What career path can lead to founder and CEO of iCreate to Educate?
The Holmes Education Post continues its segment of interviewing professionals in different fields as an avenue to inform the public, particularly students, of career paths for successful employment. Our distinguished interviewee is Melissa Pickering, founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for iCreate to Educate, an educational technology company that uses innovative software allowing K-12 students to participate in hands-on activities for producing movies and animation to demonstrate learning. With over 50,000 software users, iCreate to Educate is being used to help students learn 21st century skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and communication in STEM and/or core academic subjects. An excerpt of the interview with Pickering follows:
What career path led to your profession?
I started as a mechanical engineer at Walt Disney Imagineering, and realized a significant generation and gender gap among my colleagues. I asked myself why there were not more young people – particularly females – entering the field of engineering, math and science, even at a place like Disney Imagineering. I realized that many of my experiences that led me to be an engineer were the hands-on explorations in my dad’s woodshop, much of which we don’t have the opportunity to do in school. I wanted to find a way to bring more tools into the classroom that would give kids a way to explore, imagine and create, putting them at the center of learning and growing experience.
What educational background and/or professional training are essential for this profession?
For the profession as an engineer, the ability to problem solve, be creative and think outside the box are key. For the profession of an entrepreneur, which I am now, the same skill sets apply. Finding ways to develop these skill sets both in and outside the classroom are imperative for building the innovators of our future.
What influenced you to pursue a career as founder and CEO of iCreate to Educate?
I was inspired in college by my outreach into local classrooms that involved the integration of hands-on activities into the curriculum, such as LEGO robotics. As I was studying engineering in college, I found that a lot of these application methods were key to my understanding of content, and I realized how important it was to have these opportunities in K-12. I left my engineering career to find the right tools that could give kids an opportunity to apply their own knowledge.
What advice do you give to students who desire to pursue a career as entrepreneur?
One of the most important things in pursuing entrepreneurship is to have self-awareness. You must have a keen understanding of your own abilities and dreams, and be able to put the people and resources around you to strengthen your abilities and achieve your dreams. You also need to be OK with failing, and be able to respond and reroute in a positive, productive way when you make a mistake or the wrong decision (because it will happen). It’s hard work, but rewarding when you are doing something you love every day.
Describe a typical work day?
I begin my day by dealing with customer support tickets that come in over night, as well as responding to emails from our international partners and distributors. We have many overseas customers, particularly, in the UK and Australia. I participate in meetings with other education companies that we could partner with to expand the reach of our product. During the rest of my day, I converse with our development team to make sure everything is on track, deal with customer phone call, review last month’s expenses to see how and where we can cut expenses for the upcoming month, give direction to our community manager on upcoming social events, blog and make edits to our new marketing brochure.
We sincerely thank Ms. Melissa Pickering for sharing her personal and professional experience for others to learn about a fabulous career path that led to founder and CEO of iCreate to Educate.
Dr. Ronald Holmes is the author of three books, “Education Questions to be Answered,” “Current Issues and Answers in Education” and “How to Eradicate Hazing.” He is publisher of “The Holmes Education Post,” an education focused Internet newspaper. Holmes is the national superintendent of education for the National Save the Family Now Movement, Inc., a former teacher, school administrator and district superintendent. He can be reached at [email protected]