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Making Time for Innovation: Meet Stephanie

What does it take to innovate? Some things that may pop in your head probably include: thinking outside of the status quo, bright minds, making room for mistakes and learning from them. But what often gets overlooked is perhaps the most obvious answer — time. That’s one of the lessons we learned from our chat with Stephanie, CMO of edX, in this edition of edX Insider. 

What are some of the key lessons you’ve learned throughout your career that have led you to where you are today?
Make time for innovation. Even when working at a start-up or innovation led company, the complexities of your day-to-day role can absorb all of your time and energy. At all levels, in any organization, it can be easy to get absorbed in the daily activities and tell yourself that you’ll focus on innovation when you’ve “caught up”- it’s the classic urgent v. necessary dilemma of resource management. Innovation is both necessary and urgent. It drives companies to build better products, experiences and outcomes and it creates an environment where employees feel inspired and energized about their careers. 

What are you most excited about for edX as an organization in the next year? In the next decade?
edX is rapidly expanding its learner base and launching innovative new program offerings and I’m excited to be a part of this growth and innovation (see above re: innovation!). In the next year, I’m looking forward to drawing on my experience building global brands to drive continued awareness of edX and its vision for the future of education. In the next decade, I’m excited to see the impact of the brand we’re growing today and the innovations we’re making in education. I can’t wait to meet edX learners ten years from now and hear their stories and successes. 

What does being “business-minded” mean to you?
Being “business-minded” means being consumer-minded. Consumers set the pace, in any industry, and they have high expectations. Leading with the consumer is key. Companies that set the bar high based on what their consumers want and then make decisions based on that are truly “business-minded.” If companies leverage their most selective, hardest to please consumer as an inspiration, they set out to win. 

What do business leaders have to focus on to be successful in 2020?
Investing in your people! Encourage and enable them to take a continual and fluid approach to personal and professional growth. Leaders who empower their teams to reassess what they don’t know in order to fill in the gaps with transferable skills are the leaders who will build the most talented teams. Also, focus on being agile and adaptive, not just in the technologies your company uses, but in the attitude your company takes when it comes to hiring. Look for curious, adaptable and agile people with transferable, not just specific, expertise.