Q&A with Pluralsight's Sean Farrington

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Why did you make the decision to join Pluralsight? What excites you about the company?

I was introduced to Pluralsight by a close friend and former colleague from Qlik Joe DiBartolomeo, Pluralsight’s Chief Revenue Officer. Joe’s enthusiasm for Pluralsight was infectious and I instantly connected with the company’s mission to democratise technology skills. I could see right away the commitment not just of the leadership team, but the entire team, to drive towards a shared vision. From the top-down, there is a fundamental belief that by democratising technology skills we can be at the center of innovation. This matches my own ethos and lessons learned from spending 14 years in the army where I saw first-hand how success is underpinned by training and ongoing skill development. 

There is a massive global technology skills gap across industries. By combining the knowledge of world-renowned technology experts with our powerful platform we can empower organisations to identify where they have technology skill gaps and then upskill their teams to deliver on their core strategies. Having worked at Qlik, Medallia and SAP, I come from a technology background, so I’m looking forward to combining this with my passion for training in my new role. Post IPO and with an EMEA office recently established in Dublin, it’s an exciting time to be joining the team and I’m anxious to roll up my sleeves and contribute to Pluralsight’s global growth plans. 

What did being in the army teach you about the business world and how have you implemented your military experience into career in business?

There are a lot of lessons I learned in the military that I have carried over into business, but the main thing is that leadership is the differentiator between success and failure. I was in a top performing unit in the army but a change to a new commander completely impacted our performance and we were soon knocked off our top spot. The team’s capability didn’t change, but our leader did. And while we were still a high performing unit, we were no longer leading and out front. This really brought home for me that even with the right people, if you don’t have the right leader, the team isn’t going to produce to its fullest potential. In the corporate world, the same lesson holds true. Great business leaders must communicate clearly, objectively manage tasks, and provide employees with the autonomy to perform their role effectively. Without great leaders there are no great teams.   

How do you think enterprises can get ahead of the skills gap and future proof their business?

Technology is everywhere and it’s evolving faster than we can learn it, creating a skills gap for technology professionals and the businesses that employ them to build the products and services that we use every day. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of a development team is one of the greatest challenges facing technology executives across all industries. Most organizations understand conceptually they have a skills gap, but how big is it and how do they close it? That’s where Pluralsight steps in as a partner. From start to finish, Pluralsight is at the center of the entire technology skills development experience -- providing users with skills assessments, a curated library of content from subject-matter experts, and customized paths to master technology skills. With our business analytics, CIOs can understand the skill levels of their team, align skill development to business objectives and quantify the impact of ongoing technology skill development on their business. They can then roll all that up and present to company leaders to help the see how that is impacting their ability to go execute on strategy. 

Which tech skills are most in demand at the moment?

Every organisation needs fast and instant access to data and information to improve customer services, deliver innovative solutions and function in real-time. So much so, that the future of operations is almost completely reliant upon the cloud and mobility. This dependence, however, will need to be underpinned by employees who are competent with the technology and empowered to keep pace with innovation by solidifying their existing skills and developing new ones that support cloud services. Cybersecurity and threat prevention and mitigation will also be key. The introduction of GDPR and the growing threat of data breaches has made security a key consideration within all business processes. 

Be it cloud computing or cybersecurity, the rate of innovation means skills are becoming outdated faster than we can learn them. That’s why organizations in over 150 countries are using the Pluralsight platform so that their technology teams can continue to hone their skills. Those who can innovate in this mobile, yet security-intensive environment, will stand-out amongst their peers. 

Tech for good is a rising trend at the moment - is social impact part of Pluralsight’s long term strategy?

Our mission is to democratise technology skills. We want to give everyone, everywhere the opportunity to create with technology that in turn benefits us all. This is our north star and guides everything we do. It’s also why we launched Pluralsight One, our social enterprise initiative, to extend Pluralsight’s product to the global social sector with a focus on enabling nonprofit organizations and those they serve with technology skills they need to drive significant, lasting social impact.

To date, Pluralsight One has conducted a global needs assessment and launched a pilot program that includes 40+ NGOs to tailor a product offering that empowers nonprofits with the technology skills they need to build their own technology capacity and advance their work through technology. Pluralsight One is also working to meet the needs of the beneficiaries of nonprofits directly by equipping them with access to high-quality learning resources and technology skills to chart their own futures and strengthen their communities.

Sean Farrington, Senior Vice President of EMEIA for Pluralsight  

Image Credit: Duncan Andison / Shutterstock