Clarissa Shen, former Udacity

Why professional growth becomes more and more important

Constant learning is important to me because at some point in my life I thought that the process of learning will end.
I have no clue how this could happen but I am more than happy that I didn’t stick to this mindset too long.

Clarissa Shen is the former COO of Udacity and we were talking about professional growth for everybody but also how companies can implement it as part of their culture.

Clarrisa Shen is the Chief Operating Officer for Udacity. She also co-founded K-12 start-up, led the digital change of Apollo Group and as a consultant advised Fortune 500 and government clients in Europe and Asia. We will talk today about the future of work, in-demand jobs and Udacity’s innovative nano-degrees which provide the most relevant knowledge and practice essential for today’s constantly changing business world.

One of the top challenges businesses face today is a global skill shortage. Each day, talent grows more vital. Even large companies, like Google, Amazon, Facebook, IBM, have problems finding employees with the right skills. Technology is changing rapidly and companies must keep up with that change. Talent is in high demand in all growing areas. While some think that shortage is only temporary, others believe that something needs to be done because, in the long run, the growth of certain global markets is going to be severely affected.

One of the companies that offer a solution to this problem is Udacity – an educational organization focused on online education for professional growth. Clarissa Shen, the Chief Operation Officer at Udacity, is giving us an exciting insight into the way the Udacity platform functions and what it offers to its users. Udacity was founded in 2011. by Sebastian Thrun, a professor at Stanford University, who decided to make his Artificial Intelligence course available online. It was an instant success with 160.000 students that signed up and, what is more important, 24.000 that graduated. Today, Udacity has many courses offering knowledge and practice in the areas with a skill shortage. They work closely with companies and they design their programs having companies in mind. Their industry partners and experts regularly inform them about the skills and jobs that are in demand, about current and future trends. So companies that want their employees to get skilled up, as well as students that need skills necessary for jobs in high demand, become satisfied users of Udacity. 

In-demand jobs are changing very fast. It is essential for people to be prepared, to be future-ready, says Clarissa. Among courses they offer, she recommends, for example, Data Science which is useful for every industry. Artificial intelligence skills are also in high demand and there is a massive shortage of people with that kind of background. Udacity’s standards are very high because companies trust them, but their students can expect help in every step of their learning path.

Many companies today acknowledge that investing in people is the best investment possible and they are reaching out to Udacity for help. Udacity is ready to adjust to the company’s needs and provide the model of training that suits it best. Some companies are offering jobs that include the opportunity for their workers to learn different skills on Udacity. Others are electing their high potential people and investing in their training. There is also a boot-camp model when companies organize one day in a week for their employees to learn or several weeks of intense training. Since online learning is very flexible, company leaders can decide which model is the best solution. Those that don’t know where their gaps are and where their workers’ skill sets are can use free assessments and get consulting.

Clarissa Shen emphasizes that Udacity still has a lot to learn and yet to evolve. They use data science internally to evaluate everything they do and to be sure certain qualities are met. They are updating their curriculum and continuously monitoring the success of their students in order to improve. If students struggle, they reach out and match them with the right content or mentor. There is a whole team focused solely on developing and scaling their services.

Udacity has students from all over the world and every market has its own dynamics. Overall, people want to be future-ready; they are aware of a need to have specific skills.  The success of Udacity clearly shows that the future of learning is in acquiring specific in-demand skills available to all through online nano-degrees.

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