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Preparing For The Future Of Work: Mike Peregudov of Pivot On The Top Five Trends To Watch In The Future Of Work

An Interview with Phil La Duke

There have been major disruptions in recent years that promise to change the very nature of work. From the ongoing shifts caused by the COVID19 pandemic, the impacts caused by automation, and other possible disruptions to the status quo, many wonder what the future holds in terms of employment. For example, a report by the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that automation will eliminate 73 million jobs by 2030.

To address this open question, we reached out to successful leaders in business, government, and labor, as well as thought leaders about the future of work to glean their insights and predictions on the future of work and the workplace.

As a part of this interview series called “Preparing For The Future Of Work”, we had the pleasure to interview Mike Peregudov.

Mike Peregudov is a co-founder and CEO of Pivot, a community-driven cohort-based online education platform dedicated to helping people become independent creative professionals. Founded in 2021, the company bridges the gap between online education and the passion economy.

In addition to his leadership role at Pivot, Mike is a co-founder and general partner at S16VC — a global value-driven Founders for Founders Venture Fund that attracts world-class entrepreneurs and operators as Limited Partners (investors in the fund) and invests money at the Late Seed or Series-A stages. He’s an active investor and is on the board of directors at leading global tech companies, including FoodRocket.

Prior to the launch of Pivot, Mike was the founder and CEO of Food Party, the largest meal kit delivery service in Russia that, after being acquired by Yandex in 2018, became the country’s leading 15-minute grocery delivery service. In 2018, the prestigious RBC Awards named Food Party the Startup of the Year.

Mike Peregudov is a technology expert, a published author and a sought-after speaker on the topics of startup scale and growth, venture capital investments and business management.

A graduate of St. Petersburg Electrotechnical University with a degree in Engineering, Mike is currently pursuing the Stanford Executive Program with expected graduation in Fall 2022.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers like to get an idea of who you are and where you came from. Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where do you come from? What are the life experiences that most shaped your current self?

My name is Mike Peregudov and I’m the founder and CEO of Pivot — a community-driven cohort-based online educational platform dedicated to helping people become independent creative professionals. I was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia. After getting a degree in engineering, I’ve held multiple marketing and product management roles throughout my career until 2014, when I founded my own company “Food Party” (Partiya Edy”). It became the leading meal prep delivery service in Russia employing over 250 people. In 2018, the company was acquired by Yandex, Russia’s largest technology company and the most popular search engine. This acquisition was named the Deal of the Year on the Russian venture market. Over the next 1.5 years, I’ve stayed on to manage it until my departure in 2020.

EdTech space has always been of interest to me. Personal passion aside, I’ve been an active investor in global EdTech projects and currently have five companies in my portfolio, including FoodRocket and Buyk. Also, I serve on the Board of Directors of Like Center, Russia’s largest online education platform.

This experience and my personal interest in the space led me to founding Pivot in 2021. At Pivot, we’re on a mission to turn creative people into creative professionals. We’re committed to helping people find new ways to leverage their creative talents and give them the right tools to help launch or pivot their careers that would be aligned with their passion.

What do you expect to be the major disruptions for employers in the next 10–15 years? How should employers pivot to adapt to these disruptions?

One of the key shifts that I see happening is the dynamic between companies and employees. In the past, employees worked FOR their employers, however, this is changing — now employees are expecting to work WITH the company. This is especially relevant for knowledge workers, those whose main capital is knowledge and whose job is to “think for a living” — for example, IT professionals, physicians, lawyers, academics, marketers, scientists, creatives and others.

To address this shift and attract top talent, employers need to be conscious about providing more ownership, responsibility and flexibility to their staff. It also comes with building trust and continuous engagement. Needless to say, company values become more important than ever as employees are not just looking for a salary, title and benefits, but they also want to belong to a place that shares their values and acts like a responsible member of the society.

The choice as to whether or not a young person should pursue a college degree was once a “no-brainer”. But with the existence of many high profile millionaires (and billionaires) who did not earn degrees, as well as the fact that many graduates are saddled with crushing student loan debt and unable to find jobs it has become a much more complex question. What advice would you give to young adults considering whether or not to go to college?

That’s absolutely true — traditionally, higher education was your ticket to landing a well-paying job that would help cover student loans and still offer comfortable living. However, in today’s economy, this is no longer the case. Over the past 20 years, the costs of higher education in the U.S. increased by 250% — which is one of the biggest spikes compared to price increases on other services and goods. That has created a disbalance and many students who are graduating with student debt are no longer able to pay student loans and support themselves as cost of living remains high as well.

When it comes to choosing your education, it’s not a one size fits all approach. There are many factors that come into play — the most important is the career path that a student chooses for themselves. For those aspiring to become physicians or lawyers, traditional education is a must, you simply can’t get around it. However, there are career paths that don’t require following a traditional education model. The world is changing faster than ever, with new job titles and functions emerging quickly. For example, the career of a social media marketing manager didn’t exist 15 years ago. And needless to say, the job of the first social media managers was very different compared to the responsibilities of someone who is doing it today, and it may become different as early as next year with new platforms and tools continuing to emerge. Therefore, a traditional four-year degree may be irrelevant and even obsolete by the time a student graduates.

My recommendation is to be ready to explore different education options, depending on your career path. The growth of technology over the past few years brought new education platforms and alternative ways to get quality education designed for the modern world.

Despite the doom and gloom predictions, there are, and likely still will be, jobs available. How do you see job seekers having to change their approaches to finding not only employment, but employment that fits their talents and interests?

Gone are the days when people used to have one job or stayed with one company throughout their careers. In today’s world, people should expect that their career path may evolve and that they may need to acquire new skills along the way to better position themselves and grow as professionals. So, to find employment that fits their talents and interests, it is necessary to step outside of their comfort zones, be flexible and open to learning new skills or even a new profession. It’s also important not to be afraid to start from scratch as new beginnings often lead to new opportunities and more rewarding careers.

The statistics of artificial intelligence and automation eliminating millions of jobs, appears frightening to some. For example, Walmart aims to eliminate cashiers altogether and Dominos is instituting pizza delivery via driverless vehicles. How should people plan their careers such that they can hedge their bets against being replaced by automation or robots?

Absolutely, AI and robots are here and further automation will only be accelerating from now on. However, what is still hard to replace is creativity and human connection, including emotional connection. So, for those worried about job security and being replaced by robots, advice would be to opt in for careers that require creativity and personal communication.

Technological advances and pandemic restrictions hastened the move to working from home. Do you see this trend continuing? Why or why not?

The shift to work from home or, actually, work from anywhere, has already happened and I don’t foresee it ever rolling back. The pandemic has changed the lifestyles and approach to work of many people, and I believe that the “office first” approach will no longer be feasible in the future. While working together out of a physical office has many benefits, including collaboration and personal interaction, a full-time office-based work environment is a thing of the past. Over the past few years, many people became digital nomads and even the notion of a physical home in its traditional meaning is getting blurry now. Therefore, as an entrepreneur and a team leader, I think that “work from anywhere” approach is here to stay.

What changes do you think will be the most difficult for employers to accept? What changes do you think will be the most difficult for employees to accept?

I believe the biggest challenge for the employers would be to adjust to the new paradigm where your team works WITH you and not FOR you. We already see that many companies are becoming less hierarchical, turning to flatter structures and updating their office plans so that everyone has a similar working space, regardless of the title. Employees are looking not just for a better compensation package but also for something that goes beyond money — responsibilities, challenging projects, values, company’s mission and the role they are playing in the society.

As for the employees, I see the biggest challenge as the need for continuous learning. You can longer do the same job throughout your career — even if you’re staying within the same company, your responsibilities may need to change as technology and the overall landscape continues to evolve. So, your current job may become obsolete and there will be a need to advance your education or master new skills or a new profession altogether.

Despite all that we have said earlier, what is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?

I’m very optimistic about the future — the future of humanity and the future of work. If we look back 100, 50 or even 10 years, we’ll see that the quality of life and working conditions have significantly improved. We have access to resources that have been unheard of before, we’re connected and can network with people from around the world, there are multiple opportunities for upward mobility, and there are ways for self-expression and for doing work that we’re passionate about. Our lives are constantly changing for the better and I’m convinced that now is the best time that humankind has ever lived through.

Historically, major disruptions to the status quo in employment, particularly disruptions that result in fewer jobs, are temporary with new jobs replacing the jobs lost. Unfortunately, there has often been a gap between the job losses and the growth of new jobs. What do you think we can do to reduce the length of this gap?

The job market is very complex and there is more than one thing that affects it and causes disruptions. Despite this complexity, each of us can make a difference and it’s in our hands to collectively change the situation. Every person should feel empowered to create something for themselves — it all starts with curiosity, flexibility and not being afraid to try something new, and start from scratch.

What are your “Top 5 Trends To Watch In the Future of Work?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

Remote work. While remote jobs existed for a while, the pandemic accelerated this trend. It’s a new reality and people will never return to the offices. Companies should learn how to build, run and scale decentralized teams remotely.

Creator economy. More than 50% of adult Americans will be involved in the creator economy in the next 15 years. Tech platforms accelerate this trend.

Digital nomads. More and more people live and work while traveling. This trend will continue and will become more prominent. Companies should learn how to work not only remotely but also in different time zones. They should also reconsider their policies on that. For example, at Pivot we encourage our employees to travel and even help them meet each other and work together in different parts of the world. These policies are part of long-term motivation and our talent acquisition strategy.

Side hustle. Our head of sales has a passion — she creates decorations for kids’ birthdays and other celebrations with beautiful festive balloons. At the same time, she is the Head of Sales at Pivot and a content creator. We are OK with that.

Continuous growth and advancement of knowledge workers and creative professionals. Robots will do all the rest.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how this quote has shaped your perspective?

I love to record powerful quotes that fit different occasions. I even have a notepad for them and have an impressive collection by now. Our conversation today made me think of this quote by Peter the Great, a former Russian Emperor: “Я учусь и мне нужны учителя,” which means “I’m learning, and I need teachers to support me in this process.” Peter the Great once asked to forge a ring for him and on the reverse side of it he made an engraving with this quote. He then wore it during his whole life.

While the quote itself is very simple, it’s truly remarkable in the modern context. This is exactly what we’ve talked about today: people need to stay curious, be open minded and ready to start from scratch. What impresses me is that Peter the Great realized it in the 17th century while being a lifelong ruler of the country. Technically, there was no need for him to advance in his career as his “job” as a tzar was his for the rest of his life. However, he was able to recognize the importance of this simple truth.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

So many great people that I’d love to meet with! My top choices would be Naval Ravikant and Ben Horowitz. Both of them are inspiring leaders who built great companies and authored insightful books. It would be an absolute honor to meet them in person.

Our readers often like to follow our interview subjects’ careers. How can they further follow your work online?

My LinkedIn account is the best option, I’m very active there: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-peregudov-22835220

Also, we’ll be happy to see everyone on our company’s website: https://pivot.ws/

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.

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