March 1, 2024

Q&A with education visionary Inga Jablonskė: a holistic approach to learning & development

1. Could you tell our readers about the mission and vision of WoW University in 3 sentences? How was this idea born and what awaits in the future?

WoW University's mission is to empower Lithuanian women by giving them the skills and competencies they need to feel needed and successful in the work market today and tomorrow. WoW University was born out of the fact that I have always received a lot of support, help and mentoring in my own life, so I wanted to create such an empowering environment for other Lithuanian women. I believe that the fastest way to your inner strength and the life of your dreams is to develop your competencies, knowledge and skills.

We recently celebrated our four-year birthday - since the beginning of WoW University, we have significantly expanded our range of services as we constantly try to meet the changing needs of our audience. I believe we will continue to do that in the future. For example, we now have an AI course, a course for aspiring female managers; we‘re growing our WoW Competence and Career Centre, putting more attention to health topics... When it comes to health, we often forget that you need energy to move mountains - that's why we are launching the WoW Health Club on 19 March.

2. Who are WoW University students?  Why do they choose WoW University over more traditional educational institutions?

As a non-governmental organisation, we work with a very diverse audience - from teenage girls participating in the Future Heroes Leadership and Entrepreneurship Programme to those who are on a career break, mothers of young children, members of our community who want to return to the labour market after a serious illness or simply curious, active career women.

In terms of our strength compared to more traditional educational institutions or organisations, I would highlight the clear pathway we create for our community members. We take a holistic approach to learning - for example, if you‘re learning empathy or emotional intelligence, it won't just be applicable in a work environment - so we make sure that the knowledge that women gain with us is always applicable to any life situation.

When you go on a longer journey with WoW, for example, studying on a three-month intensive programme, there is what I call a 'cumulative effect'. Over some time, a person develops a real new skill, a mini-transformation, a change of mindset - a change of attitude towards oneself, towards a situation, towards other people, towards life itself. That‘s our strength as educators.

3. Could you name 3 key skills and competencies that people need to thrive in today's workplace?

1. Emotional intelligence. I believe that if you can know yourself, hear yourself and hear others, you are unstoppable.

2. Creativity and flexibility. I have in mind those people who are always looking for new ways of doing things and are not stuck in a concept that just doesn't work anymore in this crazy changing world.

3. A skill of novelty, which is what I call a trait that I observe in the behaviour of successful and fulfilled people. It's like a developed inner intuition that helps you to constantly spot new trends, innovate and change yourself. Novelty makes us alive, always moving and helps us to create things and tools that people not only need today but will also need tomorrow.

What I hear from the business organisations we work with is that specific knowledge can be taught in-house, but it is hard to find people who have a high-quality package of soft skills.

4. Research shows that 94% of employees would stay in a company longer if it offered learning and development opportunities. This means that having the opportunity to learn and develop is one of the best ways to increase employee satisfaction and engagement. Do you see this demand from companies in your practice?

I definitely see this trend, as we work a lot with organisations that have teams learning in WoW University programmes. The learning market is moving towards a more personalised approach and it‘s not only large companies that are investing in this anymore. Organisations that have a "growth mindset" and allow their employees the freedom to choose where and how they learn will flourish.

Most of us live a good life, so motivating employees is not just about external factors anymore - the opportunity to grow, develop and learn is the internal catalyst that is very important.

5. WoW University is growing, and last year you were nominated among the TOP 100 European women entrepreneurs creating social change in your country - where do you find inspiration?
I am inspired by real stories of change in women's lives and by the opportunity to contribute to meaningful projects with my professional team. I am inspired by seeing people around me who are self-aware, emotionally mature, who are not only looking out for their good but also want to create value in their environment - in simple words, who genuinely care. It is also insanely important for me to grow, to learn, to change.

However, I‘m a huge believer that we have to discover and create meaning anew every day - it is not a constant, it is an action. Today, when I left the meeting with the team, I realised that I am among amazing people - it gave me a feeling that I am in my place and with people with whom it‘s good to create new things. What inspires me the most now is the desire to grow the WoW team!