong learning transcript that includes both formal and informal education and accomplishments.
Organizations that seeks talent from a variety of credible sources clearly needs to understand its own definition of what good looks like.
The major technology trends are still revolve around key themes like data and analytics, AI, virtual and augmented reality and Simulation. Here are a few highlights.
Predictive Analytics: The promise of big data in education is finally starting to be realized. In a back-test in the state of West Virginia, BrightBytes demonstrated an ability to predict with 90% accuracy whether a particular third-grader would drop out of high school. BrightBytes’s predictive analytics then recommend intervention strategies to reduce the chance of that student dropping out. Civitas Learning’s Student Insight Engine helps colleges reduce their dropout rates by identifying at-risk students. The company also created a data-driven advising tool that ensures that a student is prepared to succeed in a particular course before enrolling in it.
A lot of data remains to be mined. As we capture more information about learners during business learning experiences, our industry need to prepare to leverage that data, to discover patterns and to deliver more personalized learning and more insightful analytics.
AI-Powered Helpers and Tutors: As we deliver more high-touch human learning experiences, such as tutoring, coaching and mentoring, we know from our customers that they are among the most effective tools for improving student outcomes and persistence. Scale remains the challenge to delivering the equivalence of personalized, face-to-face learning to every student at an accessible price. 2016 saw number of experiments in the use of artificial intelligence as a way to scale access to support services. A Georgia Institute of Technology Professor, for instance, used IBM Watson to create Jill Watson, an AI powered Teaching Assistant which worked alongside eight human teaching assistants. 2017, will be the year to explore additional education use cases for AI-powered assistants or chatbots.
No AI technology will replace humans; but they will free human educators and administrators to focus on making higher-level contributions to student success, by applying machine learning to other problems, including learning analytics and the curation of learning objects.
Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Simulations: We think virtual reality and augmented reality will eventually be very important, but the use cases where we can fully leverage the technology remain limited. Military, defense, equipment training and some sports applications are the most proven training scenarios so far. Simulation technology is currently having a much broader impact than AR or VR. MobLab, for instance, allows students, and finance professionals, to run virtual lab experiments in business, economics, and the social sciences.
Great Content That Gets Enthusiastic Learner Engagement: Many investors are convinced that the value of educational content is headed toward zero because there is so much available for free on the web, including the videos and tools of Khan Academy, CK-12, OpenStax, and Open Up Resources. However great interactive content is becoming even more valuable as the platforms for delivering it become more ubiquitous. This is especially true for differentiate content tied to active, collaborative, project-based learning.
A New GlobalEnglish
This is the time of year that people share their joys and their news in personal newsletters. Well, my year has been pretty exciting, and I think it is time to share that news here.
In November, I joined with a group of colleagues and investors to buy the Business English portion of Pearson. Our buyout resulted in the formation, or should I say, reformation, of GlobalEnglish.
For those you who read many of my blogs, you know I believe in the importance of diversity in the boardroom and in companies in general. It is not only about gender but having people representing different backgrounds, different cultures, different markets. For this to happen, we need to have people from all horizons being able to express themselves in a group with a common language.
At GlobalEnglish we give a voice to global talent by delivering an exceptional Business English learning experience. We do this through technology and programs that empower talent to better execute, collaborate and innovate for the organizations they work for, while leading the way toward more inclusive and accessible opportunities for talent around the world.
The GlobalEnglish team has been working very long hours helping to create a new, independent company. Some of the team was here when GlobalEngilsh was acquired by Pearson. Some have a twenty-year legacy, others have just started. It is truly a blessing to work with a team of such outstanding individuals, all of whom are passionate about our leaners, aligned with our values and dedicated to helping our customers achieve their goals.
The New GlobalEnglish is my Passion
GlobalEnglish is my passion. In many ways it is far from the products I worked on at Microsoft and Oracle. GlobalEnglish One is not Oracle’s database, and it is not SharePoint. Both of those products create frameworks for other people to build solutions. By contrast, the GlobalEnglish One helps individuals start to master Business English the first time they use it. We have spent the time to learn from our customers and through that we have built a great learning experience that includes self-paced training, situational learning and personalized coaching,
I am excited for our future. As the global economy attempts to make sense of all of the changes of 2016, I firmly believe that globalization will remain a key component of success, and that more people than ever will need to learn English to thrive in their markets, to enter new markets, and to track trends and developments that will allow them to innovate.
I am very thankful to be a part of this phoenix of a company rising again to take flight on its own.
Our future very much depends not just on the obstacles we face, but how we choose to overcome those obstacles. At GlobalEnglish we promise to take the path that includes and empowers.
As a reader of my blog, that you for helping add to the energy I draw on to help build new things. The new GlobalEnglish, while very experienced, is also a very young company — I look forward to nurturing it in 2017, and sharing more of my stories with you are we go through the year.
Season’s Greeting and Happy Holidays.
Five Joys of Being a People Manager
So on the back of a rather negative post focused on managers avoiding bad behavior, I thought it would be good to write a blog that shares five of the biggest joys I experience when managing and leading people.
- Seeing people grow. I love to see people accumulate experiences and become better people. Better at their job, better at life, better at relationships. Too often we look at people only through the lens of performance. But when we hire people, we hire the whole person, and we need to appreciate all the ways they learn and grow.
- Learning from my team. I know there are a lot of things I still need to learn, and I love learning them from my team. Diverse teams bring different perspectives and a variety of knowledge. I think good managers become better managers when they open themselves up to the knowledge of their team and drink deeply.
- Watching stress turn into celebration. We have all experienced difficult projects that create stress. We are over budget, out of time or the customer isn’t happy with result or progress. But you know, we come through all those difficulties, and many times after passing through the trials, we can look back and celebrate our accomplishments. Those difficulties teach us about our business, about the world, and about ourselves—and I think they can create powerful moments of personal and team celebration that recognizes joy in overcoming a difficult path.
- Learning through new eyes. The more we learn and experience ourselves, and the narrower our focus becomes, we tend to forget the pure joy of learning something new—the delight in revelation of new ideas or relationships. I not only enjoy seeing people on my team get very excited about their work, but also thrive on the energy passed on to me—and the reminder that I need to keep pushing myself to find new experiences that will bring me that joy directly.
- Staying connected to former colleagues. Perhaps one of the biggest joys comes from the friendships that cross the boundary from work to personal. That can be a tricky thing for those who currently work for you, but retaining a friendship with former peers and colleagues is a pleasure.
You may have your own list, but regardless of which items fall into your top five, I think you will agree that managing and leading people should be something you really enjoy doing, something that thrills you and inspires you. Our businesses are important, but they wouldn’t be nearly as valuable to our customers, or to us, without the great people who contribute their time, their intellect and their physical being every day.
How to Avoid Being a Management Turkey
I’ve had the privilege to manage people for many years, and I’ve watched others manage as well. Fortunately, I have not experienced all of these behaviors myself, but I have seen some—and I have heard the horror stories from friends and colleagues about the others.
In the spirit of the holiday, I offer ten behaviors managers should avoid so their employees, partners and peers don’t think they are acting like turkeys.
- Saying one thing, doing another. Inconsistency damages organizations because people never know what to expect, and that leads to inaction across the board.
- There is just no excuse. Anyone who is asked to lead or manage other people needs to, if nothing else, respect the people he or she works with. If you don’t respect people, you cannot expect them to respect you, which means that any achievements will be the outcome of fear or politics, not commitment and excellence.
- Not apologizing. We all make mistakes. We need to say we are sorry and mean it. A real apology doesn’t include a “but” or an “explanation”. A good manager owns his/her mistakes and his/her apologies. The best apology is action that isn’t repeated.
- Blaming others. This one goes hand-in-hand with number 3, not apologizing, but extends it from the individual to the organization. Passing off your mistakes to others hurts the organization by rapidly degrading trust.
- Holding a grudge. People who design things expect failure, and therefore, create designs that forgive users for mistakes. We don’t design most organizations, they just happen, and too often, when mistakes reflect on a leader, he or she holds a grudge rather than thinking through how they forgive and move forward. I like the idea of resiliency, as resiliency means that the recovery from an error makes things better, not worse. I see forgiveness as a tool of the resilient organization.
- Encouraging politics. Humans are political animals. We really don’t have a choice, but we can recognize politics, call it out and try to rise above it for the greater good. The manager who encourages and gets caught up in politics only helps those that help him or her, which isn’t how an organization learns and grows together.
- Taking credit for other people’s work. This represents a simple decision to do the wrong thing. There is no excuse for this. People work hard, and good managers recognize those who deserve recognition regardless if a person wants the accolades or wishes to avoid them out of humbleness or selflessness. Taking credit for other people’s work steals goodness from the work experience.
- Avoiding decisions. Some decisions are tough. Some are easy. Many prove unpopular. But one of the primary responsibilities of a manager or leader is to make decisions.
- Not trusting people. Managers who don’t trust others end up ineffective for many reasons. Most importantly, they either do everything themselves, or feel compelled to be so involved in everyone else’s work that they might as well do it themselves. This results in poor team productivity because everybody knows that no matter what they do, it just won’t be good enough unless the manager adds his or her touch or spin.
- Always being right. Always being right is just as bad as not trusting people, because it leads to teams who don’t trust themselves—and that means little learning and little progress. Stuff just doesn’t get done well or very fast.
I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving. If you are a manager, may you return from the holiday refreshed and self-reflective—if you are managed by another person, may you discover the assertiveness to confront bad behavior, and therefore make the world a better place for all.
Welcome to the Gig Economy
Most organizations no longer give people the promise, or even hint, of lifetime employment. While stock options, bonuses and other compensation help keep employees for some period of time, in most cases, employment has become a matter of mutual benefit to the employer and the employee. An August 2015 study by accounting software maker Intuit expects upwards of 43 percent of people to be in the contingent labor market by 2020. When people want to leave to do something else, they leave.
Stephane Kasriel, CEO of upwork, the largest freelancer platform, called the Gig Economy the secret weapon of the US economy in his last interview in The Street.
Facing disruption in many once-stable industries, more workers are freelancing and turning to “alternative” employment strategies to cobble together their livings, but as the economy improves, the amount, perception, and desirability of freelance work seems to be changing.
63 percent of freelancers said that they started freelancing out of choice, up 10 points since 2014. A majority also said that they saw having a “diversified portfolio of clients” as more stable than having a single employer. And about half of them said that there was “no amount of money” that could convince them to take a traditional job. (Results from an online survey of roughly 6,000 working Americans).
I see people who move from company-to-company as being great at three personal learning traits:
- rapid understanding of a business,
- social awareness that allows them to quickly become a effective co-workers, &
- swift mastery of variations in process and practice.
Good interpersonal communications support those three traits, as does the ability to understand the work environment—and that requires a solid understanding of the working language, which more likely than not, will be English.
Business English as the Voice of Talent
In many ways, English becomes the protocol that permits the Gig Economy to work. If people had to assimilate new language and cultural concepts to do about the same kind of job they did at another company, the Gig Economy would fill with friction. It would take people large amounts of time to learn what they need to know to be effective.
But because English has become the protocol for representing ideas, the frameworks across business become transparent. And when variations occur, everyone uses that same language framework for describing those variations. As people move throughout their Gig jobs, picking up ever more experience, they will find fewer and fewer variations they have not seen before.
So English becomes the lubrication of the Gig Economy, allowing people to deliver value to multiple employers during their careers by leveraging their growing experience within domains of knowledge, rather than functions within a given business.
The Gig Economy appeals to many because it also allows them more personal choice and flexibility as to when to work, and even where. People throughout the world who want to find employment in the Gig economy would do well to master Business English so they can more easily move not just from job-to-job, or employer-to-employer, but from country-to-country.
Can the Gig Economy Bring Relief to Refugees?
The recent presidential debate reminded me of the importance of sharing the responsibilities across nations to help solve the refugee challenge. I talked with colleague and friend Daniel W. Rasmus at Serious Insights about innovative ways to approach the refugee crisis [see his post here].
I started with the work I did a few months ago with the U.S. State Department, where I learned about the plight of refugees inside of countries across Europe and elsewhere who find it hard to find work, or are denied work in their skilled profession based on local regulations around certification and licensing.
Considering how technology enables more of that “gig” technology, we started discussing it as the solution to bringing much needed paying work to refugees, reducing the burden of acclimation by local governments and reducing the incidents of violence spurred by perceptions of refugees displacing native workers.
Samasource is helping with what they call “the bottom of the bottom,” by providing projects to people inside refugee camps that pay significantly more than equivalent hours of manual labor.
We kind of both started saying the same things. What if we flipped the model so that businesses around the world provided access to remote jobs for skilled workers around the world, who may be displaced by circumstance—but still highly qualified to deliver their expertise.
And at the core of this, those companies could increase the value of these workers by helping them learn English, which would reduce their costs by ensuring the understand work assignments, and that they deliver quality results.
While experiments like the Samasource and Crowdflower to GiveWork app attempted to bring together refugees with quality monitor in the U.S., no one has scaled a solution. What we need to do is take the flipping idea even further and help make the landed refugees citizens of the world first. I’m not suggesting that they abandon loyalty to the country in which they settled, but that in order to contribute locally they will need work, and it might well be that global work will be more accessible than local work. The faster we can make them citizens of the world, the better it is for them, for their employers, and for the local economies.
There is no magic formula that is going to help the millions of displaced workers tomorrow, but we believe that the world needs innovative ideas. The number of displaced grows daily and we have to find new engagement pathways—and encouraging global companies to take on not just citizenship efforts that pour money into third-party programs—but programs that bring refugees into organizations so they can contribute through global collaboration and communications systems.
I’m committing that in the next six months I’m going to find a way to hire a couple of recently settled refugees. I ask my fellow leaders to join me in finding an answer to the question: Can the Gig Economy Bring Relief to Refugees?