Three questions to Kevin Frey, GenU's new CEO

We sat down with Kevin and got to know more about who he is and what his plans are for GenU!

Generation Unlimited
Kevin Frey witha group of kids in Mafraq, Jordan from back in 2018
Generation Unlimited
08 February 2021

Generation Unlimited is delighted to welcome Kevin Frey as its new CEO. Frey is joining Generation Unlimited from Right To Play - an international development organization that works across Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America - where he served as the Global CEO from 2015 – 2020.

He is an ed-tech entrepreneur and co-founder of online tutoring, job matching and teacher training and certification companies, and

Kevin has 15 years of experience in the international and higher education sectors, most recently as the Managing Director of the MBA program at the University of Toronto. His academic background includes an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and a Doctorate from IE Business School where his research focused on entrepreneurship.

We sat down with Kevin and got to know more about who he is and what his plans are for GenU!

What are the things that excite you most about joining GenU?

I’m drawn to the scale and importance of the GenU mission to reach the world’s 1.8 billion youth by 2030 with internet connectivity, world class skilling and economic empowerment through employment and entrepreneurial opportunities. Today’s young people represent the largest cohort ever, and given the extraordinary economic, social and cultural challenges they now face, they require a new inclusive approach that positions them at the forefront of positive social change.

It’s also inspiring to see how GenU has positioned youth at the centre of the platform, who guide our solutions from start to finish. We do not just want to solve problems for youth, we want to co-create and co-design solutions with youth. We want to situate young people at the center of global discourses, because when adolescents contribute to social change, entire communities benefit.

Finally, I think that GenU’s deep engagement with the private sector is essential, particularly as COVID19 has accelerated the world’s digital transformation. Individual stakeholders alone cannot transform economic and social outcomes for young people. But partnerships can. We need the private sector’s cutting-edge IP and digital solutions if we want to connect, skill and empower youth on a global scale.

What do you think are some of the key challenges young people face today? How can GenU help?

I believe that ensuring the largest generation of youth in history have the 21st skills they will need to secure dignified livelihoods, as employees or entrepreneurs, is one of the most critical issues facing the world today.

COVID19 started as a public health crisis, but for young people, it quickly morphed into a deep education and employment crisis. Around the world, many youth are currently offline, out of school, and out of work. The data paints a grim picture: one-third of the students around the world—some 463 million—were unable to access remote learning when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Some 346 million young people are disconnected from digital solutions. And one in six young people who were employed before the pandemic stopped working altogether.

For those who are lucky enough to be in school, most are not acquiring the skills they need for the 21st-century job market. The internet has changed everything, from the skills youth need to the ways youth can acquire those skills, to the type of jobs that are in demand and the entrepreneurial opportunities that exist. Education and learning systems have to evolve, and fast, to keep up with the digital revolution.

GenU’s is tackling these issues head on – in partnership with youth – to fulfill its mission to ensure that every youth is connected to the internet, has access to high-quality skilling opportunities, and is empowered with entrepreneurial, employment, and civic engagement opportunities.  

GenU galvanizes world leaders for greater sustained investment and public-private cooperation to help connect half of the world to opportunities. How important is partnership to achieve this goal?

For me, partnership is the key. To solve the big challenges facing youth around the world, we need governments, multilaterals, NGOs, civil society, youth and the private sector to come together, align their goals, and then amplify and multiply each other’s efforts.

Partnership is really hard work and I think that’s why sometimes different sectors, organizations, and individuals shy away from it, but it is the only way forward if we want to maximize impact.

The essence of GenU is partnership. And that is what, in my opinion, is so special about Generation Unlimited. GenU brings together Heads of State, CEOs, young people, UN agencies, development banks and civil society to work together to solve major global challenges.

Many people forget about a very important Sustainable Development Goal, SDG 17 “Partnerships for the Goals”, which does not get the same attention as the other SDGs. Personally, I believe that SDG 17, which promotes multi-stakeholder public-private partnerships, is the only pathway to achieving the other 16 SDGs. Generation Unlimited is literally on the frontier of partnerships, disrupting the status quo and pushing the boundaries of what we can accomplish.