August 1, 2011

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Alex Lawrence

Jenni Smith




Industry Outlook

Utah Business Staff

August 1, 2011

HALL: Just on that point about attracting talent to move to Utah—having a state that has a reputation of educational excellence at the very young level would definitely help us attract talent to move here. And that would solve a lot of our recruiting problems.

NELSON: In addition to paying more, though, there needs to be an accountability structure where more money is given to the right teachers that are successfully implementing innovative techniques.

PEDERSEN: Just like you would in business.

TANNER: Part of our problem is the assessment process. It allows for a very lackadaisical educational system. So there’s got to be a way for us to go in, from a legislative perspective, and say, “The assessment’s changed. How we measure the success of these students has changed.” That drives the quality, that drives the outcome, that drives people to want to go higher. The way we’re assessing, in my opinion, is still completely flawed—I can get an education and still not provide value to an employer.

NELSON: Assessing the student population is a means of assessing teachers.

TANNER: Right. By virtue of that assessment of the student, now the teacher has to change their behavior because my success is based on the assessment of that student. And all of a sudden you have this compounded effect.

LOCKHART: They’re giving computer-adaptive assessments where they hone in on the strengths and weaknesses of every child, and it allows the teacher to directly deal with children on an individual basis. It’s just beginning. They just passed a bill last year to begin that type of assessment.

ROPELATO: It’s easy to beat up the educational environment, but I really think, as technology companies, we need to help out there. There’s a responsibility. We’ve struggled with internet marketers, for example. We finally went to Weber State and said, “Look, we’ll put on a 10-week course, we’ll pay for it all, we’ll bring in industry leaders in technology and internet marketing.” We opened it up free to all the Weber State students. We had a great course, and they got some education they never would have gotten at the college because, let’s be honest, professors don’t have a mechanism to stay current with a lot of that. We’re in it on a day-to-day basis.

LINTON: I’ve been to Washington, D.C. six or eight times this year, working with the Council of Chief State School Officers. There is a freight train coming at us right now. It’s all based on the Common Core. Our state’s adopted it; 44 states have. This is a big movement to get us out of the 31st ranking in the world. It’s huge and it’s fantastic and it is the stuff we want to see. The other big move—in 2014, there will be brand new assessments. There are two consortiums that include most states that are participating. These groups are taking this more serious than I’ve ever seen anything. They’re moving quickly. They’re trying to push kids to the next level. There’s also a whole new series of teacher evaluation standards—leading edge, innovative, that are going to push teachers to the next level.

What one leadership principle has been most valuable in growing your company?

KARANJIKAR: Staying power. You have to have faith in your own beliefs that this technology will one day succeed.

OLSEN: Be adaptive. Technology is changing so fast. A lot of the companies we’re selling to are adapting quickly to stay ahead of the competition.

HELLEWELL: Happy employees equal happy customers equals growth.

SECHREST: Be flexible and reliable. The world is changing and we’re becoming more mobile. People want information in different ways. We have to be flexible in meeting those needs and reliable in handling the customers.

TURLEY: Systematic consistency. Especially with decentralization, things like cloud technologies and an expanding market place, it’s hard to get consistent results, especially when we’re hiring from different countries and trying to work it all into one area.

CHECKETTS: Focus and clarity.

HALL: Leading by example. Especially when you’re growing a new office and a new team so rapidly, you really have to make sure that you’re setting the example for the culture of the office and then trying to be sure you’re being consistent in terms of leadership.

TURNER: Along with that is shared vision. The members of your team have to have the same vision you do and all be working in the same direction.

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