Last month, I had the opportunity to visit Base 11 to learn how their creative partnerships are making a difference for students and corporations in regional “ecosystems” across the country. They are successfully collaborating and connecting all the right pieces of the talent gap puzzle for young talent in underrepresented populations. My hope is that as you read this story your curiosity takes over to learn more and take action.
Sherry Benjamins: What brought you to the leadership role with Base 11 after many successful years of corporate and business strategy roles?
Landon: Running a non-profit company was not originally planned as a part of my career plan. I have invested 25+ years building a career as a corporate executive and entrepreneur, including 12 exciting years as a senior exec with First American Financial which is what brought me to Orange County. In 2014, after helping position the sale of a software company to CoreLogic, I had the opportunity to think deeply about what I wanted to do next. I knew that I wanted to get involved in a project that not only leveraged my strategic leadership skills but also captured my passion to make a difference. Many of us recognize the strategic importance of human development on an enterprise level and frankly, I predict that it will be the industrial revolution of the 21stCentury. A transformation that will change our country in big ways. With transformative education, and training and empowerment in real world scenarios and environments, we grow exponentially as individuals, and then have a multiplier affect impact on the organizations and communities around us.
This issue around solving the STEM talent pipeline crisis as a long-term solution to building a sustainable middle class in America made up of allAmericans, became a calling that I simply could not ignore. So, four years ago I stepped in as CEO to design and drive the national initiative, which we now affectionately call “The STEM Revolution!”
SB: Are you optimistic about progress when the needs are staggering?
Landon: My optimism is fueled by the fact that there is no shortage of stakeholders who want to solve the STEM skill gap challenge. There is also a shared recognition for diversity and inclusion for this critical talent need. We have significant progress in breaking down the silos that had existed prior to creating what we are calling our regional ecosystems. The stakeholders are aligned around a common vision – and a problem to solve. They are academia (K-University), philanthropy and government, industry and students. They all care about solving the skill gap and have demonstrated that in our first regional ecosystem markets, LA, Orange County, San Francisco Bay Area and Phoenix. Each of those ecosystems has a successfully integrated partnership with diverse and fully engaged stakeholders. We plan to add three more regional ecosystems by 2021 in Seattle, NY and Washington DC.
SB: How is success defined at Base 11?
Landon: Our true north has been set for 2021 and that is to accelerate 11,000 students on a pathway to what we call our "Victory Circle". The Base 11 Victory Circle is achieved by completing a Base 11 program or a hands-on project in a Base 11 Innovation Center, which prepares students for STEM success at a four-year university, at a major corporation, or as an entrepreneur. We are on track to achieve this with 6,000 students already on their direct path to the Victory Circle.
SB: What have you learned from your members of the Victory Circle?
Landon: First, I have learned to never underestimate our talented students. Their passion, commitment and capabilities exceed our expectations. Students who are under-resourced work twice as hard as others. We know we are on the right path for we are confident they are our future leaders.
SB: How does this influence your 2019 goals?
Landon: Our plan in 2019 is to grow our regional ecosystems and bring in additional students and corporate employer partners. More companies and students involved translate to better jobs, greater opportunity and more robust talent pipelines.
SB: What have you learned about yourself through this journey so far?
Landon: I have learned that I must always be learning and growing, and that is essential every day as we build this transformational capability. I have also learned that it is possible to align your professional experiences with something that creates a viable business (economic) opportunity while also solving a big societal problem. It’s very fulfilling when you get the chance to work on something that will have a multi-generational impact. Everyone can define what that means for themselves personally. There is not one path to take. You can serve on a Board, be an advisor, identify a cause that you are passionate about and contribute in a meaningful way. That might be contributing your expertise, time and/or money.
SB: What is your advice to corporate leaders and those reading this newsletter?
Landon: If you are interested in a cause that impacts business, growth of jobs, positive culture and individual empowerment – get involved. We would be pleased to have you help us accelerate our goal to go from 6,000 students to 11,000 students on their pathway the Victory Circle. You can offer to be a mentor, advisory board member, financial supporter and/or share our mission with your organization. Ask yourself if you can see your company joining a powerful network of partners who want to empower 11,000 student leaders of the 21stCentury and create a positive impact for their families and our country at large.
If you want to learn more call Ingrid Ellerbe, our SVP Partnerships at (714) 371-4200
Or check out site at https://www.base11.com/
Conclusion by Sherry
Landon’s energy and passion is contagious. He and his team are inspiring a revolution. I understand now that the results he sees in students energizes him and his team while changing their lives and their families in a powerful way.
We are in a time where this kind of difference making is purpose driven and feeds the spirit. I believe this is a refreshing shift in energy from the drain of intense public and political discourse today to something where we can all have a positive impact. Why not shift our perspective to the power we each have to change our community by developing others.
Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog