• Jun 5, 2019
  • Culture

Building a Self-learning Corporate Culture

Thomas M. Siebel

When I talk with groups around the world, one of the most frequent topics I am asked about is corporate culture. People are often quite curious about the culture we have at C3.ai. What we are doing, I explain, is building a culture of self-learning. It is the most vital determinant of our success as a company. And it is a major area of investment.

Today at C3.ai we announced another significant investment to further support self-learning. In partnership with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), we are providing eligible C3.ai employees with a fully reimbursed master’s degree of computer science (MCS) in data science, available on Coursera. The UIUC Department of Computer Science is consistently ranked as one of the top computer science programs in the world. In 2018, it was ranked #5 on the U.S. News and World Report list of Best Computer Science Schools.

Through our company-funded program, any C3.ai employee who completes the MCS degree receives a 15 percent increase in salary, a $25,000 cash bonus, and an additional stock option equity award. This new MCS degree benefit extends our existing self-learning program that rewards C3.ai employees with a cash bonus of $1,000 to $2,500 for each course they complete from a curated online curriculum. When they complete a course, I send each employee a personal note of thanks and we prominently post their name and achievement on our Self-Learning Wall of Fame.

In the past six months, C3.ai employees have taken nearly 700 courses through Coursera. Since the program’s inception, more than 50 percent of our workforce have taken courses, with an average of 3.5 courses per participant—totaling nearly 30,000 hours of learning. To date, we have awarded more than $870,000 in self-learning cash bonuses. It is money well spent.

Why do we make these investments in self-learning? If you look at how fast business and industry are changing today, it’s clear that much of what you learned even three or five years ago is obsolete. Whether you are an industry veteran or fresh out of college, if you are not continuously learning and renewing your knowledge, you cease to be competitive.

In my own case, most of what I learned as a graduate student in computer science a few decades ago—in the days of FORTRAN and mainframe computing—is not useful today. But the real value of education is the process: learning how to learn. How to research. Ask meaningful questions. Acquire new skills. Think critically.

The same is true of companies. Those that stop learning and adapting will cease to be relevant. This is particularly true in the age of digital transformation. The pace of change, already blistering, is accelerating. For organizations embarking on a digital transformation journey, nothing is more important than the ability to learn new skills and capabilities. Organizations with an effective learning culture are far better positioned to survive and thrive.

Over the next 12 months, we will roughly double the size of the C3.ai workforce. Every candidate we consider is evaluated on their natural curiosity. It is one of our four core values. No other factor better predicts the likely success of someone at C3.ai than their eagerness to learn. If that sounds like you, I invite you to check out our open positions and submit a resume.