Do you have a plan in place to help people at your organization grow their skills and knowledge? In this episode, Tim Reitsma and Noah Rabinowitz—VP of Moderna University—talk about the learning culture at Moderna and share what you need to create a learning culture at your own organization. Hint: it requires intentionality!
- Moderna is a learning organization by default. [2:14]
- Good leadership means you have a followership and you’re using that to achieve a good outcome, a positive outcome, an outcome that benefits people around you; your team, your organization, your society, your community, your family. [5:04]
- Noah’s career has been all about learning, education, development and growth. He has seen firsthand the power that learning has on an organization. [6:38]
A healthy organization, for me, is a learning organization.Noah Rabinowitz
- A healthy organization is where information’s moving around, people have access to learn, space to learn, time to learn, permission to learn. [7:45]
- At Moderna, they are building an academic institution inside of a company. They’ve set up five colleges. Each college has a dean, and each college has a series of what they call academies, and each academy has a curriculum. [10:21]
- mRNA science is a new body of knowledge. [11:51]
- Time is one of the most complex problems to be solved, especially the relationship between time and learning. [16:09]
A manager who’s holding you back from your learning agenda is not a good one.Noah Rabinowitz
- Moderna is a lean organization, but they also understand that to be the best version of their company, they have to grow and develop and that means changing and learning. [18:45]
- People should learn on their own time. [21:32]
- Cyber is a skill every single person at Moderna needs to know. They don’t need to be cyber professionals, but they need to be cyber aware. [24:40]
- At Moderna, they believe that every single person in their organization needs to have a baseline level of knowledge in artificial intelligence. [26:21]
- At Moderna’s AI Academy, they have people practice generating what they call use cases, which is a place for the application of artificial intelligence. [27:03]
- Being a small organization means there’s nowhere to hide. You have to be growing, you have to be performing. You got to be at the top of your game. [28:36]
- It is about intentionality and it’s also about doing good hiring. [31:25]
You can learn your way into greatness.Noah Rabinowitz
- There are some really small but meaningful steps that people and organizations can take to make progress and one is to create a learning plan. [32:51]
- The role of the organization and leadership is to create the platforms and systems where people can find what they’re looking for, engage in those communities, grow, find resources, create resources. But the role of the learner is to own that and to work with their manager in their teams to make it happen. [33:52]
I can never force a person to become a great learner. We have to hire people who are pre-wired to do that.Noah Rabinowitz
Meet Our Guest
As vice president and global head of learning at Moderna, Noah Rabinowitz leads an internal team of 10 talent and learning professionals using an untraditional approach to development. Despite only being a part of the Moderna team since March, Noah can tap into his extensive knowledge and perspective of the learning and development industry to build a world-leading learning university at Moderna.
Before joining Moderna, Noah led and worked on many teams at organizations such as Intel, Deloitte, Korn Ferry and Lucent, where, in the U.S. and overseas, he helped design and develop L&D opportunities in varying environments from shop floors to university campuses. Noah has built extensive expertise in the L&D space by rethinking how his teams can learn, and collaborating with the highly skilled teams he’s worked on, from programs that help veterans tell their story to programs with the intentionality to last.
Organizations have a new role that they can play in the world, which is to harness their expertise and knowledge for their own people and then outside their own walls.Noah Rabinowitz
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- About the People Managing People podcast
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Read the Transcript:
We’re trying out transcribing our podcasts using a software program. Please forgive any typos as the bot isn’t correct 100% of the time.
Noah Rabinowitz: I have seen firsthand the power that learning has on an organization. It's turbocharges the engagement. It's like fuel for our people. When you're learning and growing, you are thriving, you're alive. if you're not, you're kind of stagnant, and we know what happens with when things stagnate. They just, they kind of wither away, right? And so a healthy organization for me is a learning organization.
Tim Reitsma: Welcome to the People Managing People Podcast. We're on a mission to build a better world of work and to help you create happy, healthy, and productive workplaces. I'm your host, Tim Reitsma!
How to create a culture of learning is a big topic. I have often heard in my career and well, maybe even said from time to time, "I don't have time...". I don't have time to invest in my own learning. My manager might not support my learning or my organization doesn't support my learning. Some might say we learn on the job and that's great. Some might say, we have a learning budget, go use it. And that's also great.
In this episode, I have the pleasure of sitting down with Noah Rabinowitz, VP of Moderna University, to talk about the learning culture at Moderna. We talk about how creating a learning culture can start with really no budget, but the main theme, it needs to be intentional. So stay tuned.
Noah, thanks for joining me on the People Managing People Podcast. When I saw the form, the application the pitch come through, I said to my producer, I said, Yes we gotta get Noah on the show cuz, you know we know about Moderna. I think, I don't know if anybody who hasn't heard of Moderna in some way.
And so I love to, to get in this conversation about how to create a culture of learning. And I know there's been a lot of work done at Moderna and you as the head of learning have really spun up this new university, I guess, University of Moderna. So I'm excited. Thanks again for coming on.
Noah Rabinowitz: Oh, it's my pleasure, Tim. Happy to be here.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. And so, tell us a little bit about what you're up to.
Noah Rabinowitz: So we are really trying to, our sort of tagline, if you will is we're working at Moderna to elevate learning. And what that really means is we are a learning organization by default. If you kind of know the history of the company, we have learned our way into playing a critical role in the pandemic and that's, it's really mostly because of the organization's ability to pivot, learn, grow, change.
But that's all done in sort of entrepreneurial ways. And so when we talk about elevating learning, we're really talking about building on that to institutionalize learning and to bring in the structure around it. The governance, the physical campus, the programming, the technology so that we can build on that experiential entrepreneurial learning culture that's always been part of our culture here for 12 years. But take it to the next level and really become a university inside of a company.
Tim Reitsma: I love that. And I love that, I know I'm sure, as you said, the company has pivoted and grown and probably exponentially throughout the last number of years. But keeping that entrepreneurial spirit, keeping that spirit of learning and growth is often lost as organizations grow.
Noah Rabinowitz: As organizations get bigger and the layers start kicking in and bureaucracy and politics and slowness and, you know, that it can really erode the learning culture that came with that entrepreneurial spirit that every company starts with.
So yeah, a big focus of ours is how to preserve that and scale it.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. And we're gonna get into that and I love that. I'm really curious how you spun that up and how, if somebody's listening, you know, I think one of the main takeaways is going to be, Okay, now what? How do I bring this into my organization?
And we're gonna get there. But for those who listen to the podcast and know know the format, I always ask the two opening questions is, the first one is, What does it mean to be a leader?
Noah Rabinowitz: Yeah, that small little question, right? Yeah.
Tim Reitsma: It's small. Yeah. You've got 30 seconds to answer that one.
Noah Rabinowitz: You know, it's funny, I, there's a professor at Harvard that I've interacted with a lot over the years and that I've read a lot of her books named Barbara Kellerman. You might know some of her work. Writes a lot about leadership and she kind of automatically says, you know, leadership a function of having followers and, you know, being in a specific context.
And so it's not necessarily automatically good or bad, it's just there's three things. There's something happening around me and I've got people who are following me. So I kind of say what the question should be, what's good leadership?
Because leadership can be used for really destructive stuff. You know, and it's not, it just means people are following you, right? So I'm like, okay, what's good leadership? It means you're, you have a followership and you're using that to achieve a good outcome, a positive outcome an outcome that benefits people around you. Your team, your organization, your society, your community, your family.
It's really that preface of good leadership. That makes a question for me, so, so important because it's really about creating some kind of impact that does something positive those that are willing to follow you somewhere.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. Thanks for adding in the good leader to that. And I throw it out there as just a generic question because I'm always curious where people are gonna take it and where people are gonna go and how they're gonna interpret.
I've asked this question probably 30 times, and I've yet to have the same answer. There's very similar answers, but it's you know, from what I'm hearing from you, is really that good leader is focused on the outcome and the benefits and being able to bring people along and lead with with that integrity.
And one of the, you know, that's the word that comes to mind when I hear good right away. I mean, there's a lot of words that come to mind when I hear the word good. But thanks for that, I know I just throwing that out ya, or out at you out a left field. And but I do have one more question before we get into this.
And, you know, our purpose here at People Managing People is to help organizations build a better world to work. That's what we aim to do. So when you hear that phrase, is there something that comes to mind right away?
Noah Rabinowitz: There is there's something that comes to mind almost automatically, and it's, you know, my career has been all about learning, education, development and growth.
And I've seen firsthand, I have seen firsthand the power that learning has on an organization. Turbocharges the engagement. It's like fuel for, our people. When you're learning and growing, you are thriving, you're alive. Whereas if you're not, you're kind of stagnant.
And we know what happens with when things stagnate. They just, they kind of wither away, right? And so a healthy organization for me is a learning organization. And that shows up in really practical kinds of ways. It means we make space and time to learn. We role model learning. We encourage learning.
We share our knowledge. We create platforms and tools and systems to share expertise. I mean, you know, again, I know we'll get into Moderna, but we have some of the smartest people on the planet working here. We have incredible expertise. It's when we get to hear from other people and share their knowledge, you're like, Wow, you, I mean, you can be blown away, right?
And so a healthy organization, whereas where information's moving around, people have access to learn, space to learn, time to learn, permission to learn. That they can also teach because I feel like everybody gets energy from teaching others and everybody can teach others something. You know, we're all an expert in something.
And so for, yeah it's a great question and it just, I really kind of bias right over to learning. Automatically I've just seen the power it can have and I've also seen what happens when organizations stop learning. So it can, can pretty quickly have that opposite effect of really causing an organization to stagnate and stay in place.
And we know what happens these days. I mean, the environment around us is changing so fast you gotta learn, you gotta grow.
Tim Reitsma: And I think organizations need to create a space for people to learn and to grow. Because if, I've often heard from people that I have been coaching, you know, people who've, you know, I've been coaching people who have been in their careers for about one to two years and then hop into another job.
And then one or two years and then hop into another company and they keep hopping around. And so I've been curious about that. Why? Well, I just hit my potential, there was nothing new being thrown at me.
No new projects, no opportunities to learn, to grow, to share. So I want to be able to take what I've been able to learn and take that somewhere else, because I can see that as like a micro step. It's not necessarily a change in position or a change in, you know, hierarchical status, but it's a change in opportunity.
So I agree with that. I think, you know, we can create that better world of work is not just focused on, Okay, sit at your desk, here's your output numbers, go. But actually creating the space for people to, to expand and to be challenged. So, I love that.
And that's a great lead into, to our conversation today about creating that culture of learning. You said it's part of the DNA of Moderna was, it's part of the, your DNA if throughout your career. So why don't you just tell us a little bit about what you've been able to create at Moderna and how it's really shaped the organization?
Noah Rabinowitz: So obviously it's a work in progress and it always will be. But we are creating a university and you know, I get a lot of questions around that and whenever I throw out that term, cuz corporate universities were a thing, you know, for a long time. And then there they kind of fell out of favor a little bit and we're bringing it back and people go, Well, what do you mean when you say you're creating a university?
And so we are building an academic institution inside of a company. We've set up five colleges. Each college has a dean, and each college has a series of what we call academies, which are a body of knowledge, almost like a department in an academic university. And each academy has a curriculum, and that curriculum uses every modality you can possibly imagine.
There's instructor led, virtual instructor led, nano learning, microlearning, simulation-based learning, resource guides, peer to peer learning, coaching circles. I mean, think of it in the most all encompassing way of a curriculum. But we are actually setting up these colleges and we don't just see the role of these colleges to educate our own people.
You know, we're 3,600, 3,700 people. We wanna offer that knowledge and expertise out to the world also, through research, through thought leadership. Because we really look at ourselves as a unique organization that plays a unique role in the world.
And yes, we need to upscale our people through the university. And like I said, elevate learning, create that culture of elevated learning. But as I also said, we have some of the smartest, most accomplished scientific minds in the world. Probably one of the greatest concentration of scientific minds in the world.
And that knowledge can't just be for us. It has to also be for the world. It can, you know, mRNA science is a new body of knowledge. It's only, well, it's been around a while, but it's only really come into the sort of public consciousness over the last couple years because of the pandemic. And so we can help push knowledge out to diverse talent pipelines, to communities to learn more about the potential of this science and the impact it can have on human health.
Advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence, cyber security. There's a lot of topics where I'd say word leading the way and we wanna give back to our communities through, not just the medicines we make, but also the education that we can provide.
Tim Reitsma: You said something that's really struck a chord with me, which is, you know, it's not just for us. And so creating this university, these colleges with deans, I mean, that's a significant investment. And I can imagine somebody's listening to this, it's like, well, if I had the resources to do that, man, our company is going to be number one and we're just going to keep it to ourselves.
So what does that look like for Moderna to be able to share that with, I mean, potentially with competitors or potentially with others out there?
Noah Rabinowitz: You have to be thoughtful about, you know, what you are putting out there. But I think from the very beginning, Moderna has always seen its role in the world as, you know, a big one.
And that just is it comes with a desire to educate, provide knowledge and expertise, and to create, you know, again, when we look internally to say, we want a cutting edge workforce, you know, and in biotech, things change fast. It's like technology or really, you know, many industries that are changing rapidly.
So, you know, come to Moderna to continue to grow your career, to advance your skills, to learn from some of the greatest minds in the industry, to be immersed in really difficult problems, to be engaged and to feel, you know, like we talked about at the very beginning, you know, that healthy culture of learning and growth, you know, it inspires people.
I've been on the consulting side of things. I've been able to walk the halls of many organizations. I've, and there's something amazing that you walk around an organization and you get an instant feel for the place. Like you just, you're five minutes in the building and you go, you can kind of tell what the culture's like.
I've seen cultures where I, you know, I'm just like, Oh my God, this is really brutal. It's just people are asleep at the wheel. And I've been in organizations where you feel like the organization's alive and people are energized and inspired and doing the best work of their career. And that's what we wanna be here.
That's what we are and that's what we're gonna continue to be and you have to create it. So yeah, you know, you said, Well, it takes investment. True. I think the investment is, the biggest form of the investment is comes in the sort of leadership commitment to this kind of culture. And then, you know, making time for it, just carving it out as a thing that people are talking about.
Again, making those spaces and places and giving people permission to engage in, in learning and whatever that looks like for them.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, it's, it does come down to that leadership commitment, like it fundamentally does. It's one thing to say, Okay, we have a $500 per person, or a thousand dollars per person learning a development budget.
Go and figure it out. Often, I worked in an organization where we had a thousand dollars per person. I think, you know, we're a hundred people. I think three people used it because it's like, I don't have time. So then carving out that time and making that commitment is, it doesn't have to be a significant amount of investment.
It can be setting that commitment, setting that intention, and developing or even getting your leaders onboard, bought in, and pushing this out as well is, you know, making sure there's time. And often it always comes down to I don't have time, I don't have time to take another course.
Noah Rabinowitz: Yeah. It's time is one of the most complex problems to be solved, especially the relationship between time and learning, because, yeah, I've heard that a million times too. I don't have time or I've even heard worse of my manager won't, you know, let me. And I said, I usually tell people, well then get another manager.
Because a manager who's holding you back from your learning agenda is not a good one. And they're doing you no favors. And you know, budget wise, I've had big budgets, I've had small budgets. I've had everything in between. I never use my budget as the reasoning for why we are creating or not creating impact.
There's, you can always do something important no matter how you're funded.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, absolutely. There's a number of examples, even from throughout my career I had an opportunity to work for a very large corporate, organization. And I was had an opportunity to go through their university program and we were sent to Babson College and studied out at Babson, which I'm from Vancouver, British Columbia.
Traveling all the way to Boston to this elite school was a little scary, but, you know, that was a significant investment. But I've also had leaders where it's like, Hey, we don't have a big investment, but guess what? We have an unlimited lunch budget to go and take somebody who's smarter than you out for lunch and something, somebody that you wanna learn from. An unlimited book budget.
Go and buy books. I've got a bookshelf behind me and I keep buying books and cuz I read, I love to absorb. And so there's other ways to be able to build out that learning culture. And, you know, we say it's gotta be that leadership commitment and then that four letter word 'time' often is used.
How does Moderna overcome that, I guess that barrier that it, I don't wanna say excuse, but that reason for not being able to invest even in your own development?
Noah Rabinowitz: I think, you know, we don't except either end of a, of polarities, like, you know, polarities are everywhere. I got by day job to do and I've got an inbox that's overflowing and I wanna learn a new skill for the future.
Those two things on the surface look like they can cancel each other out. One of 'em has to win. And we just don't accept those polarities and say we wanna do both. We have to do both. And so as soon as you say, you know, declare, we're gonna do both, it's a harder problem to solve because, yeah, you know, we've got serious day jobs to do.
We're a lean organization. But we also understand that to be the best version of this company 10 and 20 years from now, we have to grow and develop that means changing and learning. And so it's just, it's being able to do both. It's like riding your bike and chewing gum at the same time. It's possible.
It's possible. It's just, it's too easy to go and settle for, 'I don't have time for that'. Okay, well then let's just, you know, not do anything. So we have to carve out time in creative ways. We have to make space, we have to integrate it into the flow of work. We have to make resources available to people at the point of need.
We need short learning solutions, longer term solutions. We need managers who know how to help people delegate and clear space so that they can go to learn what psychological safety feel like, that when they go back to their desk, everything's still gonna be okay. I do tell people sometimes, you know, just try to imagine like a pediatric neurosurgeon. Okay, they have a crisis to solve.
You know, there's a person on the operating table waiting for them, so they've gotta do that job right now. But could you imagine if that person had ever said, I don't have time to learn. You wouldn't want them operating on your child, right? And we're doing mission critical work like that. We are doing work that, you know, is saving lives of patients.
And so we have to learn for the good of our patients. And so it's, I don't have a simple answer to your question of how do you make the time. There's no perfect way. There's no textbook formula. If somebody offers one up, I would kind of be a little bit suspect of it. And you know, every day when I scroll through LinkedIn, I, you know, I read oh five strategies to make more time for learning.
I don't actually even open those articles cause I'm like, okay, it's just gonna be another cookbook recipe for how to do something that is really hard to do. But it's possible. It's possible. And again, we keep going back to that leadership question. When you have leaders that believe in it, it becomes a lot easier.
And luckily we do. We have leaders who are just deeply committed to these things and see the value, so that opens up the path to get there.
Tim Reitsma: Do you see, I've got a couple questions and my mind is just racing right now. And so, so one of the questions is I've often heard internal or in internal organizations is we have budget.
We want to invest in people's learning path, but they have, employees have to do it on their own time. So I've heard the debate of we need to create the space within that workday, if you work in that traditional workday. Or, no, we will pay for you to go to university, but that's your own evenings and weekends.
Just don't let it interfere with your work. How do you balance that?
Noah Rabinowitz: All three of those scenarios are viable, in my opinion. I don't think there was one of those that is better than the other. I do believe people should learn on their own time. I do, when I'm walking my dog, when I'm working out. Sometimes I wake up early in the morning on, you know, a weekend and read something or watch a video, take an online course.
I belong to groups outside of the workplace that are learning organizations. I also work to learn as part of my work with colleagues in training sessions, in workshops, in online learning forums. So I do both. And I've also, you know, pursued continuing education on my own behalf and so I, I just don't think it's one or the other.
And a good comprehensive learning strategy should contemplate all of those things and should enable people to pursue their learning goals. I mean, our learning platform, our digital learning platform doesn't turn off when people leave work and they have access on their mobile phone. So you can listen to a podcast.
Maybe somebody listened to this podcast as part of their learning journey. You know, it's just so accessible right now. The tools are there. Things have evolved a lot, so I just, those force choices don't work for me, you know.
Tim Reitsma: I am a hundred percent aligned with you. I think there is opportunity to carve out time during the week in your workday. But I think as individuals, we have to have, or we don't have to have, but if we have that maybe a career goal or an aspiration or a life goal. What are we doing in order to move ourselves forward? And maybe it's, okay, well I wanna take a master's, but I don't want to give up my evenings and weekends. Okay, well, maybe you need to set yourself up financially to take that time off work or whatever that looks like.
But being able to still set yourself up for that success. And you said something that caught my attention. You said a lot of things that caught my attention, but one thing right now is learning goals. And again, it's, Hey, we've got budget. Go and spend it.
How does Moderna then look at your employees, I think you said 3600, 3700 employees, and extract the learning goals so you know who is right for which university or which campus, or which college? Or is it just you have to put in an application and apply, or is it, you know, how does that system, how does that system work?
Noah Rabinowitz: So there are there are certain skills that we believe everybody should learn across the entire company.
So take for example, artificial intelligence. It's a skill that is impacting and is gonna continue to impact every single part of our business. Whether you work in finance, research and development, manufacturing. In our commercial organization, AI is, is here. And so sometimes at the very top of the organization, we make a priority decision that says this skill is important for everybody at, let's say an awareness level.
And so then you have a big campaign to push out, you know, a program, a baseline called a 101 style program on something like artificial intelligence on something like diversity and inclusion, on the fundamentals of our mRNA science on cyber security. I mean, cyber is a skill every single person in this company needs to know.
They don't need to be cyber professionals, but they need to be cyber aware. So, you know, there's kind of a funnel in a lot of this where there's that 101, it's like if you go back to, you know, your early college days, it's like taking composition class, or you know, intro to statistics or something.
Kind of everybody's gotta do that. And those are almost in some ways, like prerequisites, strategic prerequisites. But then as you kind of grow in the sophistication of the skill, the funnel begins to narrow. And then it's people who have declared a specific career path or who have demonstrated a specific set of skills or who aspire to grow or progress in a certain domain area.
So it really is kind of like a pyramid almost. At the bottom of the pyramid, there are just these core fundamental skills that we think are important for everybody. And then you're talking about creating scalable programs that can reach thousands of people. Whether that's in person or digitally.
And then, you know, then you kind of narrow from there. And as, as that skill level goes from awareness to intermediate to, an applied level all the way up to a pro, where we might have, you know, 20 people in the organization that are at that pro level on some specific skill.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, it's, again, it comes down to that intentionality from the leadership team. And as least that's what I'm hearing is, hey, what are those fundamental skills maybe in 2022 or 2023 that everyone in the organization needs to have that one-on-one class done, that awareness and, whether it's built into the onboarding or whatever it is.
Noah Rabinowitz: Yeah, I, right now it's AI. It's just everywhere.
And you know, we believe that every single person in this organization needs to have a baseline level of knowledge in artificial intelligence. And then from there they can decide if they, if it's right in their role or a role or that learning plan that they have, if they wanna progress that skill even further.
Tim Reitsma: And I think it's, I can imagine it's, because AI is a focus, it peaks an interest of people who may not have explored that side of the business and go, Actually I'm not just interested, but I actually have some skill here. And so tapping into that untapped potential to, to really grow and elevate the business.
I think it's such a smart thing to do.
Noah Rabinowitz: I mean, what we do in our AI Academy is we have people practice generating what we call use cases, which is a place for the application of artificial intelligence. And so, you know, whether I work in, again, in the research and development side, or the manufacturing side, or the commercial side, or the finance side, or the legal side or the digital side, there are millions of opportunities around us for AI.
But it's a skill to be able to find them, to identify them, and then build a case around it and say, I think AI can help us do something better, faster, cheaper, reach more people. You know, it's there's just millions of opportunities out there. People just need to develop that skill of finding them. They're all around us.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah they're all around us. And I even thinking within our organization, you know, People Managing People, we're a small publication. We're having conversations of, where do you want your career to go? Let's understand your strengths. Let's understand what gives you energy, what doesn't give you energy. You know, where do you spend your time outside of work and how can we, you know, how can we then potentially bring the, that passion inside the organization?
I mean, we have teams of one, and so we don't have large teams. We have one editor and one writer, and one designer and one producer. And so, so we're kinda limited there, but we still have opportunities to step outside of our roles and add value into the organization. But you have to allow that. We have to create that culture.
Noah Rabinowitz: Yeah. And being small means there's no ability to, there's nowhere to hide. You have to be growing, you have to be performing. You gotta be at the top of your game really because a small organization depends on every single person, you know, pulling their weight and we wanna be like that too, even though we're growing.
And that is the thing that if you're not really careful, can get lost in large organizations. People, the layers start, you know, covering up people and bureaucracy and slow processes and systems that just sort of slow down an organization and turn it into one of those big cumbersome companies that, you know, then disengage people then can't attract the right type of talent.
So we're like, we're doing everything to not have that happen to us. And it's driven again by learning, you know, like just keeping learning, staying on that cutting edge. Sometimes I use the analogy I, you know, in, in the business world, if you go back to that conversation we were having about time, you'll hear people say, I don't have time to learn.
But imagine, you know, again, we talked about that surgeon. Could you imagine hearing the surgeon go, I don't have time to learn. And you'd be like, Oh my God, that's that I'm frightened, you know, by this. Or an elite sports team, or, I mean, my nephew for example is he's a rower.
And he's, you know, on the national team and practices just relentlessly and is looking to get, you know, shave a third of a second off of his time and will work really hard to see small incremental improvements just to give yourself a little advantage. But that is not necessarily the dominant logic in the business world. You know, we're kind of sometimes with that, well, don't have time. Just gotta clear my inbox, you know.
Oh, bummer. It's Monday. Thank God it's Friday. You know, how can I get the day to go by more quickly? And you go, Well, that's kind of sad, you know. We don't wanna be that. We just don't wanna be that. So, you gotta stay fresh, you gotta keep pushing, you gotta drive for, you know, even if it's just that third of a second. That can be all the difference.
Tim Reitsma: The word that keeps popping out to me is that intentionality, it's built into the DNA of your company culture. And so, like you said, there's in a larger organization, yeah, there might be room to hide. It's like, I'm just gonna float, or, you know, term that's been popularized "quiet quit".
I'm just gonna float. Right, I'm just gonna just, you know, I'm just gonna skirt under. But if it's intentional built into the DNA, there's no room for that. You know, it's like, okay, that's what you wanna do, that's not our culture so we might have to help you move out of the organization on something else. And that's okay too, but that intentionality is...
Noah Rabinowitz: It is about intentionality and it's about also doing good hiring because there are people that are wired this way. You know, they will push and push and learn and grow and develop and challenge everybody around them to do the same. And there are people out there that you know are okay, like being okay.
Right? And I'm sure there's a place for them, you know, it's just, we can't become that organization. We can never become satisfied with mediocrity. It's because of the mission. The mission is too important. We have to deliver for our patients. And speed matters, performance matters, quality matters, everything matters.
And that those are learning problems. It's, you can learn your way into greatness. And I think that's the leadership challenge that we've been given here. So we're gonna go do it.
Tim Reitsma: I love that. Learn your way into greatness. That's a good quote there. And, you know, I think of somebody who's listening whether you're a leader in an organization, maybe you're leading your HR or function, we're an individual contributor.
Where do we start? So let's talk about maybe leaders and HR professionals who are saying like, Oh man, this is time, this is investment. Where do we start? And then, and I think it's okay, we gotta get leaders buy in. I think that's where I, you know, often hear that response to this to this question.
What, is there anything else? What else can we be doing?
Noah Rabinowitz: There are really some really small but meaningful steps that people and organizations can take to, to make progress in this space. And I think one is to create a learning plan, like we said. That is skills based. I could do that learning plan on a piece of paper digitally or on a napkin. But when I write down and my organization helps me to write down or declare 2, 5, 7 skills that I either wanna improve or obtain, acquire, that's a huge step, right?
Like we said, artificial intelligence, cyber security, clinical research, statistics, negotiations, whatever it might be. And then to begin to look for the learning experiences that will help me to develop that skill to the level of proficiency I wanted to have. And that could be taking classes, that could be going back to school, that could be reading articles, that could be joining a group, that could be listening to podcasts.
So the role of the organization and leadership is to make that possible for people, to facilitate that for people. Create the platforms and systems where people can find what they're looking for, engage in those communities, grow, find resources, create resources. That's like my job. But the role of the learner is to own that and to work with their manager in their teams to make it happen.
So my job and I look at my job as what the organization needs to do, is to create systems, platforms, tools, resources, culture for learning to thrive and to happen and to take place and to be seamless and easy for people. But I can never force a person to become a great learner. We have to hire people who are pre-wired to do that.
And then you gotta create that accountability. I mean, it's, Learning is work, right? Takes work. It's like practice for a sports team, you know? It's, you're not off when you're practicing, right? It's hard work.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, absolutely.
Noah Rabinowitz: You gotta get in the weight room or whatever they say, train. Right? It's hard.
Tim Reitsma: It's an investment. It's an investment in time sometimes you have a season of my investment of time is just Netflix and that's it. And sometimes you have your season your off season might be, I'm gonna read books, I'm gonna put in a podcast, I'm going to grab an online course.
I'm gonna learn just a new skill versus, Hey, I'm gonna go take an MBA. But what, maybe there's a skill that you can learn versus taking a full masters as an example. I like that. And that learning plan is so important in a look for that learning experience. And as leaders, I think one of our roles is to help create that, help find those resources.
But then it's also that learner's responsibility to, to take that on. And as we wrap up, I'm curious, as you're building the Moderna University and the colleges with the deans, what has been the single most, if there's one thing, the biggest learning for you out of this experience or the biggest takeaway for you?
Noah Rabinowitz: I think my biggest takeaway is that companies, you know, organizations have a new role that they can play in the world, which is to harness their expertise and knowledge for their own people and then outside their own walls. Because every company has, you know, whether they have engineers or scientists or sales people or creative people or, you know, whatever it might be.
The world of work that you know exists is one of the greatest concentrations of knowledge that exists in the world. And we're trying to outcompete everybody else by saying we can get a little bit smarter than our competition. And that's fine. You gotta compte. But there's a service that can be provided out to the world of, Hey, we're gonna educate you on what we do on engineering, on advertising, on consumer packaged goods, on technology, on, you know, whatever it might be.
That's the big shift that I've experienced lately, is we can do both. We can upscale as an organization and get better as 3,600 people. We can offer our expertise out to the world the way we offer our medicine out to the world to save lives. And we can impact the world in some really positive ways.
I mean, education is a powerful tool. So that's been my big learning and it's like opened up the scope of things quite a bit. And, you know, it's a new challenge that I'm, experiencing. So yeah, it's pretty cool. It's pretty energizing.
Tim Reitsma: I can, I can feel the energy and as you said from the beginning, like you've, you're a lifelong learner.
Before I think we hit record, you'd said that you started off in education in high school all the way into consulting and in house and now into Moderna. And learning is part of you and your journey. And so I feel it and I hope those who are listening are inspired by this as well and, you know, may have wanted to take that course.
Maybe it's related to your job or just something to build a new hobby or to build something, you know, build something new. But just get your brain going and so.
Noah Rabinowitz: Get it going. It's just like getting into the gym. Sometimes it's hard, but once you're there, you're glad you went.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. Yeah. It's my, my grandfather turns 96 in the next month.
And somebody asked me and said, Well, you know what keeps him, him so sharp? And he drives, yes, he does drive well. You know, you don't gotta clear the roads. And I think for him, when he retired, he went back to school. He wanted to study French. He wanted to learn how to use a computer. He wanted to write a book, he wanted...
And so I think that keeping, it's so, so important. I know that's just one example, but, yeah let's challenge each other as we're wrapping up this podcast to, to pursue that passion, to pursue that thing that you wanted to learn and go and research it. Find a book, grab lunch with somebody who's an expert in this field, whatever it's gonna take, thank you Noah, for coming on and you're definitely inspiring me. I'm feeling like I've been dragging my heels on a few things, so I gotta pick.
Noah Rabinowitz: We can all use a little extra motivation all of us. No, nobody's exempt from that. Yeah.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. I love it. And for those who are interested to learn more about Moderna and the Moderna University, where can people learn more or track you down?
Noah Rabinowitz: People can track me down on Linked. You can find me on LinkedIn very easily. Just search for Noah Rabinowitz Moderna, and you'll find me and feel free to send me a message. And I will definitely respond. I'm happy to interact with anybody who wants to learn more and yeah, really love when connections are made and get to meet people out in the industry and everything.
So yeah, happy to do it.
Tim Reitsma: Perfect. And we'll make sure to include your LinkedIn in the show notes as well, so you can head there. But again, Noah, thanks again for coming on.
And for those who are listening, if you enjoyed this episode we always love your feedback. Please like and subscribe to the podcast and I'm always open for feedback. If you're also interested in this topic, drop me an email at email@example.com.
And again, Noah, thanks again for spending some time with us.
Noah Rabinowitz: You bet. Thank you, Tim. It's been my pleasure.