#HRSpotlight2021 | Alina Soare, Head of People Development and Recruitment at Endava: I firmly believe that the private sector can, and should, invest more in education

Mihai Cristea 25/01/2021 | 14:58

The HR industry changed a lot in 2020 as the new pandemic context brought new challenges, but skillful HR managers successfully overcame those and transformed their companies’ approach to employee retention, engagement, retention, or satisfaction among others. We featured all this in the exclusive HR Spotlight Interviews, in which we talked to several top HR professionals, but now, as 2021 is predicted to become its own beast, BR decided to revamp the series. Without further ado, let’s kick off 2021 with the pros and explore the HR trends of the new year. For the third episode, Alina Soare, Head of People Development and Recruitment at Endava, sat down once again with BR, after being a speaker at the Spring 2020 Working Romania conference, for the second season of the #HRSpotlight series!

 

∙ 2020 Overview: the most important actions and programs in your organization?

One of the main opportunities we saw during last year was an acceleration of demand for digital transformations, even from companies that are not necessarily on the top of the technology wave (from domains like FMCG, medical field or logistics).

Digital transformation is one of the main services we offer for many years. Our mission is not just IT. Our mission is to positively impact the whole organization through the services we provide – software development can aid business processes, budgeting, portfolio prioritizing and even at the team level and support functions running the operations on the ground focused on end-to-end optimization. This transformation helps make the client organization more adaptable to changes in their business environment and it helps get products and services faster to market. To meet this demand, we are growing organically, recruiting substantially across all our locations and during the last months of the year we have seen peaks in recruitment demand that compete with the levels we registered before the pandemic.

The speed with which we moved all activities in online also came with some challenges. One of those was the need to be closer to the teams working remotely; we addressed it with a series of learning & engagement activities to further develop middle management skills. Although we are used to working with virtual and distributed teams, the new reality we came across after the outbreak of Covid showed us that we are perpetual students when it comes to adapting and improving our ways of working.

On the other side, we had discussions with our clients and agreed on remote working models, even with partners for whom we had dedicated secured areas. Productivity remains high to this day and our continued focus on investing in IT infrastructure enables us to continue to deliver very good results on our projects.

Another direction that remains an important point for us is our employees’ wellbeing. In a period marked by isolation and anxiety our primary business focus was, and continues to be, keeping our people safe and safeguarding jobs – protecting our people so they can support their families that rely on them during these uncertain times.

 

∙ Keeping an eye on the future, with so much change and uncertainty on the horizon, how is your organization now to accelerate the 2021 changes?

Shaping tomorrow’s workplace is top of mind for the leadership of our organization and establishing a new working model that incorporates more flexibility for our people is one of the directions for 2021.

We envisage the workplace as an ecosystem, not a one-size-fits-all type of solution, thus repurposing our offices into thriving hubs for team collaboration allowing for remote working when needed and providing the space for people to flourish. We believe in creating careers, not just offering jobs.

As COVID-19 sparked an accelerated adoption of digital technologies in businesses across the globe we have seen a massive demand for digital transformation services. Therefore, we will continue to partner with our customers and contribute to their own digital transformation in response to the change they are experiencing in their respective industries.

The focus on the wellbeing of our employees also remains a focus during the next years. As the way we work, interact and learn changed drastically, we will need to identify and implement ways which will enable us to grow while interaction will happen through much more diverse channels. The change does not apply only to the ways in which teams communicate but also to how we disseminate our culture in the Endava community. It is not easy to switch jobs in this period, so we primarily think of our new colleagues who have joined us during the last year, or so.

 

∙ Which will be from your perspective, the 2021 top 3 most important trends that HR leaders will follow?

  1. Staying adaptable / embracing disruption.

In normal times adoption of new models can be slower. In March 2020 we all had to adapt our ways of working virtually overnight. This is a level of change that is unprecedented, and I think we were all able to see that we can do things differently. I believe this experience will stay with us for some time to come and it will influence the way we assimilate new things in the future.

 

  1. Accelerating innovation.

Most companies set aside resources for R&D every year whether it is in the form of budgets or specialized experts.

Now more than ever, I believe innovation is a key component of the way we do business. And there is often a huge source of innovation sitting wright under our noses. My advice is for businesses to turn inwards and look for that innovation in-house. It is surprising how much value we can find in even the smallest tweaks to a well-established process or a legacy system.

 

  1. Invest in education!

In the CEE region, there is a misconception that education somehow falls mainly in the state’s responsibility. This is partially due to historical biases and the significant investment required and slow ROI, amongst other reasons.

I also firmly believe that, although the state has a crucial role, the private sector can, and should, invest more in this area.

Each business vertical is organized in professional associations; there are industry partnerships at local level, a diverse number of communities and groups. This represents a massive infrastructure through which we can align with the traditional educational system to influence and steer the curricula in a direction that is desired and relevant in today’s ever-evolving world.

This has started already years ago through the partnership of businesses with universities, specialized private training providers, internal training programs offered by companies, and many other forms.

I would advise this is an excellent time to reinforce and enhance these practices to do more for education!

 

∙ How your organization will adapt the future normal, shaping the future workforce and keeping the engagement?

In the above section, I identified three trends I believe HR Leaders will follow in 2021. Our people strategy for this year is already carefully synchronized with them.

While reshaping what the workplace looks like, we are carefully looking at our customers and employees’ needs. We continue to define our programs according to our people’s wellbeing, and we ensure that we can adapt our practices and processes to the new context in which we find ourselves.

We will also expand our cooperation with informal schools and technical universities and create programs that help students or people who want to start a career in IT. We have done this throughout all of last year with our junior programs, mentorship programs and trainings, and we will continue to contribute as much as we can to the technical community at large.

Finally, we will continue to follow our CSR directions. We’re partnering with charitable causes and local universities to provide professional and technical expertise – and focusing on a cleaner environment.

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