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RMIT Onlines CEO, standing outside on Bourke Street in Melbourne

Introducing Nic Cola

Nic tells us more about his background and ambitions for the future of RMIT Online

The best thing we can do to build a resilient workforce is to invest in skills and training. At RMIT Online, our vision is to enable individuals and businesses to do this with ease, supporting the developing workforce and equipping them with lifelong solutions. 

The future of work is a constantly evolving landscape and as we move forward with the changing industry, we usher in a new era with a new CEO. Nic Cola joins the team to lead a greater expansion of RMIT Online’s offerings and will work to deepen our industry partnerships as we continue to build solutions to bridge the skills divide. 

Nic tells us more about his background and ambitions for the future of RMIT Online: 


Tell us a bit about yourself and why you joined RMIT Online? 

Prior to joining RMIT Online, I was the Managing Director of Open Colleges. I’ve always been passionate about education, and through Open Colleges I was able to see the tangible changes that we made in our students lives, empowering them to succeed. I was exposed to the dynamic and innovative environment of online education and was able to learn from some of the best providers on the planet. However, the shifts we have seen since then, the pandemic being one instigator of change, have made the market all the more transformative. If Australians are to keep pace with our global counterparts, we must accept that education does not finish with a degree in our 20s. We must remain curious and build the capability to dip in and out of learning throughout our working life to keep pace with the changes we are seeing in the industry. RMIT Online is truly at the forefront of this and facilitating the demand for work-ready skills.  

Joining RMIT Online presents an exciting opportunity to get involved with an institution advancing the parameters of learning in Australia and play a critical role in preparing our workforce for the future. What privilege it is to be here and to advance our students careers! 

What’s your vision for the next phase of RMIT Online? 

These days, people are time-poor and education is competing against any number of other things taking precedence. If we want individuals to make valuable space for education, and to enjoy the process, we need to ensure the pathways are accessible. This is something I am extremely mindful of. The key to bridging this gap is by corroborating a rewarding and attainable experience. For a student who is looking for in-depth knowledge in a particular topic, as well as building networks and connections, a more formal qualification like our MBA might be the best solution. However, for someone who is wanting to top up their knowledge in digital marketing best practices, our 6-week short course could be the right fit.  My goal is to continue to work with the industry to identify critical skill gap areas they are facing and to remain nimble as an organisation so that we can rapidly build solutions (no matter what that experience looks like) to help bridge the divide.   

The skills crisis requires the best minds across education, business and government to develop solutions that will unlock the much-needed talent required to advance Australia's economy. And future-proofing our workforce begins with giving them the tools to succeed. 

How important are industry partners in reskilling Australians? 

Very! If education providers are going to meet the needs of the workforce, we absolutely need to be intertwined with the businesses at the forefront of industry requirements, demands and skills shortages. Closing the current, and future, skill gaps necessitates close collaboration.  

RMIT Online has a long history of working successfully with many of Australia’s leading businesses - such as AWS, Accenture, Adobe, Deloitte and Microsoft– as well as academics from the university. We couldn’t successfully build and prepare a pipeline of talent without both.  

Lifelong learning is talked about a lot - what’s the last thing you learnt? 

As well as being CEO of RMIT Online, I am also the Co-Chair of Choice, which advocates for the rights of consumers in Australia, and am Chairman of Picaluna, a company looking to change how funerals are done. Like RMIT Online, these are purpose-led businesses, so I have done the Company Directors course as well as short courses to increase my knowledge in areas such as Not-for-Profits, Cybersecurity and Diversity. 

The future of work, terrifying or exciting? 

Definitely exciting! We are just scratching the surface of how we can leverage technology to enhance our learning and development. RMIT Online can improve the lives of many thousands of people and to have the chance at building a company in this environment makes the next phase of growth all the more exciting.  

From seeing how much the industry has changed in the last five years alone; who would have considered we would have dedicated courses in blockchain? I am very excited to see what’s next, and even more so to be part of the team that helps shape it.  


This article was originally published on 3 July 2023