Two years ago, the Rye mom offered Women in Innovation workshops at the Rye Arts Center. This spring, with the help of three other smart people, she launched Hello Career Guru, the first-of-its-kind virtual career trainer by women for women.
Thirty years out of business school, Suzanna Keith looked at the underwhelming number of female C-suite executives and decided to do something about it.
“Our goal is to put women at the controls of their professional growth,” offered founder and CEO Keith, “by democratizing career advancement.”
“Hello Career Guru,” added CFO Karen Keane, “gives women anytime, anywhere access to insights and experiences. We provide customized, curated content, which tell them which TED talks to watch, which organizations to join, which successful people to study.”
Keith added, “You’re more likely to advance if you learn from the best — the glass-ceiling shatterers, the visionaries — and read everything you can about your field, your work culture.”
Friends and colleagues and both mothers of three, Keith and Keane know firsthand the importance of flexible and easy access to training. They’ve both had big jobs and balanced work and motherhood.
“We needed to make sure we came up with a platform that would allow women to listen and learn while they were getting their kids out the door or making dinner,” said Keane.
The platform curates content from the most popular career resources, tailoring the recommended articles, videos, and classes for each user based on their profile, their ambition, and executive insights. All the information is at a user’s fingertips right from the platform. It was designed with the guidance of HR and talent experts to ensure relevance and impact for women from entry-level through mid-career.
To make sure they had a winning strategy and products, they ran beta tests. They polled 1,000 women, and the results showed that 88 percent of them wanted career guidance and 76 percent of those were willing to pay for it.
Before putting the finishing touches on their business, they gamified it. Women who sign up for Hello Guru assistance earn awards and badges as they make progress. The points program monitors their accomplishments, while providing ongoing motivation.
Hello Career Guru is geared for women 25-45, but they and their partners, Sonal Rinello (CMO) and Tom Beauchamp (CIO), have helped younger women find their first job and older women reenter the work force.
“Based upon our research, women shared with us that they don’t have the tools, mentoring, or the extra 12 hours a week needed to search for and then learn new skills and behaviors”, said Keith. “Solving this issue is good business for everyone. Research shows that companies with women in the C-suite and on corporate boards are 21% more profitable.”
Saving women time searching leaves more time for them to be learning and doing. Even a few minutes a day can have an impact; think of it as going to a career fitness gym, they said.
After a free trial, a six-month subscription to Hello Career Guru is less than your Netflix bill, noted Keane.
Keith quipped, “It’s unusual to have two 50+ founders at a tech startup, but here we are democratizing career advancement for all women, regardless of age, background, income, geography, and race.”
- Robin Jovanovich