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Talent retention is dying: here’s why that’s a good thing

talent retention, getting-women-into-senior-positions-woman-shaking-hands-handshake

By Christina Petersen, co-founder and Head of People at Worksome

For people of our grandfathers’ generation, career progression was linear.

They got jobs straight out of school, gradually moved up the corporate ladder, gained more pristine job titles and a bigger paycheck. He knew he had made it when he reached the corner office – perhaps even one in the executive suite. He stayed at his company until he retired, having only had one employer his entire career.

The world of work is very different today:  people change jobs like babies change diapers. Adam Kingl, a professor at London Business School, found that number of jobs increase exponentially per generation. Our grandparents had 1-2 jobs, our parents had 2-4 jobs, Gen X will have 7-8 jobs, and Millennials are expected to have 8-16 jobs. If this trend continues, Gen Z-ers are likely to have 32 jobs in their professional lifetime.

Of course, one must take these numbers with a pinch of salt. The takeaway isn’t that people will be bouncing mindlessly from one full-time position to another. Rather, people are likely to complete more project-based employment as freelancers and independent consultants.

This means that current working generations’ career paths are more non-linear than linear, and play out across functions, jobs, and even industries.

One of the reasons for this trend towards non-linear careers is that young workers, while no less driven by professional development, prioritize flexibility and hunting down work that they find meaningful. As a result, increasing employee turnover has become an inevitable byproduct of the modern career path.

What does this mean for HR?

HR has for a long time had a visceral drive to retain great employees when they find them, as shown in a recent LinkedIn Global Recruiting Trends. Retention has been viewed as critical to maintaining a competitive advantage.

However, this kind of thinking is no longer sustainable. According to Deloitte, half of Millenials will leave their employer company within two years. Gallup states that 60 per cent of employees are open to accepting better offers from a competitor. And West Monroe Partners found that 45 per cent of employees applied for a job opening at a competitor company within their first year.

As the average tenure of employees is decreasing, retention seems like an increasingly impossible task. Companies that fail to develop strategies that specifically address the higher employee turnover rates risk limiting their access to critical skills.

Instead, companies should focus on creating strategies and a culture that embraces a hybrid workforce, consisting of a mix of full-time employees and external workers like freelancers and consultants.

Fostering a hybrid workforce gives companies access to the critical skills they need to pursue their goals. PwC found that 76 per cent of CEOs are concerned about the availability of critically needed skills in their workforces. Only 26 per cent find that it’s easy to attract such skills.

 In fact, the vast majority of companies surveyed respond to these challenges by accessing talent from the rapidly growing freelance economy.

Since 2001, the number of self-employed workers in the UK has been increasing at a fast rate. And self-employed people (including entrepreneurs, contractors, and freelancers) now account for around 15 per cent of the working population in the UK. One of the reasons for this boom in the freelance economy is people’s want for increased flexibility.

But while the gigster tends to receive most of the publicity, it’s the other group – the highly skilled independent consultants and freelancers -- who are changing the way companies get access to much-needed skills.

Deloitte and PwC both predict that companies in the future will employ more of these highly skilled freelancers to support their businesses. Accenture asserts that future businesses may have only have a small minority of full-time employees, while the majority is freelance.

In Jon Younger’s research for Agile Talent, business leaders explained why they’re increasing their reliance on freelancers. Some of the advantages include greater access to expertise, reduced startup time, being able to attract talent who are otherwise unavailable or too costly to go full time, the ability to manage cost and scope, and increased knowledge transfer to internal staff.

HR plays a key role in handling the current changes in the labour market. But HR has to step up and embrace a larger vision than traditional employment in a traditional company.

Sustainable recruitment practices are all about looking at recruitment as being about accessing talent, not about owning talent.

Retention is slowly dying. And may it rest in peace.

Christina Peterson featured

About the author

Christina Peterson is co-founder and COO of Worksome.

Worksome is a matchmaking platform that connects employees with prospective employees in 24 hours via AI and in work within four days.

Sukhi Jutla

Learning from my mistakes | Sukhi Jutla

Sukhi Jutla

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey, I have won a number of awards (such as the WeAreTheCity Rising Star Award).

Some might think that awards like these come from always doing the right thing at the right time. But I believe that awards like these are awarded to those who do more than just get things right. They are given to those who make many mistakes and experience any setbacks but still find a way to push forward.

Just ten years ago, I was working in the corporate world; I ticked all the right boxes and was doing all the things I felt I was supposed to be doing but felt miserable inside. I have now reinvented myself as the entrepreneur I feel I was born to be. I am now the co-founder and COO of MarketOrders. Whilst it has been a lifechanging experience, my journey was peppered with numerous mistakes I made.

Mistake one: Not believing I could be an entrepreneur because I wasn’t like Richard Branson

I learnt to understand that entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes. Each entrepreneurial experience is molded by individual personalities; not all of us are extroverts, and that’s fine. Find your key strengths and play to them, as this is exactly what Branson does and why he does it so well. Be authentic to yourself. I have recently published a book, ‘Escape The Cubicle: Quit The Job You Hate, Create A Life You Love’, which offers advice on how people can identify and work with their key strengths.

Mistake two: Not trusting my intuition

There was a significant learning curve whilst changing my mindset from being a corporate employee to an enterprising entrepreneur, and often times I felt out of depth. In the early days of being an entrepreneur, I often prioritised the opinions of others rather than trusting myself. However, I found that each time mistakes were made, it was almost always because I had ignored my initial instincts. Developing self-confidence has taught me how important it is to be aligned with your decision that you are making, as opposed to years of experience. Have courage and confidence in your own choices.

Mistake three: Being my own worst critic

Not all decisions will lead to the outcome you desire. As an entrepreneur, bad decisions cost you time and money which are two key resources that come in short supply to a start-up. The desire to make the right decision is, therefore, even higher. However, sometimes no matter how much you listen to your instinct or take precautions to mitigate the risks, things might not turn out the way you expect them to. I have taught myself to let go and not give myself such a hard time when things go wrong. Accept it, move on and learn from the experience, whether it is good or bad. Don't let any experience go to waste.

Mistake four: Not saying ‘no’ enough

In the early days of MarketOrders, I wore myself out. I saw myself attending every workshop, taking every meeting or call and taking in every bit of information possible. In hindsight, I can see why I did this; I was afraid that I would miss out on the next big deal, or information that would be vital to the business. I almost ended up accepting funding from a Venture Capitalist because I thought it would make the business look bad to turn down money that MarketOrders so desperately needed. Now, I know that it is essential to learn to say no, so that you are able to say yes to the things that really matter. Looking back on my journey, turning down the £250,000 from a VC was the best move I could have made. Saying no to ‘bad’ money, has lead me to our Crowdfunding campaign which is now live and doing well. The whole process of crowdfunding has taught me so much, and I am so much more grateful for the outcome.

Mistake five: Taking things too seriously

Owning a startup comes with a lot of responsibility. You are accountable for others’ careers, their livelihoods and wellbeing. As a founder, you are required to be a number of different roles at the start; you are the legal team, marketing team and finance team, and it can get overwhelming. In the early days, this often caused me to burn out.

If I could go back, I would advise myself to enjoy the journey and the process. It’s important to acknowledge that it can be very difficult to accomplish great success, but it doesn’t have to be a painful process. Remember to give yourself a break, savour every achievement whether it is big or small, and enjoy the journey.

About Sukhi Jutla

Sukhi Jutla is an award-winning entrepreneur and author of three books. She is the co-founder of MarketOrders, an online B2B platform for the gold and diamond jewellery industry. She is a leading international speaker, influencer and thought leader in tech and a qualified IBM Blockchain Foundation Developer. She is recognized by a number of industry awards including the Asian Women of Achievement Awards, Management Todays ’35 Women Under 35′ and named a Top 100 European Digital Pioneer by The Financial Times and Google. In April 2018 Sukhi made global headlines when she became the World’s First #1 Bestselling ‘Blockchain’ Author.

MarketOrders is an online marketplace helping independent retail jewellers to source the products they need faster, cheaper and direct from suppliers. Find out more at https://www.marketorders.net/

Connect with Sukhi

LinkedIn: Sukhi Jutla / MarketOrders

Facebook: MarketOrders Official

Twitter: @SukhiJutla / @Market_Orders

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/market_orders/?hl=en

Instagram: Market_Orders

Book: Escape The Cubicle

Website: https://www.marketorders.net/


What five skills do finance professionals need to work in the tech sector?


Clare Crook, finance director at Force24, delves into what it takes to marry budgets with digital developments – and the importance of the two working in-sync.

It’s easy to think about employees being stuck behind a desk juggling numbers and spreadsheets when considering the role of working in finance. But there’s so much more to this important profession, especially when embedded within the technology industry.

To be a success in such a fast-paced sector, finance professionals have to be able to think on their feet and react swiftly. They must also be strong communicators and the gatekeeper to the crucial make-up of a digital business – from forecasting and building projection models, to looking ahead and inspiring further growth processes.

Online developments have created workspaces that are exciting places to be in, and there’s so many more opportunities made possible thanks to technology, no matter what the speciality of the employee.

And, auditing is very much a part of the evolution of a modern-day workplace, plus a department people need to embrace if they are to make a success of marrying it up well with technology.

There’s great news here too because the analytical side of finance and the creativity of technology can work in-sync – so, as a result, financial professionals should possess skills that are very transferable, and desirable, in the tech space. But what are the true qualities to really home in on?

Able to adapt to change

It’s not just about implementing a process and completing projects from start to finish for people working in finance – a modern-day employee understands there’s so much more to the role now.

They have to be agile, ready to embrace change, and prepare organisations for financial flux during the unpredictable times the tech industry is accustomed to. Being part of this sector requires a dynamic individual to steer the ship swiftly – with control and clear judgement – to respond to what the market instantly craves.

Plan, plan, plan!

Being able to bring analytical skills to the fore means businesses can greatly utilise their finance department to effectively forecast for the often erratic nature that comes with technological developments – and work on ways to overcome impending budgetary obstacles.

Having the capabilities to produce processes which outline how the company can operate successfully, in a rapidly-changing industry, further cements the crucial position a financial employee holds.

Not only that, they are the key to cash flow and budgeting – a huge factor in how tech firms take on new clients, and how often. This department must also consider what’s needed for retained clients and the management of ad-hoc projects to plan so the firm can continue to generate much-needed leads.

Staying ahead of the curve

Within a fast-moving industry, decisions must not stall any processes – they need to be swift and strong.

Effective, financially-based judgement calls can help ensure a business always moves forwards, which can be crucial to survive, and thrive, in the ever-evolving technology sector.

If an organisation becomes stagnant because it’s unable to react well to digital developments, that could be a huge – almost impossible – mountain to overcome when they’re desperately trying to recover lost time and resources.

Strong communication skills

Not only does a finance professional have to be an approachable ‘go-between’ for staff and clients, they should also be personable, knowledgeable of the sector, and be able to offer clear advice and support throughout.

Luckily, this is where technology can really come into its own because not everything has to be done face-to-face for customers to feel they are getting a rounded experience. With personalised processes, such as marketing automation, finance can use the tools for internal and external communication, track conversations and ensure the organisation’s messaging and audit updates, are accurate – and distributed – in a controlled, humanised way.

The endeavour to upskill

In today’s modern workforces, there seems to be a real urgency to keep learning and developing to stay up to date with developments – thanks to the impact technology has truly made across every walk of life.

That shouldn’t be any different for financial staff either. If there’s a willingness to develop skillsets and become engrained in how technology can help with training, that can be a pot of gold for any organisation.

It’s vitally important for employees to understand the industry they work in – even if it doesn’t directly link with their primary skill-set – and the urge to progress can provide a real benefit to them, plus their business and its clients.

Clare CrookAbout the author

Clare Crook is a Financial Controller for Force24 – she is responsible for the financial activities such as planning, cash management and reporting – as well as forecasting and building project models for the company.

female leader, women leading the way featured

How women are paving the way in tech

female leader, women leading the way

The technology industry has historically been dominated by male professionals.

So much so, that when we think of tech we naturally think ‘male’. We think of technology workplaces filled with developers, ‘IT geeks’, and programmers, all as masculine professions. However, like with many industries, ‘tech’ is such a broad title. Businesses do not have to be totally tech focused to be classed as a tech company.

What is key to remember is that as a woman running a tech company, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be techie yourself. The big sea change in the industry is recognising that women bring an amazing amount of wealth and experience to the party, and that their skills can really help to develop a company to grow. Women don’t need to be a trained programmer to make a positive impact in a technology company.

I am Managing Director at a digital affiliate business, but I am not from a tech background. My key skill is ‘people’. I thrive in managing the people in a business to be aligned to the organisation’s vision, which results in a united team working together to help to achieve the company’s business goals. I believe that women in the workplace excel in ‘getting things done’, managing projects, and looking at situations from an ethical perspective. We’re brilliant at observeying business challenges through a detailed eye, to ensure we are always doing the right thing. I work for two male founders, who have realised and accepted that they needed the skills of a woman who could help them take their business further. Although they are excellent businessmen, they lack the skills to manage people in a detailed way on a day to day basis. They know this attention to detail is important to take the company to the next level, which is why they brought me on board.

Tech and digital organisations are waking up to the benefits of a more gender diverse work force. There’s so much buzz in the industry about encouraging women to enter this male-dominated landscape, and systems have been put into place to encourage a gender balance. Events like the yearly international #WomenInSTEM days promote women working in the science, technology, engineering, and maths industry, and gives those businesswoman a platform to share their stories and tips for a successful career.

The Women In Tech website is a hub of knowledge for our industry, but they reflect on some worrying statistics. In the UK, only 17 per cent of professionals within the technology industry are female, as are only 7% of students taking computer science at A-Level. Although those figures may be low, I am confident that through events like #WomenInSTEM, STEM Women Career Events, and Tech Up - the latter which champions the ‘tech revolution’ of women in the industry. This revolution is happening on a global scale, with supermodel Karlie Kloss opening a free ‘code camp’ for girls in the United States, where young women aged 13-18 can spend their summer a ‘Kode With Klossy’.

Small tech businesses are also looking within their structures to help identify those rising stars, so that they can develop the next generation whether they be female or male. Many workplaces are now offering flexible working packages to help attract businesswomen who may have family responsibilities, so they can continue to develop professionally whilst also maintaining a work-life balance.

It’s inspiring that we have a group of young up and coming professional women in the tech industry, paving the way for a more diverse technology landscape. The key to any successful workplace is to have a true balance of staff - both with gender and background taken into consideration.

About the author

Nicola Short is the Managing Director of Redu. Nicola is also a leading business expert.

Dawn McGruer Keyboard, digital skills gap featured

Tackling the digital skills gap

Dawn McGruer Keyboard

Article provided by tech though-leader and author, Dawn McGruer

As a businesswoman with a background in programming, I’m very interested in technology as a whole but in particular, I have a passion around helping businesses and brands shine online.

Although we have seen massive growth in the use of digital marketing within business and budgets allocated towards online activities it is extremely disheartening to see that we face a worldwide digital skills gap.

The Office of National Statistics is reporting that we will have almost 750,000 jobs unfilled if we don’t focus on up-skilling and developing digital talent but this isn’t just focusing on the youth of today but also developing digital skills in current marketing roles.

There is a vast amount of expertise available in terms of business development and sales and marketing but we must not neglect our workforce who perhaps may feel slightly daunted and overwhelmed by the fast-paced, ever-evolving world of digital. Even now many marketing degrees contain little focus around digital marketing and this is indeed due to a lack of digital talent in lecturers not just in business.

Digital Managers and Directors who are not necessarily involved at a practitioner level still need a clear understanding of the latest trends, tips, techniques and tools available to be able to advise and lead teams at a strategic level.

If we consider that only about 20 per cent of tech jobs are held by women this just highlights the need for positive tech role models and inspiring leaders in digital so we can move towards a digitally empowered nation that can reap amazing results in an economic climate that perhaps feel a little uncertain right now.

The emergence of amazing qualifications focused towards real-world business marketing has been a welcome addition such as the CIM Digital Diploma in Professional Marketing and we see students excelling in the digital arena even before graduation because often they are confirming what has been self-taught which is a massive boost to confidence but also they are confident they have the latest knowledge and proven strategies to drive their businesses forward.

As much as there needs to be a focus on recruiting more women into the tech sector there also needs to be recognition around equality of pay. There is a gender pay gap across most sectors but we are seeing differences as much as £20,000 for the same role which is just astonishing in this day and age.

So as a whole there needs to be a shift in the way we retain and recruit new talent. As digital marketing is such an essential skill in business today an investment into schools to encompass digital in the syllabus and forge a clear career pathway into the world of digital. The average salary for a digital marketer is £38K and dramatically rises to £50K + with experience and being qualified.

I have recently designed a curriculum used in one of the UK’s biggest apprenticeship providers, Just IT which is geared towards not only upskilling apprentices but guaranteeing an actual paid job to progress their careers.

This is a fantastic tip forward and for those interested in tech or who have a more creative flair these types of business placed learning routes are exactly what is required to help bridge this epic digital skills gap we face.

I am also a big advocate of continuous professional development programmes so the fact that the world’s largest institute – The Chartered Institute of Marketing offers progression through encouraging on-going learning through their study centres.

For instance our Academy, Business Consort has trained and certified round 25,000 professional in digital and social media marketing but their journey doesn’t stop at graduation because they can work towards the highest accolade in marketing – chartered Marketer status through investing time in up-skilling every year. The CIM CPD programme is free for members and should be advocated by employers to ensure they not only have a happy skilled workforce that achieves great results but they having cutting-edge knowledge to adapt to the business environment and technology advancements.

Tips for women in digital by women in digital

Boutique Search Agency, The Audit Lab, is a fountain of digital knowledge, with so many strong women making up their team, they want nothing more than to see other digital women succeed, below is advice for women in the digital marketing industry by women who have done it themselves.

Claire CromptonDeveloping a Digital Business Whilst Pregnant

Claire Crompton, Director at The Audit Lab starts of with her tips for business development and the challenges she faced,

Being a business development manager, one of the biggest challenges I didn't predict was people don't always want to speak to 'the pregnant lady' at networking events. I find the events I attend are male dominated and for whatever reason struggled to draw meaningful conversation from individuals, something I have never struggled with pre 'bump'. This change has meant I had to work twice as hard to drive leads into a newly built business so that there was enough business and contracts secured to survive my 'short lived' maternity leave.

My advice for pregnant ladies looking to attend networking events is don’t be down heartened that business leads may not be coming in as much, to help with this try and attend a lot of more networking events before you start 'showing' in order to counterbalance the lack of lead generation. This change in workload is a must in order to continue to grow and solidify the business to cope with maternity leave and lack of business development whilst your off.”

Ellie EntwistleBeing a Young Digital Marketer

Ellie Entwistle Digital PR Manager at The Audit Lab knows all too well the problems that come with being the youngest in the office, she says:

“Starting my career in PR at 16 was not easy, I originally thought how exciting will it be to work with adults as an adult day-to-day, but the first year I had to not only learn the job role but also learn how to interact with people in an office, when to speak up and when to take a step back, how raise concerns and who to seek advice and help from.

As a young person I was easily overlooked when it came to opportunities, but by my second year I’d found my voice, my advice for other young people would be to learn from the mistakes that everyone around you are making, so that when it’s your turn to be a fully fledged employee you do it right. Secondly, don’t rush to run up the career ladder, the more experience the better, and that goes for any part of marketing, the more you can learn at the start of your career the better you’ll be later. Finally, stand-up for yourself, if you have an idea or a solution to a problem let it be heard, you’ll notice your other colleagues won’t hold back in this department and neither should you, if the idea doesn’t pan out at least you tried something and you’ll notice the more suggestions you put forward the more you’ll be included in the conversation.”

Chloe CromptonBreaking into Digital Marketing from Other Careers

Chloe Crompton Senior PPC Executive at The Audit Lab, covers breaking into digital from other careers for the first time.

“Starting a brand new career myself as an apprentice at the age of 24, I know the challenges you’ll face but my best advice would be don’t be put off by lower starting salaries and job roles, within my first year in PPC  I’d learned more than any other job I’d had previously. The best tricks I learnt on staying positive during this transition were:

  • Make sure you have an eagerness to learn, this will stand you in good stead and keep you positive during the apprenticeship,
  • Stay up to date with industry news and changes to be ahead of your already trained colleagues,
  • Create your own personal progression plan with your own career goals so that you have something you strive for,
  • Learning terminology (BAU, ROI .etc) can make sure you don’t end up sat in meeting not knowing what’s going on,
  • Finally, don’t give up hope or feel negative if you don’t know what your doing, everyone will experience this, just ASK!

learning on the job, retraining, woman on computer

Looking to retrain in a technical role? Here’s how Kate Koehn from Amazon Web Services did it

learning on the job, retraining, woman on computerBy Kate Koehn, Program Manager, Amazon Web Services

Opportunities for women to retrain in the technology and innovation industries are a top priority for government, businesses and the education sector.

Recent research from WISE, in partnership with Amazon, surveyed 1,000 women working in STEM and found that a 10 per cent increase of women in STEM careers would lead to a £3bn boost to the UK economy. Women in innovation and tech roles were also found to earn £11,000 more per year on average.

But this work to address the gender balance in the technology industry by appealing to more women and girls is not just about graduates and undergraduates.

With personal experience of retraining into a technical role, my message is that it’s never too late to retrain.

A few years ago, I was waiting tables and answering phones at a motorbike repair shop, but I’m now working as a Program Manager for Amazon Web Services (AWS), a job I love and enjoy immensely.

That means I work every day to drive programmes that scale server capacity to stay ahead of customer demand for data storage on the cloud.

So how did I unlock this opportunity to retrain into a technical role with Amazon, and what advice would I give to other women who want to retrain but might not know where to start?

All your other experiences still matter 

I took an unusual route into my current role, initialling studying psychology at university before working in a variety of jobs, including restaurants, a motorbike repair shop, teaching and recruitment. Although I always loved the scale, ambition and complexity of engineering, you might say that the residual bias of youth had affected me. Without the positive role models and the availability of career paths, I had assumed that I wasn’t smart enough to be part of the tech world.

However, looking back I can’t discount the value of those early experiences. All of those roles taught me something new – interpersonal skills, technical knowledge, problem-solving, professional networks. You cannot disregard that experience as irrelevant because it all counts towards your personal and professional growth. It made me the person I am today.

No matter which kind of technical role you enter, an ability to manage, delegate, communicate and build relationships will always benefit your career.

Lean on your employer for support

Working with a supportive employer has been invaluable. Amazon have been fantastic in supporting me with formal and informal training, lots of different learning opportunities and the time I needed to improve my skills.

I initially started as a recruitment co-ordinator with Amazon. I knew that role wasn’t what I wanted to be doing long-term, but it was a foot in the door which allowed me to work closely with engineering teams, to develop my understanding of how AWS works, and build networks internally.

The next challenge was arguably the hardest: how to bridge the gap in my technical knowledge by building my own skills? I decided to enrol in Computer Science and Python programming courses, and with support from Amazon, carved out the time to study. Those courses gave me the fundamentals in key areas, including a certification in Python programming, and it’s taken about 18 months to complete.

Amazon is also able to offer formal and informal retraining opportunities. For example, its new Amazon Amplify programme in the UK was launched to help further increase the number of women in technology and innovation roles across our UK business. Through Amazon Amplify, its degree apprenticeship programme, AWS (Amazon Web Services) Return to Work programme, in-work training and a new UK-wide interactive training programme all help to build confidence and personal skills.

Beyond that, you have to be prepared to learn on the job. I find it helps to understand that everybody else is learning on the job as well, even if they have a background in your chosen area.

Ask the right questions – and keep asking

In a supportive work environment, it’s totally acceptable to say: ‘I want to work for your team, but I don’t have the right credentials – how do I make this happen?’

I had a clear idea in my mind of which role I wanted within Amazon. During discussions, I was offered other roles – including an Executive Assistant position – but I knew that wasn’t the right step for me personally. By giving a clear impression of what I wanted, my managers knew that I understood the role and would be able to learn on the job.

Within those conversations, make sure to communicate your understanding of the company culture and demonstrate your interest in developing technical skills. Take the time to learn about similar roles and the other specialists that you will come into contact with, so you understand the bigger picture and can speak the right language.

Kate KoehnAbout the author

Kate Koehn is based in Seattle as a Program Manager for S3 Index, Amazon Web Services, where she is responsible for driving programmes for capacity management. Kate is passionate about technology, engineering, automation – and she loves to bake.

Women in Coding

From science technician to coder: how to completely change your career

Women in Coding

According to new research by professional training providers Learning People, IT and coding is now the most popular second career choice for those currently working in declining industries.

Meanwhile, the job prospects are great, with UK employment agency Reed reporting an eight per cent year-on-year rise in IT vacancies so far in 2019, contributing to a 35 per cent rise in technology vacancies since 2016. Yet only 17 per cent of all UK specialist tech jobs are held by women.

28-year-old Charlotte Skinner is a part of that 17 per cent. 18 months ago, she broke into the tech world, moving from a role as a science technician to a career in coding. As the first female developer in her current team, Charlotte is keen to encourage other women to take advantage of the many opportunities a career in code offers. Here, Charlotte shares her career change journey and advice for others to make the same leap.

I spent three years working as a biology technician in a sixth form college. While it was rewarding to work with students and watch them develop their understanding and skills, I began to feel personally dissatisfied by the lack of progression opportunities available to me – not to mention a lack of salary increase. I soon knew it was time to switch careers.

I’d always had an interest in coding so began my research, exploring what a career in code might actually look like. At the same time, I began to learn some basic programming concepts and quickly became hooked. Even being able to create the simplest website gave me a great sense of accomplishment; I immediately wanted to learn more. I sought the advice of those around me who had made a similar career jump and was seriously impressed at the speed in which they were able to make the transition and the salary increases they had achieved.

Feeling ready to make the leap, I got in touch with professional training provider, Learning People. I had a career consultation that enabled me to understand the exact steps I needed to take in order to achieve my goal of becoming a coder. I embarked on a Full Stack Developer course and within three months secured my first coding role. I’ve now climbed the ladder to my second job, as a Junior Application Developer at My PT Hub.

My current role leaves me feeling fulfilled and happy every day. I value being part of an industry that is rewarding, supportive and endlessly innovative. I’m convinced that there are many other women who would love coding as much as I do, but perhaps feel intimidated or unsure of where to begin. My advice to those women?

Do your research

…but don’t be put off by job adverts which show that your experience doesn’t fit the bill. You’ll already have transferable skills that apply and that you can build upon. Identify those and then look at what tech job might suit.

For example, I love investigating problems and coming up with inventive solutions to them, persevering until I find the best answer. This makes me perfectly suited to my programming job.

It’s also worth reaching out to relevant organisations and individuals that might be able to help, finding out more about certain roles and requirements – and what the day-to-day looks like.

Consider salary

The move to tech requires appropriate training, but it’s an investment that will absolutely pay off. The average starting wage for an entry-level role in tech is high. Since starting the course, my salary has increased by £10k. It means I’m able to save for a house deposit, providing me with even more security.

Find the right course

As mentioned above, I trained with professional training providers Learning People. They supported me in making the transition from technician to coder and also helped me to manage my hours so that I could work alongside training.

Don’t let gender hold you back

The tech industry is currently dominated by men, but many employers are actively working to redress the sector’s gender imbalance. With the right skills, qualifications and enthusiasm, you’ll be able to secure a role and progress quickly.

Further to this, do expect a warm welcome! I feel incredibly supported in my role, both by my colleagues and managers – and also by industry peers. I have found that the tech world is a supportive, nurturing environment for those who demonstrate a willingness and passion to learn. It’s normal to feel intimidated, but rest assured that others have experienced similar worries and will be happy to offer their advice, bringing me to my next point…

Connect with mentors

This could be within your own team or further afield, with multiple viewpoints providing richer advice. I have some brilliant mentors at my current workplace, who have really helped me to advance my coding skills over the past six months.

They’ve also alleviated any fears of feeling like I don’t know enough. It’s a natural symptom of working in an industry that’s forever changing and evolving – even senior developers sometimes feel that way. There’s so much to learn and it’s one of the most exciting things about the job. So finally…

Be curious

One of the great advantages of a tech career is the constant change. You get to update your skills every day on the job. A willingness and passion to learn can keep you advancing, creating and problem-solving, and this is what leaves me feeling fulfilled every day.

Charlotte Skinner - Junior App DeveloperAbout the author

Charlotte Skinner is a junior app developer at My PT Hub. She developed her coding skills through online training with Learning People and secured her first role in just three months. Prior to this, Charlotte worked as a science technician in a sixth form college. She believes it's vital that we close the gender gap in the tech industry and hopes to inspire more women to consider a career in coding with her story.

Chief Risk Officer, risk in business, risk management

Don't risk it - the emerging role of the Chief Risk Officer

Chief Risk Officer, risk in business, risk management

By Jan van Vliet, EMEA VP and GM at Digital Guardian

Today organisations are faced with a record number of internal and external threats.

From malicious hackers to disgruntled employees, businesses need to be prepared and their systems fortified against anyone who might want to attack them. To address this challenge business are turning to an emerging role, the Chief Risk Officer (CRO); an executive-level employee tasked with identifying as many of these ‘risks’ as possible and putting processes in place to mitigate their potential impact.

So what exactly is this new role, and how do you know if your business requires a CRO?

The role of a CRO

As a c-suite executive a CRO is responsible for identifying, analysing and mitigating any and all risks, from cyber threats and fraud prevention to auditing and regulatory compliance, that could negatively impact the business.

An important part of protecting against all threats is having the right procedures in place. A large part of a CRO’s role is to monitor existing internal and external business procedures that may expose the business to risk. For example, if the business collects sensitive data from its customers it is the CRO’s responsibility to ensure every aspect of that process has been assessed from a risk perspective to make sure that data remains confidential at all times. This also includes the due diligence of any partners or third parties that are also involved, as well as the business’ own systems.

Another consideration for CROs is the physical risks that employees could be exposed to. For example, if an employee is required to travel to, or work in a hazardous environment the CRO must ensure the correct policies and procedures are in place to keep them safe.

With new risks emerging every day, the role of the CRO is undoubtedly a challenging one. However, many businesses now rightly see risk management as an intrinsic part of operations, which is why it’s becoming increasingly common to see a CRO at the executive table.

Choosing between a CRO and a Risk Committee

It is common practise for modern businesses to choose between employing a dedicated CRO or installing a wider committee that oversees risk as a group.

Having a CRO at the executive table sends a clear message both internally and externally that the business is serious about risk management. It also centralises all risk-based activity through a single executive, therefore eliminating any confusion and creating a single point of contact.

On the other hand, if organisations aren’t careful, the scope of responsibility involved can easily overwhelm even the most capable executive, turning them into a bottleneck and severely impacting their ability to do the job effectively.

A Risk Committee takes the same responsibilities of a CRO but spreads them out over a group of senior employees who then work together. This spreads the workload and provides an opportunity for executives from across the business to collaborate closely.

However, the additional coordination necessary, and without a clear leader, it can lead to a fragmented approach and often company politics get involved.

It doesn’t have not one or the other - many businesses opt for a blend of the two to get the best of both, with a CRO heading up the efforts of a larger Risk Committee.

What to look for when hiring a CRO

A successful CRO candidate should demonstrate several specific skillsets. First and foremost, they need the analytical skills, quantification skills and requisite expertise to identify and assess risks, then combat them effectively. This is vital – they simply cannot perform the job without these skills.

People and leadership skills also need to be outstanding. A major part of a CRO’s role is to properly educate employees and key stakeholders, while also facilitating communication between different groups across the business, so these skills will be essential.

A CRO is still a technical role and so a detailed knowledge of technology, networks and systems has also become a key requirement, especially with so much organisational risk now associated with online activity and e-commerce.

Finally, ideal candidates should possess a postgraduate degree (preferably in business administration) and have at least two decades of experience in economics, science, law, or accountancy.

The questions businesses should now be asking are: is its risk being managed properly and does it need to consider hiring a CRO?

Jan van Vliet, EMEA VP and GM Digital GuardianAbout the author

Jan van Vliet is Vice President and General Manager, EMEA at Digital Guardian

Jan is a seasoned senior executive with a proven track record of success in both emerging and mature markets. He is responsible for expanding Digital Guardian’s business and market share throughout EMEA, driving strategy and overseeing operations in both regions.

Jan holds a Bachelor and Master of Science degree in Computer Science from the Delft University of Technology. Currently Jan is shareholder and serves on the advisory board of Nochii Online Marketing B.V., an online marketing company in the Netherlands.

Cloud computing featured

5 must-know job roles in the cloud sector - who do you need on your team?

Cloud computing

When it comes to securing the best people for your organisation, there needs to be considerable thought put into what is needed, which will vary depending on the size of the project.

Working in the cloud sector means employees require knowledge of advancing technologies, what role they play in a company, and the security features and cost involved. But there are also a range of soft skills needed, to run throughout a successful team which should not be overlooked.

To be part of a modern-day workforce in such an industry, staff members need a collaborative approach. They have to be open and embracing to change, understand DevOps, and be willing to upskill to remain relevant in an ever-changing tech arena. Organisations are increasingly working in flatter structures, meaning employees need to perform in an autonomous, agile way.  Adopting the mindset of lifelong learning is useful and people can fine tune through learning on the job – through mentoring, formal training and boosting qualities via cloud specific tooling skills, such as Amazon Web Services Training.

But what does it take to ensure a well-oiled machine operates in the cloud sector in today’s society? Elements covering infrastructure, security, storage, networking, and governance all have to be acknowledged. Rachel McElroy, sales and marketing director for cloud sector and DevOps specialist Cranford Group, underlines the five key roles every business needs, to be a success when using technology.

Product owner

Also known as a ‘project manager’ or ‘cloud project manager’, this person understands the commercial and governance sides of the firm. They’re the all-seeing eye, ensuring the team keeps in-line with the budget, and understands what’s needed – in relation to timings and resources – to complete the project. They usually work with other teams during the sales cycle, so they can outline a project’s delivery, and are adept at constructing high-level plans, delivering reports, and leading meetings. It’s a role which suits customer-facing people who can manage several projects at once, and have excellent communication and written skills.

Cloud architect

Usually an IT specialist, they oversee cloud strategy and are concerned with the design network, and the project’s infrastructure. They understand what the customer wants, and work on the best ways to achieve those needs, with a measured approach. They must possess the technical expertise to understand sysadmin, as well as have software development experience, and a good knowledge of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). It’s a position that’s very hands-on, so needs an innovative thinker, who can lead on cloud efficiency.


A strong background of specific skills such as streaming analytics, data integration, and knowledge of .NET, Java and AWS or Google Cloud Platform are a must for the strongest developers. They should be able to build cloud-compatible frameworks, evaluate emerging technologies, and ideally have DevOps experience. These kinds of positions suit those with a background in computer technology and often a qualification in computer science, or something related. There are also many soft skills involved, including leadership to plan and co-ordinate projects, an agile mind-set, and ability to adapt to lots of change within the cloud sector.

Security architect or analyst

Another highly important role within a team, this person keeps computer systems safe from cyber-attacks. They also need to translate security features to customers, so must be a strong communicator with stakeholders and colleagues. From a hard skills perspective, this is somebody who understands Windows, Cisco systems, VM (virtual machine) work, and testing, amongst other services. A security architect is likely to hold TOGAF, SABSA or CCP accreditations, and be familiar with cyber-attack pathologies, as well as cloud service models. There might also be a junior architect involved in the team, to support ongoing projects.

Service desk

Fully embraced in being customer-focused, those on the service desk completely understand their company. They have to be knowledgeable, approachable and personable with every side of an organisation’s cloud capacity – from the security aspects to the installation process, data and knowledge of the technology customers require. Strong in problem-solving, this position welcomes trouble-shooters and those with a calm attitude when the pressure is on.

It’s vital that, when putting a team together, each person has a key role to play in the delivery of a successful cloud project. A balance of soft skills and team ethic – alongside relevant qualifications – is crucial. And, those that are willing to upskill and fine tune their experience to keep up with ever-evolving industry trends, can keep an organisation ahead of the curve in a competitive sector.

Rachel McElroy, Sales and Marketing Director, Cascade Group 1About the author

Rachel McElroy is a director at Cranford Group – a cloud resourcing specialist – and passionate about a variety of tech topics including digital disruption, tech skills development, agile working, remote working, women in tech, talent on demand, and DevOps. She is currently penning a white paper which will take a comprehensive look at the effects of technology and cloud adoption on the workplace. Covering topics from AI to diversity, and change management to leadership, such contributors to her research include Microsoft, ServiceNow, Alibaba Cloud, Cloud Industry Forum, AutoTrader, Ensono, Cloud Gateway – to name just a few! An eloquent and well-respected industry commentator, Rachel spoke at Cloud Expo Europe in March 2019 and in February, was appointed as a judge at the UK Cloud Awards 2019.