Win the Talent War – Tom Ogletree, General Assembly
Tom Ogletree, Director of Social Impact at General Assembly, acknowledges that the company is a pioneer in the education and career transformation space. They are a leading resource for training, staffing, and career transitions. Starting in a coworking space in 2011, they now have campuses in twenty cities, and over 35,000 graduates worldwide. Their dynamic training model is providing skills that are changing people’s lives. General Assembly has been featured in several magazines, including Forbes, Fast Company, and TechCrunch.
Time-Stamped Show Notes
[01:30] Tom Ogletree’s professional background.
[02:52] General Assembly’s background and purpose, rapid growth.
[04:50] As a job-seeker, you have the responsibility to make sure you have the most relevant and in-demand skills.
[06:01] How General Assembly’s staff work to identify the goals and priorities of prospective students.
[07:28] They have an Enterprise Training Division that works with Fortune 500 companies to assess, train, and upskill their talent.
[09:24] General Assembly is a mission-driven company that sees education and empowerment as core to their values.
[11:13] As Director of Social Impact, based on the NYC campus, Ogletree uses innovative technology to interact with all the campuses across the globe.
[12:30] When looking for the ideal employee, there is no one set formula, but they do look for people who share their core values.
[16:45] Speculating on the future of the job market in five or ten years, Ogletree concedes that automation will play a big role, but the need for people is not going anywhere.
[19:56] In hindsight, the advice he could most have used when he first graduated was that he didn’t need to be stressed by the pivots he took in his career.
[23:46] Ogletree is excited and proud that General Assembly has a whole suite of programs to empower those who might have only a high school education, and they include a scholarship program.
General Assembly: Innovation in the Job Market
Most of Tom Ogletree’s career was centered in the public and social sector. He worked in LGBT advocacy for a number of years, focused his graduate work on public policy, and non-profit fundraising. He learned about General Assembly from a friend he knew through the Clinton Foundation. His friend worked at General Assembly and was both inspired and excited about the company’s vision to empower people with technology skills and training. When Ogletree heard that they were really invested in building a social impact platform, he realized it was a great match for his skills and he joined the company.
General Assembly Basics
“General Assembly is a global education company that is on a mission to empower people to pursue the work that they love,” explains Ogletree. “The way we do that is by offering immersive training, part-time training, classes, and workshops in topics like web development, user experience design, data analytics, and digital marketing, on sixteen campuses around the globe.” They started out in a coworking space in New York City where aspiring entrepreneurs were coming together. One of the requirements was that you had to share what you were learning with other members of the community by teaching a class or workshop on the subject.
“Fast forward six years and we’re a global company with close to 700 staff members worldwide, and we just completed our first acquisition, a Toronto company called The Bitmaker.” They have greatly expanded their course offerings and have 7,000 grads from their full-time immersive programs, and over 300,000 people have attended classes or workshops. It’s no wonder that General Assembly has been featured in several magazines, including Forbes, Fast Company, and TechCrunch.
The Changing Face of the Job Market
It used to be that within a company the tech skills were required in only one department, separate from marketing, or research and development. Now it seems that everyone needs to have multiple skills, such as web development, data analytics, or digital marketing. Employers used to spend a lot of time and money having employees trained in these skills. No longer is this the norm. Now it is the job hunter or the employee who needs to be entrepreneurial and proactive in building their skills to make sure they are the most relevant and in-demand.
Companies Look for Talent in General Assembly’s Graduates
Graduates of the immersive programs are ready to start in entry level roles as web developers, UX designers, and data scientists. They are a great source of talent for companies looking to hire, and there is no charge to employers for this service. They can go online to see the grad students’ profiles by market, by discipline, or past experience. They can even see the projects they created for their program. They arrange “Meet and Hire” events on campus to further aid graduates in finding the right job.
Ogletree points out that in addition to this, they have an Enterprise Training Division, that works with Fortune 500 companies to assess, train, and upskill their talent.
Innovation and Inspiration
Staff and students alike are proud to be part of a global community of creators, thinkers, doers, and entrepreneurs, looking to build their skills or businesses, and make a positive impact on the world. Ogletree brags just a wee bit, “Campuses are beautiful, inspiring spaces, with whiteboard walls, open, airy, places filled with energy, dynamism, and lively interaction between students, faculty, and staff. We try to foster an environment conducive to collaboration, and innovation.” For more information visit General Assembly’s website.