APAC CEO of the Year Awards 2023

Feb22538 The Australian economy has a strong reliance on vocational education graduates, having had 4.3 million students in 2022. The Australian Registered Training Organisation (RTO) industry has been criticised for a range of issues, notably producing graduates who are not properly trained and therefore present a risk to themselves and others. This is exacerbated by a lack of high-quality learning and assessment resources. Skin Deep Learning (SDL), led by CEO, Hayley Griffiths, has a morally focused vision to transform the education industry and empower students studying vocational courses. We catch up with Hayley to learn more about her and her team’s extraordinary work. “SDL’s mission is to set a new standard of excellence for vocational education courses. We will secure and maintain a market leading position in the courses for which we provide our resources. We will provide a superior learning experience to students and empower trainers to work more effectively. Thus, producing a new generation of graduates who are workplace ready and have confidence and pride in their vocational career.” With the founding of her startup, Skin Deep Learning in 2015, Hayley Griffiths invented a brand-new innovative learning and assessment system that provides an out-of-thebox solution for RTOs. With a foundation of outstanding customer service, the company’s aim is to improve students’ educational outcomes and to better prepare them for their vocational careers. In her role as CEO of SDL, Hayley believes that leadership is best done from the front. Her staff see her work hard, deliver outcomes, and stay motivated to build the company. In addition to honesty, integrity, and determination, her view is that a leader needs to demonstrate flexibility, acceptance of diversity, and be personable, calm, and engaging. Hayley works closely with a small team of direct employees, a range of consultants, professional services, and her customers. These consultants vary depending on the subject matter the business is working on. She also works closely with the Operations Supervisor, citing, “Operational excellence and customer service are paramount to SDL. The systems and structures that we produce are reflective of a compliance mentality. All customer documents have procedures around them to ensure multiple checks before release.” Meanwhile, the graphics role is often shared and done by students or recent graduates. Hayley invests time in their initial training and then trains them in SDL procedures. She says, “I enjoy this as it gives these young people experience. Many of our previous employees have gone on to do things that were only possible with the training and experience they gained at SDL.” Hayley also takes on the role of editor, where she is the final quality assurance step in the collation of the materials from subject matter experts. SDL’s success is directly related to the quality of the entire team’s collective output. She states, “I am the embodiment of that mantra, and something that everyone who works with me embraces.” While SDL is a business venture that is thriving, getting it to where it is today hasn’t be easy. Hayley acknowledges that challenges happen every day as part of business life, saying, “I accept that challenges will always come along and believe that being organised and calm during challenging situations is crucial.” She continues, “The biggest challenge I have faced as the CEO of SDL was a personal challenge that also became a business challenge. My husband passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly in 2021, during the COVID-19 lockdowns. This obviously had an enormous impact on me psychologically and physically. I lost all motivation to run the company, but the business I had built up over the past seven years and my staff were reliant on me to keep going.” In response to this challenge, Hayley changed her leadership style to suit running the business remotely for a period of time and giving her staff more responsibility. Her team stepped up massively, and not only did the business keep going, but it actually grew and flourished during this time. Hayley tells us, “I also realised how important it is to encourage myself and staff to look after our mental health. I have now put a mental health programme into the business to ensure we nurture ourselves, have a positive work/life balance, and do not get burn out.” Ultimately, it’s easy to see how Hayley has come to achieve such success within the APAC CEO of the Year Awards 2023, between her expertise, creativity, empathy, and resilience. So, what does the future look like for her and Skin Deep Learning? SDL delivers new products every year, and in the last 12 months, it has partnered with a software development company to produce a bespoke Learning Management System (LMS) that enables it to sell resources overseas, particularly to the UK, where it has been receiving quite a few enquiries. This will see its customer base expand, alongside the doubling of its revenue with the release of a new suite of hairdressing videos that directly match its resources. These videos are designed to enable students to learn at their own pace with minimal teacher interaction. Excited about the continued innovation within the company, Hayley shares, “After much research, we have mocked up a new style of learning materials which is a hybrid of social media and online research. This reflects how technology has changed our lives, the way we learn, and how information is now communicated. We believe that this novel presentation of course based information (while retaining the other successful features of our previous learning materials) will result in equal or further enhanced student engagement.” Company: Skin Deep Learning Contact: Hayley Griffiths Email: [email protected] Website: www.skindeeplearning.com Education CEO of the Year 2023 (Queensland): Hayley Griffiths Apr23162