July 28, 2021
6 min read

Beyond HR: Changing the landscape of corporate learning

Paul Espinas
Founder and CEO of MoveUp

Corporate learning in Asia…..

Expensive. Yes!

Effective? Maybe…

Do employees like it? Hell No!

We recently spoke to Paul Espinas, the founder of MoveUp and UpUp about his plans on changing this perception of learning in Asia. Paul is passionate about building a learning platform that targets millennials and is now based in both the Philippines and Vietnam.

MoveUp and UpUp are not your usual corporate L&D solutions that is extremely costly and heavy on resources. Knowing that many companies in Asia struggle with having a value-for-money solution that is effective, Paul came up with a solution that it easy-to-use and can blend with a mobile-driven workforce.

Hold on tight and let’s hear what Paul has to say….

Why Vietnam? What makes Vietnam so attractive to you?

I can answer you from two perspectives. I look for a balance between the lifestyle and the opportunity the country is offering. With my background in digital marketing, I found out that Vietnam is one of the most promising markets in the region.

Firstly, I need to be in an environment where I can see myself grow professionally. Secondly, I want to have a life here. If I don’t enjoy living in the city, I won’t be thriving as a professional. I tried to leave Vietnam two years ago and moved to Bangkok for a year to help set up a new office. But every time I come back to Saigon, it reminds me of home that I do not want to leave.

Did you face any difficulties when you moved to Vietnam?

It’s easy for the Filipinos to adapt to a new culture. I knew that language would be a difficulty for me when I got here. Luckily everybody speaks fluent English at work, so I do not have a problem with communication. The people here are so open to fresh ideas and willing to learn new things. That’s one of the things I appreciate when I first moved here.

You have had an impressive track record as the Head of Marketing for Vietnam’s largest job board at a young age of 23 years old. How did you pull it off?

Let me answer with my favourite quote: creativity comes from trust. All you have to do is trust your instinct. During my interview with Mr. Jonah Levy, the CEO of VietnamWorks, he was doubtful about hiring a 23-year-old to lead the marketing department. I assured him that I would double the number of users in a year without spending a dime on marketing.

Finally, he hired me, and I took whatever it takes to fulfill the promise. It was because of Jonah’s trust that gave me the confidence in such an ambitious project. As long as you trust the people you work with, anything is possible.

What motivated you to start UpUp? What were the key problems that you were trying to solve?

I always thought I would either take a regional CMO role or start my own business. Even though we didn’t know the pandemic was coming, I felt that people still want to have the option to work from anywhere, especially the millennials.

I knew there was a demand for tools to support remote work, so I decided to solve this problem. That’s when I started UpUp which was an employee engagement platform to manage a remote workforce effectively. It took us one year to explain the importance of using tools like UpUp when companies are transitioning to remote or flexible work arrangements.

After starting UpUp, you also created a microlearning platform, MoveUp. What were your reasons for doing so?

UpUp was doing well when we started in 2017. As we continued to grow, we found out that the biggest oil company in Thailand was using UpUp and realized that there were more opportunities to expand our solution.

Our first idea, UpUp, was an employee engagement platform to cater to remote employees. Our second idea was to expand on learning and development. I resonate strongly with learning and development because I was only able afford school through my scholarships. My parents are farmers, so they did not have money to send me to a university. If it wasn’t for the scholarship, I wouldn’t have considered going to a university.

That was why I decided to create MoveUp, a microlearning platform to help employees upskill. With MoveUp and UpUp, you can now measure the impact of learning and development together with employee engagement.

How has MoveUp and UpUp been affected by the pandemic?

I think the pandemic drew attention to the existing issues that companies have ignored for a long time. Before the pandemic, many companies know that their processes and systems are outdated, but they do not see the need to upgrade.

With the pandemic, it really forced companies to question their assumptions. Many companies realised that they could streamline everything and make things so much easier with technology. That’s why a company like TalearnX is essential because they offer solutions and advice for people to understand the importance of technology in the long term.

How do you see MoveUp and UpUp growing in the next five years?

I want our users to complete as many courses as possible. It’s the biggest and most important KPI because it tells us that our users have actually gotten certified and have made progress in their learning journey. This what I wish to achieve in the next five years.

Ultimately, we also want more integrations with other learning platforms that let people receive more relevant educational content, especially given the changes that people are experience in their personal and business lives.

Paul was such a fantastic person to interview and we had such a blast. We could not get enough of him and we decided to dig further into his side gigs as well as his personal motivations. Thanks Paul, for answering ALL of our questions.

As an entrepreneur, was it difficult to transition from working at a large corporation to starting your own company?

Here’s a tip: always remember the purpose of what you’re doing. Do not be afraid to ask for help. People are willing to help most of the time, all you need to do is ask.

It’s difficult to get the resources you need when you run your own business. It took me a while to realise that I was no longer working in a large corporate firm. To overcome this, identify when things are not working, fix them immediately, find out why they didn’t work in the first place.

We know that you’re currently mentoring 16 startups. That’s really impressive. What is your advice to the people who are struggling to run their own business?

I invest in startups and mentor them as well. I always believe in doing so because I empathise with what many founders are going through. I love sharing my learning process and the mistakes that I did so others can avoid it in their startup journey. When I choose startups to invest in, I always tell them it is okay to make mistakes. Plus, I’d encourage them to share their experiences with me because I want to learn from them too. It’s mutual learning practice between entrepreneurs.

What did you enjoy most when you’re running MoveUp?

I enjoy creating and turning ideas into reality, that’s how I am. However, the best part of the week is when I have time-off to play mobile games with my younger brother.

We hope you enjoyed reading about Paul’s journey. If you are keen on learning about what MoveUp and UpUp do, you can learn more here.

Want more stories? At TalearnX, we love to share stories of inspiring leaders from Asia that make a difference in shaping culture and rethinking the future of work. You can read more stories here.

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