Thursday, 29 August 2019 13:33

Pluralsight boosting Australian presence

By
Pluralsight co-founder and CEO Aaron Skonnard Pluralsight co-founder and CEO Aaron Skonnard

Learning platform provider Pluralsight is making a substantial investment in its Australian operation, CEO Aaron Skonnard told iTWire.

"Australia is a big market for us," he said. The company operates in three regions: North American, EMEA, and ANZ.

While the company does already have an Australian presence, it will open its first office here sometime in the next 12 months. It will be somewhere in Sydney although no specific location has been selected yet.

Pluralsight will also add another 20-30 people to its local staff, mostly account executives, customer success managers, HR, and back office workers.

The general manager will be Mike Featherstone, who most recently was in charge of Pluralsight's Dublin (Ireland) office. He will be joined by another of the company's management team.

Featherstone will hold the position for 18 months to manage operational growth and to act as "a cultural ambassador for the company," Skonnard told iTWire.

"Germans only buy from Germans," he said, and we "see some of that in Australia."

But Skonnard sees parallels between the Australian tech scene and that in Pluralsoft's home state of Utah. Both places have established technology companies, plenty of talent, and offer a great lifestyle and community.

Pluralsight already has some Australian authors, including cyber security expert Troy Hunt, who is perhaps best known for creating Have I Been Pwned. "He's one of our top authors," said Skonnard.

An expanded Australian presence is likely to increase local author acquisition as a result of Pluralsight staff attending more conferences and other events.

Pluralsight head of content Gilbert Lee told iTWire that while the company's acquisition editors look for candidates at such events, people can put themselves forward via the Pluralsight web site.

Either way, potential authors must prepare a five to seven minute audition on a topic of their choice. Only 7% of applicants who survive the audition process go on to develop courses for Pluralsight , he said.

Authors need to be subject matter experts, chief experience officer Nate Walkingshaw told iTWire, and the company interviews hundreds of candidates to see how they work.

The company prefers to use practitioners as authors because they know which aspects of a topic are really important, where product vendors assume you need to know everything, he explained.

Part of Pluralsight's strategy is to carefully curate course materials. So, for example, there is only one JavaScript Fundamentals course on the platform, and there is minimal overlap between courses.

While Pluralsight currently has a particular focus on new cloud-related content, other areas of interest include data, security, AI/ML and Agile, because these align with executive-level priorities, Lee said.

Disclosure: The writer attended Pluralsight Live as a guest of the company.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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