For many new hires that start working at large corporations in entry level positions, the job quickly becomes unfulfilling and monotonous, with no real goal in sight. Few companies have untapped internal resources that can guide their employees through a career track that reinforces an individual’s strengths and interests. In a way, getting hired by a large corporation is a lot like taking someone out of a big city and dropping them in the middle of the countryside, where everyone is busy, but newcomers have no real sense of direction or purpose. This is exactly how Nawar Nory felt when a Fulbright Scholarship brought him to Kansas State University, a far cry from the bustling hometown of Baghdad where he grew up. After a couple of years, he moved to Canada, but the American dream still called to him, so when he got an interview with the co-founder of NextPlay.ai, Nory joined their team. As their current CTO and Co-Founder, he overlooks the development process, gives advice on technology and security updates, as well as meets with and analyzes possible investors.
NextPlay.ai focuses on building digital communities within large corporations using Ellen, an app that employees can download and use to customize their career preferences, find mentors, and meet others in the company with similar interests and ambitions. The results have been so promising, that major brands like Coca Cola, Lyft, Square and Logitech have teamed up with NextPlay.ai to help their employees foster relationships and build morale in the hopes of lowering turnover rates and improving performance. According to their website, NextPlay.ai creates a positive working environment with more encouraged, skilled and happier employees who have three times more clarity on their career path, and are over two and a half times more equipped to achieve their goals.
By helping corporations develop their current employees, NextPlay.ai also saves companies millions of dollars in new hires, while using their own resources to train new managers, create employee resource groups, and achieve higher potentials. Nory recognizes that what sets NextPlay.ai apart from its competitors, is “the way we communicate with our clients…as well as show them how they can improve their sense of belonging within their companies.” NextPlay.ai was built with millennials in mind to help companies differentiate between the “nice to haves and must haves,” as Nory points out. The way companies do business and manage their employees has to change with the times, or they will not be able to sustain the millennials and the workforce that comes after them. However, the kind of relationships that NextPlay.ai help build is particularly important to women and underrepresented minorities, who Nory admits are in need of this service the most, and who happen to reap the most benefit from it as well.
This actually highlights NextPlay’s biggest challenge which will be to make a dent in the nearly all men’s world of tech startups, where women and minorities are made to feel privileged just to get in the door. According to an article posted on CNBC.com, “…the tech start-up world has been roiled by accounts of workplace sexual harassment, and non-disparagement clauses have played a significant role in keeping those accusations secret.” These clauses allow the accused to just move on to another company and do it all over again. “The article goes on to say that “women have no way of knowing their history. Nor do future employers or business partners.” If this is happening in the startup world, the odds that the same kind of thing going on at the larger, more established corporations is a possibility that NextPlay.ai does not take into account, when matching unsuspecting, career-minded women and minorities with mentors through their app, which only looks at each employees professional attributes.
The state of California enacted changes to laws that help limit the use and effect of non-disparagement clauses and also mandate that principal executive offices in California have at least one female director on their board of directors by the end of 2019. How this will affect the discrimination and harassment women and minorities face in the workplace is yet to be seen. However, Nory’s career choices have shown that one man can actually make a difference in the lives of women and underrepresented groups, and he is proud that his life path has taken him in that direction. “I think that’s my purpose as a person in life,” Nory said of his work at NextPlay.ai where he and his female co-founder Charu Sharma, have recently organized a campaign, during the month of March, for mentoring and encouraging 100k women early in their careers to be put on the right path to achieve their goals. The campaign has been featured on ABC News, Yahoo Finance, and more. While this great effort might not solve all the disparages for women and minorities in the tech and startup worlds, Nory continues to honor his calling of building communities, or in the case of NextPlay.ai, digital communities that help people of all genders and backgrounds thrive in their workplace and beyond.