I visited Silicon Valley to see how some of the world’s biggest companies are reshaping learning for the Digital Age.
I spoke with people from LinkedIn, Instagram, Google, Oracle and Yahoo, and listened to HR leaders from Netflix and Twilio. As much of my work is on building a social impact tech startup in the Middle East, I was excited and starstruck to meet tech titans whose blogs and Twitter feeds I consume every day from far-away Lebanon.
It was great to find that many of these companies are already very much invested in education projects to shape their future workforce. For all of them, human capital was a core part of their strategy for innovation and growth.
Talking with these Silicon Valley leaders, I was struck by how much the future needs of these tech giants matched the aspirations of the Towards Global Learning Goals project . Our framework of Head, Hand and Heart was like a shopping list of core skills for 21st century companies:
- Head: the knowledge needed to recognise new technical insights in a variety of specialist fields. This is what leads to exponential innovation
- Hand: the skills to make ideas into tangible products
- Heart: the emotional intelligence and survival skills to help people adapt to a fast-changing environment.
I took the ‘Head, Hand and Heart’ framework to women working in technology, at a conference hosted by Oath (the parent company of Verizon, Yahoo, Huffpost and other media brands). Afterwards many women came up to tell me how much of their own education was irrelevant for preparing them for their professional lives – and therefore, how important our work was in equipping and empowering the next generation.
Education came up again and again at the conference. Anousheh Ansari spoke of how she studied electrical engineering mainly because her parents wanted her to. Later she pursued her real passion, astrophysics, and she became the first woman to travel privately to space. Allison Allen, VP of Talent at Oath, said one of their product managers was originally an English Literature major, and now leads a high-tech team of software developers.
I had the honour to share a panel with executive coach Cam Kashani, whose mission is to support women working in the male dominated tech industry. Cam is a straight-talker who teaches grown professionals to access their own courage, self belief, and what psychologists call ‘grit’. A skill, we agreed, that many of us had missed out in our 20th century formal education – and one that experts tell us should be a part of new and relevant Global Learning Goals system. (Read more in our recent report)
As Allison of Oath said: ‘Don’t look for an opportunity to be someone else that you think you should be. Do ‘you’, and do you confidently.’ That’s a message I’m proud to share through my own startup, and my inspiring work with the Global Learning Goals team.