These NYC Companies Swear by Upskilling. Here’s Why.

Built In NYC spoke with two companies to learn more about how they prioritize upskilling — and how it’s paid off.

Written by Brendan Meyer
Published on Mar. 19, 2021
These NYC Companies Swear by Upskilling. Here’s Why.
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KIN + Carta

Tech is constantly evolving, which means employees’ skills and abilities should, too. But not everyone has the time or money to go back to school or enroll in a bootcamp to learn a new expertise.

That’s why many companies are prioritizing a tactic that gives their employees a chance to learn something at work. It’s called upskilling.

Upskilling allows someone to learn new skills on the job, whether it’s through their peers or by structured training programs that the company invests in. For example, at fintech company MarketAxess, they use hackathons, dedicated training on tools, and “tech talks.” 

“Upskilling has allowed us to use our innovation sprint to learn new languages, gain certifications (if you can pass them!) and explore new technology,” Liz Brand, a global cloud engineering manager at MarketAxess, said.

Upskilling can even provide companies with new business opportunities. The tech agency Kin + Carta’s recent partnerships centered around technologies like cloud, IoT and AI were all topics employees learned through upskilling.

“The company incentivizes certifications specific to these verticals, and as employees become more knowledgeable and informed, new opportunities can be easily identified,” Stephen Fells, a technical program manager at Kin + Carta, said.

Built In NYC spoke with these two companies to learn more about how they prioritize upskilling — and how it’s paid off.

 

Liz Brand
Global Cloud Engineering Manager • MarketAxess

Innovative Ideas

In a recent hackathon, a senior app developer reached out to Brand and asked if they could improve cross-team communication on different tech tools and patterns. Brand loved the idea, which led to yet another upskilling tactic: “tech talks.” It’s an open forum that starts dialogue between team members and breaks traditional silos.

 

What opportunities do people on your team have for upskilling and professional development?

I’ve held multiple roles within the company, all of which have promoted growth, learning and upskilling. Now I’ve grown into a role where I can manage and help lead that process. As a team, we feel our work is always innovative, which allows us to use our innovation sprint to learn new languages, gain certifications (if you can pass them!) and explore new technology. At MarketAxess, much of the upskilling happens through hackathons, dedicated sessions on tools, and tech talks.

 

Why have you decided to invest in these kinds of opportunities for your team?

My immediate team is a group of absolute rock stars, and it’s because they continuously ask questions, knowledge-share and refuse to be satisfied with mediocrity. We often joke that we need to be careful as to not over-invest and “Rolls Royce” the design. That hunger to consistently improve comes from hiring, investing and upskilling good people. We allow them to make good decisions as teams, because good teams at scale will always feed culture and technology, and inevitably, succeed.

 

I’ve held multiple roles within the company, all of which have promoted growth, learning and upskilling.’’

 

Whats an example of a time when upskilling drove innovation at your company?

After our latest hackathon, one of our senior app developers reached out wanting to improve cross-team communication on innovative technology tools and patterns. We then worked together to start “tech talks” internally, which are knowledge-sharing sessions where topics are submitted and voted on by anyone in the company, and then presented by the subject matter expert. This open forum creates an open dialogue, and breaks the traditional silos between team responsibilities and structures.

 

Stephen Fells
Technical Program Manager • Kin + Carta

A Growth Mindset

One reason why Fells joined Kin + Carta was because of the emphasis the company placed on education. Kin + Carta offers educational reimbursement to boost upskilling and ensure that its employees have a chance to grow professionally and personally.

 

What opportunities do people on your team have for upskilling and professional development?

Kin + Carta has multiple channels for upskilling and professional development, led by a generous allocation to cover educational costs. Personally, this was a key reason as to why I joined the company. As a lifetime learner, I enjoy furthering my education, both professionally and personally. Working for a company that not only supports that, but also promotes it, is very fulfilling.

 

Why have you decided to invest in these kinds of opportunities for your team?

Despite the impacts of the pandemic, Kin + Carta is seeing growth in several business areas, and continues to explore additional opportunities in new markets. We have an agile mindset, which includes building projects around motivated individuals and providing the support they need to get the job done. This creates a space for individuals in similar roles to share best practices and seek input from peers on how to address project needs, build upon skills and improve performance.

 

As a lifetime learner, I enjoy furthering my education, both professionally and personally.’’

 

Whats an example of a time when upskilling drove innovation at your company?

Some of Kin + Carta’s recent growth can be attributed to partnerships centered on technologies that include cloud, IoT and AI. The company incentivizes certifications specific to these verticals, and as employees become more knowledgeable and informed, new opportunities can be easily identified. This helps our teams build upon and transform how services are offered.

 

Responses edited for length and clarity. Photography provided by companies listed, unless otherwise noted.

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