Smart People: A Broadcom Advantage

There’s probably a Broadcom chip in your DLS modem, your Bluetooth, cable box and the data system at work.  Broadcom probably supports your work and lifestyle but you’ve probably never heard of them.
Broadcom has a competitive advantage—smart people, 9,000 of them in more than 50 offices in 18 countries.  More than three quarters are engineers with almost 700  Ph.D.s.
An online recruiting net and extensive screening effort will results in more than 1000 employees joining Broadcom in 2010. Candidates are often grilled by 8-10 interviewers, each one asking, “Is this person smart enough for Broadcom?” Most attend an on-boarding session in person and begin a mixture on online and onsite core classes.
A career ladder outlines type of projects and problem solving typical at different levels in the organization outlining both technical and leadership/communication skills necessary for advancement.
Broadcom supports employees who want to further their learning with more formal education. Employees are offered reimbursement for coursework such as MBA and PhD programs. Advanced education helps foster Broadcom’s belief that smart people will come up with good solutions.
Training and development includes a blend of online and onsite courses.  Culture and communication topics are addressed in person and much of the content is developed internally.  Broadcom works with a variety of external partners for online course content.
A Lunch and Learn series brings the outside world in and boosts job satisfaction with topics like Obstacles and Strategies for Women in Technology.
Here at edReformer we are focused on innovations in learning. We find that most successful companies are learning organizations with efficient pathways to competence.  Some observations with relevance for K-12:

  • Hire smart people: keep a very high bar, invest in the process, and be flexible about location/conditions when you can (much easier to contemplate with a blended school model).
  • Core learning often needs to be face-to-face—so focus on the important stuff when you’re together (i.e., critical thinking, problem solving, critical feedback, guidance).
  • Move other learning online and asynchronous: be intentional about blending modes of instruction to boost learning, staffing and facilities productivity.

Broadcom sponsors middle grade science fairs through Society for Science & the Public.  As I wrote last month, I think every secondary student should make an in depth exploration of a topic in science every year; they should learn to think like a scientist while conducting an investigation and should present conclusions and demonstrate content knowledge and communication skills in a public venue. Kids need to DO science not just read about it.  We need to give kids permission to focus and the opportunity to shine.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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