Celebrating Our 10th Anniversary With eLearning Industry’s Founder
To mark our 10-year milestone, we’re sitting down to talk with Christopher Pappas, the founder of eLearning Industry Inc. Christopher holds an MBA and an M.Ed (Learning Design) from BGSU, and is a proud lifelong learning advocate with an insatiable thirst for knowledge. Today he shares his insights about culture-building, essential employee skills, and the future of eLearning Industry.
How did the idea for eLI come into being and how do you think it’s helped to change the industry, particularly regarding eLearning community-building?
My plan was to create an online community that would give an open space to professionals so that they can share their views. I had a Bachelor’s in Music, and two postgraduate degrees from the USA, one in Business Administration and the second in educational technologies and the ways they are applied in online education. Creating eLearning Industry gave me the ability to combine my passions and, to my surprise, nothing like this had been done before.
It was obvious that there was a need to create something niche, where talking about innovative strategies and trends would be free. Where every professional would have the opportunity to further strengthen the community, but also learn more and continually evolve themselves. What makes eLearning Industry stand out is that we offer a place where professionals in the eLearning field can talk about their views and share concerns freely, but they can also share theories on educational issues that concern them. Other online publishers pay journalists and professionals to write an article that can simply promote a product, or charge anyone who wants to write something on their site. We, by focusing on the basic principle of the democratization of eLearning, offer the opportunity to eLearning professionals to write articles for free.
Apart from offering free knowledge to the eLearning community, our company also offers marketing services to companies in the industry to help them promote their products and services to eLearning and HR professionals. Our main customers are in the USA, Canada, Australia, and Europe. It also helps a lot that we appear on the first pages of Google. Our organic traffic was almost 82% for 2021. This means that someone interested in a particular eLearning topic is very likely to find us through search engines.
In your opinion, what is the characteristic that you consider most necessary in a work environment, and what do you think are the most important skills of an employee?
For me, the two main characteristics are having a positive mood and a thirst for learning. The first helps drive optimism every day so that we welcome new challenges as learning opportunities. This leads us to the second characteristic. We always strive for the best, on a personal and professional level. Growth and development are what move us forward on all levels. However, you have to really want it and give it your all.
Regarding essential skills, the most important is probably not a skill in the usual sense. It’s more of a behavior and a way of dealing with life as a whole. That is passion! I have done over 300 interviews and what I am usually looking for is 40% passion for the tasks they will be asked to do, another 40% to do with character, and only 20% to do with skills. We want every member of our team to participate in a project and be genuinely happy when working on it. It is also important for each employee to know their strengths and weaknesses so that they can continually develop with our help. The skills are built, but you must have a solid foundation in the area of behavior in order to achieve your full potential and contribute to the company’s culture.
How do you think the global pandemic has impacted the L&D industry?
After March 2020, there was a huge peak. In just a few months, our traffic rose to over 1 million users per month. People started looking for online learning, virtual training, remote solutions, and hybrid learning. So, eLearning Industry became the main website worldwide to find information on key questions, such as the advantages and disadvantages of eLearning. What we have noticed is that more and more companies are trying to strengthen their workforce with more skills, but also want to improve their own corporate culture. We have found that it all starts with the right training initiatives and what you offer to your employees. It is no coincidence that according to forecasts the online learning market will be worth $325 billion in 2025. Now everything can be done online and that means flexibility and lower costs for everyone.
eLI was recently awarded Best Workplace Hellas for 2022. Can you share a few pointers on how to build a successful company culture?
The award Best Workplace Hellas for 2022 belongs to our people. Without its team members, eLearning Industry would not have the same identity. They deserved it and then some. Winning such an award raises the bar for everyone. This means that every year we aim to surpass ourselves and become even better. We welcome challenges and already have many plans to further improve our corporate culture.
One of the biggest challenges we had to face was to dedicate ourselves to the company culture of eLearning Industry. We had to live its values and integrate them into the fabric of who we are as a business. This was a very important element of the success for all the members of the team. Adapting to our new vision took a lot of work (over a two-year period). The company may be customer-centric, but, at the same time, we believe that happy employees mean happy customers. If customers are not happy, it is usually because the employees are not happy. Everything is reflected. Thus, our main goal is for every employee to come to work with joy, to do what they like, and to be able to enhance their skills and evolve. This is the big bet. Otherwise, company growth is a hollow victory.
Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that the company is its employees. You need to give team members the opportunity to attend training for something that interests them. Many times courses are about improving their job-related skills, but they can also be about behaviors, leadership skills, creativity, or psychology. At eLI, we listen to our employees and try to help as much as we can to offer flexible solutions to make their work easier. We also often organize workshops and events to improve team building and collaboration between team members.
Can you offer a word of advice to the younger generation looking for work in the digital world?
Now things have changed and the digital world offers many more opportunities for vocational rehabilitation. When someone is looking for a job, it is good to do it through a trusted site, and even before sending the CV, to research the background of each company. Just as companies choose employees, so do employees choose companies. It is a two-way relationship and in order to work properly, there must be alignment and solidarity. For example, you may go to a company for an interview and something might make you feel uncomfortable, or it may seem that the staff is unhappy. So, do your homework and read the room before you decide to join a corporate environment. The good thing is that many companies offer opportunities for remote working or have adopted a hybrid working model. Be that as it may, with new technologies things can only get better. My hope is that everyone manages to find the job that they deserve and gets paid well for doing it.
What does the future hold for eLearning Industry?
eLearning Industry is commemorating its 10th year. As with the children of a family, that’s when adolescence begins. As a proud parent, I would like to see eLI evolve and spread its wings. As my first company, it is also the first big experiment, both for me and for the team. I would like eLearning Industry to be an example for others and to be able to reach the highest bar. We already have a lot of ideas for new spin-off companies. Gradually we will need new people to help us succeed in creating modern workplace environments where employees will be happy to make their ideas a reality with decent salaries and benefits. There is already a plan to expand our ideology in online marketing, software development, and innovative SaaS (Software as a Service). My dream is to see eLearning Industry impart its corporate values and corporate culture.
A very special thanks to Christopher for sharing his thought and unique vision with us. We welcome you to check out the thousands of articles and countless eBooks that he’s published on our platform over the years. Last, but not least, we’d like to express our gratitude to him for being such an inspirational and supportive leader. Not to get too sappy, but Christopher sets a daily example of our cultural values in action and what it means to be a team player.