This year I’m focusing on the intersection between the internet of things and cybersecurity. I’ll be considering how to secure IoT devices and make the cyber unit more aware of IoT.
I’m looking at how to improve our preparedness through education, storytelling and the simplification of technology. We know that security is better when it’s by design, not bolted on.
Everyone is aware of cyber risk and everyone thinks it’s someone else’s job. If we work together and share insights, we become a much more formidable foe for attackers, offering them no low-hanging fruit.
The tech talent shortage is certainly a challenge. The reality that many people can work from anywhere has prompted a lot of IT professionals to move jobs. In the early stages of the pandemic, I predicted that much of this movement would slow down – and that hasn’t happened. But I’m optimistic. Whenever an expert leaves an area, the people they leave behind often think: how are we going to cope? Then new smart people emerge.
My general management philosophy is to find out what work someone is good at and put a mountain of that in front of them. At BlackBerry we have a lot of tough problems that are fun to work on. I think that this is an effective way to retain people.
I’m not excited about any one trend in isolation, because this is never about technology for technology’s sake. The tech becomes relevant only when it enables you to do something different. I’m more into the chance to combine trends and see what that will unleash in 2023.
That said, I’m probably most intrigued about applied AI and how that’s going to accelerate. We saw a big shift towards it in 2017-18, but things then started to plateau. This has to be the year where people figure out how to scale it up.
It’s an interesting time for talent management. For me, it’s not only about recruiting the best people – although we have our foot firmly on the gas for that. It’s also about how to make them wildly successful once we have them. To this end, I’ll be spending a lot of time on redesigning career pathways here.
And we must ensure that our people are not only successful but also happy in what they’re doing. I’m exploring the idea of an index of developer and engineer happiness, which really could unlock how we think about success.
We also need to manage multidisciplinary teams effectively, because we’re at our best when marrying deep domain knowledge with deep technical prowess. We must be able to bring those diverse talents together.
Lastly, we have to keep dreaming big. It’s clear that digital is a winner-takes-all activity. If we can’t help our clients have audacious aspirations for how their technology will create value, we’ll have got something wrong.
We are running many initiatives focused on improving the employee experience in 2023. One of these is increasing our self-service capabilities. When you provide these, you empower people. They know that they can do what they need to do themselves, rather than relying on a back-office person.
Another priority is to provide truly equitable hybrid working. When I joined the business in March 2022, I was pleasantly surprised to see that lots of people were back in the office two, three or four days a week. Since then, I’ve had a digital workplace team focused on the ease of hybrid working. What can we do, in terms of tools, technology and culture, to ensure the wellbeing of our people? Addressing this question will remain crucial for me in 2023.
I expect the organisation to grow over the coming year and, indeed, I’m hiring. I’m not selecting people primarily for their experience. Experience matters a lot, but technology is changing constantly – what’s hot today is gone tomorrow. What we really want is adaptability. When we interview candidates, we look at their experience and skills, of course, but aptitude is a crucial component. How willing is this person to learn and do something new? What we’re looking for in 2023 is the potential that people will bring to the table.
We are also big proponents of internal mobility – how we enable employees to find other jobs within the company. We hear so much about how leaders are looking for new talent, but we must also work hard to retain the talent we have attracted.
I believe that technology leaders will be less focused on the new trends coming down the line in 2023 and more focused on how we better harness the tech we already have.
I’m thinking about how we use data in a way that adds greater value to our business. And are we implementing long-established cloud technologies in the right way? That’s going to be a key area of focus.
This year is all about developing people at Swiss Re. We’re thinking about how to help more employees learn about things such as data democratisation and the use of low-code platforms and application programming interfaces.
We’re also considering how to attract new talent. We’re going to be looking for cybersecurity specialists, data scientists and engineers. The company’s purpose is to make the world more resilient. I think that really attracts people to it.
The tech sector suffers from a lack of diversity, so a big task for me will be to work out how to attract a wider range of people across all our territories. We truly believe that diversity of thought will make a positive difference to our progress.
I love it when the teams I work with collaborate well, have fun and win together – it energises me. My big goal for 2023 is to have vibrant and productive teams across the world that make stuff happen.