Serious business

LinkedIn’s Olivier Legrand: The value of continuous learning

Olivier Legrand, LinkedIn’s Asia Pacific managing director, on the changing landscape of workplaces and the importance of continuous learning. By MARK TJHUNG

People use LinkedIn for different purposes. But how do you define the vision of the company?

The LinkedIn mission is connecting a world of professionals to be more productive and successful. My team is about 1,500 people across 11 offices in six markets. With about 40 percent of the world’s professionals being in the Asia Pacific region, the opportunity here is massive. We also help corporations transform the way they do things in four areas: hiring, marketing, selling and learning.

Across APAC, how do people use LinkedIn differently?

What differs is the user demographics. In India, for example, half of that population is under 25 years old and 10 million students graduate every year, so there it’s going to be a lot more about students entering the workforce. In more mature markets, you see more people mid-career and looking for their next opportunity or dream job. On the technology side, bandwidth is also a factor affected by location. Our India team has a product called LinkedIn Lite, which is a revamped version of our mobile experience dedicated to low-bandwidth, pre-paid markets. LinkedIn Lite could have a future in areas like Africa and Eastern Europe, too.

How have you seen workplace culture change in the past few years?

I think companies are understanding the importance of talent and the importance of culture in retaining talent. I’ve spent a lot of time explaining to our customers why people should want to work for you. What’s your mission, what’s your vision, what’s the culture of the company, how does it feel to work for you? Bringing that narrative to life has been extremely important.

What are the big trends in workplace culture?

Diversity. The question is how to bring it into the workplace: whether you talk about gender, ethnicity, disability or other forms.

Tell us about LinkedIn Learning, a programme of about 9,000 online courses.

The core of it is this notion of skill gap. The skills needed in the life of a professional can totally change. So for both companies and individuals, there’s a need to invest in ongoing, permanent learning. We’re in a unique place to put learning and development under a different light.

What’s your strategy for LinkedIn Learning content going forward?

We’re starting by creating our own core content and using an algorithm to recommend the right videos to users. The long-term vision could be for it to be a marketplace. But before that, we’re opening the site up to companies and letting them upload their own internal courses, so their employees can access their courses as well as ours.

LinkedIn Learning videos are showing onboard now. Go to TV (Lifestyle) on the interactive menu. You can see an example video here, on landscape photography. 

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