Work Reimagined: igeneration

Posted by Hannah Nommé & Ella Clarke | 16-Nov-2018 10:39:24

The Nimbus Ninety Team takes on the different themes from our most recent summit.

Our Work Reimagined summit took place on 5 November, with over 30 speakers and panel members.

This blog series will examine the different themes that ran through the summit, via the responses from different members of the Nimbus Ninety team. Below are the responses from Hannah and Ella, from the membership team. For the first blog in the series, please click here.


Tina Gotschi, Head of Computer Science at Ada College for Digital Skills chaired the iGeneration Panel. Two of the panellists were her students, Rebecca Sulisufi and Mourad Terceras, both investing in their digital skills. Joining them were Zack Nathan, Founder & CEO of Ape Snacks; and Rose Dyson, founder of Pura Cosmetics. The oldest panelist was 23.

Personally, I had a fantastic experience at uni. But I was curious to hear the opinions of others – two of whom had chosen an alternative route. Young people are benignly steered towards university by their parents, and today many leave with over £40,000 worth of debt. Is this always the right path?

Rose Dyson created Pura Cosmetics when she was just 16. Now, shipping 5,000 units a week, she completely opposes the traditional education system. Similarly, Zack Nathan attended Cornell University for 12 weeks before dropping out to successfully found Ape Snacks.

The point these four made was that in fact, there is no right or wrong answer about whether or not to go to university, or what schools and colleges should be doing in terms of focused career choices. The clear consensus was universities should encourage students to follow their passion. The proof was on the table; with two young entrepreneurs who followed the unconventional path and were rewarded because of it.

Is the current education system doing enough to prepare young people for paths they want to pursue; or is the stigma around not going to university still apparent?

For me, the answer was clear. The traditional education system teaches us that we must follow. Recruiters use a degree as a prerequisite for a job application, and there’s not adequate support for those looking for alternative routes. This must change.

Ella Clarke, Membership Development Manager

Disrupting Education

Should the education system be reformed to better prepare students for a future where automation is the norm?

“Gen Z” is the generation to which I belong, and I have spent most of my life in education. Because of this, it felt peculiar to be indirectly observed, analysed, and advised by CTO of Ocado, Paul Clarke. Paul identified so many of the frustrations I found with my experiences in education and recruitment processes; the relevance of curricula, the box-ticking, the linear process, the one-size-fits-all.

Paul advocated a cyclical and life-long education process. He said that we should remove the primacy of tests as a mode for encouraging students and to allow them to pursue their intellectual curiosity. (He recommends the same thing for managing learners as they enter the workforce.)

Paul advocated greater investment in computing skills; but also, suggested that the knowledge-based paradigm of the division of subjects to be replaced with a skills-based paradigm. Industry leaders have a duty to lead, and Paul challenged Nimbus Ninety members to foster conversation and engage with the politics of this challenge.

His reasoning was not solely economic. Taking risks and pursuing curiosity should be the pathway to a fulfilling career. It had certainly worked for him.

I felt I had been spoken to directly. Working part-time throughout education, and pursuing personal passion projects (at the expense of social experiences) felt valuable for me. I agree with Paul wholeheartedly – the educational system should reflect real-world learning.

Nobody likes tests; the challenge now is to devise ways of ensuring learning is rigorous and standards are maintained without them. In European systems, students are tested systematically and weekly, whereas in the UK system students have to catch-up for final exams; gulping whole curricula at a time to hit their grade.

We need to create new ways of learning which are personalised, and which cater to students as individuals. We must encourage young people to take risks, to pursue what they love. I was grateful for the advice – to embrace challenges and uncertainty, and to test myself.

If an organisation can create and harness an environment that wants this for their employees, then they will not only be industry disruptors, they will have an engaged, confident and collaborative workforce to be reckoned with.

Hannah Nommé, Membership Development Manager

Topics: Speakers & Partners, Guest Blogs, Event reports

Leave a Comment