CW500: Albert Ellis of Harvey Nash on recruitment, skills and career development issues for 2011

The business environment in 2011 remains challenging, and IT leaders have experienced significant change since the recession. While cost containment and hesitation about the future of the economy remains, organisations are increasingly realising the need for smart IT management to ensure competitiveness.

In this video from the CW500 Club’s first meeting of the year, Albert Ellis, chief executive of recruitment specialist Harvey Nash, talks to Computer Weekly editor in chief Bryan Glick about the major recruitment, skills and career development issues for 2011.


Read the full transcript from this video below:  

CW500 Albert Ellis of Harvey Nash on recruitment

Bryan Glick: Hello. Welcome to the Computer Weekly 500 Club. My name is Bryan Glick. I am the Editor-in-Chief of Computer Weekly. I am here tonight with one of our speakers at tonight's event. Welcome to Albert Ellis, who is the Chief Executive of the recruitment specialist Harvey Nash. Albert, thank you very much for come and talking to our IT leaders tonight.
You have been talking to them about some of the key skills of recruitment issues that IT leaders are going to face in 2011. What would you pick out as the biggest of those issues? What do you think CIOs will most need to be aware of when it comes to skills and equipment this year?

Albert Ellis: What surprised me, Bryan, is that last year we saw in various surveys, and thought leadership pieces we did, we saw that IT departments by and large were looking for open communication from the CIO. They wanted to know what was going on in their company, the worrying and fear that next week there would be some sort of unexpected jobs cut announcement. They valued open communication, they wanted interesting projects to work on, and really, to feel valued and part of the organisation. The pendulum has really swung away from that of priority to it is about jobs, careers, training and paying rewards. I think the squeeze on household budgets has meant that people in the IT department and a lot of support organisations are feeling that they have stayed with the company for two years, and retention is the biggest issue. I think 83% of our CIOs had said that their retention is their biggest issue.

If we were to look forward, we think that people are going to be looking for opportunities; they are going to want to see what career progression, the opportunity to earn more money as their budgets have been squeezed. In addition to that, there are new influences in the market, all the transformational change programs that are going on in the banking sector, you got public sector, huge transformation going on there. That is creating churn, pulling in certain skills, spewing out certain skills, unneeded, so you have got a lot of churning going on in the market. That is all creating a market that is very tense at the moment.

Bryan Glick: CIOs, I am sure will recognize some of those issues you are talking about there. How would you advise them to go about attacking that?

Albert Ellis: They better recognize that the people that are working for them, the top talent, are being headhunted. I know that people that are good, whose skills are up-to-date, who are valuable in the organisation, project managers and business liaison individuals. With the move to outsourcing and off-shoring, which was accelerated during the recession, anyone in the IT department who has procurement skills, where they are managing a relationship with a third party, a lot of site service is going to the Cloud in the next 2 to 3 years. We think just under 50% of CIOs say that a lot of the services will be purchased as software services over the Cloud. Those individual with skills like that are going to be looking to be rewarded, to be moving, and they are also going to get opportunities coming from the outside. First thing the CIOs need to recognize is that this is risk for them, so they have to work on their retention strategy. Identify the mission-critical individuals, and make sure that you have locked them down, in vision terms, what you are doing in your business and your department. As a CIO, what your personal brand represents, backing it up with the integrity, the open communication, which is always high on everybody's priority list. Finally, also development career prospects and paying rewards is going to be a big part of this year.

Bryan Glick: One last question, briefly, if I may. For the CIO's own career, what would be the one piece of advice you would give the CIO, in terms of developing their own careers?

Albert Ellis: The 'I' in CIO is about innovation. We have seen the CIO of the last 20 years; we have been tracking the CIO ever since . . . the job actually was started off as the head of IT in the 80s, infrastructure and hardware. Then software development and internet in the 90s, he became an IT director, he is now the CIO, and it is not only about information and knowledge; it is about innovation. For the CIO's brand to be enhanced in the organisation, our strong recommendation is look at how everything is migrating from bricks to clicks, from the hardware world into the digital world, the cyber world. If he can get his head around the digital strategy, the strategy that is right for the group, but also giving the CEO advice, becoming the CEO's best friend in that sense. I think the CIO, as Chief Innovation Officer, he could open up real progression in his own career if he can achieve that.

Bryan Glick: I am sure there are plenty of CIOs who want to achieve that. Albert Ellis, Chief Executive of Harvey Nash, thank you very much for coming on Computer Weekly 500 tonight, and for your advice to IT leaders. Thank you who are watching. We will be back with another CW 500 video soon. Bye.

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