KG: Hi, I’m Kendall Gammon, and this is Real Talk with Real Media. Today I’m joined by Cam Bishop of SkillPath, you’re headquartered here in Mission, Kansas. First of all Cam, thanks for joining us today.
CB: It’s great to be here KG, thanks.
KG: Tell us about your company, a little bit of the history and how you got to where you are.
CB: You know, really, SkillPath is a fascinating company. We’re a bit of a well-kept secret in the Kansas City market but we’re actually a company with a global footprint. We do training and seminars primarily in business soft skills management, management development training in countries all over the world. We do over 8,000 public seminars across the United States and Canada and another 8,000 corporate seminars for major American corporations.
KG: You know, that’s just amazing. When I was looking into your company, just the fact that you know, either on-site or online you can cover it all. You’ve dealt with I think it was almost all top Fortune 1000 companies. I mean, you have something to offer to everybody it seems.
CB: Yeah, actually we really do. We have done work for almost I think 997 of the Fortune 1000 companies, we do work for 14 or 15 federal government agencies, we’re in every branch of the military, we’re training on 226 military bases. In fact from your old days we even do training work for the NFL.
KG: I saw that, NBA, MLB all of it.
CB: NBA, Major League Baseball, and the National Hockey League at their corporate headquarters.
KG: So in part, you’re responsible for as good or as bad as I am on certain things. And I wonder back over my 15 year career, that we had so many different training things and I’m sure that some of those were a direct result of SkillPath.
CB: They very well could have been, yes.
KG: Well, you know what, when you look at the footprint of what you do all over the world, is it challenging being here in Kansas City and what makes it unique?
CB: Actually, Kansas City’s an ideal place to be headquartered because we have such great access from a travel standpoint all over the country. And we actually have a team of about 350 trainers around the US and in several foreign countries as well. So we have easy access to corporate locations.
KG: What is it that your company does so much better than others?
CB: Well, we actually hit the sweet spot of corporate training. All the research today shows that the vast majority of corporations, CEO’s, HR Executives, want to focus on business soft skills training. Those are things like leadership development and management development. In a negative employment market like we’re in today, ways to engage your employees is huge and training is a key aspect of creating that engagement.
KG: I would certainly think something with your huge library of material that you have, the fact that you could be a one stop that they can come and they can continue to come to you time and time, helps build up that trust and understanding that you have something to offer them that makes them desirable as a company.
CB: That’s exactly right and in fact one of our unique differentiators is that we have an amazing team of highly experienced instructional designers on site. So for many companies we create customized training programs to meet their solutions. In fact, for M.A.J. International heavy equipment manufacturer Komatsu right now we’re doing training in seven foreign languages for them.
KG: Wow. That’s amazing and I think that’s something that should be really accentuated is the fact that you customized to what that company needs because if you’re not customizing, then maybe you’re not getting the message that they want.
CB: That’s exactly right because each company has it’s own unique set of requirements for their employees. For example, we’ve launched a major initiative for Boeing Corporation and they have very unique needs that are very different from those around Komatsu. Komatsu’s training needs were around change management for example.
KG: We’ve talked about a lot of things, but one thing that I think is so important in culture. Tell me about the culture and why it’s so important in your organization.
CB: Well, in a sense we’re a creative business. So we have to have a highly collaborative business environment. It’s very team focused with significant communication required among the various departments in the company.
KG: And does that help fuel the growth as you continue to expand and get bigger and better I assume?
CB: Absolutely. And when you’re kind of moving through this brave new world of disruption and disintermediation caused by the internet that requires a lot more creativity and problem solving and a lot more need for our team members to work together.
KG: And really we’re talking about your culture, but in a sense then that’s what you do for other companies as well is help create or define or expand their culture as well.
CB: Absolutely. Again, training is a key aspect in employee engagement and today, more than ever corporations are wanting to maintain their employee base and engagement is a key way that they do that.
KG: The future of the organization SkillPath, you’ve done so many different things to date. Where are you headed?
CB: Well I think quite frankly we’re headed towards some exponential growth in the business. With the demand for business soft skills training in America corporations today, in fact world wide, we’re seeing significant growth across every business sector. It doesn’t matter whether it’s manufacturing, service industry, or federal or state government.
KG: That’s amazing. I would think companies as they decide who they want to bring in to help with their culture and what not, they look to your past to figure out their future and the fact is your past is you guys have done so many different things and you have the ability to expand and move at a speed that helps them move at a speed they want to move.
CB: Sure. Sure, another aspect of it today when you’re dealing with a diverse corporate environment where you have millennial generation to baby boomer generation, their learning paths are quite different. So we offer a lot of multi-model training options for them so they can participate with what we call live instructor led training where we send an actual trainer to their location, or they can do a combination of that with e-learning platform. So that they can learn when they want which of course is a lot of what the younger generations like today.
KG: Well and that’s the big deal is as people move up … I mean times change, people change, and it sounds like you are making every effort to make sure that you stay current and change with those times as well.
CB: Absolutely, we have to be sensitive to the learning needs of our customers.
KG: You’re headquartered here in Mission, Kansas, Kansas City proper. We’ve talked about a lot of different things, that this one I think is so interesting and I’m looking forward to hearing what you say about this in terms of SkillPath, they do so many things for so many people, but how do they give back to Kansas City.
CB: Well it’s fascinating. SkillPath is an interesting company, we’re actually a 501c3. We’re owned by a small private university called Graceland University. So as a 501c3 we don’t actually make a profit. Out objective is to generate some excess funds which go to fund the endowment of Graceland University to put the kids through college. And for me, as a long-time executive and CEO of companies, it’s kind of a refreshing change to be running such a purpose driven company.
KG: Well that’s really cool because you’re giving back to the community and certainly you’re looking to make profits to a degree, those profits go back to different things that are charitable, but I would think that that would really resonate to the buyer as well when they see the type of company you are.
CB: Absolutely, it’s become a really compelling differentiator for us in the marketplace when we can explain our story to especially major American corporations that so many companies today have a purpose driven aspect of their business that it rings really true with a lot of these clients.
KG: Yeah, and this day and age it seems like it’s me, me, me at a certain times and what you guys are saying is it’s we, we, we. I think that’s really cool.
CB: That’s absolutely right.
KG: Go ahead.
CB: I was going to say we’re also doing some interesting things, for example, we’re developing a partnership program with the Kansas City, Missouri Chamber of Commerce which we want to test market here and actually hope to roll out nation wide to help chambers train their corporate members.
KG: Well, that’s amazing. I appreciate you sharing that with us. I appreciate you joining us today.
KG: I’m Kendall Gammon, this is Real Talk with Real Media.