John Souza of Kingsland University: “Delegate authority”

Delegate authority. Make sure your employees or students know that it’s okay to fail. When you give employees or students the opportunity to share their voices and express themselves, great things come. As a part of our series about “How Diversity Can Increase a Company’s Bottom Line”, I had the pleasure of interviewing John Souza. John […]

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Delegate authority. Make sure your employees or students know that it’s okay to fail. When you give employees or students the opportunity to share their voices and express themselves, great things come.

As a part of our series about “How Diversity Can Increase a Company’s Bottom Line”, I had the pleasure of interviewing John Souza.

John Souza is the CEO of Kingsland University — a leading organization that provides social impact through education and gives people accessibility by training them for the most in demand, highest paying jobs without the burden of paying tuition upfront. Over the course of nearly a decade, Souza has set the world standard in emerging and disruptive technologies education space successfully delivering innovative education programs to some of the world’s most respected companies, universities, government agencies, and not-for-profits, amassing over 175,000 students worldwide. John’s goal is to bridge the gap of diversity disparity in the workforce, specifically in the tech industry.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive into the main part of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you share a bit of your “backstory” with us?

My parents both grew up with very little. Throughout their lives, they worked extremely hard to build better lives for themselves. I grew up in New Jersey, and because of the mindset my parents instilled in me, I was determined to persevere and overcome any obstacle life threw my way. I became interested in Wall Street and the Stock Market very early on and by the time I was 13, I was managing my families’ financial portfolio.

After graduating from NYU Stern, I’ve worked tirelessly to ensure my success in my financial career. I was always motivated to keep moving up, so I completed training programs, set realistic goals for myself, built relationships with people who could help me achieve my goals, found out what requirements were needed of me to complete those goals, and took the steps necessary to achieve them.

I’ve worked for major financial institutions and became successful in the industry. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset, so while working at major companies like JPMorgan, CitiBank, etc., I would also be developing side projects.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? Can you tell us the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

One of the funniest stories of my career so far has been the rise in delivery services such as GrubHub and UberEats. I mentioned how I’ve always been entrepreneurial, and in 1994 I started a company called Dine-In Tonite. It was a food delivery service, and we grew it up to 32 restaurants. We ended up selling — but it was such a cool experience.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you tell us a story about how that was relevant in your own life?

My favorite life lesson quote would be “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” by Winston Churchill.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

My father. He has always been my guiding light.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Kingsland University stands out because we take action. Due to the current state of the world and social issues, a lot of companies will promote the conversation of diversity and inclusion, but Kingsland University actually delivers. We are determined to increase opportunities and programs to students in high-demanding fields. At Kingsland, our mission is to provide people with access to the most in-demand career fields and give them the ability to have a rewarding career.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?

We’re currently exploring several new educational initiatives. We’re building a health allied program based off of the high demand in the health field since the start of the pandemic. We’re also building a technical sales program since tech jobs are in extremely high demand right now.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

My main goal in life is to help others. When I wake up every morning, I feel an immense responsibility to help other people.

Ok. Thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main part of our interview. This may be obvious to you, but it is not intuitive to many people. Can you articulate to our readers five ways that increased diversity can help a company’s bottom line. (Please share a story or example for each.)

Increasing Diversity can involve and reinforce a higher corporate mission for inclusion and support for social justice. Hence, Increasing Diversity can generate greater employee engagement, satisfaction and loyalty to the company. In particular, many studies have found millennials place greater importance on social impact. The result:

#1. Increasing Diversity can REDUCE TURNOVER in the company. This improves the bottom line by preventing productivity declines during transitions and new hire training costs. Retaining important experiences and know-how of existing employees allows companies to focus investments on growth, innovation & further productivity gains rather than maintaining status quo.

  • KU has had well below 20% annualized turnover rate. We believe it is partly due to the mission of social impact including racial justice and our diverse organization.

#2. Increasing Diversity can IMPROVE RECRUITMENT of new talent. Talent recruitment can sometimes be the limiting factor for company growth and have extremely high cost if recruitment firms, etc. have to be used. Improved Diversity along with #1 can also attract better talent and lower cost. More referrals, appeal for top candidates and greater pool to select from all both reduces cost of recruitment and likely success of each recruit.

  • Most of our trainers and all of our TAs have been recruited through referrals.

Increasing Diversity has also been shown to increase innovation, problem solving capability and employee productivity. All of these can not only improve the bottom line, but improve the company’s chances of survival during crises such as the pandemic and industrial restructuring.

#3. Increasing Diversity can IMPROVE INNOVATION CAPABILITY. Studies have shown that diversity provides a greater variety of conceptual models to contribute to problem solving, ultimately leading to more innovative solutions.

  • Our diverse teams (consisting of members from Bulgaria, Philippines, Singapore and US) have created innovative, original solutions such as our automated homework exercise graders (to allow TAs to spend more time with students), and blockchain certification that can be verified and cost effectively scaled.

#4. Increasing Diversity can IMPROVE EXECUTION. “Simply interacting with individuals who are different forces group members to prepare better, to anticipate alternative viewpoints and to expect that reaching consensus will take effort” -Scientific America. This supports better decision making and improved execution.

  • Diversity, international team members and remote work all combine to both provide challenges and improved capabilities for execution. No one assumes that other team members will simply understand and be able to ‘read their minds (intent)’, and usually takes care to ensure clear communication (including repetition, documentation, etc.).

#5. Increasing Diversity can IMPROVE SALES AND CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT. With the market being diverse, if the company’s marketing and product team is diverse, they may have a better understanding of the various customer segments and ensure more effective messaging and marketing.

  • Our diverse student population has a diverse faculty, administration and staff to interact with. As a result, they are able to ‘connect’ with someone in our organization and resolve issues when they arise.

What advice would you give to other business leaders to help their employees to thrive?

Delegate authority. Make sure your employees or students know that it’s okay to fail. When you give employees or students the opportunity to share their voices and express themselves, great things come.

What advice would you give to other business leaders about how to manage a large team?

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂

Robert Johnson. Very few of people matched his success. He has made transformational impacts on technology and software across the US. He is the epitome of doing well and building great companies.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Thank you for these excellent insights. We wish you continued success in your great work.

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