Published: 05th June 2019
We want to focus on skilling people at all stages of their lives: Udemy India MD Irwin Preet Singh Anand
One of the largest online learning platforms, US-based Udemy, expands operations in India. Udemy India's MD talks about their plans for the future
While all forms of education are valuable and important, there is no doubt that traditional education is no longer adequate for equipping people with all of the knowledge needed over the course of their careers. This is what Irwin Preet Singh Anand, Managing Director of Udemy India establishes at the very onset of the conversation. And throughout our exchange, the former COO of OLX talks about how at Udemy, an online learning platform known for offering content for professionals created by online content creators, “content is provided by an everyday practitioner who has the most up-to-date knowledge on thousands of topics.” This way, technology and platforms like Udemy act as an aid, not a foe, as most traditional establishments would think. They started their operations in India in March to bring their technology to the professionals here. Anand says, “Udemy’s focus is on helping people at all stages of their lives to gain skills and competencies in order to stay competitive in the job market.” Here’s how our conversation with Anand, who was appointed as the MD in April, went:
How long has the plan of expanding into India been in works?
There is a lot of curiosity and understanding of the importance of education and lifelong learning in India. People know that the skills in the workforce are evolving very quickly and everyone needs to continuously learn. Furthermore, traditional education is not enough to prepare today’s students with the skills needed to be successful at work. That’s why we formally entered the market -- there is a great demand for our learning content. With a mission to improve lives through learning, we see a big opportunity to bring a more localised experience for our students and instructors in all corners of India.
Are there any customisations, special initiatives or campaigns you have in mind, tailored to suit India?
The focus is on growing the market and delivering a better experience to our students and instructors in India. Having local operations will allow us to better understand the unique needs of Indian students as they learn on our consumer, enterprise or government products and tailor those experiences to serve them better. Specifically, we’re in the process of optimising the mobile experience, adding more payment methods and better supporting our corporate customers.
Who do you think Udemy is primarily for? Content creators or learners? Why?
Both! Udemy is an online learning destination for both content creators and learners. We think that anyone looking to learn new skills or improve existing ones should be able to always find the right teacher. At the same time, we know that not all teachers can be found in a traditional classroom. That’s why our platform allows experts to develop courses and share their knowledge.
Today, more than 30 million students learn from an extensive library of 1,00,000 courses taught by knowledgeable instructors in over 50 different languages. Udemy is as much for instructors as it for learners.
With the definition of learning being challenged every day by online content, what do you think educational institutions can do to hold their own?
Traditional education is great and they do a great job in preparing young individuals to enter the workforce. However, with the rapidly evolving global landscape, many current students will find themselves in roles that may not even exist today. That’s why educational institutions should also focus on fostering curiosity and strive for continuous improvement in their students. As a digital leader, I also advocate for the use of technology and skills-based training, in addition to theoretical classes.
What challenges do you foresee for Udemy in India?
India is a massive country with many regions and dialects — that in itself is a challenge. We are excited at the opportunity to better localise our platform in India. We see this as an ongoing process that will require time, dedication and expanding our team. We’re hoping to have a few new hires join us soon and help us bring learning to even more people in India.
What is next for Udemy and Udemy India?
Our next phase of growth will include continuing our global expansion to unlock expertise around the world. We’re also committed to helping people realise their potential at work, whether they’re in a corporate setting, at a non-profit or inside a government entity and we’re constantly evolving our solution to meet those specific needs more directly.
As India is one of the company’s fastest growing markets, with revenue and students doubling year-over-year, we are focused on growing our local team. We plan to deepen the company’s investment in the region and also further localising the Udemy student and instructor experience in India.