Candidates for executive education with a different perspective

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The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated many societal changes that were already happening, such as remote working. The changes in the way executives are trained to improve their management skills are no exception.

The market developed by traditional business schools was already facing new competition before the health crisis made face-to-face teaching impossible in much of the world. The evolution of alternative providers such as Hyper Island, THNK, MindGym, Cegos and Lumina Learning – offering courses online or at downtown locations near offices – reflects changes in the way people want to study who were happening before the Internet became the only option.

Likewise, there were already opportunities to study purely online, with web platforms such as 2U, Coursera, Udacity, and edX offering courses aimed at the corporate market.

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This new world of online delivery was suitable for many organizations founded in the digital age, where web conferencing and application-based learning had taken root, says Andrew Crisp, owner of Carrington Crisp, a specialist in the digital age. business education research. He believes that the market has simply reached a “tipping point” in the crisis.

“Covid was not the cause of the change in management training, but it was the accelerator,” he says. “Many of these new entrants have deeper pockets than business schools, thanks to their private donors providing them with the cash to invest. They have been much faster with the adoption of technology and they understand the need for accredited course certificates that mean something in a business context, rather than just a piece of paper. “

New executive training providers say they have ways to teach employees better suited to 21st century work practices, allowing people to take classes in downtown locations convenient to and outside of the office. office hours. However, the pandemic and lockdowns have created challenges even for these training companies.

Hyper Island, which started in 1996 in a converted prison in Karlskrona, Sweden, and now operates in six countries, from Brazil to Singapore, presents itself as a more flexible version of a business school. But, like institutions established longer, it was disrupted by Covid-19. It suffered a 60% drop in revenue from face-to-face programs in Europe in the spring of 2020 as several campuses were forced to close and travel bans prevented students from accessing open sites.

The answer was to go online. “Our cohorts are super international, so we’re really dependent on open borders,” says Helena Ekman, Managing Director. “Fortunately, over the past five years we had managed a range of e-course products, but we knew we couldn’t put everything on Zoom. Instead, we redesigned the lessons, spacing out the learning by creating periods of reflection between live sessions. “

Revenue was down 12% for the year, but demand picked up with the overhaul of Hyper Island and the expansion of courses as online experiences. At the end of 2020, the number of participants in its courses was 44% higher worldwide than in the previous year. In the Asia-Pacific region, the figures increased by 135%.

“We knew we couldn’t put everything on Zoom. . . we have redesigned the courses, ” says Helena Ekman of Hyper Island

“It’s neither cheaper nor easier to put things online,” Ekman adds. “But commercially it helped us, as we were able to welcome people to our courses and programs who wouldn’t have been able to reach us if we were only teaching face to face.”

Decoded is a training company founded in 2011 with the aim of demystifying the online world. Its courses are designed to explain new and complex technologies to workers in an accessible way, helping them to become more productive. London-based edtech has increased its workforce due to increased revenue in 2020, although some clients have delayed taking the course, according to co-founder and co-CEO Kathryn Parsons.

“We have always been able to provide training virtually; the question was whether our customers would adapt to distance learning – which they did with remarkable ease and speed, ”says Parsons. “Each customer has been affected and reacted differently to the pandemic. It was a story of organizations pushing and increasing their spending on technology – in particular, data literacy and the skills to overcome challenges or seize opportunities – or it was a case of postponing programs to 2021 when restructuring and firefighting. “

Dutch food retailer Ahold Delhaize signed up with Decoded to train around 350 of its senior executives in four digital awareness workshops, designed to demystify developers, hackers, data scientists and innovation, and to help technical and non-technical staff to understand each other.

Ahold Delhaize also sends executives to leadership programs at Harvard Business School, but did not see the Decoded contract as a choice between a traditional executive education institution and an alternative supplier, according to Ben Wishart, global director of the information from Ahold Delhaize. However, the company has warmed up to the unconventional style of Decoded.

“What made Decoded different is that the people who take the training are active practitioners,” says Wishart. “When they’re not training, they’re launching digital initiatives. The delivery style is more the ant and the dec of digital transformation than formal education based on theory, ”he adds, referring to optimistic British reality TV hosts. “There was nothing the participants could do other than be attracted and learn.”

Although Decoded operates on a more informal style of teaching than traditional institutions, clients expect the company to be just as rigorous in proving the business case for short courses as a business school. , according to Parsons. “The pressure to deliver a measurable return on investment, not only for the learner but also for the business, is becoming more and more important,” she says. Decoded’s “Data Academies” are now managed by more than 30 organizations around the world.

Ultimately, the market will be big enough for business schools and alternative providers, according to Fadi Khalek, edtech venture capital partner at venture capital fund Global Ventures. “The companies that are creating business models where you can pay by learning and spreading into emerging markets in Asia and Latin America are the ones that threaten business schools,” he says.

The market for micro-degrees (certified short courses) and online degrees is worth $ 117 billion and growing by 10% annually, according to education data company HolonIQ. “It’s a huge opportunity,” says Khalek.

This article has been edited to show that Global Ventures is a venture capital fund.



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