Reskilling Is The New Black With Annee Bayeux of Degreed

Are you ready to forge ahead into the future of work? Then get ready for this enlightening conversation with Annee Bayeux, chief learning strategist at Degreed. We break down the intricacies of reskilling and its paramount importance for future-ready organizations. We dissect the gig economy, the continuous fixation on skills gaps, and the transformative role technology plays in our understanding of skills. Annee dares us to go a step further from merely recognizing skills gaps, to genuinely addressing them without the need for costly consultants.

As we journey further into the discussion, we probe into the essence of upskilling. It’s an essential facet of success and adaptability in our evolving work environment. We ponder upon the role of a growth mindset that fosters agility and receptiveness. Not to forget, we delve into the profound impact of the pandemic on companies’ operational strategies and the pressing need for individuals to continually adapt and learn. By the end of our chat, you’ll be equipped with strategies on how to initiate meaningful conversations about reskilling with your executives and C-suite. Tune in, let’s prepare our workforce for the future together!

Listening Time: 27 minutes

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Annee Bayeux
Chief Learning Strategist Degreed

Annee has 20+ years in L&D, M&A, Talent and HR Technologies with international blue chips like Bosch, Alstom, General Electric and Danone. She has led learning design and delivery organizations including building centers of expertise around design, digital transformation and HR technology. Her last experience with a global 2000 company before moving to the scale up world was as the Chief Learning Officer at Danone where she focused on workforce capability and readiness.


Reskilling Is The New Black With Annee Bayeux of Degreed

William Tincup: [00:00:00] This is William Tincup, and you’re listening to the Recruiting Daily podcast. Today we have Annee on from Degreed, and our topic today is reskilling is the new black. This is going to be fun. We’ve had to reschedule a couple times, mostly because of me, or actually all the times because of me, but I’m so glad to actually be on with you, Annee.

Would you do us a favor and introduce both what you do at Degreed and Degreed for those that aren’t?

Annee Bayeux: Great. [00:01:00] Thank you very much. Yes, my name is Annee Bayeux. I am Degreed’s chief learning strategist. And for anybody not knowing what a chief learning strategist does, it’s a fancy way of saying that we talk people who are strategists like to talk about strategy.

And it’s not just learning strategy, it’s talent strategy, it’s HR strategy, and it’s transformational strategy. And my role here at Degreed allowed me to talk to clients on an everyday basis so I’m an externally facing role, which is really great because I get to talk about strategy without having to execute on that strategy, which is a dream job for me.

Because before. Yeah, absolutely. I spent about 25 years actually doing the work in corporate life. So I’ve been with global 2000 organizations like GE, Alstom, Bosch Automotive, and Danone, where I was the chief learning strategist. So I had to do a lot of the leg work.

William Tincup: Oh yeah, [00:02:00] you can’t skip that part.

You got to do the tactical stuff. At one point in your career, but I have realized that at a certain point for a lot of it, for a lot of folks, not everybody, of course, some people just love tactics and they’ll always love tactics. But myself, there was a moment, I think, in the early aughts where I deleted everything, every program on my computer where I had to do work in.

Like I deleted Creative Suite or Adobe Creative Suite. I deleted all the Microsoft Word, Excel, all that stuff. I deleted all of them. So when people would ask me, hey, can you do, no, can’t. So I just got rid of the programs, that

Annee Bayeux: worked. That’s extremely passive aggressive and I love it.

William Tincup: It is a bit.

It is. Can you make this quick PowerPoint change? No, I don’t have it. I can talk you through it, though, if you want to make the change.

Annee Bayeux: That’s the first step into consultancy, actually. It is.

William Tincup: [00:03:00] It’s and there’s a funny bit in consultancy, too. They pay you to leave. That’s what I learned in my time being a consultant is they, obviously, they pay for your recommendations and, all that stuff an outsider’s perspective but more often than not, they pay you to go away.

Okay, we’ve… We’ve heard you, and we appreciate you, and you’re paid, so please leave now.

Annee Bayeux: I never thought about that, but that kind of, plugs really well into the discussion we’re going to have around skills and the gig economy of work, and do we really need to hire people continuously hire people on permanent contracts or semi permanent contracts when we actually only need them for a little while.

So you’re actually bringing all of that together. It’s,

William Tincup: it’s it’s interesting. So before we get to reskilling, which probably will be, as you talk to your customers, you’re obviously you’re a peer of theirs, so you get to be able to talk about a lot of different things. What’s. What’s keeping them up

Annee Bayeux: at night?[00:04:00]

Oh, that’s a great question. I think when I’m talking to HR executives, their biggest problem is how do I help my company to stay relevant in terms of workforce today, for today and tomorrow. Now, the solution can obviously HR. But principally, they’re really concerned about the future of work, or at least they’re not calling it the future of work, but they’re, bringing it down to their individual use cases.

And I think that mostly they’re really concerned about keeping skills fresh within their organization and having a future ready workforce. And I think most of them will talk to me about something around those lines.

William Tincup: Do they, as it relates to skills, do they, because years ago we talked about skills in the terms of skills gap, so one, and we still do.

It’s nothing changed. It’s just, I think there was a hyper, pre pandemic, there was a hyper awareness around, hey, we don’t have the skills. They’re just, they’re [00:05:00] not here. And my question is do you see that still happening with people? Are they still focused on a gap of skills or are they thinking about skills a little bit differently?

Annee Bayeux: Yeah, that’s a great question because I really feel like the skills gap obsession, we can call it an obsession, was really and, I’m going back. Probably even 20 years when we started to do standardized kind of assessments on skills or what we would call just, learning topics or expertise.

Back then, I don’t think we were using the word skills as much. We were obsessed with it and it was the end game. You’re absolutely right. It was. Okay, now that we’ve assessed the entire organization and we spent maybe six months to one year not only defining the competency models or the levels of where they should be, let’s test them to see if they’re at that level.

And most of the assessment programs ended there. Okay. We know we have skills gaps today with technology coming in. Yeah, I know. And it’s funny because it’s like the [00:06:00] test isn’t over. So what? So now that we have the gaps, what do we do? And a lot of it was very artisanal back then. We said, okay, looking at that, let’s hire those, expensive consultants that you’re talking about.

Then I was going to come in, take a look at that, and maybe define 10 to 15 different work streams or projects that your company needed to undertake to fill those gaps. So it was really very robust and most companies just stopped at the assessment and tried to do that kind of like I said, artisanally.

Today, with The technology coming and powering that, in fact, assessing skills gap is really just step one. And now the big technology question is, so what? What do we do with these skills gap? And how do we continue to continuously upskill people just in their gap and not trying to Potentially boil the ocean in terms of [00:07:00] what you need to teach somebody coming on new to a role, considering what they know, what their past their background is really important to understanding at what point do you start their development.

So with

William Tincup: reskilling in particular, you’re one, one makes the assumption that we don’t need this skill as much as we used to. So let’s say we’ll make it real simple. Someone used to schedule interviews. So that was their job. They they called candidates, they called the hiring manager, they called or emailed, whatever, and then they scheduled an interview.

Now a bot can do that. We don’t need that skill. The output still has to be there, but we don’t need that skill. It was, it was tough. If you ever did that job, it was actually really difficult to get 15 different people on the same page. So with re skilling, do we go to that individual and basically say, Hey, listen, there’s an opportunity to use, tangential or, transferable skills.

We [00:08:00] can use that skill that you have, but in a different way, or how does that conversation break down? I’ve always been curious as to, the relationship between the employee and the employer. And who’s, not job, but who’s responsible for the re skilling

Annee Bayeux: conversation. Yeah. Who owns re skilling within an organization?

I’m thinking about that. A lot of people own it, but essentially I think it’s a business responsibility, right? The business to do business and HR’s responsibility is to come in and support those different processes. But it’s an interesting question. I think companies most, unfortunately, most of the time what happened in the past some HR might’ve read and, been inspired by future work they see parts of their business changing and they’ll come to you and say hey listen in the future we’re not going to you know it’s similar to a downsizing conversation it’s in the future we’re not going to have needs for what you do anymore so we need to think about where you [00:09:00] want to go in your career the important The new thing in this conversation is we’re injecting that kind of skills assessment saying, listen, you might have 70% of the skills you need to shift off of somewhere where we might need you but in the past, we weren’t able to give them that personalized.

Here at this level, I’m going to tell you exactly what skills you’re missing from your current job to a target kind of role. And today, talent marketplaces have been introduced to help deploy the skills into the right areas of the organization when and where they’re needed. And so that conversation feels a lot better today than it did, 15 years ago when we were just doing pure downsizing.

William Tincup: We, again, somebody’s been with a company for a while that you’ve invested time and energy into, and especially if it’s other work that they can do with some training, right? It’s allowing them the understanding. It’s hey, listen, you’re still [00:10:00] valuable. Like that output that you worked on, the skills that you’ve developed, we develop other skills.

We want you to develop other skills. And so I, I like that. Now, have we looked, are we looking at skills, this is going to be an interesting question for you. Are we looking at skills correctly in the sense of, I think historically someone would go and get a degree. To get out, maybe even practice in the, in their area.

And 20 years later, do they still have that skill you know what I’m saying? Like I, I’m saying this about myself as well, so I’m not trying to make this about anybody else, but it’s just like, how do we know if the skill is current? Because the way that I got tripped up with skills in the early aughts, I ran a web development firm and I had to hire developers.

I’m not a technologist. So like when I would talk to them about, back then it was just straight H T M L or a s P or J or something like that. And I would, I’d have to figure out the three dimens of a [00:11:00] skill. It’s okay, you’ve been working in hand coding H T M L. That’s cool. But what does that mean?

How deep is that? How wide is that? How long have you done it? What does that look like? And so with my mind, I started to conceptualizing skills as. Both three dimensional as well as fleeting in time, meaning they have that skill. But unless they’re using that skill more often than not, then that skill’s diminishing, not like the diminished return, but it’s just diminishing over time.

Now again, that’s me. So go ahead, because you’re a practitioner and an expert, crush all

Annee Bayeux: of that. And I was thinking about the way you articulated it, and you might get some listen or hate mail after this because they’ll say, oh, she’s so wrong. But it sounds like what you’re describing is not a skill, but a competency, which is, a set of skills.

And it could be a set of skills combined with mindset, combined with a little bit of [00:12:00] behavior. or posturing. And in L& D, we like to be complex about that. And we would call that probably more along the line of competency. So you have a few competencies, but the lowest common denominator in this competencies is a set of skills that work together.

And that’s a That’s the granularity that Degreed and other companies that are in that kind of ed tech space are looking at is how granular can we be to be able to adapt them into the context where we need them. I would have to ask you a question around, you started with, are the skills that I learned 20 years ago the same, can I use them today?

The answer probably is maybe, but think about this question. Is there something you do today the exact same way you did 20 years ago? I hope not. I, me too, actually. And I would [00:13:00] love to say, no, I do absolutely everything differently. But there are a lot of kind of human based traits that AI has not been able to overcome that we’re probably still doing.

The way we manage people, hopefully the way we manage conversations, the way we interact with humans. Maybe even the way we interact with with digital content. It’s hopefully, how you did it in that same spirit, but improved on newer context of what we learn. Just people getting canceled today seriously, we look at some of that kind of cancellation that they’re having is because they sent a comment that was totally acceptable 10 years ago on Twitter that is Completely unacceptable today.

Why? Because we’ve learned new things about that. And we weren’t wrong then, and we weren’t wrong today. It’s just we’ve learned new things. And in the world of work, being able to stay relevant and modern, it’s that same thing. It’s Maybe some of [00:14:00] those base skills that you learned are still relevant today, but have you adapted them to today’s context?

And that’s the way I like to look at skills and skills building. It’s, they’re you’re, the shelf life of skills might be irrelevant like scheduling, but… Is there something that you can adjust or add to, to give a more human or a more value added touch to what you’re doing today? And that’s where upskilling comes in.

William Tincup: The adaptation part is beautiful because it also mirrors something that I deal with a lot of ambiguity. I like ambiguity, but I’ve also realized that a lot of people don’t like ambiguity as much as I do, but like adapting, one’s view of adapting, have you, or your peers, have you dug into personalities that are better apt or can consume adaptation better than folks that can’t?

Annee Bayeux: [00:15:00] Oh, yeah, I’m, in HR, we like to hire people with high growth mindset. And I’m saying that slightly sarcastically, because we think that we can measure that on during an interview. But actually, you do see some signs of like higher adaptability when you have this growth mindset, I’m sure, with other People have come on to your podcast, you’ve heard this term before.

It was very trendy a few years ago and it’s, it remains trendy today. It’s this pivoting on a dime, not only mentally and your cognitive ability to do that, but also your willingness to want to do that in terms of your attitudes. So we think that we can detect that over time. And when we’re looking at that, those are the people that are probably most successful for for this.

But we can actually train to that. We can train minds to be more agile, open minded. There’s a lot of training that can happen around agility. [00:16:00] And. Oh, I’m sorry about that. When we’re looking at agility if we take the pandemic, for example, and you probably are really sick of talking about the pandemic on your podcast, but when we’re looking at that, one of the biggest lessons learned in that is, one of the biggest lessons learned in the pandemic was really around the companies that were able to pivot or shift their strategies.

They became… More focused on dealing with everyday constraints that the pandemic imposed instead of looking at instead of, operating like they did every day. When you look at pre pandemic, companies made their margins through having an extreme Operational excellence. That means that every process was buttoned down.

Everybody knew what their place was and where they needed to sit within their organization and what they needed to do. When someone throws a spoke in [00:17:00] your wheel, like the pandemic, and your entire company needs to shift, or at least do something differently for a little while what we saw is those really structured, highly profitable, high margin companies that had and we had a high level of operational excellence.

They were the ones that suffered the most, not because they’re not good companies, it’s because their processes and their mindset were so rigid that they weren’t able to adapt to those kind of times. And in the same vein when you bring it down to the individual level it’s. It’s that same reflex.

You really need to find individuals who are ready to pivot and have an open mind to continue to learn, to realize that they need to do that from a lifelong perspective and not just I need to learn every time I wanna change my job. learning is an everyday behavior. We should look, we should teach people to do it every day.

William Tincup: So I’m assuming [00:18:00] that conversations with the board or with the C suite, they get it. I understand, they’ve obviously learned new things, they’ve learned, they’ve developed skills and can continue to develop skills. What’s the budget? Conversations look like when you’re framing that up for executives or for the rest of the C suite, how do you frame that up?

We’re, because I don’t see an end to rescaling. Now, first of all, that’s an assumption I’m making. I see it as something that you’re just never going to stop doing. Now, I might be wrong with that. Please tell me that I am. But how do you, how does one go into that conversation with Okay, if true, we’re going to be investing in re skilling for the rest of our existence.

Annee Bayeux: Yeah, absolutely. Yes. Yes. Yes, William. Yes. The bottom line is the conversation that you’re going to have with your CEO [00:19:00] today was very different five years ago, pre pandemic. Preda Pandemic. I think a lot of CEOs didn’t, not all of ’em but probably the worst ones didn’t see the relationship between keeping their workforce skilled and.

Being competitive in their market. Now, some of them did, but a lot of them, they created these, oh, let’s, innovation and research departments or R& D departments, and that’s where all of the innovation will go. What they’re realizing is post pandemic that Innovation can actually come from anywhere.

And when you try to put it into a small bucket what happens is nothing happens. It’s like transformation. You just, everybody has to be a part of it. And so when you’re looking at this Constant renewal. CEOs of today realize, oh, actually for me to prepare for the unknown is to have a workforce that’s curious and knows how to learn.

It’s Eric [00:20:00] Rice the author of The Lean Startup. He said that the fastest way. The fastest way to, no, sorry Eric Rice said the the only way to win is to learn faster than everybody else. Yeah, I love that. I end some of my notes that way because I think it’s a really strong messaging around the business finally understanding that, this is the way to do it.

And so as more CEOs are indoctrinated into this kind of thinking, the conversation with the CLO or the CHO, CHRO, becomes a lot easier because all we need to do now, and I say all we need to do I’m rolling my eyes a little bit because it’s really hard, is to link your development strategy to the aligned strategy of the business.

And we say that a lot, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t know how to get started in that. And I was

William Tincup: also thinking that [00:21:00] doesn’t start year one into their tenure. That starts all the way back to when they were a candidate in understanding, what they want to learn, what they need to learn, and then in onboarding, revalidating or validating that, and putting them on a learning journey day one, or even sub day one.

There’s some things that I’ve seen some companies do in pre boarding that are really interesting around putting them on a, putting people on learning paths. And adaptive learning paths too, because, business change and needs change and skills change. And I would even say that the person that’s learning, their desires change along the way, along that journey.

How does a leader know that they’re doing rescaling well? Like when you coach folks to, maybe it’s analytics. Or maybe it’s looking at that gap in a different way or maybe, I don’t know. What do you, how do you coach people to, okay, you’re not horrible. However, [00:22:00] if you don’t change your ways, you’re going to be out of business in two years.

Annee Bayeux: That’s sometimes the case, right? When you’re looking at the, everybody’s talking about chat GPT and, content writers things like that. That is specifically a major threat. I don’t think they’ll go out of business, but it, it is a major threat. And I think that when we’re looking at the conversation that you have about upskilling is, and understanding, how do I know when I’m doing it?

It’s all about forward progression, right? You want to make sure that you’re progressing regardless of your starting point. And when you feel that progression, then the if the performance is not there, that’s a different question that we know how to answer for the longest time.

However if an employee is progressing and learning, I’m sorry about that. I’ve turned everything off, but I keep sorry, let me just start that over again. Yeah, sorry about, I’ve turned off everything. And I keep you’re learning new things. That’s right. [00:23:00] I’m learning that my MacBook is not as reliable as I thought when you turn it on focus mode.

How’s that? But sorry. So when you’re looking at that again, assessing it and knowing where you are and knowing what your final level is really the beginning of your journey and how far can you go to develop everything that you need to do the job that you, are in or the job that you want in the future.

And I think that’s the new part. It’s L& D was really focused on, skilling you, upskilling you for the job that you have. There’s a real shift, and not only generationally speaking, but there’s a real shift in the market and what’s actually needed in terms of employees. And that shift is to say when we’re actually Thinking about supplying new jobs or internal mobility the shift is we understand it’s a lot less costly for us to upskill them now that we know how to do it [00:24:00] incrementally on just focusing in on the skills that they need instead of looking at it from that Competency level.

What you’re doing is you’re enabling them to doing that micro skilling so they can now consider people internally more than having to go out and buy the skills that they need. So that kind of trend that’s coming about requires people and L& D to start shifting into future jobs and not current jobs and on a regular basis.

More frequent basis. It’s not changing jobs every four or five years now. It’s changing jobs after 18 months, two years of doing something. Or if you’re in a gig kind of workplace, even after the project’s done.

William Tincup: And I’m, I’ve seen where companies are treating jobs as gigs. So even those projects that were historically one to two years, that they’re looking at that with candidates and with employees as, Hey, this is [00:25:00] a gig.

You need the skills for this gig, and the gig could be as long as it needs to be, but then you’re going to go on to the next gig, and you’ll need different skills. Last thing I wanted to ask you, and you said it earlier around who owns reskilling, and one of the things I’ve learned is, If everyone owns it, no one owns it.

Absolutely. If you could wave a magic wand, who would own reskilling in an organization?

Annee Bayeux: Oh, okay. Earlier I did say everybody owns it, and you’re absolutely right. That’s why we haven’t progressed on it, because nobody owns it. Or the conversation you’ll have is, I really like what you’re saying.

But what you’re saying in this project touches on two other CEOs in HR, and that I’m not responsible for. And we hear a lot of that, especially at Degreed when we’re trying to inspire people to look at move towards skills based organizations where skills is going to be in HR, it’s going to be a part of your hiring [00:26:00] practices, a part of your onboarding practices upskilling deep skilling, or reskilling for another job.

All of those is where we’re going to be seeing skills, but Skills is also going to be the business language. That’s why they’re so powerful. Competency models tend to stay on the HR side. When we talk about skills and tasks, we’re reaching over to the business side. So I think businesses should own skills.

And for the most part, HR isn’t doing a great favor to the business by making it more complex than it has to be. Yeah with these competency models and, doing every few years. Every time

William Tincup: you mentioned competency models, I vomit a little bit in my mouth because the only reason is for a hundred years, people have talked about competency models and some of them have built them, but they’re not really lived by them.

If you know what

Annee Bayeux: Oh, yeah. I, yeah, I myself has built competency models and gave it to the business and said, here you [00:27:00] go. And I thought my job was done. And it’s been used and irrelevant.

William Tincup: First of all. Annie, thank you so much for coming on the show. We could talk forever. And I just, I love what you’re doing.

I love the job that you have. I wish I had it, but got a little indie going on but thank you so much for coming on the show.

Annee Bayeux: I would love to switch jobs with you. Thank you so much for having me. I’ve had a lot of

William Tincup: fun. Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening. Until next time.

The RecruitingDaily Podcast

William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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