How Hiring a Bestselling Author Helped Skillsoft Turn the Page and Reach New Heights

Rashim Mogha brought her unique viewpoint — and multifaceted skill set — into an exciting company with a shared vision for DEI.

Written by Erik Fassnacht
Published on Sep. 29, 2021
How Hiring a Bestselling Author Helped Skillsoft Turn the Page and Reach New Heights
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From the vegetable vendors, narrow roads and red sandstone architecture of Old Delhi to the colonial mansions, wide boulevards and flowering trees of New Delhi, India’s capital is full of unique sights, sounds, smells and beliefs. 

One of those beliefs — according to Delhi native and Skillsoft General Manager Rashim Mogha — is that there are only a couple of ways to escape from being a “nobody.”

“At that time in India, you either strived to be a doctor or an engineer,” Mogha said. “I had to appear for an entrance exam in 12th grade to get into medical school, but I had fallen sick and missed school for months. It didn’t work out and I was so depressed because I was suddenly deemed a nobody by the societal values there.”

The good news: Mogha’s mother noticed her disappointment and found a scholarship opportunity to study computer science at the National Institute of Information Technology (NIIT). When Mogha won her scholarship, her life began to change.

“That’s when I realized the power of technology,” Mogha said. “I started my career as a developer.”

NIIT might have gotten Mogha interested in the tech world, but it was the idea that no one is a “nobody” that ignited her passion for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). That passion only intensified when she was faced with the gender dynamics within her family.

Mogha came from a traditional Rajput family of royal lineage, and in strict adherence to their values, her parents sought an arranged marriage for their daughter. Dating was out of the question, and her house became a “battleground” for years, with neither Mogha nor her father budging.

The answer came with a plane ticket: Mogha moved to the United States to escape the arranged marriage, and took her burgeoning career in technology and DEI with her. In the end — and to the benefit of many — she decided that she couldn’t let her individuality and autonomy go. 

Read on to hear more about how Mogha’s personal experiences led to her becoming a No.1 bestselling author, the creator of an empowering women’s organization and a Skillsoft star employee who works hand-in-hand with her company to help the industry reach new heights.

 

Rashim Mogha with Microphone
skillsoft

 

Finding Her Voice

Rashim, thank you so much for sharing the personal story of how you came to the United States. Once you got here, what made you consider writing books and educating others?

Mogha: When you create software, it’s about the people using it, right? But when you create a learning moment, the impact of lighting that candle goes so much further around the world.

My first four books were technology books, and the fifth was the first leadership book that I wrote. The leadership book is called “Fast-Track Your Leadership Career,” and it became a No.1 bestseller on Amazon in 11 hours. I was totally shocked and surprised.

Making opportunities available to everyone is the best that you can do to make an equal world, which has been my purpose for about 20 years — bringing more women into technology, for example, or launching my Empowered Women of the World (eWOW) initiative, or the leadership book, or the eWOW podcast that I run, which is now streamed in about 50 countries. That was the whole goal and when I reached Skillsoft, it all came together very well. 

When you create a learning moment, the impact of lighting that candle goes so much further around the world.”

 

How did you approach writing your leadership book?

The need for the book arose from the frustration I had with the numerous leadership books that I had bought. There would be just one implementable thing or one “aha” moment in 300 pages. What I did not want to do was create another typical leadership book; I wanted to write a template that people could use and actually implement. So my book is literally a template that takes you through the steps in a very DevOps kind of an approach to work through your career plan. The book is not too long, either. It’s about 100 pages.

At the end of every chapter, there is a woman’s perspective that I bring in. It’s interesting because when we released the book, I had so many people from diverse backgrounds — different genders and ethnicities — who reached out to me and said, “We understand the marketing behind this book and we know this was positioned towards women, but this book is equally valuable to us.” That was powerful to hear, because the book was sprinkled with real-life stories from my personal experiences. It was amazing to see my story resonate with so many people of different backgrounds.

 

Aligning With Skillsoft

After your book became a bestseller, tell me about the journey that took you to Skillsoft.

When I launched the book, there was talk about taking the conversation forward. I launched the eWOW initiative, the eWOW podcast and I did five courses with LinkedIn as well. 

I was still working in cloud computing and the robotic process automation industry at that time. Skillsoft, interestingly, was the first project that I had worked on in that field 20 years ago in my first tech role. So I knew Skillsoft, and when they approached me, I got an opportunity to talk to all the leaders in the organization. I started looking at the work that Skillsoft was doing because that was very important at this stage in my life. I did not want to land at a place where my values did not align with the company. I was clear that while I’m a business executive, I’m also an enablement executive as well. My initiative is all about bringing equal opportunities to people. 

Another thing that was important to me was working at a place where you could bring diversity of thought into the conversation, and I talked a lot about that in my interviews. I realized as I was talking to leaders that they were very open to this way of thinking — they really bought into the concept of building an innovative, inclusive company. 

 

You talked about your values and Skillsoft’s values aligning. In what specific ways do they align?

In four places. For one, Skillsoft is purpose-driven. I’ve worked at other companies that are all about customer obsession, but in terms of what happens to their own employees they don't care. And that’s not purpose-driven — it’s business-driven. It has money at the center of everything. Skillsoft, on the other hand, is truly in the business of enabling people to be their best selves. 

Secondly, Skillsoft believes that people are multifaceted. When I started having conversations about working at Skillsoft, there was never a conversation around stopping my eWOW initiative just because I was going to be a part of the company. It was never an “either/or” conversation, it was an “and” conversation. And that’s so beautiful, because Skillsoft truly believes that people are multifaceted. They believe that people have a role to play in society beyond their work, and they bring those varied experiences to help Skillsoft innovate. 

The third place our values aligned — which was most important for me — was with my viewpoint on DEI and how to make this world an equal place for everyone. So, for example, the modularities that we have takes neurodiverse audiences into consideration. There’s so many companies out there who just think about diversity in terms of race and gender — or to a maximum, differently abled people — but never to the level of neurodiversity, ageism and so on. So that was very exciting for me. 

Fourth, I quickly realized that in this organization I was not just going to have a seat at the table, I was going to have a voice at the table, too. And that was important because I had worked in companies before where I had a seat at the table, but had to fight to get my voice heard. And this was not one of those organizations. 

 

Skillsoft Banner
Skillsoft

 

Mainstreaming DEI

How are the DEI initiatives at Skillsoft unique?

I want to treat our diversity and inclusion initiative not as a program that sits on one side of an organization, but as something that is mainstream in everything that we do. Our five new DEI courses have a very different approach: They are not expert-driven — they’re people-driven. Diversity is not about what experts tell us, it’s about real stories and what how people feel. 

 

Diversity is not about what experts tell us, it’s about real stories and what how people feel.”

 

What’s wrong with the DEI initiatives at other organizations?

Most initiatives are five days of in-classroom training or two hours worth of e-learning. People say, “I did it and now I’m done. I’m back to my job and I'll still have my favorites and my biases and everything else.” After these classes are over, there is no reinforcement and no ability building. I’m currently trying to have conversations with chief diversity officers to understand how to mainstream DEI in every every aspect of business. 

I’ve heard people say, “Well, I’m not from an underrepresented group. I’m not from a marginalized group, so this doesn’t affect me.” The reality is that it does affect you because — if nothing else — you’re going to age and you’re going to become old, right? And there is a whole concept of bias through ageism. DEI affects everyone. But that requires a very different kind of approach and looking at it from a systems-thinking perspective and a business perspective.

 

Do you think we’re going to get to a point where serious social change and cultural leadership comes from companies — and specifically from tech companies?

We’ve all seen the resignation phenomenon that’s underway. And that’s because people have realized that they can do valuable work, live their values and not be part of the systemic bias that exists in organizations. Tech companies are going to play a critical role in societal change — but only if they are able to see past lip service when it comes to their values and DEI. Otherwise, people will find their own mechanisms and ways to bring that change.

 

Tech companies are going to play a critical role in societal change — but only if they are able to see past lip service when it comes to their values and DEI.”

 

In closing, what advice do you have for readers who are thinking of their next career move?

Oftentimes when people look for the next career move, they look for titles and compensation packages. I would advise you to think differently and have a list of your non-negotiable values handy. As you interview with your prospective employers, ask them about their values. Your goal should be to make sure that the values of the next company that you work for align closely with your values. When there is alignment in the values, employees are more engaged and purpose-driven and hence successful at what they do.

 

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