An interview with: Abbie Paul, Business Development Manager – Team Lead (She/Her) Des Moines, Iowa.
In her role as Business Development Manager Team Lead on OpenSesame’s Curation team, Abbie Paul follows a demanding 39-point quality checklist to assess every single new publisher that crosses her desk.
Stringent content standards at OpenSesame maximize learner engagement and drive the best possible customer results. With these standards in mind, Abbie seeks out the globe’s top publishers in each of OpenSesame’s core categories. And, finding the exact content her customers need – as it is needed – has become a priority over the past few unprecedented years.
New workplace topics such as “wellness” and “fully remote workforces” peaked in demand during the pandemic. If a course doesn’t exist, Abbie works directly with trusted publishers to build new content and vet it against OpenSesame’s unrelenting standards.
Describe your role.
My role is to find ideal new publishing partners and bring them into the OpenSesame marketplace. I evaluate training courses, determine if they will be a good fit, and consult with our existing publishing partners to help them improve and expand their offerings to our customers. Every week, we have several publishing organizations reach out to work with us. They range from small independent shops to well-known publishers like TED. All are vetted against the same strict standards and demanding OpenSesame quality checklist. My job is to oversee the quality control of every course we make available to our customers.
What makes your role unique at OpenSesame?
I have to keep pushing the envelope to find unique and engaging courses for our customers. Sometimes it feels like mining for a diamond in the rough. We’ve built a stringent checklist of Course Quality Standards in the form of an assessment for evaluating each new publisher, and we’re constantly taking in feedback. This allows us to review content in a nonsubjective manner. The OpenSesame checklist tells us what works and what doesn’t work for our customers. Every publisher must meet the same guiding principles: be reputable, innovative, flexible, diverse and inclusive, global, and provide unparalleled support. Our goal is to ensure every learner has a smooth and engaging learning experience.
If a customer needs training on a topic we don’t have courses for; I first reach out to our existing publishing partners. We’ve built a network of strong relationships, and if we don’t have a publisher with expertise in a particular subject, we look to either expand that network, or partner with subject matter experts to create the content in-house. We are fortunate to work with high-quality publishing partners ready to work with us and ultimately help our customers see engagement and results.
How did hybrid work-from-home workforce models change your offerings and your role?
We strengthened our relationships with our publishers and asked for timely courses — like “virtual onboarding,” “remote employees,” and “mask conflict de-escalation.” Those courses simply didn’t exist before. Believe it or not, a course called “Proper Handwashing” became one of the most popular COVID mitigation courses we offer. As we saw demand change, we reached out to all our publishers, and they were able to jump right in. Wellness continues to be a valuable and critical topic and is produced by many publishers — but finding the most effective wellness content is what we strive for. Within other topics, business skills are forever popular, compliance is critical, and sexual harassment courses are in constant demand. We have all of those courses, and now we also have specialists focused on securing the best courses in DEI, Business Skills, Technology, Wellness, Safety, Compliance.
What is your favorite TED course?
What is your favorite course in the OS catalog?
Choosing one course would be like picking a favorite child. It’s impossible. I prefer scenario-based courses where videos show the right and wrong way to address a situation. I enjoy humor, so when a course plays like a television show, I stay engaged.
How has your role grown since starting at the company?
My first role at OpenSesame was as a Senior Curation Specialist. At the time, our team was small, and we wore a lot of hats. Since then, the hats have become roles and teams. In 2019, I started the Business Development team, where the focus was to build-out a process for evaluating prospective publishers in a nonsubjective manner; to ensure a strong partnership with successful onboarding. Since then, we have put several processes into place and expanded the team. Our ratings have improved, and our relationships are stronger than ever.
To get a better idea of how OpenSesame’s curation team can work with you to help you get the most out of your budget and accelerate engagement, connect with one of our experts for a personalized, guided demo.