Fighting the IT talent war

Published: 04 December 2020

Kath Moore, a senior technologist within HSBC’s Wealth and Personal Banking business says there’s no easy path to find, grow and keep the best people.

I run some of the more exciting bits of technology in my part of HSBC. I have an AI and Machine Learning team, as well as being accountable for robotics for the bank. From my point of view, attracting, developing and retaining outstanding talent comes down to three key points: finding people who understand both the business and IT sides of an issue, encouraging continual learning and providing opportunities to grow and flourish professionally.

The skills sweet spot: Where IT savvy meets business awareness

IT people who understand the business problem and propose intelligent solutions add the most value. It's a combination of experience, a particular mind-set, as well as training and we need more people with these skills right across the IT sector.

Most organisations with a large technology footprint are managing both a substantial legacy as well as the bright new shiny things. Solution designers who genuinely understand both the business aspect of a problem and how to modernise the existing technology footprint have immense worth, as do really good DevOps engineers.

Having genuine analytics skills means being able to get underneath a problem to identify potential solutions, which goes well beyond simply taking a Business Analyst's course.

Never stop learning

If you're early in your technology career my advice is to join an organisation with a learning culture because that supports you as you grow your wider skillset.

HSBC has a lot of informal and formal learning resources and programmes so our people can build new skills, and we also have a lot of job rotation programmes to give people experience of how IT operates in different areas within a global bank.

For example, over the coming months, we'll be sharing new skill-building content as part of our #FutureSkills focus to develop a culture of continuous learning. You can follow #GrowTogether to see what we're doing.

If you've built the right skillset, including transferrable skills, and you can demonstrate your flexibility then I think the trend towards automation provides lots of opportunities. Transferrable skill areas include curiosity, creativity, improving resilience, adopting a growth mind-set and connectivity.

The World Economic Forum predicts that 85 million jobs will displaced by automation in the next five years, but that robotics will help create 95 million new jobs. So it's all about flexibility and maintaining your skillset.

Retention isn't just about the money

As a people manager it is critical that when you've got the right people with the right skills in the organisation you want to keep them.

It's not just about pay either; I think there's probably too much focus on remuneration. It's a hygiene factor - of course we need to pay good people what they're worth.

To keep the best people, it's much more relevant to make sure they stay challenged and to give them opportunities in the areas in which they want to grow.

That can be a particular challenge in the technology industry where we have team leaders and team managers who have progressed through an organisation on the basis of their technical skills, perhaps, rather than their management or transferrable skills. One of the areas we really need to look at across the industry is how we marry broader skills with technical skills so we know we're building the right teams, supporting our people and allowing them to grow in the best way.

I shared my views in an online panel discussion held during the recent Computing and IT Leaders' Festival and you can watch that in full by clicking here.

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