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Community Highlights: Meet Rob Musick of Embold

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rob Musick. 

Hi Rob, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’m Rob Musick, a long-time IT executive who decided to make a life change.  So, I launched a non-profit organization (Embold) with the intent of providing life-changing opportunities.

Can you tell us what led you to this decision?
I was a senior executive for an East Coast insurance company. The last several years of my career filling the role of CIO. It was a great job with an outstanding organization. However, I wasn’t content. I needed something more than just a comfortable job, working towards a comfortable retirement. I wanted to make a tangible difference in this world, but I wasn’t sure where to focus my efforts or what I could possibly do. If I were to be completely honest, I found it easy to say I wanted to make a difference, but when it came down to walking away from what was comfortable and financially rewarding, it wasn’t easy. So, I just kept delaying what a believed to be a calling. That all changed when I went on a mission trip to Guatemala. I’ve been to Africa and seen “Africa poor,” which is terrible, but I still wasn’t prepared for what I saw in Guatemala. There was just something different in seeing the extreme urban poverty that I witnessed. After getting to know (and love) the kids at the location we were serving and seeing the darkness and hopelessness that was likely their destiny, I couldn’t walk away without trying to help. My conscience wouldn’t let me just forget the kids and ignore their situation. I couldn’t deny or delay the calling any longer. So, I stepped away from my CIO role and founded Embold. 

Please tell us a little about the process of starting Embold.
I met with many individuals in Guatemala to obtain a better understanding of how I could help. The reoccurring advice received was to not start anything new but to partner with other existing organizations in a collaborative effort. So, I established partnerships with three outstanding organizations: Children’s HopeChest, Stones of Light Education Foundation, and Colegio del Futuro. These organizations are filled with amazing individuals who are all doing great things in Guatemala. 

To fund our collaborative efforts, I began selling online training in the United States.  I recognized that there was a great need for professional and technical skills training at the high school level. I was very familiar with online training and utilized it often in my career to train staff members. I knew it could efficiently fill any educational gaps in a cost-effective manner. I also realized that by starting Embold to meet these needs, the profits could help fund efforts in Guatemala and provide some additional training possibilities for students there. With that in mind, I partnered with Skillsoft, a worldwide leader in e-learning, to establish professional and technical skills training packages (many of which can lead to the obtainment of industry-recognized credentials). In addition, Embold has partnered with CompTIA and Certiport to provide vouchers for the credentialing exams. Embold sells training and exam packages in the states and utilizes 100% of the company’s profits to help meet humanitarian and educational needs in Guatemala. 

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back, would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The biggest obstacle we have faced at Embold is the same obstacle many small businesses have encountered, COVID. We started with the thought of just selling professional skills training. We established our company, created our training package, developed the appropriate marketing material, and attended our first educational conference to present our product. We received great feedback and were feeling very good about our future. Two weeks later, COVID shut down the world, and schools were (understandably) struggling to simply keep their heads above water. They certainly didn’t have time to introduce anything new into their curriculum. 

While this was obviously a major blow to the organization, we took it as an opportunity to step back and refocus our company. After meeting with the Ohio Department of Education, we were encouraged to include industry-recognized credential training in our curriculum. They helped us understand the need for and importance of this type of training. So, we re-established ourselves and now offer technical skills training covering 100+ industry-recognized credentials. 

This has been a major win for the organization. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Embold prepares high school students for success by providing professional and technical skills training through an elaborate self-paced online learning platform. 

We offer… 

SPECIALIZED TRAINING FOR STUDENTS 

  • Self-paced courses with individual quizzes and resource sheets, all 100% online
  • Technical skills training covering 100+ industry-recognized credentials from market leaders such as Microsoft, Amazon, Cisco, CompTIA, Oracle, and more 
  • Professional/Soft skills training (such as communication, collaboration, and maintaining a professional demeanor)
  • Test prep and professional mentoring included with most credential packages

TURN-KEY SOLUTION FOR ADMINISTRATORS 

  • Staff training and complete onboarding of students
  • Real-time activity and grading reports
  • Assistance in receiving and tracking usage of government funds
  • Learning Management System (LMS) customized to match your institution
  • Pacing charts to ensure students are on track with scheduled course completion dates 
  • Customizable training packages allow for various IT & business pathways

The entire focus of Embold is to provide life-changing opportunities. This statement has two-fold meaning. First, we provide life-changing opportunities to high school students in the United States by giving schools an affordable, turn-key method to help their students obtain invaluable professional skills and industry-recognized credentials that will help them obtain a job and thrive in the work environment. Secondly, we provide life-changing opportunities to individuals in Guatemala by donating 100% of our profits to humanitarian and educational (building schools & providing scholarships) efforts there. The goal is to give them an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty that is so prevalent in many areas of the country. 

We’d love to hear about what you think about risk-taking?
I have always been a bit of a risk-taker by nature but leaving my CIO position to start Embold was the biggest risk I have ever taken in my life. I started Embold on a part-time basis, desperately trying to hold on to the safety and financial security the current position provided. However, I quickly found that it would take a much larger time commitment to gain any real traction. During this time of struggle, I had a mentor tell me… “you can’t change the world without taking a risk.” It was an extremely hard decision, but with the unwavering support of my amazing family, I took the risk. I left the company where I had spent the last 20+ years of my career to focus on building Embold. 

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