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Q&A: Improve Outcomes by Creating the Right Culture for Learning

The culture and wellbeing of a team is so important to delivering a successful product. Your student can feel it when those things are overlooked. And it does seep into outcomes.

Hi Ash, can you share a little more about your background?

I have kinda been all over the place. After dropping out of college due to a horrific accident, I launched myself into a hardware specialist role in tech. It wasn't until 2011 that I really found my passion. I realized while working at Apple that I really liked watching technology change people's lives and loved the pace at which it grew. I have since found myself in companies who were in their biggest growth stages helping meld and mold them into the public companies they are today.

What was your most recent role at Hack Reactor? And what have you been doing since?

Most recently, I was the director of operations for the EDU sector of Galvanize, which is labeled Hack Reactor. I really enjoyed that job but a lot of what I did hinged on being an immersive in person experience. Once the pandemic hit, we had to change, and we had to do it fast. After successfully transitioning students and staff to remote work/learn space, we spent time redefining the coming years of Hack Reactor. It was becoming more clear that I had made the impact I was meant to make at HR, and it was time for me to move on. I THOUGHT that would be a job, doing what I do best. Turns out… It was an education, doing something I had never done. I decided to enroll as a student at Hack Reactor.

What was it like being in the learner’s seat for a change?

Being a learner in a thing I never thought I could do was wild. I honestly watched this program thrive for 5 years and never thought it would be me consuming its greatness from that angle. I had fears and I had moments where I wasn't sure, but it didn't stop me. I pushed through all of that and am stoked about adding “certified software engineer” to my tool box. I can't wait to apply all this knowledge somewhere.

You’ve shared with me the importance of creating the right culture for learning when scaling an online program. Why do you think it’s so important? How did you see it impact outcomes or the bottom line?

Now that I have the perspective of delivering and receiving the product, I think this rings truer than it ever did before. I can say that if the culture of the team delivering was bad, we felt it as students. I can say as a student, if the culture around me was bad, my learning experience may have not been as successful. The culture and wellbeing of a team is so important to delivering a successful product. Your consumer can feel it when those things are overlooked, not only is the top talent avoiding your workplace but it does seep into the outcomes. Low quality work often comes from under appreciated team members, even unskilled team members will learn a skill if they feel appreciated. It can and should be one of the most important aspects of how you build and scale your company.

What are some practical tips or specific examples for how you fostered culture?

Ooo I like this one, the action. It's all words until someone does something. I start by letting my team know they are a part of the thing, they're not just workers they're members. I give them the why when a shift happens or a change is made. I ask for their input when and where I can to make them understand their voice can be heard in a healthy way and they can always come to me. It's a balance to maintain this and that not every idea makes it to the development phase, generally this is done just by being authentic. I don't embellish the cause of a let down, the real reason is often more helpful. Additionally, any idea, piece of work, or concern that is brought to me that is not my own is given credit for its origin. It's so important to give credit where credit is due, it harbors a space where people want to get involved. I'm happy to see someone be promoted over me if they fully deserve it!


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