Strengthening IT Talent

Virtual Town Hall Insights
EMEA CIO Community

Graeme Hackland


Williams F1 Team


Morten Holm Christiansen


Coop Denmark


VC Gopalratnam

Global CIO



Christian Ullrich


Bayer Consumer Health


August 2020

In late August, CIOs from the EMEA community came together to discuss how to strengthen IT talent. They shared insights on identifying critical skills required for a new way of working, finding untapped pools of talent, and maximising opportunities for developing existing talent.  

Participants included Graeme Hackland, CIO at Williams F1 Team, Morten Holm Christiansen, CTO at Coop Denmark, VC Gopalratnam, Global CIO at Philips, and Christian Ullrich, CIO at Bayer Consumer Health.

Identifying Critical Skills and Competencies

As one CIO stated, technology departments are transforming from internal support teams to the “foundation for digital business.” This change requires new skill sets and ways of working. Now, an IT role might be more about creativity and working directly with customers and consumers. Several IT leaders commented that their employees are open to new ways of working, and one said that the upheaval of the past several months has helped their team move away from a hierarchical structure to one more organised around the work and projects. 

From a recruiting perspective, CIOs agreed that remote work has been a positive development. They have seen productivity increase and are finding that they can attract people to the content of the job, regardless of the company location. But some CIOs are experiencing a limited pool of resources at the moment.

The days of hierarchy are over for IT departments. The old tricks will no longer work.


Exploring New Talent Pools

Technology leaders discussed how remote work has “leveled the playing field” in recruiting because everyone is connecting virtually. They agreed this was positively impacting their ability to create a more diverse workforce, across race, religion, gender and age groups. One commented that the workforce is becoming younger and more global and now their organisation can recruit people that might not have considered them before. 

Another said that moving away from the idea that “people need to sit in headquarters” and breaking down the hierarchy of the old organisation chart have both helped their company recruit from a diverse talent pool. One CIO also commented that his team could pursue gig workers in this new way of working — something they had not done previously. The transformation of IT departments away from supporting roles to drivers of digital business is also a positive development in attracting new talent. 

Learning, Development & Onboarding

Technology leaders agreed that the responsibility for learning and development should be shared 50/50 between the organisation and the employee. They felt that there are so many resources and courses available online that individuals have the ability to keep their skills up-to-date or acquire new ones. The executives also acknowledged that technology is changing so quickly that it’s hard for each employee to stay current all the time — and to find the time to devote to professional development. 

Some CIOs are engaging in partnerships to provide current content and training to their employees. Another noted that he could foresee a need to supplement staff with external contractors to fill gaps in skills. As he pointed out, investing in development is ongoing and will have to be repeated in another 6-12 months with the rapid changes in technology. 

Thoughts from the Community

How others are managing and onboarding employees while working remotely was one question from the community. On onboarding, one CIO advocated for a personalised approach and another felt that they were lacking in great tools to help facilitate the process. Another executive commented that an important part is the frequency with which you connect with new team members.

The group shared ideas on how to keep employees engaged and connected to one another. Some are doing team events where work talk is not allowed, and others are encouraging employees to take lunch and other breaks during the day. One felt that the office life would return in some form in the future because of the difficulty in recreating the creative engagement online that occurs in the office.


by CIOs, for CIOs


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