Anna Stépanoff: Proffering Quality Technical Education For Adults

The Most Successful Businesswomen to watch, 2021 Vol III

Education industry comes with numerous avenues, not just teaching in schools and universities. Anna Stépanoff, CEO of Wild Code School embraced her passion for this field by teaching adults highly in-demand technical skills.  From a professor in a university to a consultant of businesses to a founder of Wild Code School, she didn’t stop accomplishing her objectives and finally gained it in her career in education.

Foundation of Wild Code School

It all started when she was just 10 years old and like every other girl, she also wanted to become a teacher and enhance her skills in the teaching department. She was blessed enough to go to 3 countries and learnt different things and got so motivated that she wanted to do something in education industry.

Then, during her PhD, she became a University professor but it felt like a monotonous learning process for her. Thus, she left both and for 2 years, she became a consultant for businesses and understood the importance of technology. Nevertheless, her eagerness for education wasn’t going around so she joined a hackathon related to e-education. She says, “This was such an intense and creative experience that I decided to quit consultancy and found my own educational startup. One year after this hackathon, Wild Code School was born.”

Facing Challenges along the way

Education is all about how people tackle different strategies and personalities. She wanted the finest folks for her startup as that was a responsible role to play since this is where her full startup was going to stand.

She shares, “That’s where building a strong culture and defining strong values came in. With a group of team members, we spent multiple days brainstorming and testing various keywords until we defined a set of values and principles that we share today with all our staff and students. These values give meaning to moving forward and guide us on a daily basis.”

This proves that she wanted to go through an agenda and followed that strictly to obtain and retain the best talent for her startup. Further, she says, “They are passion, innovation and humanity.” and this led her to create a successful company with the perfect team.

She wanted to mix both online and offline education to bring out the best and got the idea when Moocs (Massive Open Online Courses) was famous owing to its distinct style of learning. This online learning approach didn’t replace the classroom education but helped her to explore and experiment blending of different learning approaches.

Anna is a firm believer of blended learning and that’s what Wild Code School is doing, planning different strategies of learning and how to blend online and offline learning practices. She adds, “There is still a lot to experiment in different ways how such a mixture can work, can be adjusted and can be more efficient. Wild Code School is pioneering blended learning, testing different strategies within this field.”

Comprehensive Services of Wild Code School

Wild Code School has helped teach technical skills to adult learners across Europe. They emphasize on reskilling and helping people to transform their careers and their life. She says, “On a more global level, with this project, I believe we contribute to building a learning society in which each individual will be able to get access to the best top-level education in the field of his or her choice, in the most appropriate format (remote, on-campus, full-time or part-time), wherever this person lives (in a big city or a countryside) and at any age.”

She never left any opportunity of creating new projects during her high school, college and PhD. Most importantly, she didn’t do them for the sake of it but because she liked doing them. She adds, “Each time, I really enjoyed conducting actions with impact and bringing a positive change. I think it was this understanding that I could really make a difference through such projects that convinced me of pursuing a career of leadership.”

She is proud of developing her company, Wild Code School, and that is her greatest achievement.

Being a CEO, successful businesswoman and a mother

Anna shares, “My main responsibilities include defining the company’s strategy, developing a roadmap, hiring and training key members and obviously driving the business development of the company.”

In today’s society, being a women entrepreneur is not easy owing to that, she herself mentors numerous young women walking on the entrepreneurial route. She has a strong belief that everyone must find necessary support and mentorship. She has a message for all budding entrepreneurs, “Dream big and then, make those dreams happen through careful planning. Goals are just dreams with deadlines.”

Being a mother of 3 children has made it more arduous for her to balance her work and personal life. However, she didn’t sacrifice any of these instead she prioritized her things which helped her schedule a time for everything in life. As there is limited time, it becomes quite precious. There are a plethora of things, such as some hobbies, that you may need to leave.

She says, “Basically you just learn to be extremely sharp on prioritizing, letting some things go (“better done than perfect”) and also applying rigorously the rule of 80/20: you usually get the 80% of result with 20% of effort. You might not always want to go for the remaining 20%.”

Future Roadmap for Wild Code School

Anna has made strategies and a map for her company’s future where she mainly focuses on growing more within the education industry.

She says, “First goal is to grow our geographic presence through partnerships, developing our own campuses and developing remote training options.” Her approach isn’t stopping at being national instead to move further and share education internationally which is what she is tapping on and moving forward to a limitless sky.

She even wants to establish more corporate training partnerships, as their programs are particularly suited for retraining employees. At last, she wants to develop a structured course catalogue that covers all essential tech jobs, namely web development, product management, quality assurance, data, cybersecurity, devops, etc.