Apart from being a National Business Development Manager at Meg, Naomi Hawking is an enthusiast of all things EdTech. After a decade of experience in print and online media, she ventured into adult education, facilitating workplace training and assessment with a strong focus on competency-based learning. Working in a continually changing environment combining systems and education ignited a passion for EdTech, which she has pursued ever since.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to Valiant CEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Naomi Hawking: Meg provides language & culture lessons to schools in Australia, USA, UK and New Zealand. We do this by employing native language speakers and connecting them with our schools via video conferencing. This way, your students get to regularly talk to a native speaker on the ground in China or Colombia, which is the next closest thing to being there. When students are shown outside and can see the skyscrapers, Andes mountains, snow on the ground, and density of living, their curiosity and motivation to learn naturally increases.
All concerns about language teacher shortages can be eliminated with our program as we solve the headaches that Principals are faced with when trying to find and retain language teachers. Meg presents a truly sustainable language program that can merge with a school’s long term strategic vision. One of the most successful elements of our program is that we involve a school’s generalist classroom teachers in the learning journey. By schools having their staff learning world languages too, it allows the language to be embedded within the
school in a way that simply isn’t possible under a more traditional language program framework.
Who has been the most influential person(s) in your life and how did they impact you? How did that lead to where you are today?
Naomi Hawking: The most influential figure in my life is Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize winner & advocate for democracy in Myanmar. I’ve followed and admired her from the age of 16, and although her cause and values have shifted dramatically from when I first heard of her, her journey has shown me how people and priorities grow and change based on the world around you. My interest and passion in this area led me to work for an innovative EdTech company that has a strong focus on celebrating culture.
2020 was a challenging year for all of us, particularly for businesses. How did the pandemic impact your business? Please list some of the problems that you faced, and how you handled them.
Naomi Hawking: Although our lessons are delivered online, the schools we provide to are all bricks & mortar. Their inability to have students on site changed the way we teach and as a result, we created a brand new product offering (an online, self-directed program) to adapt. Not only did we adapt, we thrived and achievement amazing student outcomes.
The pandemic led to a myriad of cultural side effects, including one that was quite unexpected that is informally known as “The Great Resignation”. Did this widespread trend affect you in any way?
Naomi Hawking: Although we didn’t see an increase in turnover in our business, we are in an industry where mass resignation is expected. By adapting our product we gave our team exciting new challenges, which brings job satisfaction. In addition to this, we closed our physical premises allowing our staff the flexibility of working remotely. As a company that prides itself on communicating seamlessly from around the world, this was a no-brainer.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021. How do you feel about this trend? Explain.
Naomi Hawking: This trend shows that 4 million Americans feel unsatisfied, underutilized, or unappreciated at large. Though this isn’t always the fault of the employer but perhaps a symptom of the industry they are in. Employers need to adapt, but so do consumers and communities.
According to a study by Harvard Business Review, Employees between 30 and 45 years old have had the greatest increase in resignation rates, with an average increase of more than 20% between 2020 and 2021. That can be quite an alarming rate. What advice would you share to increase employee retention?
Naomi Hawking: Ensure your team is afforded all of the flexibilities you dream of. If they can work from home – why shouldn’t they? If they’re feeling isolated, create more opportunities for collaboration. If they’re not sure how they’re feeling – give them a new and exciting challenge to engage them in their work.
According to a Nature Human behavior study, In 2020, 80% of US workers reported feeling that they have too many things to do and not enough time to do them – a phenomenon known as “time poverty”. What is your take on the work-life balance? Explain.
Naomi Hawking: Working from home is a great solution to time poverty, as a lot of incidental activities suddenly give you hours of your life back. Since working from home, I’ve re-gained 4+ hours each day due to giving up my commute – and that doesn’t count time lost chatting by the water cooler. With a WFH arrangement employees need to have a distinct barrier between work and home for the sake of well-being as well as productivity, so disallowing emails outside of office hours is also a great idea.
A more recent survey by Joblist asked about 3,000 respondents if they’re actively thinking about leaving their job. That survey found that 73% of 2,099 respondents who answered this question on their employment plans are considering quitting. How are you preparing for the future to counter this potentially persistent problem?
Naomi Hawking: AnswerKeep a laser focus on doing what is within your power to keep your staff engaged and excited about the work they do.
Thank you for all that, our readers are grateful for your insightful comments! Now, if the Great Resignation isn’t your greatest concern, what is the #1 most pressing challenge you’re trying to solve in your business right now?
Naomi Hawking: Not being able to travel has affected the way we can meet new clients, which impacts our growth. I’d love to be able to meet with Principals or at least be able to get 15 minutes of zoom time!
Before we finish things off, we do have one last question. If you had $10 Million Dollars to spend in one day, what would you spend it on?
Naomi Hawking: I’d have to buy a KFC franchise, for the revenue and the leftover nuggets at the end of the day.
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Naomi Hawking for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Naomi Hawking or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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