There were the offers for consulting gigs, which paid better than my last job and would have built on my previous knowledge, but would have been grueling travel. Then there were the standard tech companies where I could do vague things for vague projects, but I wanted to do something more meaningful than simply advancing the tech of another company.
And then there was NWEA.
NWEA is a $100+ million non-profit. Yes, that dollar figure and the term “non-profit” go together. The company was founded in 1977 to help all kids learn, which is a pretty big mission statement when you think about it.
The primary product is an assessment tool that lets teachers find out exactly where a kid is in their learning -- a student might be good at math but behind in reading for example, so keep giving hard math stuff to that kid but adjust the reading materials to match their actual reading level.
It’s modern tech -- the assessment tests are delivered online and generate huge traffic to the NWEA web services. But, while the product is fantastic and scales brilliantly to let tens of thousands of students access the test at the same time, there’s more to a modern tech company than a functioning product. Every aspect of the organization needs to support the rigors of modern digital strategy.
This is where I come in.
The puzzle I have taken on is how to bring the rest of the organization into a modern, nimble, digital world. A digital strategy isn’t just having a great web-based application; it’s about delivering your business goals consistently across all parts of the organization.
I’m working with the Support team to organize their knowledge base and provide more relevant information to the right people, with the Professional Development team to deliver more sophisticated online training to teachers and the Research team to deliver cleaner, easier to access reports.
If I do my job right, this is a transformative process for NWEA, making it easier for people outside to get the resources they need, and making it easier for people inside focus on providing those resources, not fumbling with delivery systems.
But most importantly, this helps with that core mission, “Helping All Kids Learn.” While I’m not a big fan of modern education, I’m an enormous fan of knowledge and learning -- NWEA is about customizing learning, not conformity tests that leave the kids outside the bell curve out in the cold and make a kids education into a political football.
It’s interesting, exciting and meaningful. And I get paid. Definitely worth taking a pause to figure out.