After joining Campbell in January 2022, Julia Anderson’s responsibilities span the organization from digital workplace services, IT platforms and architecture to cybersecurity oversight, business analytics and transformation projects and programmes.
When I arrived, the transformation of the business was already underway. “There were two organized divisions and a centralized supply chain, which were very obvious areas to partner with, but we weren’t ready to partner,” she says. “We were more of a services organization, so I had to create an organization that had architecture, data, and a focus on analytics, but also digital partners. We make that our culture; to be together and succeed together with quick wins.”
She adds that when you join an organization undergoing transformation, skill sets can be deeply hidden. People have functional knowledge and technical capabilities, but due to different roles and operating models, they may have to be excluded.
“We have to understand who our leaders and technical staff are, who can learn the new platforms and technologies that are being brought in and get things done,” she says. “Training becomes a big part of it as well. I’m excluding roles, not people. So what is the priority work that we need to do, and what capabilities do we need to do that work. Apart from that, other roles and other work have to stop. It may be “It’s uncomfortable when you explain it to people.”
With a different perspective but similar sentiments, Christine Lamoureux leads a national IT staffing firm that reflects her strong personal and professional belief that every organization benefits from having more diverse and inclusive leadership teams.
There are many different approaches to keeping talent development thriving and effective in a way that maintains competitive advantage. Providing access to data, reskilling, upskilling, and retaining the best people in technology — once you have them — are part of the plan.
“One aspect of democratizing data and access scares a lot of leaders because they think we can’t give everyone access,” Lamoureux says. “Of course you’re not, and yet you can create paths and you can attract others to them, because you never know where that next great idea comes from. But make room for governance, and make sure people understand. You’re not going to let anyone jump into the source code. It’s a matter of Protect what you can, make it accessible, and create those ramps.
CIO.com’s Marifrane Johnson recently spoke with Anderson and Lamoureux about the vicissitudes of the talent market, righting the ship through transformational change, and upskilling the IT workforce. Below are some edited excerpts from that conversation. Watch the full video below for more ideas.
In shadow technique: Julia Anderson: I actually like shadow IT or people in business trying to solve problems related to technology and data because it’s my easy wins. There are two pieces to it. The first is that they have to trust that we can provide the capabilities, tools, processes and guardrails so they can work with it. I’m big on anticipation. I work in food companies, so guess what people will ask me? Better and faster ways to buy, manufacture, sell and deliver food. So we anticipate that we will provide data or there will be a new SaaS solution that interests someone, or someone will want to use the tools we have to write their own code or use conversational AI. We’re all for that, and we can put the structure in place so that if you jump into that group, you’ll get the support you need. Don’t let it be an obstacle so I don’t think it’s a shadow, but my partner and I think that these people who are passionate about technology can only achieve our goals faster.
On originality: Christine Lamoureux: The most important thing is to always be authentic. Some people feel that this means tact and diplomacy go out the window, because they are honest, but not at the executive level. Tact and diplomacy remain important. Consulting with people is great, but the decision is still in your hands. So you don’t have much time. Again, this pace is a challenge. So be that lifelong learner, and show your curiosity for emerging technology by showing how you’ve improved yourself.
On diversity: Julia Anderson: I focus on current and upcoming leaders because that is where we lose diversity when people reach that leadership level. Some of the same old things are true, like that women won’t check every box so they don’t get ahead; They don’t have confidence. So doing more training, mentoring and encouragement is really important for people to understand what they can do. Your direct manager, who is likely to be your advocate, is not your coach and mentor. You need someone who is like you to orbit around or who can really connect with you. I think that’s a really important aspect to see people like you not only owning the roles, but enjoying them and taking control of them. It’s really important that you build a diverse leadership team internally and externally. You have to look at your data and make sure there is equity. Now it’s about options. I can attract more talent all over the world, depending on the nature of the job. We’ve worked globally forever, through outsourcing and partnerships. So maybe we have a little leap to be effective, working remotely. But I think that has helped me in terms of being able to have a more diverse leadership team.
When escalating: Christine Lamoureux: When someone expresses interest in something, whether it’s an emerging technology or a new process, will they come forward? Do they know what they claim to know? And finally, are they excited to share it? If you see that passion, pick them up and put them where they want to be and you’ll have greater morale and engagement. It’s really something any organization can do; They just have to make the space for it. It’s something any HR leader can ask an employee: “Are you doing something you’re passionate about? Is there something you’d like to learn more about? Would you rather grow further in your current role, or explore another aspect of the business?” Ask and you’ll be amazed at the data you get from one well-worded question. From there, you can create a talent bank that says, “Oh, Julia actually said she’s really interested in mobile computing, so we’re picking you up and putting you here.” It’s easy to do and accomplish, but I’m also a big fan of showing what you know. So, if you are passionate about something, you know the global knowledge behind it.