For Some Coders, Reskilling Involves a Mic and a Stage

Here’s an interesting item from The Wall Street Journal:

Don Schuerman, chief technology officer of Pegasystems Inc., has held several roles at the software company, ranging from senior systems engineer to director of solutions architecture. On weeknights, you might find him onstage acting like a spoiled child or singing about his love for heavy machinery.

Technologists nationwide are getting the improv bug, performing unscripted scenes in front of an audience. Laughter isn’t all they seek. These self-proclaimed geeks say improv teaches them skills that transfer from the stage to the workplace, such as teamwork, empathy and confidence.

“There’s a similar joy in finding the joke in an improv moment and getting a piece of code to do what you want it to do,” Mr. Schuerman said.

Fayez Mohamood made improv classes mandatory for employees when he started software company Bluecore Inc. in 2013. “How do you [act] brave when you don’t know what to say next? Those are life skills…especially in a startup environment,” he said.

Improv has taught engineers at Bluecore to become better listeners and has helped sales reps be more confident with customers, Mr. Mohamood said.

Computer-science majors at Northeastern University are required to take an improv and theater coursebefore they graduate. The class is a way to “robot-proof” the students, helping them sharpen uniquely human skills such as creativity and teamwork, said Joseph E. Aoun, the university president.

Read it all here.