From Xero to anywhere…

HeyFuture! is one of The Mind Lab’s newest programmes, addressing the lack of confidence and direction that 18 to 22 year olds are experiencing regarding their prospects in the workplace. Our very first intake recently finished the programme, and here’s a quick insight into some of the successes of our graduates…

Imagine not seeing yourself in an industry, and then being the one who solved an industry problem. Imagine the power of that experience.

Photograph taken before the team presented on the final day. The four young people stand next to the screen and smile at the camera.
‘Team Xero’ (from left) Eden, Benji, Caitlin and Bailey

Our founder, Frances Valintine speaks to a lot of businesses about the future of work and time and time again these businesses raise the issue of not seeing the workforce that they so desperately need coming in for interviews. 

We knew that these creative, empathetic, out of the box thinkers were out there, probably feeling isolated from mainstream education and business in general.

One of the goals of HeyFuture! was to get these two entities in the same room and see what happened. In the first week of the programme, 3 businesses presented a real-life ‘business challenge’, the teams then worked on solutions, accumulating in a presentation on the final day.

Xero was one of the businesses. They presented our HeyFuture! students with their real world challenge…

“It is key that our Xeros around the world are onboarded in a seamless, easy and human way, enabling our new starters to hit the ground running, understand our business, culture and values and feel a part of the whānau straight away,”

Xero’s People Experience Business Partner, Pagen Plaizier explains. No small feat!

Eden (18) had come on to the programme after an underwhelming six months at university. Despite studying animation, Eden was disillusioned with the lack of engagement or passion in the arts course.

“Everyone there was just following a prescribed pathway; just doing a degree as some sort of checklist”

While Pagen was explaining Xero’s challenge, Eden, a keen artist, was sketching her, and took notice of the bracelet on her arm. Eden began thinking about beads on a bracelet symbolising the values of the company.

Caitlin (17), also on the programme, chatted with Eden during a break and immediately saw potential in the idea. Bailey and Benji (both 18) soon joined in and ‘Team Xero’ got to work. 

At The Mind Lab, we work hard to ensure that theory is embedded in practical experience. So as teams learned new business frameworks and practices (such as human-centered design, agile, lean canvas and growth mindset), their solution or product was evaluated through these processes.

It was during an industry expert session that the team was inspired to gamify the onboarding process to increase engagement. They also realised that while not everyone enjoyed wearing bracelets, all staff needed a swipe card on some sort of lanyard to enter the building. And so the solution took shape: game + swipe card + beads.

Photo of Pagen with the Xero team Eden, Bailey, Benji and Caitlin
Pagen with the Xero team – Eden, Bailey, Benji and Caitlin

On the final day of the three week programme, the team presented to Xero. Eden designed the beads, Caitlin built an app, Bailey 3D-printed a prototype and Benji was the project manager. Xero was so impressed with the solution that the team is presenting to Xero HR Global, as well Xero’s New Zealand MD in the next month.

“The HeyFuture! team really took the time to understand our business and the unique challenges in the onboarding space we have, as a global, hypergrowth company with very strong values and culture. They delivered an idea as well as an app to execute the idea. I was blown away.”

Pagen Plaizier, People Experience Business Partner at Xero

What is important about this outcome is not just the solution; the real story lies in where opportunity resides.

“There is no way on earth I would have thought of Xero being a possible work option for me. I am an arts student, and here I am presenting to an accounting software company! If this is what the future has in store, I’m in!”

Eden, student on our pilot HeyFuture! programme

Interested in HeyFuture?!

Next intakes are in December 2020 and February 2021, held at our HQ in Auckland. Register your interest or apply today.

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