Hailey Carter knew there was huge unmet demand for information about MBA careers in ed-tech. She just had no idea how huge.
The Northwestern Kellogg Class of 2022 MBA found out when she launched a student initiative dedicated to ed-tech, which is the integration of emerging technology into education platforms, and exploring how MBAs can pursue a career in it. About six months after the launch of EdTech MBA last fall, the platform has nearly 500 members from over two dozen top business schools in the United States and Europe. It has hosted 20 CEOS for a series of virtual “fireside chats,” staged panels, held networking events — and made, in Carter’s words, “hundreds of connections” for those looking to work in the space.
It’s definitely the start of something big, Carter tells Poets&Quants. “The interest is definitely there. The constant sentiment that I hear: Like one student said, he felt like it was such a small niche in something that he was kind of alone in, and so it’s been really nice for him to be able to talk about his startup idea and just be able to bounce ideas off of people who have the same excitement for it.”
‘THE DIALOGUE JUST ISN’T PRESENT’
Hailey Carter has always had a passion for education. She minored in it as an undergrad at Dartmouth College, then went to work at EY-Parthenon, the consulting giant that has worked across the public and private education sectors globally for two decades. But she wanted more “firsthand impact,” she says, so she became a teacher, teaching kindergartners at a K-8 school in the San Francisco Bay Area for two years before starting B-school.
It was in the classroom where Carter became familiar with many ed-tech tools.
“I think that was where I really saw just how impactful they are to students and how they can reach students all around the world,” she says. “And so I came to business school really dedicated to accelerating the ed-tech space and figuring out how I could help solve those problems that are definitely visible in the classroom setting.”
She ended up recruiting for an ed-tech venture capital firm. But as she began her second year she realized a more immediate need: Even as ed-tech has exploded in recent years, “the dialogue between MBA communities just isn’t present. Nothing existed before. I saw a gap: All these students are really excited about the space, but don’t have that dialogue and aren’t able to problem-solve together and aren’t able to even connect and realize they’re not alone in hoping to enter the space.”
And so she decided to do something about it.
GREAT & GROWING NEED, AND OPPORTUNITY FOR B-SCHOOLS
What, precisely, is ed-tech? Think in-classroom tablets, interactive projection screens and whiteboards, online content delivery, and MOOCs (massive open online courses). Think modern tools introduced into classrooms at every level to better facilitate learning. In a larger sense, think of ed-tech as an evolution in learning, accelerated by need amid a worldwide pandemic.
And think, too, of one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Venture capital investment in ed-tech has tripled in the last year, Carter says, and the number of ed-tech unicorns has grown by eight times, with household names like Duolingo and Coursera being joined by more recent startups like Guild Education, MasterClass, and Udacity. In 2021, six ed-tech companies went public at valuations greater than $1 billion; there are now 33 ed-tech unicorns that have collectively raised more than $28 billion and are valued at over $100 billion. All to meet a great and growing need: As Carter points out, there will be 2 billion more learners in the world by 2050, and global education and training expenditure will reach at least $10 trillion by 2030.
Yet that hasn’t led to a recruitment pipeline at the top business schools. So far, Carter says, B-schools have been unable to provide definitive ed-tech hiring paths, as they do in consulting or banking. “I think one thing is, the courses aren’t really there,” she says. “I spoke with a founder who is building out an incubator in studio for tech startups. And he was commenting on the fact that you have courses in undergrad and maybe even MBAs about education itself. But there’s not an ed-tech course. I think one exists at Stanford GSB, which makes sense as they have a dual master’s of education-MBA program.
“But otherwise, if I want to learn about ed-tech or the intersection of technology and these niche markets, even if you want to expand that out to finance and healthcare and education, which all are kind of wrapping themselves together — and that there’s financial literacy solutions and so many other elements there — you don’t really have a way to learn about them.”