Interview

Ravi Kumar S, President, Infosys, with Lisa Cohen Gevelber, CMO, Americas Region, Google


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  • Ravi Kumar S.
    00:13
    Ravi Kumar S.

    Hello everyone, welcome to this new version of Trailblazers. My name is Ravi Kumar, President at Infosys. Today, we have a guest from Google, Lisa Gevelber. Lisa is the Chief Marketing Officer of Americas for Google. She also leads Marketing in Americas for Search, Maps, Ads, Commerce, Play, Pay, Android and YouTube. And Lisa founded and leads Google for Startups and Grow with Google, which is actually one of my favourite topics to talk about today. Lisa, thank you so much for joining us today. And welcome to this version of Trailblazers.

  • Lisa Gevelber
    00:56
    Lisa Gevelber

    Thank you so much for having me. It's so nice to be here.

  • Ravi Kumar S.
    00:59
    Ravi Kumar S.

    Lisa, you know, the last time I spoke to you was when Infosys was committing around 500 jobs for Google certifications. And when I kind of heard the vision from you about what Google is doing, I thought you are in my next chapter of Trailblazers. So, thank you for attending and thank you for joining us today. And look forward to an exciting conversation. My first question to you, Lisa, is to tee up on, you know, when you say Grow with Google, you always think it's about jobs, it's about new opportunities led by technology. You took a pivot on education. And that, to me, was such an impactful idea. Tell us a little bit about what the pivot for education is all about. I know the Google certifications program, tell the audience a little bit about the program as well.

  • Lisa Gevelber
    01:51
    Lisa Gevelber

    Yeah, absolutely. So, as you said, Ravi, Grow with Google is our big economic opportunity initiative for Google. You know, we're trying to make sure that the opportunities created by technology truly are available to everyone, regardless of your educational background or your work experience. And what we realized really early on with Grow with Google was that the two thirds of Americans and the equivalent percentages around the world of people without college degrees were really feeling like great jobs were out of reach for them. Right. So, in the U.S., that's 80 million workers who don't have a college degree. And we wanted to really break this barrier to good jobs. And so, our vision was to create this career certificate program where we could teach anyone the skills they need to know to really succeed in a job in a particular, like, in demand, high growth, high paying career. And so, then we set out to identify, you know, which career fields we should invest in. And we now have Google career certificates in four career fields, all of which are in demand, high growth, high paying jobs for which Google has real expertise to contribute. So, we have career certificates and I.T. support in data analytics, user experience design, and project management. And all of our certificates are taught by Google employees who have decades of years of experience in those fields. And we built them really from the job back. We started with job task analysis and skills analysis and worked our way to what did everyone need to know to be successful in these jobs. And then, of course, we were really diligent about vetting the curriculum with employers, because at the end of the day, in order to remove this barrier to employment of a college degree, we needed to make sure that we were teaching what employers wanted people to know.

  • Ravi Kumar S.
    03:57
    Ravi Kumar S.

    Thank you, Lisa. That was so well summarized. You know, I've been a strong believer on this. We've been working on it for the last few years. One of the biggest challenges we have had as we went through this process is to figure out a way to give access to the underprivileged. The access to the underprivileged in many ways is the dichotomy we have in the market today. On one side we have nine million, nine million people unemployed in the U.S. On the other side, we have two million jobs available, which nobody is able to pick, these are open jobs and the bridge to this is so important. And interestingly, the timing is great because the skills are so short lived now that the degrees don't make sense anymore. So, you are at a, the timing of what you did is spot on, you know, tell us how you think this inflection from degrees to skills will happen, access to the underprivileged or underserved, if I may, and more importantly, creating a large pool of talent which today is hidden with the kind of potential.

  • Lisa Gevelber
    05:02
    Lisa Gevelber

    Yeah, I mean, I think the good news is that the ecosystem is really all coming together around these points as you mentioned. So, for example, in the Google career certificate program, we now have one hundred and fifty employers who have signed up to hire graduates from our certificate program. We're seeing so many employers come to the table because they realize that they really want to recruit this, from this non-traditional talent pool, but also because they really need people with these skills. Right now, in the U.S., there's 1.3 million open jobs in just these four career fields. I.T. support, data analytics, user experience design and project management. And employers are eager to find people who have the skills. And so, they're stepping up to the plate to really support this new path into these high paying jobs.

  • Ravi Kumar S.
    05:54
    Ravi Kumar S.

    So, Lisa, how do you build partnerships, because one of the challenges we have personally faced is when we went to community colleges, when we wanted people to do you mid-career shift, they were very scared because they don't have role models, they don't have reference points in the market or in their communities. Are you partnering with the ‘profit/non-profit’ kind of companies which will help you build a bridge?

  • Lisa Gevelber
    06:21
    Lisa Gevelber

    We are. You know, we wanted to make sure that everyone, regardless of their background, their educational experience, their job experience, could easily get these skills. And that's why we prioritized accessibility. And so first and foremost, we put all of these training programs online so that they could be done on demand, you know, people at their own time, because, you know, workers today may not have the flexibility to sit in a classroom, you know, every Monday and Wednesday at 1 o'clock. What they want to be able to do is do this learning at their own pace when they have time. That's the first thing we did. But then we also know that learners, really, some of them want a cohort-based environment or even an instructor-led environment. They really want someone who they can interact with, in person. And that's why we reached out. And we have relationships with over one hundred community colleges around the country, which are actually instructor-led experiences. I'm also really excited that we announced that in 2021, we will reach 100 career and technical high schools in America as well. But in addition to those experiences, lots of people don't necessarily want to be in a classroom at all, but they do want some sort of wraparound support and some coaching or encouragement. And so, we've partnered with non-profits all over the country. A great example is Merit America, who I know Infosys also partners with, which is a terrific job training program with huge success rates of getting people into exactly these, you know, high paying, high growth jobs. And as I said earlier, we're also partnering with employers like Infosys. And thank you so much, Ravi, for committing to hiring so many of these graduates. And we just recently announced a partnership with Guild Education, where they work with, you know, Fortune 1000 employers like Walmart and Chipotle and Lowe’s and Disney, to help those employers upscale their own workforces. And so, we're really excited that whether you're accessing our training program directly online or you're going through a community college or you're going through your employers upskilling program, we're making it really accessible for folks to get access to this training.

  • Ravi Kumar S.
    08:39
    Ravi Kumar S.

    Lisa, thank you so much. You know, that's a fairly exhaustive network, which you’ve built. How do you build experiential learning in those pathways so that the employers on the other side remember, these are people are moving career streams, they’re moving industries, they need some kind of hand holding and experiential learning so that the employers are attracted to hire them - Is there something you have in your roadmap to do that?

  • Lisa Gevelber
    09:05
    Lisa Gevelber

    Yeah, actually, there's a few light touch to higher touch ways that we do that. First, you know, our certificate programs themselves all have hands-on assessments. So, in I.T. support, you actually have to solve problems and you have to pass these assessments. Each of our certificates has over 100 assessments built into it and you can't get the certificate without passing all of them. But we're also invested as Google into a really big investment in apprenticeship programs. So, this year we're bringing 100 apprentices of these Google career certificates into Google and we're very, very excited about doing that.

  • Ravi Kumar S.
    09:43
    Ravi Kumar S.

    And this is such a viable, economically viable option, right, $250 for certification, the cost of education in the U.S. is like an average $150,000 if you go to an undergrad school, do you see this switching over to other industries beyond technology? Do you see this trend of moving to skills happening soon? Is that something you believe it will?

  • Lisa Gevelber
    10:08
    Lisa Gevelber

    I don't think what we're doing is specific to technology at all, actually. You know, at the end of the day, this initiative is really about creating a more equitable and inclusive job market for everyone. And I think that is not a technology thing. I think it is certainly technology enabled. But just to give one example, we were very excited that Johns Hopkins University actually looked at what we were doing in I.T. support and built onto it their own health care specific I.T. support curriculum. So, what you see here is people building on each other, right? So, we are teaching everyone the fundamentals of I.T. support. But Johns Hopkins is making it possible for people to get directly into careers in health care I.T. And I think you're just going to see more and more of that. And we really want to encourage it. We're open to anyone who wants to partner with us and to build on top of these fundamental certificates that we’ve built and make them either more industry specific or take them to the next level. And so, I think we're just going to see a lot of good opportunity created for folks to reach their true economic potential, because there's just going to be a lot more options for people to get skilled through these new routes.

  • Ravi Kumar S.
    11:23
    Ravi Kumar S.

    That's a great idea. You know, just using this as a platform to build on top of it and create more pathways. In fact, every industry, every company across the world is a tech company now, and every functional job has something embedded on technology in many ways. So, you're absolutely spot on that this will have some kind of a network effect, as I call it. Tell us a little bit about how do you, how do small and medium businesses access the skills? You know, one of the things I've always when I've spoken to policymakers, they've told me, look, all of this is great, but how do you also switch and create more inclusivity by getting access to the skills for small and medium sized businesses?

  • Lisa Gevelber
    12:11
    Lisa Gevelber

    Yeah, it's so important, actually. And I think when we built these certificates, one of the fundamental premises was we looked at career fields that were in demand and high growing so that when you get skilled for it, you can have a nice, long career in the field. But also, what was important to us was that we were not just going to have career fields where the jobs were just on the coasts. The good news about all of these career fields is that you can get a job anywhere in the country and at any size organization. Right. Which I think is part of what you're getting at here. I.T. support is a great example and certainly with COVID, but I would argue even before, you know, all kinds of organizations need I.T. support people, right? Whether you're a small business or large business, a non-profit, a government organization, somebody needs to set up your technology and make sure it works and fix it when it doesn't. And so, the good news about these career certificates is that they're training people for these fields and those jobs exist everywhere in our country and in all different kinds of companies or organizations.

  • Ravi Kumar S.
    13:18
    Ravi Kumar S.

    And Lisa, you know, just switching gear a little bit, I actually am a part of almost three workforce councils of three states in the U.S and I did speak about the Google program in one of my workforce council meetings and one of the things which came up is how do we embed this into schools and colleges so that this is stackable enough, it is credentialized and we kind of weave it into a scaled industrialized experiment for governments. How do you see that happening in the future?

  • Lisa Gevelber
    13:51
    Lisa Gevelber

    Yeah, that's so thoughtful of you. We actually are working a lot. I mentioned community colleges, but also beginning to work with four-year institutions to integrate some of this training. And we've been really excited that now places like Purdue University, Northeastern and the SUNY system all give academic credit for the Google career certificates. So, they give 12 credits, which is almost a full semester at these prestigious schools, for doing the certificate program so that people have a pathway not only to have the skills they need for a great job, but if they also want a degree, people have optionality there. And then the other thing we're doing, you mentioned workforce boards, and I'm really excited to hear that you're on three of them, is we're working with the nation's workforce development boards and they're the folks on the front lines who are helping those who are currently unemployed in our country get to great jobs. And so, we're working directly with the national workforce boards, we give scholarships for the Google career certificates directly to them. And I think it's really critical that we're supporting these front-line organizations.

  • Ravi Kumar S.
    15:04
    Ravi Kumar S.

    You know, Lisa, thank you so much for that. In fact, I always tell my friends in the academic ecosystems that their future is not to individual learners. The future is to partner with enterprises and create curriculums for the future and then do a lot of reskilling to B2B businesses. Do you see that as a possibility at some point of time that Google starts to partner with enterprises and then takes this entire program, not just individual learners, but to reskill large pools of talent in enterprises and help enterprises transition to a digital future?

  • Lisa Gevelber
    15:44
    Lisa Gevelber

    I do. I definitely do. That's part of the reason we did the Guild partnership, is because Guild already has these great relationships with employers who are super committed to reskilling or upskilling their workforces. But in addition to that, actually, since our announcement of our latest Google career certificates, we've had a bunch of outreach from amazing employers who really care about their employees and are looking for ways to upskill. We've had a ton of them reach out to us and ask how they could bring the Google career certificates into their own workforce development programs.

  • Ravi Kumar S.
    16:19
    Ravi Kumar S.

    Thank you, Lisa. Thank you so much for talking to us today. We're very excited about the Google partnership and personally, super charged to start to think about the possibilities of what else can we do. What we have done so far is just a starting point. I think there is so much more to do. Infosys by itself is very strong on lifelong learning and education infrastructure, which we have built. So, we're looking forward to this partnership. Thank you for talking to us today.

  • Lisa Gevelber
    16:46
    Lisa Gevelber

    Oh, my gosh. Well, Ravi, you are absolutely one of the best thought leaders in this whole space. So, thank you for everything you're doing to help everybody think bigger and differently about helping people get the skills they need and for your personal commitment to making sure that Infosys is supporting all kinds of programs to help bring in non-traditional talent.

  • Ravi Kumar S.
    17:06
    Ravi Kumar S.

    Thank you, Lisa. That's very kind of you. Thank you so much.

  • Lisa Gevelber
    17:09
    Lisa Gevelber

    Thank you.