When the COVID-19 pandemic made landfall in the United States 20 months ago and PCI Global’s clients were, in the words of founder and CEO John Censor, “scared to death and didn’t know what to do,” his team was ready to make their move to all-digital work.
Now in its 27th year, the Hackensack-based company specializes in corporate training, but its functions do not include lectures. “We have gamified leadership and management training,” Censor said. “That is to say, we have figured out how to teach leadership skills and management skills and build them into digital simulations online.”
He noted that 2020 was one of the worst years his company has had. “All of our customers were canceling courses, and that is not a good year. So, it fell upon us to figure out a solution.” The day was March 13 and Censor, in Aspen, Colorado on a ski vacation, headed back indoors, borrowed his nephew’s Apple computer, and had a conference call with everybody in his company “to talk about what happened and what to do about it. And that was the beginning of the pivot.”
PCI Global’s three game-based course categories are Bottom-Line Business Acumen, Bottom-Line Leadership and Bottom-Line Project Management. Back in 2016, the firm had made a key move that would reap dividends four years later.
“We were extremely lucky because we already had simulations in 2016,” Censor said. “We had moved all of them into the cloud. [In 2020], thanks to Zoom, which had this feature called ‘breakout rooms,’ we could organize our participants into teams of three or four in breakout rooms online.” It took PCI Global seven weeks to move from being a service business providing classes and classrooms to becoming a completely online business, providing management and leadership learning 100% remotely. Six of their clients — Pfizer, Raytheon, Regeneron, Schneider Electric, SEO, and USN — hopped on board to test the new, fully remote learning sessions, with good results. “Each one of them decided to unfreeze training, and go back to doing some training, but now using our fully remote model,” Censor said.
PCI Global won the investor panel vote at the November 29, 2017 TechLaunch BullPen, held at Monmouth University. Censor recalled that TechLaunch mentor Jeff Weinstein worked with him for six months prior to the event, helping him hone his pitch.
In 2020 the company introduced three new digital games, which are team-based courses: “Applied Risk Management,” which educates employees about how to use quantitative and qualitative tools to develop a solid risk-management profile and plan and to anticipate and mitigate risks; “People/Team Leadership,” which Censor said is the only course that teaches and integrates leadership “soft skills” with hard project management processes and tools; and “Applied Agile Project Management,” in which the participants work in a live Agile environment, learning project team planning and starting, and controlling each user story, from “To Do “ to “Complete,” in a simulated project with an electronic burndown chart.
Per Censor, the future looks bright for PCI Global. “I think adult learning is certainly a great field to be in,” he said. “I enjoy playing games as much as anybody else does. In my prejudiced opinion, we have a great future because of the use of our simulated team-based learning model.”
See our earlier story mentioning PCI Global here.