by Holly Pigache 

July 17, 2020

As part of our new ‘World of Work’ series, our in-house writer Holly Pigache interviews members of the EdTech Lobby community to find out about different professional pathways. Here, she interviews the Co-Founder and CEO of Zaprendo, Inés Noé.

What was the path to you becoming Co-founder and CEO of Zaprendo, as well as an Advisor, Investor and Entrepreneur?

Zaprendo was born after I left my job and moved with my three children to Bali. After the crowded intensity of Hong Kong, where we were based for a number of years, I was attracted to the magic of Bali, and enrolled my children in the innovative Green School. It was the polar opposite of my children’s competitive schooling system of Hong Kong and that of London where I had grown up and my awareness changed.

I had been fortunate to have had a ‘good’ education and a successful career as a lawyer and then for 16 years as an investment banker. However, I had never really given much consideration to the vast numbers of people around me who had gone through the same system but had come out disaffected or left with gaps in their literacy and numeracy skills. And how those gaps may have impacted them – either in the workplace or with their self-esteem. I realised that a one-size fits all approach to education favoured a minority.

I also realised that current models of education are skewed towards intellectual capacities and undervalue physical, emotional, and introspective skills and, especially, their inter-relatedness. They are often inhumane in that they place the same expectations on all learners – based on chronological age.

At the Green School, I met Alan Wagstaff, a British, New Zealand-based educationalist who had created the school’s vision document and written their curriculum. I believed deeply in his vision for education: a student-centric model designed for deep engagement and enjoyable learning for all; truly schooling in the ‘present tense’ – not postponed to some future purpose.

I was transfixed and felt compelled to team up with him and Zaprendo was born!

What is the most interesting part of your job?

The variety of hats I wear! As a start-up founder, you have to roll your sleeves up, learn and get stuck into each and every part of the business. My learning curve has been steep and humbling! I feel very fortunate that I am able to continue to use my banking and legal skills through my advisory work. I mentor various start-ups and am a mentee myself.  It’s all additive to my thinking and I enjoy the variety of work.

What is something that surprises you about your work?

Every day brings something different, a new challenge or a new opportunity!

Have there been any key turning points in determining your career progression?

Absolutely; particularly when I became a parent! I became passionate about child psychology, development and ‘conscious parenting’. I wanted to allow my childrens’ souls to flourish, which in turn led to a period of intense self-development. That was the starting point which led me to education.

Describe your career journey in three words.

Intense, liberating, joyful.

Do you have an ultimate career goal? If so, what is it?

I would like to broaden our reach and contribute to a fairer education system.

Would you do anything differently if you could start your career again?

I’ve experienced the inevitable ups and downs and learning curves, but I feel pretty grateful that I’ve had a wealth of different experiences, have travelled throughout the world with my career and been able to be around for my three sons.

If you could do any job in the world, what would it be?

A medical doctor.

What’s the main piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to become a Creative Director?

Take your idea and work backwards. Start by understanding your potential customer-base first and only solve for creating/building your product when you’re confident you really know your customer base and how/how much it cost for you to reach them.

About the author 

Holly Pigache

An avid reader and fanatical writer, I've always got a pen behind my ear, a book in my handbag and articles forming in my head. My phone is bursting with notes for article ideas, my blogging website constantly has ten drafts being written and my bedside table has a trillion books on it (all dogeared and annotated). It looks chaotic, but I'm a writer.

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