Canon's Kyosei: It's More Than Just Company Culture
About This Episode
While you've likely heard of Canon, you might not be familiar with the company’s corporate philosophy of Kyosei. In this episode of The Edge, Gerard Pieterse, Director People Development at Canon EMEA, joins host Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek to discuss Canon’s Bike for Congo initiative as a shining example of a company shared value system committed to the greater good.
The views expressed by guests are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Skillsoft.
Michelle BB 00:00:07 Welcome to The Edge, a Skillsoft podcast for learners and leaders alike. In every episode, as you know, we are engaging in candid thought-provoking conversations on the topic of learning and growth in the workplace. And today we are going to talk about the connection between a company's values and its employees values and the incredible things we can do when those value systems are aligned. You know, I've found that you can learn a lot about a company when you ask its employees. This very simple question. What's the culture like where you work? You know, for many, I think the go-to answers are somewhat Pat. They focus in on how people come together to get the job done or how they treat each other. And look, these are all great indicators, but I think we can agree that culture is so much more than that. And to truly know a company's culture, it's important to learn about the value system that guides its people, its products and X and its success.
Michelle BB00:01:10 So how important is that? Well, let's get to a few stats. 73% of people surveyed by Glassdoor last year revealed they would not even apply for a job at a company unless it's values aligned with their own personal belief systems. And with regard to job satisfaction, more than half of the surveys, 5,000 respondents said a company's culture is more significant than salary. Now for some finding a kindred spirit in your employer is only the beginning. You know, so many of us seek opportunities to apply our values to our day-to-day work in ways that positively impact others, not only inside, but also outside of our organizations. And I say us because this matters a great deal to me, knowing there would be an opportunity to apply my value system to the greater good through my job. I have to tell you, it was a major driver of my decision to join Skillsoft.
Michelle BB 00:02:10 And one of the best parts of working for a company with which you have a shared value system. Well, guess what you get to work with, amazing people who share your passion. Our guest on today's podcast happens to be one of those amazing people. In this episode, we'll speak with Gerard Peter Shay director of people development for the iconic brand Kennan, where he focuses on the company's European, middle Eastern and African regions at Canon values mean everything. The company has a very unique corporate philosophy known as se, and I will let Gerard explain more of that, but, but Canon defines it as all people, regardless of race, religion, or culture harmoniously living and working together into the future. And again, I won't steal Gerard's thunder, but he has an incredible story to share with our listeners. It's about a link he created between his role as a champion for learning at cannon and his role as a member of society who wanted to help children gain better access to learning and just a sneak preview. This story involves an Epic bike ride. Gerard, welcome, and thank you for joining us on The Edge.
Gerard 00:03:20 Thank you very much, Michelle, thank you for the, uh, for the opportunity and what a great welcome. Thank you so much.
Michelle BB 00:03:27 Well, you know, I really don't know that I did you justice and I, I do appreciate, um, I do appreciate you saying that, but I think it would be really helpful if you shared with our listeners a little bit about yourself, about your company in your, in your role at, at Canon in particular, because I think that it would give some insight into not just your background, but what motivates you to be such a champion for your learning?
Gerard 00:03:53 Yeah, my pleasure. So first of all, I'm, uh, I'm Dutch as a coming from the Netherlands, uh, by the way, I've been working for for eight, nine years in, uh, in Canon in London. But as a result of COVID, I'm working from home still at the same job, but working from home, uh, I'm married and have grown up children. Um, what I really love is to be outdoor and to be active outdoors, to enjoy the nature. Uh, I love biking and mountain biking, uh, in, in, in really in the being in the Alps or the Pyrenees, uh, during my holidays. And one of the things is that there's sort of less than one learn lifestyle. I want always to get the best out of myself. And so that is something that I like other people get the best hotel, but as a sort of driving, it gets the best out of, out of myself, get a better of yourself.
Gerard 00:04:46 Um, I working for 36 years in OSA Kennan, I started as a mechanical engineer and then moved into strategic planning, then product management, then sales and sales management. I've been heading a business unit, being head of logistics, went into international marketing. Uh, I've been responsible at certain ages thought, Hey, Canon has now invested so much into me and, and, and made it possible that I was able to make a career. So it starts to become time to give back as, so I moved into the area of learning and development in the first place, sales and service and the end for Canon EMEA for total people development, uh, responsible well assets. It's my passion is get the best out of people. I really liked that everybody is using their talents and it's our role to inspire and to motivate people to do so now why then L and D yeah. People make the difference in a company and education is the best investment of a company. I love to work with people who are really willing to develop themselves, like to stretch themselves and grow my motivation, never stopped learning, practicing, and, uh, we have great examples in sports and whatever that, that even the best constantly are investing in themselves and continue.
Michelle BB00:06:06 You know, I, I love that. And something you said was really remarkable to me. You said, it's time for me to give back to this organization. And, you know, I've gotten to know you, um, uh, over the past months that that we've had the opportunity to work together. And it is something I really admire is this bridge that you are building between your personal value system and your organization's values, that you feel a sense of responsibility to give back to this organization that has given you so much, but additionally, those personal values extend far beyond and outside of cannon. And I think a key example is this amazing bike ride across Europe that we're going to discuss, which is to benefit a nonprofit in Africa that provides children with access to education. And I know our listeners are going to love hearing about that experience, but before we get there, this all does connect back to a bigger theme. You are a purpose driven individual who is dedicated to advancing the mission of cannon and cannon is a purpose driven company whose corporate philosophy guides, the company's values and its commitment to the greater good. So, so let's start by talking about your views on the importance of doing good as people first, and then how that translates to the work environment
Gerard 00:07:26 For me, doing good to others is yeah, it's given an extra dimension to your life. It is, it is so nice to give, uh, to share your experience, to share your knowledge, to share your, your time and efforts, especially in those people who need it and maybe do have lesser of a chance, uh, had to get all the good things that you use, self hats in the past. So, and for me, especially I, we were talking about, uh, had my bike tour at, which is focusing and fundraising for children and education for children in Congo. That is for me being, investing my time and my efforts, uh, to help those filled and will hardly have a chance to develop their skills and their talents and to use the talents. Yeah. That, that, that, that is great. That that gives my life at a much further purpose as I really, uh, yeah. Putting my energy in that is, is, is great. It's really fantastic. I hope that somewhere in time, one of those children, most probably you will never know, know them, but, uh, we'll do a great job somewhere in the world. Now, just imagine that, that little thing that we have, that, that I have then been given that it is resulting in something great for such a person and maybe for sure for the total area,
Michelle BB00:08:47 You know, it's, it's interesting because we know that research indicates that companies that live their values are successful, um, whether that's a result of employee satisfaction, but the sh the shared values or the sense of purpose that people give more to an organization that they feel an alignment, a sense of connection with. And I just think that's, I think that's remarkable. And in everything you say, you see that tie in with Canon's values, but let's, let's move on. Cause I'm just, I'm just so eager to get onto this biking for Congo experience, which took you from then low in the Netherlands, where you currently live and work to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. So just to give some context, that's 2,500 kilometers, um, or 15 over 1500 miles. And you did that to raise awareness for the importance of education and lack of access. That is still a challenge, as you said, for children in Africa. So you talked a little bit about what motivated you to take on this amazing challenge, but I also know that in doing so, you had to spend a great deal of time thinking through and preparing for this journey. So tell us a little more about what you went through and the obstacles you faced, but, but always what was in your mind's eye as, as you went through so many challenges,
Gerard 00:10:15 First of all, it's of course, yeah. You need to have a good reason. Why am I doing this? And then when people ask me, I always said this because I can. And that, that, that I'm able to do it on, on, on my age. I have the, I have, uh, I have the spirits, I have the body, the mind, so I'm able to do it. And there are so many people who can't that even in my own family, in my own friends. So there is something driving me if since I can, I have to do it by the way next it is already said, is, is I love to be out there and to be fully aware of the beauty of nature. And you can imagine if you are biking through the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Spain, you see, you see beautiful sceneries, it's incredible.
Gerard 00:10:57 And then being there and fully aware, getting the best out of yourself, because it's sweating. I can tell you, it was very hot once in a while, because we had a heat wave when I was biking in, in Belgium and France, and then going up Hill has so even 10% climbing with all your luggage. That is that's, that's not only nice, but getting the best out of yourself and being fully aware and enjoying that is, is, is really great. But at the same time, knowing that you are doing good to others, and that makes, that gives such a motivation, that you are not just doing it for yourself in the same time that you are, that you are fundraising. That is, that is really great. Really great. Um, so yeah, what, what do you plan for a, you need to have a, yeah. Your, your body needs to be fit.
Gerard 00:11:45 So yeah, you have to train, you have to bake kilometers. You have to make sure that you can sit on a settle for six, seven hours per day. So that is what you need to train. Uh, and yeah, there was an investment, but that's doing good. Eh, again, doing sports is it's good for your health. So there's a benefit in that. You need to have a very good plan. So you need to know the routes. You need to know the, the GPX file. You need to have the maps. You need to make sure that you, that you find that you can find your hotels. You need to have, make sure that your bike is right, that you're looking at this right, that you don't take too much with you because every, every kilo you have to bring up, uh, uphill. Uh, and that's, so that is where you are all preparing.
Gerard 00:12:24 That's the most difficult thing. And you hardly can prepare is, is just imagine six to seven hours on a bike and just pedaling. Uh, that is, that is, um, yeah, all type of thoughts are crossing into your mind are popping in and et cetera. And the principle you need to make sure is that you, yeah, that, that, that, that you, that you are clean, that you are open-minded that you had an open heart open soul and that you just enjoy, and that you have a stoic mind as a, as a, as I call it, by the way, this is the strong body strategic plan and stoic mind is coming from a book that I got from my son also has a preparation, the art of resilience and Ross actually is there, is there writing about the unbreakable resilience and that's all about having a strong body strategic plan and the stoic mind. So that's what I did practice. And, uh, I did learn a lot about how to be able in 28 days to keep that stoic mind, which is not, which not easy, but it is very good to do. Very good to do. Yeah.
Michelle BB00:13:25 So, you know, I, you, you started planning this, you must've started planning this easily eight months, nine months a year ahead. And all of a sudden we enter 2020 and COVID-19 hits, what does that mean for you? And what, what did you have to adapt as a result?
Gerard 00:13:49 Yeah, we did. The plan was to, uh, to go in. So we, I, it was already in my mind for four or five years, and <inaudible> being everywhere in the Alps, uh, biking and the Pyrenees biking in, uh, even been biking in the desert. And so I had planned it for the first half of may and, uh, but yeah, that was not possible because there was a complete lockdown here in Europe and, and that is something like, yeah. As some, yeah, you are that, that, that you want to do this. So, so, so yes, so much. And then not being able to do that is all like, it's like your world falls apart because it's sort of dream that you, that you, that you becoming afraid of not being able to get to, uh, did that was not just, again, not just about me, because yeah, I, we, we, we did raise, have we did started activity or fundraising for, for the company as comes so biking for Congo, so fundraising for, for money for those children in.
Gerard 00:14:50 And so I, it, like when I'm, I'm, I'm I'm, yeah. I'm letting them down if, if I'm, if I'm, if, if we are not doing this and because yeah. Otherwise we, we, we, we cannot help them. And so we were very eager to go. So we followed really the news and at the first moment to go was in, uh, was in August. So then that in August, we, yeah, we started and we did our biking and we did bike for four weeks. Uh, really went through the, our old type of things of, of, of weather and mechanical things. And, and COVID never was away because COVID everywhere, every village where we were every restaurant, every hotel, of course, we had to deal with COVID, uh, entering Spain, Spain went on orange. We were in principle, not, not, not, not able to go in, but that we did it, although we wish there was a risk for insurance, if, if there was something happening.
Gerard 00:15:43 Uh, but it was constantly that drive of, yeah, we are doing this, not only for ourselves, but we are doing this also for, for, for, for those children, Congo, but, but also for all those friends and colleagues and, and, and, and you guys said because yeah, skill self has been great in, in, in really sponsoring us. And even with licenses for the teachers have edge accounts for every kilometer that we were biking as well, there was so much motivation behind us that help us really going through. And that is yeah. Being in that stage of doing some head, doing what you love to do with a lot of help of great sponsors and then doing rights is, is, is an yeah. An experience. Michelle, please go and do it yourself as well, because it's really great.
Michelle BB00:16:30 You are, you are inspiring me. And I think you are inspiring quite a few people because, you know, I th I think that there were probably some dark moments. I mean, I, I know what it's like to be, and look a marathon really can't compare, but I know what it's like to be in sort of that final leg of a marathon. And there's some dark thoughts that go through your mind. I don't know if I can finish this, but to ride twenty-five twenty-five hundred kilometers across Europe in the time of a pandemic. And so many people are counting on you. I admire so much what you did, Gerard, knowing that this was not an easy challenge that you took on, and yet you did it, and you accomplished your goal, not just for you, but for EduCon. So congratulations on that. Thank you. Um, as you think about, as you look back, and I'm sure that you want to share this message with others, and, and we're excited to be a part of helping you share that, what do you want people to take away from your experience in biking for Congo and specifically what changed you?
Michelle BB00:17:37 What did you bring back to Ken and from this experience?
Gerard 00:17:41 Yeah, my key experience is, is that, um, asset is you, you have to have a very good reason. So when I talk companies, you have to have a very good purpose. And if you don't have a reason, or if your reason is not strong enough anymore, yeah. Stop it because you will never be able to fulfill it. And accident is of course, makes sure that you have faith that your organization fit or your body is fit. I, because you can, you can, you can mirror it it to, to, to, you can project it to two businesses, two families to sports or whatever, have it, make sure that you are fit, make sure that you, that you are, that, that you can do it and make sure that you have a very good plan. And if you have a fit organization or a fit body, and you have a good plan then, and the reasoning is pure and it's, and it's there and it's, you have full belief in that then yeah. Then just do it with the stoic minds. And, and you can, uh, yeah, you can, you can, you can apply that almost on everything in life, whether you are in business or whether you are in sports or, or just family life. Um, yeah, you can, you can use that.
Michelle BB 00:18:51 Well, it does, you know, and I think that's really interesting that point, yes, you can be fit and that is important, right? It's absolutely critical. You can't go into this without having done a lot of that work, but really when it comes down to it, it's that mental resilience, it's, it's mentally being able to achieve something, even at those really dark moments. When you know, you look and you say, I don't know if I can do this. It is that it goes back to that book right on resilience.
Gerard 00:19:20 Absolutely. It's it's the, um, so that, that, that, that draws actually, he did, he did swim around the UK, which is even even more jealousy and you can learn from that. But, uh, so in that sense, what I did is just peanuts, but that's, but to strongly believe so if you have a good reason and if you are a fit and if you're not fit, make sure that you get fit and having a good plan and just do it and believe in what you're doing with the stoic mind. And that's not easy because there are all types of agitators constantly, or irritate us constantly around you have it, have a look on the things that you can change or what you can learn from. So adopt them in your plan. But the things that you cannot change, you simply have to think, can I live with a yes or no?
Gerard 00:20:06 And if not, then, okay, you have a problem. But if you can live, then, then, then why bother and, and, and continue what you are, what you are doing. If I look to companies, I like, like, like also a Canon, of course, there are constantly things happening in the world, uh, which, which, which, which, which might take, you need to, to adjust your direction a little bit, or whatsoever, there, there always can happen. Things like a COVID is caused in a huge impact on businesses, but Hey, what can we change? The only thing is what we can do is have a look in it and from, Hey, can we, do we see opportunities in it? Do we only see challenges in it? So what are we going to do? And based on that, you adjust your plan and you strongly believe that in your plan, you have your, and boom, you just go for it. And then you have that stoic minds met mentality. Again,
Michelle BB00:20:52 I love that. And I see the parallels between, you know, this, this endeavor you undertook, but really it has application. It has applicability to what we do in our everyday lives, but also in the work that we do and setting our mind to something and working hard to achieve it, it takes resilience. It takes that fit body and mind. And so I think that there's so many lessons that we can learn from these sorts of challenges. And I think that, you know, if I hear you correctly and please forgive me if I, if I overstate this, but there's always going to be something that you can do. So it's, it's good to take on challenges. It's good to push yourself because you never know what you can accomplish, not just for you, but for others until you give it a try.
Michelle BB00:21:49 Absolutely. Absolutely. So, let's talk a little bit more about your role at Canon, because there are a number of key initiatives. I know you're managing now, but what are you particularly excited about?
Gerard 00:22:04 And so, as I already said that, so my passion is really, I always say, have the success of our learners. Our is our success, um, and, and, and really getting, getting so enabling people to learn and to develop themselves, to get the best out of, out of themselves. And, and in Canon, we have, uh, an execu say, we have the three cells, which means, uh, you always have to be self-aware, you need to be able to manage yourself and you need to motivate yourself. And we think strongly, if that, that our employees, they should have an intrinsic motivation to learn and to develop themselves. And then we are there as learning development and people development organization to support them in, in, in achieving their goals and, and, and whatever that is with, with our learning. Um, and, and we like many other companies, we, we, we were doing that in a quite traditional way, and we had really face-to-face trainings and events and, and, uh, and all these stuff.
Gerard 00:23:07 And we really strongly believe in that, especially for skills and behaviors, for sales, for instance, that that was the best to do. So, can you imagine something else? We never thought that we were able to do that virtually, and then once the certain there was COVID, so nobody was able to travel. Nobody was able to do face-to-face training and know our learners, know our, our learning professionals. Um, and so we were sitting there on, okay, what are we going to do now? And I must say, it's, it's an incredible effort of, of, of our team that they were sitting like from, Hey guys, the learners are sitting at home, they have a lot of time learn in principle. Uh, so why not stretching ourselves and say, Hey, we are going to, to see whether we can transform, uh, our own, our learnings into, into virtual learning.
Gerard 00:23:59 And then we were also, we got great help from Skillsoft because we are, we are a user of Percipio and we're really sitting down, okay, what online content is available from Skillsoft, which can support our face-to-face programs. And so making a sort of redesign or what is already online available, or on developing new things online, and then having really something like people can learn online. And then we add to that virtual workshops I using ms. Teams and, and that concept of having online learning in combination with virtual webinars or learning online is, is a new standards. And I'm, I'm really proud of my team of, of having made that change in such a short timeframe. And I just received the outcome of what we call our employee satisfaction survey and, and, and, and the learning and appreciation is higher than ever this year, which is, which is, which is, which is incredible if you, if you, if you think about it.
Gerard 00:25:01 So things that we were dreaming of in the past and of making more online learning and more virtual learning for every difficult to achieve in that sense, we got some tailwind from COVID to make a change because a, the learners have that need, and we're more open to, to, to new ways of learning. And first I was somebody like, yeah, we have to, otherwise we are sitting home and we are doing nothing, so let's go for it. And that's super, so that, that works, that works. I am extremely proud of, although there was a huge challenge that we used it for, for the good, for all of us. And I came to a great result,
Michelle BB00:25:40 You know, and, and I think that is, I think that's amazing that the appreciation for learning is higher. It would seem to me based on everything that I have learned about cannon from you, and I'm in awe of your company's values, that you focused quite a bit, also on ensuring engagement and connection, because in a virtual world, we automatically think it's going to be harder. But it sounds like from, from what I understand that you worked hard to ensure that employees felt connected to each other, that they felt engaged with the company as well. Yes.
Gerard 00:26:20 So we were doing all types of activities, a even, even creating a WhatsApp group for every week, making sure is that we have first contact I'm, I'm calling them. They are calling me for IMS teams. Uh, we, we, we really have made use a lot of ms teams that really having that face-to-face contact also, uh, putting the camera on. Uh, but, but we, we organized a beer on Friday afternoon, uh, virtually, or, or all these types of things really to, to, to make sure is that is that we are connected. And it's very nice that our CEO is, is, is doing so in one of his blogs, he said is the one and most important thing is the health of our employees during this time. So what happened, what happened with our business? That's our first priority. So total management, please pay attention to your people. And that's of course, great support.
Michelle BB00:27:10 Oh my goodness. I love that. And I can't believe that that we're kind of drawing to a close here. So I do have a final question. You know, it's been something that I've been asking all of our guests across every podcast episode. And I have, I'm going to write a book. I think about the responses, because what I am hearing is just been tremendous. I've learned so much from every guest, because for many people, um, this, this pandemic, it, it, it, it has, it has been tragic. It has been awful, but it is also, I think, allowed people to look at things a bit differently. And, you know, we're giving ourselves maybe a little more grace shifting our perspectives, you know, taking up new hobbies. So the questions that I have for you, it's a, three-part, it's one question, three parts, right? What have you started doing since the onset of the pandemic that just surprises you, number two, what are the, uh, stop doing and are so grateful for? And I will tell you that there's a car in traffic in my response, and then three, as we continue to evolve, because I think that's what we're doing, right? We are never going to go back to, or this, this notion of a new normal, I don't like, but as we evolve and continue to improve the ways in which we work, what is something that you're going to continue to do that you might not have done before? So start, stop, continue.
Gerard 00:28:37 The start is, uh, because we were all in, in March, we were all like, okay, what are we going to do? And, um, like myself, I heard many people saying once a sudden, I became much more aware of my, of my situation. And a lot of people feel much more privileged as some other people felt, felt difficult, but, but, but that awareness on where am I and what am I going to do? Uh, and then, and then making a choice of, okay, this is what I'm believing. And this is what I think that I should do. And I'm being, yeah. Being that stoic or really doing, doing that. Um, by the way, next to that, I think in the time, uh, we were also very conscious to help each other because we were aware that there might be some employees or some colleagues really suffering and having an open eye to that and giving them a quick call or just paying some attention is, is doing so good.
Gerard 00:29:37 It's so helpful. And so you get something, but you get a, a lot back. And so for me, it is what I started to do is, is really being much more aware of my, of my own situation, but also of the situation of others and be open to, to give and to get, um, what I've stopped. And that is, that's the principle in line with that. Uh, and I think we all have it. We all have, in our days, we had, we were lift by, by the rush of the day. Uh, it has us all, things are happening to us and we just, we just continue with just doing, and we hardly, we hide what is, what is, what is all happening? And as a result of that, also things that were not like is things that irritate us really, really did bring us down or, or, or, or yeah.
Gerard 00:30:30 Was, was not good. And so I stopped, uh, really, and I, I will, I will in France. So other people is to think about from, Hey guys, are there, are there things which really can, can do something about? And if not, then, then just let go. But especially that rush, having, having the rush of the day, I would like to, to stop. Um, and again, that's business, it's family, it's all these type of things then. And what you've, what do you want to create continue is if that, um, as sometimes people talk about, when can we go back to the normal situation or what will be the new normal, because preferably we, all people would like to go as soon as possible to, in situation that we have full control. Okay. Um, I think what I would try to do is to accept the new reality and the reality is it's changing every day as it's still evolving and it will change over time.
Gerard 00:31:29 So I don't think that we even have, have an idea of how the world will look like within a year from now as a result of all this, but we just simply have to have to have to accept that we need to be agile, need to be flexible. Um, habit also be always aware of what is driving yourself. What is your purpose? What is your reason? Um, it makes sure that you are healthy and strong. So don't let go, uh, make sure that you have a plan, be able to adopt if needed and believe it, then go for it. So that is, that is really what I would like to continue to do, and be less irritated by agitators and create more motivators around me who helped me to have to battle against the agitated and really am really angry to go for it. Or if we dark side, there is a bright side. And, um, and, and so as you can always look to the dark side of the moon, but Hey, maybe it's better to look to the other side. And there was always that flip-flop, uh, possibility. And then I enjoy life. So continue enjoying life, whatever happens, not always easy. A lot of people face a lot of difficulty, uh, but even, but for those people would say is, don't only look to the bad things. Also try to see the positive things and the opportunities that might be there in all these challenges.
Michelle BB00:32:48 You know, I think for our listeners, um, and for me, that is such great guidance. And I think just taking a step back and being grateful for what we have and what we can do versus what we cannot. Um, so thank you. Thank you so much. And, and, you know, Gerard, before we close while I recognize your bike ride is complete, the work that <inaudible> is doing is not yet over and needs to continue. So tell our listeners, how can they support your initiative? How can we help make education more accessible in Africa?
Gerard 00:33:25 Because it's, it's such a great organism, by the way, you have many organizations in the world had having initiatives for, for, for helping the people who are less privileged than, than, than we are ourselves. As you can see, say, it's a Dutch organization from origin, and, but they are really expanding and becoming more international and are connected to more and more also, uh, other, uh, international organizations, but it's a freelance organization. And it is an organization of people that have, have been teaching or are still teaching. And I feel simply want to make, want to give to the people who are, who are less fortunate. And so they are really focused today. They, they focus on, on giving children in, in, in developing regions, uh, really a chance for, to learn and because they strongly believe, uh, that if we want to change the world to the better for them, that that education is key.
Gerard 00:34:23 Education is absolutely key. And, and I, and I'm strongly with them. So these are freelance. People are investing their own time, their own money on, on, on, on helping, uh, teachers, uh, school initiatives in, in countries like for instance, Congo or Congo is a, is a country, which is, which is, which is very poor. It's one of the most poor countries in the world where, uh, where education for children, especially girls, especially girls, uh, is, is absolutely necessary. And as a result of, so they were doing great really that they were really getting somewhere. And now as a result of COVID, and you can see that on the website, it, it is, yeah, everything went down and it is so difficult, uh, had to reach out now to those children and center. So these organizations in the world have huge difficulty because they are really depending on, on funds, raised by organizations, by people.
Gerard 00:35:21 Uh, but as a result of COVID, it's become very difficult. Next that, of course, also there, and these, these children cannot go to a school or whatever because of the pandemic. Um, so that organization, uh, has many activities, as many actions, everybody can start own action, uh, for fundraising and, and they really need it. Now, I'm, I'm still, you know, very grateful what skills or tests done because you have been really supportive. Uh, a fantastic initiative is that for every kilometer that we did bike, uh, they got a license for, for Percipio learning for their teachers. So you can imagine 2,500 teachers on our learning on Percipio, and it is all, yeah, it's, it's offered by your organization, which says also a lot about your organization, Michelle. So you, you are helping me and that organization to make learning available, uh, to people really, really need it. And that organization is called Ethicon. You can find them on, uh, on the web. It is, uh, agriculture is spelled with E D U K a N s.org, O R G. So ethicon.org. And, uh, you will find them and you will see all the initiatives that they are doing and whatever you do, please help them. They need your help.
Michelle BB 00:36:43 Thank you so much, Gerard. And thank you for sharing that information. Again, everyone at Yukons, EDU, K a N s.org, please join us in supporting this tremendous organization that is helping, helping children in Africa, gain access to education. And, you know, I think it's no more fitting, um, that you've got learning and development professionals sitting here today, talking about this topic and trying to make a better world for those who don't yet have access. So draw, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us on the edge podcast, to our listeners. Thank you for tuning into this very special episode. As we unleash our edge together and help others unleash their edge on behalf of the entire Skillsoft team, we encourage you to keep learning, keep growing and in light of our conversation today, keep giving, find that connection between your values and your organization's values, and then act on it. I'm Michelle BB. This is The Edge. Be well.
About Our Guest
With 30+ years of experience across mechanical engineering, product management and people development, Gerard Pieterse is currently the People Development Director for Canon EMEA. In his role, Gerard is responsible for all Canon EMEA Employees and Partners across the four domains of People Development, namely learning, leadership, performance and talent development.
Gerard spearheads Canon EMEA’s ambition to create a self-development and learning culture throughout the entire company, where employees take ownership of their own development and learning, and where managers are bringing the ambitions of the company and employees together for the best results.
About Our Host
As Chief Marketing Officer, Michelle leads a global marketing organization, focused on transforming today’s workforce for tomorrow’s economy. Since joining the company, she has been responsible for Skillsoft’s global marketing strategy, which includes generating awareness, driving preference, and building affinity for Skillsoft. Additionally – and perhaps most importantly – Michelle serves as the company's brand evangelist, helping to build a vibrant community of passionate learners.
With more than 25 years of marketing, branding, and strategy experience, Michelle has made it her personal mission to support the advancement of women in business. Prior to Skillsoft, she served as Chief Marketing Officer of IBM Watson, where she was instrumental in developing the first “Women Leaders in AI” program, which honors women who put AI to work across industries and around the globe. She also served as the global head of marketing for The Weather Company, an IBM Business, helping companies understand how to anticipate, plan for, and ultimately make better decisions – with greater confidence – in the face of weather.
Michelle is a prolific speaker on a range of topics, including the war for talent, digital transformation, and marketing in a post-pandemic world. She covers these topics and more as the host of Skillsoft's podcast, The Edge, now in its second season. She has authored countless papers covering a range of business and marketing topics, was at the center of Skillsoft’s leadership role in DEI through free “Leadercamps,” and has taught two Percipio courses on the Pink Pandemic and Public Speaking.
Michelle is also a founding member of CMO Huddles, a group dedicated to bringing together and empowering highly effective B2B CMOs to share, care, and dare each other to greatness. Michelle holds a Master’s degree from Simmons University and sits on the pro side of the Oxford comma debate.