WIP Terrence Cummings

Ensuring that employer-provided education benefits pay off for the worker

A conversation with Terrence Cummings, chief opportunity officer, Guild Educaiton

In this episode of Work in Progress, Guild Education‘s Terrence Cummings joins me to discuss his new role as the company’s chief opportunity officer.

A lot of this work has been underway at Guild for some time with Cummings leading the way for the last few years, he explains. It’s now being more formalized and elevated with the new leadership role.

Cummings will be working to ensure tangible and meaningful outcomes such as pay raises and promotions for both Guild’s “learner community” – at employers such as Walmart, Target, Chipotle – and its own employees.

If you’re not familiar with Guild, it works with Fortune 1000 companies to help build out their education benefits, then helps them run the benefits programs.

Cummings says it puts Guild in a unique opportunity to help create a pipeline of talent internally for the company while helping individuals support their own career goals.

“What’s really special about this is that we get to understand what are the talent strategies of these companies? What are they looking to do with their frontline workforce, their workforce overall in general? And how do we align learning, skilling, educational programs to be able to maximize their efforts around talent?”

Cummings continues, “We’ve loved seeing how companies have embraced what their talent needs are and have seen that symbiotic relationship that exists between the benefits for employees and the benefits for the company as a whole when it comes to development.”

He tells me that from day one, Guild has been involved in driving opportunity and outcomes at a granular level with companies and with employees, but now they are doubling down on those efforts.

“What we’re tangibly doing is saying, how do we take the learning of what we’ve experienced as to the needs of the talent and the needs of the employers and put those things together? And what that means is, how do we try and understand their aspirations better even than we do today? How do we understand what their potential accelerators are? How do we understand what their obstacles are?”

He gives me some examples.

“A blocker might be access to technology in some cases. It might be access to a support network. It might be time management and being able to understand, how do I manage my schedule or work with my employer to get a different schedule? When do I do my homework? Those obstacles are things that we tangibly are going to continue to invest in on the member side and learner side.”

“On the employer side, what we’re doing is also doubling down on understanding the very granular talent needs that they have. So that might be a specific role or set of roles they’re looking to fill, not just today, but also in the future. And then, additionally, understanding how does someone navigate this employer. It’s getting to understand what that looks like inside the company, tying that to some of the tangible needs that I mentioned of the workforce and saying, how do we help to connect those threads?”

We also discuss what success in his role looks like to him.

“Something that we have been measuring is around salary and role changes for our members and learners. We’ve seen success there in the past. To give you a couple tangible examples of that, from an internal mobility standpoint, you are 2.2 times more likely to have internal mobility with inside your company if you are a Guild learner versus someone that is not engaged in Guild. We’ve seen a 2.4 times likelihood of wage increase for learners in Guild versus those that are not.”

“We’ll continue to make sure that we’re not only seeing the same success we’ve seen in the past, but with anything you double down on, continue to see greater success there.”

Cummings and I also discuss how his role is not just to grow the eternal opportunities for the “member learners” at the companies they work with, but to do the same internally for Guild Education employees.

“Everyone at Guild will have a successful foundation to build their career at or beyond Guild. Everyone at Guild will be able to feel belonging. That’s one of our core values every day. And every member and learner will have a clear path to the middle class.”

Why is this work so important to Cummings? What in his own background is driving his committment to connecting talent to opportunity?

Find out in the podcast!

You can listen to the entire conversation with Terrence Cummings here, or you can download the podcast wherever you get your podcasts.

Episode 262: Terrence Cummings, chief opportunity officer, Guild Education
Host & Executive Producer: Ramona Schindelheim, Editor-in-Chief, WorkingNation
Producer: Larry Buhl
Executive Producers: Joan Lynch and Melissa Panzer
Theme Music: Composed by Lee Rosevere and licensed under CC by 4.0
Download the transcript for this podcast here.
You can check out all the other podcasts at this link: Work in Progress podcasts