Interview with Dan Tesnjak, VP EMEA & APAC at Degreed
2 Jun 22
2 Jun 22
HerberNathan & Co senior manager Terhi Benjaminsson has had the pleasure of interviewing Dan Tesnjak, VP APAC and EMEA at Degreed.
Degreed is a global learning tech pioneer and was one of the first vendors to introduce a Learning experience platform (LXP) to the market. They have been pioneers when it comes to taking advantage of technological developments to support that corporate learning can transition to be learner centric with an increased focus on experience.
Degreed was one of the first platforms to provide support for a personal and individual experience, with offerings based on the employee’s interest, level of competence and learning style.
And as Dan Tesnjak says; “Learning should not be managed but consumed.”
– I’m VP APAC and EMEA at Degreed, overseeing the go-to-market strategy and educating learning and development teams about skills-based approaches to learning and talent. I have over two decades of international experience in this area, coaching business leaders on corporate learning best practices as well as leadership development, diversity, inclusion and multicultural teamwork. I have been at Degreed for over 5 years now and before this, I was at Learnlight as their head of sales and marketing and Pearson.
– Degreed is the workforce upskilling platform for hundreds of the world’s most innovative employers. We connect all your learning, on-the-job development, and internal mobility opportunities to intelligence on the skills your business needs next. And we do it all in one simple, fluid, skill-building experience that’s powered by your people’s interests and goals so you can transform your workforce from within.
We have more than 600 employees (and growing) across Europe, Asia, Australia, North America and Latin America.
– We have three products. Degreed started with our Learning Experience Platform (LXP) that supports learning teams in curating, promoting, and consolidating all kinds of learning resources. It tailors learning to each individual, whatever their learning style and preferences — from informal learning like reading blogs or listening to podcasts, to formal courses or modular, bite-size learning.
Because it is delivered virtually, our LXP has been helping clients create more learning agility and respond to the pressures of the pandemic. Mining company Vale, for example, provides access to learning opportunities to all its employees regardless of if they’re based in its head office, down a mine, on a ship, or on the road in one of its trucks. Similarly, during the pandemic, Unilever shifted much of its learning online including its entire leadership curriculum. Learning at Unilever rose 161% during the pandemic. With all of this tracked through Degreed.
In 2020, Degreed launched its second product, Degreed Opportunities, as a way to make learning actionable in an organization giving people opportunities to practice, apply and stretch their skills through on-the-job learning opportunities like projects, assignments, mentorships or even individual tasks. That also levels the playing field for talent development. For example, an employee in sales can learn new skills in social media, through Degreed’s LXP, and then do a temporary assignment in the marketing department through Degreed Opportunities to reinforce those skills.
Our third product, Degreed Intelligence, was launched in 2021 and provides a way for organizations to track the skills in their workforce, spot skill gaps, plan ahead and inform upskilling plans, and understand how to best utilize their workforce skills.
Degreed’s community consists of HR and learning leaders, although we’re increasingly seeing IT and business leaders becoming interested in our solutions too as upskilling and skills become more of a C-Suite priority.
– Degreed was the first of its kind in the Learning Experience Platform (LXP) sector, and since then it has remained at the forefront of (firstly) learning, and now, upskilling and reskilling. It achieves this by remaining highly focused on the people who use our platform — we put control, autonomy, and insights directly into the hands of workers. Learning opportunities are tailored to people’s interests and aspirations, while work opportunities (in the form of permanent roles, secondments, stretch assignments, project-based work, volunteering and more) are offered based on skills, learning, and career goals. Every Degreed user has a skill profile that tracks all of their current skills, experience, and formal and informal learning, to give an up-to-date view of what they can do. This profile follows individuals throughout their career to become the most accurate information on their skills — enabling them to transact on their current and future skills.
– Degreed has grown quickly since its inception, but particularly during 2020 where we focused on supporting our customers and partners in dealing with the sudden impacts of the pandemic and remote-work shift. In 2020 alone, Degreed more than doubled its active user base and increased its team by 50%, to nearly 600 employees, across six continents. One in seven Degreed users activated their profile between April-May 2020 (the first global lockdown).
– The arrival of the LXP in the market forced a rethink, making learners the consumers of learning. Before this, many LMS companies focused solely on administrative tasks and reporting on the activity of the L&D organization as a whole, a justification of L&D’s “raison d’etre” and learning budgets. LXPs are all about inspiring curiosity and widening access to learning and skilling opportunities so their user experience (UX) is really designed for discovery and surfacing relevant content. This disruption has forced LMS companies to tweak their user interfaces to be simpler and friendlier for users. However, they are also quickly discovering that creating a holistic and modern learning experience is not just about making a homepage look more attractive. There is so much more to building an intuitive and truly learner-focused learning experience.
We think diverse and healthy learning ecosystems should have, at a minimum, the following features: AI-driven personalization of learning content, the ability to build communities and connections around shared practice or interests, social learning capabilities (including tools for creating and sharing), curation and experience authoring capability that leverage influencers and subject experts, as well as learner insights, opportunities to practice skills, and various assessment possibilities.
– We are interested in creating meaningful learning experiences that span across all of the specific moments of need for all employees. While learning will continue to be at the core of our solution, we’re also laying the foundations for a flexible skills framework that could serve as the jet fuel for many other HR processes. We’re already doing that with our Degreed Opportunities and Degreed Intelligence products. And we’re exploring other uses like business transformation, succession planning and performance management. Using skill insights as a way to understand and even predict emerging or lagging capabilities, we hope to help our clients better prepare their workforce for the future.
– There is much room for improvement with this – globally, workers and managers give their employer’s learning and development an aggregate net promoter score (NPS) of -25. If your learning is missing the mark, that’s a lot of time and resources wasted.
Career development is a very personal thing and learning must reflect this. Offering a range of learning resources will ensure every individual’s learning style is catered for. Similarly, learning opportunities should be tailored to an individual’s role, interests, and career goals. This makes learning relevant to them and makes it more likely that they’ll engage with the resources on offer. Making learning accessible is another key tactic, people should feel able to engage with learning whenever they feel like it, wherever they are, and in whatever format they prefer. Finally, reinforcing learning through relevant work opportunities will provide the ‘why’ behind learning — it’ll also make it more likely that people will remember their new skills and knowledge because it’ll be regularly used. These can take the form of stretch assignments, temporary positions, permanent redeployment, volunteering and mentoring.
– When the Visa L&D team reimagined workforce development, it wanted to create “an organization that learns versus a learning organization.” They wanted to create a worker-centric learning culture that was intuitive and tailored to each individual. The team also wanted to align learning more closely with ever-emerging business needs.
Visa turned to Degreed to fulfill these goals. It consolidated a comprehensive learning technology ecosystem — under the name, Visa University, which now offers all 20,000 Visa employees globally a wide range of learning experiences. Through Degreed’s LXP, the Visa L&D team now efficiently curates content and delivers relevant resources to every employee.
“We always knew there would need to be a front door from which people would arrive, socialize, collaborate, and get personalized recommendations around different ways they could skill up, whether it be for their role or for something else they were interested in, or because somebody shared something with them,” said Gordon Trujillo, Vice President and Global Head of Learning Enablement at Visa University. “That’s where Degreed came into the picture.”
Within four months of launching Degreed, 65% had logged on. And the L&D team had already integrated 80,000 assets from which it could curate. Learning data generated as people engage with the platform, tells the L&D team what topics, content formats, and resources are resonating the most in different departments and with different people. This is helping them tailor their offering even further. The virtual learning experience is also democratizing learning for the whole organization, making it more accessible in the flow of work or whenever suits each learner. It is also making learning more cost-efficient compared to in-person learning.
Ultimately, Degreed helps Visa encourage workers to be continuous learners by providing a consumer-grade experience that people want to make a part of their daily routines.
Thank you Dan for taking the time to answer our questions! We at HerbertNathan & Co will be excited to follow the development of your product.