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The world of employment is changing, as companies adopt a remote culture, and employees favour firms that can offer flexibility through challenging times.
While some sectors struggled and furloughed workers, others boomed, creating jobs that didn’t even exist until today. As a result, according to McKinsey research, approximately 25% more workers are estimated to need to switch occupations. The learning and development market has boomed to over £40 billion in the UK alone, and has served to help workers navigate this transition. Career development platforms such as Career Masterclass are leading the way, serving to level the playing field and give under-represented and underserved groups the preparation and access to the opportunities of today, and those of the future.
We sat down with founder, and Bukola Adisa – who, for reference, has been listed on The Powerlist of Britain’s Most Influential People of African and African Caribbean Heritage for 3 years running – to find out more.
What was your prior experience and what inspired you to make the switch to entrepreneurship?
I spent many years working in the banking and financial services sector, and during that time I noticed that very few senior management positions were held by people from the black and ethnic minority groups. I knew this wasn’t because of the lack of talent available, and after achieving my own success, I wanted to help others reach their potential.
My goal was to ensure that under-represented groups were recognised and able to get the career growth they desired. To do this, I knew I had to build an ecosystem that would give them the resources, networking support and information they needed to excel.
What were the early signs of success for the business?
After our first masterclass held in Canary Wharf, the feedback from the women who attended was very encouraging. Many of the 36 women who attended were Black or Asian and it was a lightbulb moment for us.
Over the next months, we grew and provided regular masterclasses, webinars and worksheets on everything from how to negotiate better to how to build your professional network. Due to demand – as a result of women telling their partners about the classes – it opened up to men. Then leading companies started to hire our services. At this point, it was clear that we were on to something.
Where will you be focusing on growth in the near future and why?
Our growth in the near term will be focused on expanding our mentorship features and leveraging AI to match content to our users. What differentiates just any career development platform from one that delivers real, long-term value to people is its ability to tailor its offering to the end user. We intend to use AI to really understand the profiles of our users, find out what they’re looking for and deliver them the resources that they need to fulfill their idea of success. That profile isn’t going to be the same for everyone, and that’s why a personalised offering is so important.
We already serve several corporate clients including Google, Natwest, HSBC, Barclays Bank and McDonald’s and are currently in active negotiations to develop further B2B partnerships.
What’s next on your roadmap in terms of product development, partnerships, new features etc?
In addition to the personalisation features mentioned earlier, we’re also working on launching a mentorship feature, which would effectively match users with professionals in their field of interest who can provide guidance. Networking is a huge element in career development, and that level of one-on-one mentorship isn’t accessible in the way it should be. Separately, we’re also building a full community on our platform, where professionals can come together, share experiences and support each other.
Once both of these features are live, our main goal will be to learn from the engagement we see with them. Observing how our users interact with new products and features will enable us to fine-tune them to create more value for professionals in their industries.
Where do you see the business in 5 years time?
In 5 years time, from a product perspective, I see Career Masterclass supporting over one million professionals across the globe with career growth and mentorship.
We also intend to have created a robust machine learning algorithm that understands the needs of professionals at every phase of their career, and provides them with the exact content and support they need to realise their goals.
Career Masterclass has raised over £350,000 on Seedrs, and the campaign is closing in just 9 days. To join nearly 200 investors, check out the campaign now.