Student profile: Cordelia Carlsson

Name: Cordelia Carlsson
Location: Perth, Australia
Job title: State administration, Business Manager Support Group

Learning can be transformational, but before that can happen, you need access.

Cordelia Carlsson always urged her two grown kids to learn new things as they were growing up, but she regretted not having pathways to do so for herself. While she worked as a receptionist in a small office, she’d always been “a bookie-type person” and “very arty” but didn’t feel like those skills and interests were valued by others.

Then, she moved with her family from Zimbabwe to Perth, Australia, seven years ago. She went from a country where learning opportunities were scarce and internet bandwidth was poor to a country where she’s working for a large (American) corporation and getting herself up to speed on practically every business topic under the sun.

As Cordelia explains it, she “had no qualifications as such” when she joined the company, which is why she looked for ways to upskill. She started in customer service and has moved through a few different departments before landing in her current role as an office coordinator and computer systems administrator. In fact, “it’s completely the opposite of what I thought I would be doing.”

Three years ago, Cordelia’s company underwent a retrenchment, i.e., reorganization, and while she was fortunate to stay employed there, they moved her into a new role as a state administrator, which is roughly equivalent of administrative assistant. She supports a 14-person sales team, and “you technically do everything.” She met with her business manager, and suddenly, she had all sorts of new responsibilities but “wasn’t quite up to what he wanted me to do.” Rather than be intimidated by her situation, Cordelia enjoyed having this opportunity to stretch herself. “I relish trying something new and then conquering it,” she says.

Her employer does offer its own internal training materials, but they didn’t exactly excite Cordelia. They were very scripted and dull. She looked at a few online course providers, but “Udemy gave me the biggest variety. Everything’s under one roof, one sign-in, and I don’t have to look for anything else.” This was no small advantage, as Cordelia is driven to learn much more than what she needs for work. She’s enrolled in about 100 Udemy courses on everything from office productivity tools to understanding the unconscious mind to public speaking and leadership to healthy eating and managing stress.

Cordelia started with courses on Excel since the sales team gives her lots of spreadsheets with imported Oracle data and she wasn’t sure how to use that information at first. She’s supplemented those with courses on data analytics and MySQL. For work, she also enrolled in courses to increase her proficiency with PowerPoint and CRM and much more, and she says she just keeps going with all of it and returns for a refresher whenever she needs it. In fact, Udemy’s lifetime access policy is one of her other favorite features, besides variety and affordability. She’s currently eyeing management courses so she can eventually move further up the corporate ladder.

She tends to gravitate to instructors like Chris Croft and Kain Ramsay who have lively personalities, make learning fun, and don’t overcomplicate the material. She points to the pressure on young people today to be overachievers and have every activity contribute to their career prospects and says, “We’re not all going to be rocket scientists. That’s the main reason why I like the courses to be fun. Life is hard and monotonous; you’ve got to throw some fun in somewhere.” On weekends, instead of watching TV, you’ll find Cordelia plugged into Udemy.

It’s pretty amazing to think that, just a few years ago, Cordelia felt she was too old to be learning but now she knows better. Not only does she enjoy it, she sees it as necessary. “You have to upskill yourself as much as you can so you can take advantage of whatever comes along,” she advises. “You may only have one opportunity to learn and make a difference, and it’s not going to be there forever. A big company can change overnight, and you have to be prepared.”

To that point, Cordelia’s husband recently went through his own unfortunate work retrenchment, and she’s encouraged him to sign up for his first Udemy course. It took some convincing, but he said he’s found it “pretty simple to use.” Perhaps Cordelia applied skills she picked up in “The Power and Principles of Persuasion” course she took?