How cloud is diversifying recruitment models
Enterprises looking to move to the cloud must focus on the mindset of staff and upskilling in order to overcome resistance to new technology adoption, according to a panel of experts at last week’s CIO Cloud Transformation Summit.
Integrating new tech stacks can be challenging for legacy staff familiar with on-premise approaches, but whether it is recruitment or training, employers should look for mindset and attitude first as they move both systems and staff to the cloud.
For Willis Tower Watson’s global transformation and acceleration director Karen McDonagh Reynolds, this means taking the right approach to bringing in new recruits.
She said: “It’s about mindset. It’s really about their attitude. It’s about people who push boundaries and for us, it’s people who really build inclusive teams, and that desire to spread their knowledge and support.
“On the very technical side of it, we’re really looking for people who’ve got a lot of experience of compliance, because we need to enterprise cloud. So we need people who are thinking about the standards and the policies in the background.”
McDonagh Reynolds was speaking as part of the ‘Overcoming Resistance to Cloud and Upskilling Talent’ panel which looked at the organisational changes required to empower cloud journeys.
For fellow speaker Darren Miles – CIO at gas giant Centrica – his focus is on growth mindset and understanding how technology can adapt and evolve over time.
He said: “The whole point of being in cloud or software engineering as it moves forward, is really around understanding that the capabilities and the technologies change over time. Growth mindset, for me, is number one, because if you get the right people in, set them in the right culture which is around learning, then you can adapt as the technology moves.”
For Centrica, this has fallen into two main categories: career changes for existing staff through schemes such as AWS Restart, or new entrants, such as the company’s apprenticeship scheme.
“We’re running a large apprenticeship programme across technology,” he added, “and then mixing that in with experienced hires. One of the things we’re finding is that experienced hires are really enjoying mentoring and developing those newer into the industry.
“This also allows us to move towards a much more inclusive team. Really, it is about making sure you get that blend within the team.”
But even though new recruits and upskilling workers is vital to cloud adoption, it is also key that the workforce has an understanding of legacy systems to facilitate the transformation from on-prem to hybrid/ cloud.
“As we migrate to the cloud, you need to firstly understand your legacy technologies – the ins and outs behind them, the interfaces, the dependencies, the linkages to other systems, at both application and infrastructure level,” explained AXA global programs director Ash Shah.
“And then you need to work out how you’re going to adopt those into the cloud using the new technologies of AWS or Microsoft, and that doesn’t happen overnight.”
Shah added that managing the learning of new skills and capabilities, alongside legacy experience, during a migration, is a complicated task.
“It takes oversight – some pure project management – to make sure those bits fit together and work in a clear, cohesive enterprise ready solution,” he added. “But it isn’t all just new systems. A lot of them are available today and these need to continue running in the future without impacting others or causing outages.”
Cloudy with a sense of purpose
With more focus on digital transformation, accelerated by the need for cloud services in the post-pandemic hybrid working environment, enterprises are increasingly on the lookout for people with the hybrid skillset listed above.
While upskilling plays an important role, so does recruitment. But what are the key issues when it comes to competing in what Miles describes as “a candidate’s market”?
“As companies are emerging out of the pandemic, going into growth, the desire for more digital skills and transformation is absolutely growing,” he added. “To attract staff, we’re focussed on three key areas: making the role meaningful, great tech and using new approaches to appeal.”
For Centrica, a big part of making the role meaningful is its sustainability plans. As a giant gas and energy company, the environmental impact is often a key concern for candidates, so it launched a ‘People and Planet Plan’ in which it committed to become a net zero company by 2045 and to help clients to transition to net zero by 2050.
“Now, it’s about making a difference. It’s about net zero. So I think making the role meaningful is really helping us with that.
“The second point, it really is about great tech – we’re doing some massive programmes. At the moment, we’re migrating the biggest energy billing platform to a new SaaS platform. We’re also deploying new field systems. Talking about these with candidates shows that this is somewhere where we’re doing tech.”
It is also using Centrica’s apprenticeship scheme to bring apprentices directly into the tech division, with Miles’ unit bringing in 17 apprentices last year.
For Reynolds, apprenticeships are a vital part of building and retaining talent, offering opportunities to both younger talent and those changing careers. But it also plays a role in retaining older heads.
She explains: “What we’ve found is that our experienced staff are now real, active mentors. That has also given them a new perspective and a new passion for their jobs, because they are passing on all this amazing skill and experience.
“Now we getting different mindsets that wouldn’t traditionally come through our door. And isn’t that a wonderful thing? We are getting more diversity of thought and we’re not just slowly injecting it – we are bombarding it. That gives us change, and it fits so well with cloud.”
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