First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jason Moss: As they have for everyone, these times have required a tremendous amount of change and adjustment, but we are fortunate that everyone is healthy and doing well. Certainly, my dogs are enjoying our increased presence at home and attention.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Metis.
Jason Moss: My career in education began more than 20 years ago when I founded and built a nonprofit organization that connected the community to the New Orleans public schools. Since that time, my roles in education have stretched across Product, Marketing, Sales, Strategy, and Finance. In 2007, I joined Kaplan, a global education company. Six years later, I launched Metis, now a leading data science and analytics training company, from within Kaplan.
How does Metis innovate?
Jason Moss: Our company innovates constantly. We maintain extremely close communication with our students and clients and obsess over their feedback on our courses. That feedback is shared company-wide. Smaller teams then take responsibility for translating that feedback into business or product requirements. Some innovations are relatively easy to implement; others require prioritization on our technology road map before we can then work in sprints to build MVPs, test ideas, and iterate continuously.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jason Moss: At the start of 2020, our retail and enterprise businesses were largely in-person. When the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly turned the world upside down, we quickly transitioned all our physical campuses to our Live Online bootcamp format, which had launched in January. Despite this unexpected change, student satisfaction remains as high as ever. And corporate clients, who were initially hesitant to embrace the new delivery format, have warmed to it over the months.
In July, we announced that we were shutting down our in-person bootcamps and physical campuses and transitioning to an online-only business. While COVID-19 accelerated these decisions, the decision was part of a long-term strategy we put into place in 2019 to extend our offerings to a broader population of students.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jason Moss: The decision to shut our physical campuses and move to an the online-only business model was extremely difficult to make. However, the lessons learned, both through that experience and six years of growing Metis, informed what we now call our “Three Pillars of Product Evolution”:
- Embrace continuous transformation
- Think digital first
- Expand our impact
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Metis in the future?
Jason Moss: I’ve been told that I’m good at “compartmentalizing.” In other words, when I’m feeling stressed or anxious, I’m largely able to contain it and not let it impact my overall being. Then, I try to deal with the stress by breaking the underlying problem into pieces and addressing each piece. A mentor of mine once said to me, “You can eat an elephant if you do it one bite at a time.” Not that I have any desire to dine on pachyderms, but the advice has always rung true. This methodology for dealing with stress hopefully helps me project a certain amount of level-headedness during difficult times.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jason Moss: Data science continues to be a “hot” field, so it’s not surprising, there is a lot of competition, ranging from individual bootcamp providers to MOOCs to universities to in-house corporate academies. Our strategy for winning remains pretty consistent:
- Define data science and analytics as a field that almost anyone can learn and benefit from; it is not for the exclusive few.
- Deliver incredible learning experiences through great instruction, relevant and user-friendly technology, and a high-quality, relevant curriculum.
- Leverage the resources, capabilities, and talents that come from having Kaplan as our parent company.
- Adhere to our aforementioned “Three Pillars of Product Evolution.”
Your final thoughts?
Jason Moss: The British economist Ronald Coase said, “Torture the data, and it will confess to anything.” In a world where we now create more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily, that’s a lot of opportunities to generate insights, but also to make flawed conclusions or to unwittingly inject bias into our analyses. Every one of us, from the CEO to the receptionist, needs to become more facile and comfortable with understanding, analyzing, and communicating data, especially as we navigate a rapidly-changing and increasingly algorithmic world.