Schneider Electric’s VP HR reveals how AI sparked talent culture shift in 2020

Innovative AI technology has sparked a culture shift around talent opportunities for one of ANZ’s major employers.

Schneider Electric’s award-winning Open Talent Market platform uses advanced algorithms to match an employee’s skillsets with internal project opportunities across both Australia and New Zealand.

HRD spoke to Dean Summlar, Schneider Electric’s vice president of HR, who said the company’s disruptive technology is changing the ethos around career development.

“We have an aspiration that by 2025, we’ll see three times more employee driven development interactions,” he said.

“We’re really shifting the balance, taking the control and putting it into the employee’s hands.

“While career opportunities might be a management responsibility or a mentor’s responsibility, ultimately, we believe the person who should be in the driver’s seat should be the employee.”

The economic benefits of an agile workforce were already well-established among human capital trends worldwide.

Many HR leaders understood the value of being able to react to changing workforce demands rather than rely on traditional recruitment methods.

Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends research noted that for a business to thrive, it must mobilise staff from within in order to meet operational needs.

It said this mobility must be perceived as natural and normal, creating opportunities for workers at all levels of the business.

Before the pandemic hit, Schneider Electric had piloted the platform in a few hero countries, with a three-year global rollout plan in place.

But then, the COVID-19 crisis changed everything.

Having an agile, adaptable workforce became key and as the company slowed down its recruitment, it needed to shift the focus to utilising internal talent. 

Summlar said the intent of the platform was to “democratise opportunities” away from the traditional route of a manager looking at their direct team for a new project.

Instead, the platform created three routes for career development, including internal job postings, one-off project opportunities and openings for mentor relationships.

After an employee uploads a profile and tags their areas of interest and expertise, the algorithms match those with opportunities across the business.

The platform suggests suitable options for employees to explore and also creates a simple, straightforward process of showing their interest with the click of a button.

Summlar said while the technology was robust and in-place before the pandemic, the big change came from encouraging leaders to rethink how they viewed career development, particularly in widening the scope for involvement in projects or missions.

“Instead of the manager asking someone on their team or someone in their immediate network to undertake a piece of work, you can create a much wider ecosystem of talent that has the opportunity to work with you,” he said.

When it came to encouraging buy-in from the C-suite, storytelling proved to be a powerful tool for the HR team, Summlar said.

With the emergence of virtual working, an employee in Australia taking on a project or a mentoring opportunity in New Zealand was now a realistic possibility.

By taking on opportunities they may not have had a chance to previously, employees would be able to expand their skillset and gain new experience, boosting both career progression and engagement with the company.

These anecdotes, Summlar said, demonstrated the value of the platform not only to the C-suite, but to other employees too.

With 2020 highlighting the value of a highly adaptable and agile workforce, Schneider Electric’s disruptive platform has set the company in a strong position for future challenges ahead.

About Schneider Electric

Schneider Electric is leading the Digital Transformation of Energy Management and Automation in Homes, Buildings, Data Centers, Infrastructure and Industries. With global presence in over 100 countries, Schneider is the undisputable leader in Power Management – Medium Voltage, Low Voltage and Secure Power, and in Automation Systems. We provide integrated efficiency solutions, combining energy, automation and software. In our global Ecosystem, we collaborate with the largest Partner, Integrator and Developer Community on our Open Platform to deliver real-time control and operational efficiency. We believe that great people and partners make Schneider a great company and that our commitment to Innovation, Diversity and Sustainability ensures that Life Is On everywhere, for everyone and at every moment.

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