Continuing our conversations on education, Knox Makers has received the kind assistance of Randy Boyd. Boyd is one of Knoxville’s premier entrepreneurial spirits and has recently been appointed to a new special adviser position for higher education by Governor Haslam. This new fulltime position is only one of many unpaid volunteer efforts by Boyd. In addition, Boyd serves on multiple boards including the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. Boyd’s innovative company Radio Systems Corporation produces more than 4,000 global products under brands such as PetSafe. You can read more about Randy Boyd in his bio section on his website here: http://www.petsafe.net/about-us/randy-boyd-ceo
Before we begin, here’s a short video describing some of the charitable projects that PetSafe and its employees have participated in:
[KM Q&A!] Bot: What are your goals and expectations with your new position as special adviser to the governor for higher education?
Randy Boyd: The Governor has boldly challenged us to the Drive to 55, which is to have 55% of our citizens between the ages of 25 and 64 achieve a postsecondary credential or degree by the year 2025. We are at 31.9% today and at our current trajectory, we will only be at 39%. We must come up with revolutionary strategies to achieve this mission.
QA: What was your journey like helping to bring a real solution to a real world issue with Project Breathe?
RB: The great thing about being a part of an organization like RSC is that we are all surrounded by like-minded, passionate and creative people. I personally had nothing to do with Project Breathe except to recognize that it was a great idea and support my associates that have led it. It makes me proud to have such individuals as part of our organization.
QA: What are our biggest educational obstacles in Tennessee, and how do we stack up against the rest of the nation?
RB: Our biggest obstacle is the expectations and aspirations we set for ourselves. There is nothing we can’t achieve, but it is a matter of political will. We need to decide that we must do better, and then go do it. The deciding that we must do better is not as easy as it sounds. There are too many that are content with the status quo. Until we begin to expect more, we will struggle. However, the exciting news is that is changing and we are making great progress on many fronts.
QA: Do you have advice on how to encourage innovation in employees?
RB: First, one must determine a mission that is attainable but aspirational, a big hairy audacious goal. It should make a profound difference and inspire us. Then, you have to hire the right people i.e. get the right people on the bus. These are people that believe in the mission, who are self-motivated, and who have the talent to help the organization get there. Lastly, it’s necessary to create a set of values that defines a culture to achieve the mission within the set of ethics you prescribe to. Then, get out of the teams way and let them go! Give guidance, support and encouragement, but don’t micromanage. If you have to do the latter, then you have gotten one or all of the first things wrong.
QA: What kind of future do you see for online education?
RB: It will profoundly improve both learning and teaching in the next five years, if not sooner.
QA: What vision do you have for the future of non-degree oriented certifications?
RB: Much of the gap from 32% to 55% will be filled with certificates. We are having UT’s CBER do forecasting for us now to determine exactly what the 55% looks like, but we think the current 4% in our state with a certificate will likely need to double or triple.
QA: Thank you very much for your time, Randy. We’d like to extend an invitation to you and your local employees to visit Knox Makers. Best of luck in your new position with Governor Haslam, Tennessee is lucky to have you on board.