Infor's Carol Wright is eager to help Brandeis University shape its courses to better equip students with competitive technology skills-a new emphasis for the renowned Boston liberal arts college in acceptance of an ever more tech-centric world.
She's in a strong position to do that. Wright is senior curriculum and development manager of the Infor Education Alliance Program (EAP), and Brandeis is one of its alumni institutions. Now Brandeis has appointed her to its Professional Advisory Board for the Instructional Design & Technology (IDT) Program.
"I hope to have some influence in helping Brandeis restructure its courses and curriculum so it meets the needs of the tech industry," Wright said. "Because there's a misalignment now, and if you don't have industry expertise working with higher education, then the skills gap will persist."
"To stay current and relevant, liberal arts institutions are having to re-envision how they introduce students to technology careers and how they prepare them. Institutions are also trying to align their curriculum with the interests of millennials who are immersed in technology and social media, and are interested in instructional design, software engineering, and cloud computing."
Wright's board appointment arose from a conversation she had with Michael Dettelbach, Brandeis AVP for Corporate and Foundation Relations, at a university event last fall. He was interested in expanding the relationship between Brandeis and Infor EAP. After some follow-up conversations on LinkedIn, Wright was invited to join the board.
"I have a bit of an eclectic background because I was a professor for many years, and so I understand educational institutions, particularly liberal arts institutions," said Wright, who has a doctorate in educational policy, and other degrees in sociology. She combines understanding educational institutions and issues of diversity in STEM with her experience in blending industry/university partnerships.
As a board member, Wright will offer guidance on the latest advances and demands in the software industry, evaluate degree program goals and coursework for industry relevance, and identify trends to align courses with emerging industry challenges.
"What a perfect acknowledgement of the great work Carol is doing," said Martine Cadet, Infor VP of Global Enablement. "She will help Brandeis craft truly industry-relevant curricula with robust educational value that translate into the skills we need in future employees."
The EAP approach is to "fast-track" technology prep while maintaining the quality academic grounding that will allow students to land a high-paying, entry-level job in technology. "We layer on soft skills training like how to give an impactful presentation, how to work in teams, how to make sure your resume and LinkedIn page present you favorably for tech jobs," Wright said.
"We also do things to scaffold students so they not only can get a tech job, but keep that job. We need to make sure it's a good cultural fit, and that technology companies are welcoming and inclusive to diverse workers, so they can be comfortable and successful."
Brandeis has also asked Wright to speak to sociology and education students about careers in the tech sector. "As I'm an example, there are all kinds of things you can do as a 'non-techie' in a technical space," she said.
The future of work in the tech industry is changing. "The next curriculum I'm working on is a cloud operations course," Wright said. "Everything is cloud now. Everything is going digital. So of course, cloud ops is going to be a popular course."