Co-founder of Mission Ready, Diana Sharma. Photo / Supplied
Diana Sharma and her business partner Alan Kan talk to Rahul Bhattarai about their unique partnership that led to their educational startup, Mission Ready.
What is your business doing?
Mission Ready is a technology career
development agency. Our courses are NZQA approved and we help individuals transform and launch technology careers through our acceleration programs.
In less than five months of full-time study, individuals can go from no technology experience to becoming a software developer, UX designer, or technology founder (entrepreneurs who wish to create / develop their own technology product).
What are your origins?
Diana: I come from a completely different background, I spent several years at Unitec and had a unique perspective in education, having held various positions developing new education partnerships with education providers. of the whole world.
I started in the hotel industry then I worked in multinationals in sectors such as energy and telecoms before moving on to company training.
I have been involved in finding new industry partnerships and alliances to create new models of education. The impact of these programs directly on the lives of individuals and their families inspired me to do things differently and it got me where I am today.
Alan: I have a background in technology with over 20 years of experience, but I studied accounting as well as information technology. During my first month of internship as an accountant, I realized that I was more interested in technology than in accounting.
After three years in my job at Unisys in 2001, I moved from writing programming codes to designing software.
What was the motivation for starting it?
Diana: The tech industry faces a growing skills shortage and traditional education channels would not solve this problem. On the other hand, a large number of professionals from different industries are looking to change or upgrade to advanced careers in technology. There hasn’t been a smooth transition to bridge the skills-job gap, which is why we created New Zealand’s first tech career accelerator.
Alan: When I was working at Unitec about 10 years ago, I created a few articles that turned out to be very popular among students and made me think about whether I should start my own business.
I have always been passionate about teaching and meeting Diana who had a similar interest was a perfect partnership.
Our motivation to start is simple, the impact we can have to transform careers, fulfill dreams and all with the best return on investment and the lowest risk of change. We facilitate the transition to a technology career.
How big is the team today?
Diana: We are a team of seven with a large extended team of industry mentors and facilitators who are hired for specialized training.
How has your business been affected by Covid-19?
Diana: For us, the Covid-19 has been a blessing in disguise. A lot of people wanted to change careers and we saw our numbers increase. And as a tech company, it’s easier for us to work remotely than for any other type of job.
How long has your business been in existence?
We’ve been around for a little over two years, our first accelerator was launched in November 2018.
What is your goal for the rest of the year?
Diana: Our goal is to work closely with industry to launch new technology career programs that would accelerate people’s path to employment.
We’re in fact about to launch a very exciting partnership with Salesforce – the leading provider of customer relationship management (CRM) services in Silicon Valley – to develop 300 skilled entry-level Salesforce developers to combat the skills shortage faced by Salesforce partners and customers in New Zealand.
These career boosters are a real win-win. Retrained workers are a great place to hire as they have gone through the process and procedures of working at other companies and can quickly upgrade to a new team – and they are highly motivated by a career change. .
What are your long-term plans, and where do you see the brand in five years?
Diana: In five years, Mission Ready will be completely transformed from what it is today. Our goal is to become a household name in New Zealand and to be able to offer more courses aimed at people from broader demographic groups.
How does your business stand out from other businesses in the market? What makes it unique?
Diana: Our difference is that it’s not only the fastest technology career transformation program, but also the only one that includes real projects and real experience with tech companies while being mentored by industry professionals. industry in post.
Our programs make it easier for companies to access diverse talent by allowing them to tap into talent they probably would not have encountered, as many of them have not taken the traditional tech route. We help these highly motivated candidates get their foot in the door. Every year we offer scholarships to Maori and Pasifika applicants.
Normally our course starts at $ 2,500 per person. However, this year we have made 42 scholarships available. We have five more scholarships to offer as we go back to school in September.
Mission Ready has trained over 200 candidates since its launch.
A large percent of our applicants retrain from careers such as marketing, education, business operations, the performing arts, dentists, nurses and many more.
How do you market your business?
Alan: Because our marketing actively posts on social media, like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. I do a lot of public speaking like at university, on career forums and at Techweek NZ.
What does the competition look like in this market?
Diana: There are a number of smaller competitors out there, but none offer what we offer. Our program is very cost effective instead of doing a similar degree in college for over three years, we ask our students to do it within nine to 19 weeks of full time study. This saves a lot of time and money. Which encourages people to change careers if they are looking for one and we have a good history of employment after graduation.
Some of our students have started working in places like 2degrees, Datacom and PwC.
What advice do you give to people wishing to start a business?
Diana: Start a business for the right reasons, with heart and soul, and you’ll never feel like you have to work another day in your life.