Eliminate roles, not people: fine-tuning the talent search during times of change

Sep 13, 20237 mins
CIOData GovernanceData Management

Julia Anderson, chief technology and information officer at Campbell Soup Company, and Kristen Lamoreaux, president and CEO of recruitment firm Lamoreaux Search, join CIO.com’s Maryfran Johnson to discuss talent development, the benefits of shadow IT, and enabling a culture of support.

Having joined Campbell’s in January 2022, Julia Anderson’s enterprise-wide responsibilities run from digital workplace services, IT platforms, and architecture, to cybersecurity oversight, business analytics, and transformation projects and programs.  

When she arrived, a business transformation was already underway. “There were two divisions structured and a central supply chain—very clear areas to partner with, but we weren’t set up to partner,” she says. “We were more of a services organization, so I had to create an organization that had architecture, data, and an analytics focus, but also digital partners. We make that our culture; to be together and succeed together with quick wins.”

When you come into an organization going through a transformation, skill sets can be deeply hidden, she adds. People have functional knowledge and technical capability, but because of different roles and operating models, they may have to be left out.

“We have to understand who our leaders and technical people are, and who can learn the new platforms and technologies being brought in and get things done,” she says. “Training becomes a big piece of it, too. I eliminate roles, not people. so what’s the prioritized work we need to do, and what capabilities do we need to do that work. Aside from that, other roles and other work have to stop. It can be uncomfortable when you explain it to people.”

With a different vantage point but similar sentiment, Kristen Lamoreaux leads a national IT recruitment firm that echoes her long-held personal and professional belief that every organization benefits from having more diverse and inclusive leadership teams.

And there are many different approaches to keep talent development thriving and functioning in a way to maintain a competitive edge. Providing access to data, reskilling, upskilling, and retaining all the best tech people—once you have them—is all part of the plan.

“One of the aspects of democratizing data and access, however, terrifies a lot of leaders because they think we can’t just give everybody access,” says Lamoreaux. “Of course you’re not, yet you create pathways and you can bring others in, because you never know where that next great idea is coming from. But make the space for the governance, and make sure people are understanding. You’re not going to let somebody jump into source code. It’s a matter of protecting what you can and giving access, creating those ramps.”

CIO.com’s Maryfran Johnson recently spoke with Anderson and Lamoreaux about talent market volatility, righting the ship through transformational change, and upskilling the IT workforce. Here are some edited excerpts of that conversation. Watch the full video below for more insights.

On shadow IT: Julia Anderson: I actually love shadow IT or people in the business who are trying to solve problems with technology and data because they’re my easy wins. There are two pieces to it. One is they have to trust we can put in the capabilities, tools, process, and guardrail so they can run with it. I’m big into anticipation. I work for food companies, so guess what people are going to ask me for? Ways to buy, make, sell, and deliver food better and faster. So anticipating we’re going to make data available or there’ll be a new SaaS solution someone’s excited about, 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 pool, you’re going to have the support you need. Don’t make it a barrier. So I don’t think it’s shadow, but a partner and I think those people excited about technology can only drive our goals faster.

Julia Anderson, CTIO, Campbell Soup

Julia Anderson, CTIO, Campbell Soup

Campbell Soup

On authenticity: Kristen Lamoreaux: The most important thing is to always be authentic. Some people feel that means tact and diplomacy go out the window, because they’re being authentic, but not at the executive level. Tact and diplomacy still matter. Consulting with people is great, but the decision still lies with you. So you don’t have a lot of time. Again, that pace is challenging. So be that lifelong learner, and demonstrate your curiosity for emerging tech by showing how you’ve improved yourself.

On diversity: Julia Anderson: I focus on the current and up-and-coming leaders because that’s where we’re losing diversity as people come to that leadership level. Some of the same old things are true, like women won’t check every box so they won’t apply; they don’t have the confidence. So doing more coaching, mentoring, and encouraging is really important for people to understand what they can do. And your direct manager, who is potentially your advocate, is not your coach and mentor. You need someone who looks like you to spin through it or who can really connect with you. I think that’s a really important aspect to see people like yourself who not only have the roles, but enjoy and command them. It’s really critical you build out a diverse leadership team internally and externally. You have to look at your data and make sure there’s equity. And now it’s about options. I can attract more talent across the globe, depending what the job is. We’ve been working globally forever, with outsourcing and partnerships. So we maybe have a little jump being effective, working remote. But I think it’s helped in terms of being able, for me, to get a more diverse leadership team.

Kristen Lamoreaux, President, Lamoreaux Search

Kristen Lamoreaux, President, Lamoreaux Search

Lamoreaux Search

On stepping up: Kristen Lamoreaux: When someone expresses an interest in something, whether it’s emerging tech or a new process, are they going to step up? Do they know what they claim to know? And at the end, are they excited about sharing that? If you see that passion, pick them up and put them where they want to be and you’ll have such greater morale and engagement. It really is something any organization can do; they just have to make the space for it. It’s something where any HR leader can ask an employee, “Are you doing something you’re passionate about? Is there something you want to learn more about? Would you rather grow more in your current role, or explore another facet of the business?” Ask and you’ll be amazed at the data you get from one well-crafted question. From there, you can create that talent bank that says, “Oh, Julia actually said she was really interested in mobile computing, so we’re picking you up and putting you right here.” It’s easily done and accomplished, but I’m also a big fan of demonstrating what you know. So if you’re passionate about something, you know the universal knowledge behind it.