• Project on Workforce Team

Alumni Impact: Project on Workforce Alums Shaping the Future of Work

At the Project on Workforce, we are building a community of changemakers across fields and disciplines. Harvard University students have been core to all our efforts, including our research projects, study groups, convenings, and real-time policy work in the field. We caught up with a few of our recent Project on Workforce alumni to find out how they are continuing to break down silos and shape the future of work in their lives after Harvard.



Michi Ferreol (HBS '21), Co-Founder of KadaKareer


What are you working on now?


I am one of the co-founders of KadaKareer, a start-up non-profit that aims to provide career resources and support for students in the Philippines through a community-based, low-bandwidth platform. Through KadaKareer, not only are students able to connect with volunteer coaches who help them discover their interests and prepare for job applications, they also get an "inside look" into digital careers straight from professionals in the field, who share the skills, responsibilities and challenges of their roles.


This year, we're excited to be building a virtual apprenticeship program to give students the opportunity to hone their experiences and portfolio by working directly with small to medium-sized businesses on key challenges.


What’s one thing you learned while at Harvard that’s helped you in your current work?


One insight that emerged starkly for me while at Harvard was the deep divide between what employers demand in terms of skills and what most schools are preparing students for. More importantly, there is very little coordination and flow of information between traditional education institutions and the private sector, so schools are left guessing what to craft their curriculum around or respond very late to changing industry trends. It was actually through the Project on Workforce group that I realized the value of bringing stakeholders from various functions (private sector, government, etc.) together in the same room to discuss these issues.


What’s one interesting or surprising workforce-related trend that has your attention?


While I have still have much to learn, I have been incredibly intrigued by the emergence of Web3 and its potential to unlock value for users without the need of an aggregator or platform! Since KadaKareer aims to leverage the power of communities to provide career support, I am fascinated by the idea of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations and their ability to enable and incentivize co-constructive behaviors across otherwise unrelated groups of people. I can see this trend making it easier for global teams to form and collaborate, as well as providing spaces for entities (corporations, government, etc.) to interact with their constituents in a new way.


Who are the people and/or organizations to follow in your space?


I am a big fan of the newsletters Brave New Work and Transcend, for reading material. I’m also always on the look-out for thought pieces and research shared by Jobs for the Future and Entangled Group (now acquired by Guild Education).


Where can we follow you and your work?


You can follow KadaKareer on Facebook , Instagram, and on LinkedIn.


 

Taylor Stockton (HBS '20), COO of FutureFit AI


What are you working on now?


As the COO of @FutureFit AI, I’m leading our growth efforts in partnering with Fortune 500 companies and governments in empowering workers with a ‘GPS for your Career’. In particular, I’ve been spending a lot of time working on our partnership with the @National Association of Workforce Boards to better support local workforce boards, which will be the backbone of fuelling an equitable economic recovery.

I also founded @Pathway Ventures with @Siya Raj Purohit, where we invest in early stage startups redefining the ‘human side’ of the future of work through innovative new models of earning, learning, and community building.

What’s one thing you learned while at Harvard that’s helped you in your current work?

The Project on Workforce deepened my view on the power of collaboration across stakeholders and sectors. So many entrepreneurs balk at the idea of working with the public sector, but it is impossible to fully address the talent shortages and skills gaps that are impacting the economy without tapping into the on-the-ground expertise and connectivity of local governments and local community organizations.

There are so many incredible stakeholders and solutions in the workforce space that are often siloed and disconnected from each other, and our vision at FutureFit AI is to be the connective tissue that brings all of the pieces of the puzzle together to drive equitable workforce outcomes at scale.


What’s one interesting or surprising workforce-related trend that has your attention?

One thing we are spending a lot of time on at FutureFit AI is how to push the entire workforce industry on using data and AI in an ethical and equitable way.

While AI has tremendous potential to efficiently scale and personalize workforce services, when organizations aren’t incredibly intentional about how data and algorithms are used, there is a huge risk of perpetuating existing biases in the labor market.

It’s really important to our team to not only proactively design more ethical and equitable ways of incorporating data and AI, but to educate our partners and the broader industry on how we can make sure we are collectively contributing towards a more fair and just workforce.

Who are the people and/or organizations to follow in your space?

Where can we follow you and your work?

Find me on Twitter at @tstock915 or check out FutureFit AI’s monthly newsletter at www.futurefit.ai


 

Alexis Farmer (HKS '21), Project Manager, City of Detroit


What are you working on now?


I work for the mayor of Detroit as a project manager for Skills for Life, a workforce development initiative that pays Detroiters to learn skilled trades or advance their education while working to remove blight and beautify the city. Detroit residents who are hired into Skills for Life positions start their job earning $15 an hour and will increase their wages as they complete their chosen industry-recognized credential or education program. Graduates of the program will work with career coaches to help place them into roles within and outside of the city earning a competitive wage. The City of Detroit decided to invest some of its ARPA funds into Skills for Life with the goal of increasing employment opportunities and skill attainment for Detroiters who were setback by the COVID-19 pandemic.


What’s one thing you learned while at Harvard that’s helped you in your current work?


Agile project management has been reinforced in my role. I first learned of the concept in a Policy, Development, and Design course at the Harvard Kennedy School. Focusing on what Detroiters want to learn and integrating their feedback of the program is critical to its success. We want to ensure Skills for Life leads to more opportunities for participants, in providing a foundation for a stable financial future and confidence in a marketable skillset for a career.


My time with the Taubman Center’s Economic Development Seminar Series and the Project on Workforce at the Malcolm Wiener Center has also given me insight on how to help prepare adults for jobs that are in demand currently and for the future. I was also surprised to learn that my introduction to Tableau through a Data Visualization course at HKS would be useful in portraying Skills for Life’s project goals.


What’s one interesting or surprising workforce-related trend that has your attention?


Equity was at the center of attention at the onset of the pandemic in 2020. There was widespread acknowledgment of the inequities and displacement faced by women and racial and ethnic minorities in and from the workforce. I am interested to see how local governments utilize federal funding for initiatives that facilitate an equitable economic recovery for these groups. Similarly, I am interested in seeing how an increase in the minimum wage of various governments and private organizations will change employment rates and the quality of life for people.


Who are the people and/or organizations to follow in your space?


Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation, Michigan Works!, and the U.S. Department of Labor, provide resources on workforce development training programs to dislocated and new workers. Employers like the City of Detroit’s General Services Department are also key to providing the support employees need to be successful in a work-training program.


Where can we follow you and your work?


Follow the City of Detroit and Detroit at Work on our website, Twitter, and LinkedIn to keep up with the effort!