Andreas Flodstrom, the co-founder and the CEO at Beetroot and Beetroot Academy.
We are working in two segments: outsourcing and education. Basically, it all started when we founded Beetroot in 2013 and began building dedicated teams of developers and designers for international clients. In 2014, with support from Sweden, we launched the first Beetroot Academy in Poltava to help people start their careers in IT. Currently, we have more than 300 employees, build teams for more than 80 clients from 17 countries, and also teach people in 13 Ukrainian cities.
Looking from the perspective of Beetroot Academy, there are some issues and challenges in modern education that we are trying to solve. To start with, the traditional educational system where people spend five or six years in universities does not totally meet the needs of modern industry. In general, university studies are important and can be very beneficial. However, there are also some problems associated with them like bureaucracy and lack of dynamics. The IT sphere is changing fast, so the knowledge which students get at the beginning of their five-year studies can become obsolete by the time they receive their diplomas. However, a lot of people are still skeptical about short-term courses and opportunities to learn and develop new mid-career skills.
Perhaps, some IT education providers have contributed to these doubts. In some cases, they lack the mission and vision of their role in the IT industry and Ukrainian society in general. Moreover, quantity is sometimes considered a more important asset than quality. Finally, there was previously a tendency to open IT schools in big cities, whereas smaller ones remained deprived of any IT education opportunities.
We are trying to change this situation. By offering well-through high-quality courses, we showcase the ability of short-term education to replace traditional long-term learning. We open academies not only in larger IT hubs but also in mid-sized cities to provide all Ukrainian communities with equal opportunities to obtain new skills and knowledge. Qualitative IT education is a powerful tool to rejuvenate the IT industry and to build a strong middle-class in Ukraine. By today, Beetroot Academy has helped more than 1500 people start their careers in IT, and 70% of them found jobs in IT within 12 months. We believe this is our contribution to Ukrainian society.
If talking about business in general, one of the most relevant problems comes in the form of companies that are perpetuating a status quo of hierarchy and bureaucracy. These companies do not want to change their organizational structures, do not aim to develop people and help them grow. They are stuck in the traditional way of doing things and avoid making changes by all means. And there are negative consequences to that. When seeing people as numbers rather than multi-faceted creative individuals, companies perceptibly limit their own potential for growth. Here, at Beetroot, we try to flatten our organizational structure and demolish the barriers which hinder our employees from professional development. We try to attract more women in tech, get rid of traditional hierarchical structures and follow the principles of self-management.
Recommendations on how to minimize potential threats
First of all, companies need to start with the basics: organizational structure and culture. In order to change the company and make it more adjusted to the future, it is necessary to revise the way the company interacts with people. Business owners should be confident that their company provides employees not only the possibility to grow, but also allow them to bring ideas and make changes in the company.
Secondly, make sure that people stay in the company not just for money, but because they share the company’s values and mission. Thirdly, it is also important to walk that extra mile and ensure your organization is thoroughly set up for women in terms of culture, benefits, and attitude. At Beetroot, about 40% of our employees are women, and this number should grow both in our company and throughout the industry.
There should be no place for “glass ceilings” and gender inequality in the 21st-century businesses.
These ideas are applicable for any kind of business, whether it’s an outsourcing company or an educational institution. IT education providers, including Beetroot Academy, need a strong organizational culture and values to create a good learning environment. Having a clear mission and vision is also crucial for education companies if they want to succeed in the industry. If your company is only driven by numbers, there is a big chance that it will be lost in an ocean of competition. So you need to think deeper and ask yourself what social impact your company can make.
Finally, we shouldn’t forget about such principles as trust and transparency, especially in the sense of over-competitiveness. The contribution of the IT sphere in the Ukrainian economy is enormous, we need to maintain open and honest communication and cooperate eagerly.
The best illustration of this tendency can be seen in the growing number of IT education providers in mid-sized cities. For instance, the BrainBasket fund promotes IT education in Kropyvnytskyi, Kryvyi Rih, Kremenchuk and Zaporizhia. An IT-cluster in Lutsk helps students practice their tech skills through the IT-Practice program and a similar IT-cluster in Cherkasy is launching an educational program for children, IT Kids.
Beetroot Academy is also actively helping this trend to grow and evolve. Currently, we have schools in 13 Ukrainian cities: Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Kramatorsk, Kyiv, Mykolaiv, Poltava, Zaporizhia, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kherson, Kremenchuk, Mariupol, Odesa, and Vinnytsia. With the help of the Swedish government, we plan to open even more schools by 2020.
In general, business is moving towards further internationalization and the adoption of Western values. In the future, companies will hopefully have solved the problems of inequality in the workplace and will provide everyone with equal opportunity to grow and develop.
As for the IT education industry, we’re looking at plenty of entrepreneurial initiatives, creativity, and innovation ahead of us. Currently, the IT education industry is in its very early stages and in the future we will see it mature. We believe that large IT companies will increasingly turn to smaller infotech communities in order to meet their demands for IT specialists. Over time, IT career opportunities and the demand for education should increase even in mid-sized Ukrainian cities.
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