Learning from the leaders

GlobalGyan Academy, a Ratan Tata invested edtech startup, has been built by industry veterans focusing on leadership development for organisations. Srinivasa Addepalli, Founder and CEO, GlobalGyan shares how the network of experienced leaders have helped more than 8000 managers from India’s largest corporates build their business acumen and leadership capabilities

Can you share with us the strategic vision for establishing GlobalGyan, and what have been the major milestones achieved?

GlobalGyan is an edtech startup building a digital platform to help students and professionals progress their careers with learning and mentoring from industry leaders. Through its mobile and web apps, interactive content and personal coaching, GlobalGyan’s network of experienced leaders provide practical knowledge that professionals can use immediately. We launched our business in 2016 and since then, 8000 managers from India’s largest corporates have built their business acumen and leadership capabilities at GlobalGyan. The company’s angel investors include Ratan Tata, Dr. Jagdish Sheth and several other business leaders in India and overseas.

What are your key edtech products for the Indian market?

One of our flagship products is ValYou Starter, a digital learning journey to build professional skills for job readiness. The 50-hours self-paced program incorporates the top 10 business acumen and people management skills that most employers seek in their entry level employees. ValYou Starter has been designed and developed by highly experienced CXOs and business school faculty, including Dr. Ashok Korwar, a leading corporate consultant and former Chairman, PGP at IIM, Ahmedabad, Gagandeep Singh, a visiting faculty at ISB, INSEAD and IIMA, and Usha Rangarajan, a former CXO with experiences in Wipro, Tata Teleservices and IHCL.

A variant of this program is offered to college students as the CII Smart Manager Certificate Program, to help them build job readiness and recognition.

How do working professionals benefit from it?

The real jobs crisis in India is not that there aren’t enough jobs. The problem is that we do not have enough skilled people to take on the jobs that are available. This is seen in the low employability scores of Indian graduates. And this problem continues as professionals grow their career.

What we learn at college or from past experience is inadequate for what they must know today and for tomorrow. Gone are the days when education and career were sequential; today, they are iterative. Continuous upgradation of skills is a must.

Our digital learning programs bring very high-quality and contextual learning, taught by industry leaders, in the hands of everyone, without any constraints of access and affordability.

What are the advantages for corporates (operationally / cost factor, etc)?

Corporates have always struggled to close the skill gap between what is taught at colleges and hands-on knowledge required at work.

GlobalGyan is a platform that addresses the need for continuing development of managers. We have created a wide range of programs for various levels that are extremely practical and designed for the Indian business context. We also encourage business leaders to become learning facilitators by helping them with program designs, preparation of case studies and creation of digital content.

Our mobile-first learning platform is a great alternative to traditional, expensive learning management systems. Our clients can use our platform not only for content developed by GlobalGyan, but also to host their own e-learning and other corporate content, thus creating a holistic development journey for their employees.

Which category of businesses and which regions are you primarily targeting?

Our learning programs are built around fundamental managerial and leadership competences, applicable for all professionals, irrespective of industry or function. Therefore, we work with a wide range of businesses and due to the digital/virtual nature of our offering, we are not restricted by geography. In fact, we have learners from all parts of the world – these are employees of our clients who may be located anywhere.

In the current scenario, with professionals working from home due to the Covid-19 outbreak, how will it impact the future of edtech startups like yours?

Coronavirus has done to the education sector what years of technology advancement could not do: moved all learning online. Whether it is school students solving mathematics problems or college groups debating global politics or corporate professionals engaging on new ways of selling, everything is now e-learning. Not that it has emerged overnight, it was always around, in the wings, at best a supplement to the real deal, i.e. the classroom.

We believe that this shift will hasten the disruption of traditional models of education, with edtech players forcing incumbents to transform or perish.

What are your plans for the future in terms of new technologies and strategic expansion?

We are constantly enhancing our technology and content platform to improve the effectiveness of learning. We have been working on video responses by participants to create a two-way conversation on the digital platform. We are also integrating natural language processing to make the learning interactions even more natural.

Going forward, we are expanding our content portfolio to create industry specialisations, particularly for those sectors that have a huge skill gap. We have partnered with CII for the Smart Manager Certificate program for students; similarly, we are working with other industry bodies to create appropriate certification programs for their sectors.

Is there any other important factor you would like to highlight?

Every year, at least 20 million professionals need (re)skilling. Unfortunately, we have been addressing this need with the traditional education mindset, so the same bottlenecks continue: we do not have enough classrooms and high-quality faculty and therefore, education is too expensive and restricted to a small percentage of the population.

We firmly believe that digital learning has the potential to disrupt the education space. Digital brings convenience, scale, personalisation and measurability. We should stop treating digital learning as an inferior extension of the classroom. We have to invert education from instructor-led to participant-led, and that can only happen with digital.

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