We talked to Tatiana Ufimtceva of keySkillset about the firm’s Excel and modeling trainings during the pandemic.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Tatiana Ufimtceva: My team and our families are doing ok during the pandemic, but can’t say it didn’t affect us. First of all, I got stuck in Russia for 2.5 months when visiting my family in March and the borders got closed. Some of keySkillset team members had to relocate from the US to their home countries due to the situation. But the good news is that we worked virtually as a team from the very beginning, even before the pandemic, so regardless of the situations we were in, we kept working and developing new products.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded keySkillset.
Tatiana Ufimtceva: I am in adult finance education for over 14 years already, leading live training for banking and finance professionals at the top companies worldwide. After my classes in Excel and Financial Modelling, people would come to me and ask where they can practice all the shortcuts, formulas, and other tricks they have learned, so they can really remember and build muscle memory. And I had no better option for them than going back to the Excel file from the class and practice exercises we’ve done over and over again.
I made deep research to find some kind of simulations for my students, but no solutions existed on the market except for some video courses. The thing is, you can develop your knowledge while watching the video, but not skills. Skills are developed only when you are actually practicing.
So, I went ahead and created our first Excel game, where people can learn and practice at the same time in a fun environment. After clients well received the first product, we improved branding, UX/UI and launched new educational games. And we keep moving as we see a positive response and a positive dynamic.
How does keySkillset innovate?
Tatiana Ufimtceva: keySkillset provides educational games for finance and other industry professionals to build and retain Excel, Financial Modelling, and other skills in record time. We’ve worked with leading institutions like TD Bank, JP Morgan, and more to offer gamified learning solutions for institutions.
Using the keySkillset portal is a far more effective way to skill up employees in this new COVID digital world, track their progress via the dashboard and demonstrate to employees that learning and development in a fresh way are highly valued. Our platform uses gamification, thus increasing retention, and because of this, the risk of big potential long term mistakes by employees are greatly reduced.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Tatiana Ufimtceva: We are lucky to provide virtual learning solutions. There were no better times for that as everything moved online now.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Tatiana Ufimtceva: We make difficult choices every single day. It’s not easy to sit down one day with a blank piece of paper and create a company out of your ideas. Every day is a challenge. But we consider it as a learning curve and keep pushing, keep moving forward. We believe our product will make some people’s life easier as we put complicated content in a fun and easy-to-learn gamified format. This idea motivates us to move on.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and keySkillset in the future?
Tatiana Ufimtceva: Keeping a positive mindset overall helped me achieve so much in my life already. Just by believing in myself, I made a journey from a poor family in a small town in Russia to creating my American dream, living in New York in my own house, and working on something I am passionate about. I believe there is a great future awaiting for my company as well, that’s what makes me keep going even in difficult times.
Also, I exercise almost every morning, which sets a good energetic mood for the day. I listen to meditations in the evening to calm my mind and remind myself that everything is possible. You just have to keep going and keep believing.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Tatiana Ufimtceva: Many video courses are offered in a virtual training space, but not that many gamified learning solutions. Existing on the market, educational games are mostly focused on soft skills like customer service, sales, and so on. We use a “learn and do” gamified approach to teach hard skills such as MS Excel, PowerPoint, Financial Modelling, Python, and more. I can say we are first movers in that sense, which makes it easier in terms of competition, but harder in terms of the learning curve for the client.
Your final thoughts?
Tatiana Ufimtceva: “Life is a game – play it. Life is a challenge – meet it. Life is a dream – realize it”. I love that quote. It fits the mission of keySkillset and the mission for my own life.