Nurturing next generation leaders and experts; two paths to prosperity

The digital transformation underway across all sectors of the economy means that demand for technology professionals is soaring.

Even before the pandemic, it was clear that demand for technology skills and leadership was on the march. A study conducted by Faethm in association with the Australian Computer Society (ACS) reveals that although automation and AI are going to transform all industry sectors and displace some workers, over the coming 15 years as many as 5.6 million new jobs could be added to the Australian economy – a quarter of them in technology-related roles.

The annual Digital Pulse report – prepared by Deloitte for the ACS – suggests that the nation’s technology workforce will grow by just over 3 per cent for the next five years, and reach a million people by 2027. It’s an encouraging trajectory but an organisation like Iress, a fintech which is founded on solving complex problems with technology, needs capable, intelligent people who like solving complex problems now. It needs people who are skilled at collaborating with colleagues both face to face and online, and schooled in agile approaches to problem-solving. And it needs leaders to help them do that.

The challenge for organisations as they navigate their skills requirements is to pay careful attention to different career trajectories. Is an individual best placed as an expert or leader? Where does their passion lie? What are their aspirations and how can they be nurtured?

A resilient, next-generation workforce emerges by balancing the skills equation carefully – nurturing leaders and investing in the skills of experts.

Iress chief technology officer Andrew Todd says: “In my experience, career progression has often been a path of becoming a technical specialist in the role – whatever the technical speciality might be – then you become a team leader, a leader of multiple teams, and so on. Essentially you move away from your technical skills to become a ‘manager’ and then onto ‘leadership’.

“This is definitely a positive and appropriate pathway for many people. But it’s not the case for everyone. High-quality management and leadership require particular skills and capabilities that are not held by all people, nor is it interesting or enjoyable for all people. Many simply want to continue to refine their specialist skills and continue with a career of depth in technical capability,” says Todd.

Finding and hiring strong technical skills is essential to any modern enterprise – retaining those skills requires careful analysis of an individual’s deep strengths and ambitions. Forcing a square peg into a round hole is counterproductive – both will be damaged, the outcome will be sub-optimal – and the ‘peg’ may simply pack their bags, leaving the company with a gaping hole to plug.

According to Todd; “Iress, as a technology company requires a team of people that are strong in both management/leadership capabilities as well as technical capabilities, such as software engineering. Career growth and personal development is an important part of Iress’s employee value proposition, so we have considered how to provide the most suitable outcome for our people as well as Iress.

Andrew Todd Iress

Iress chief technology officer Andrew Todd

“To demonstrate that – within the technology group, a career pathway might lead to people leadership  – where you are managing/leading people – or it might lead to technical leadership  – where you are using your technical strength to coach and uplift engineers, to solve difficult architectural or design challenges, or to simply be part of the team to deliver great software. These pathways are backed by capability maps that help people consider opportunities for growth in their role as well as look for opportunities outside their current role to learn about and grow into.

“Providing this balance of people leadership and technical leadership enables a better balance of skills, application of capabilities, alignment of people’s ambitions and enables them to see a future of growth and development at IRESS,” adds Todd.

Learn more about career paths and opportunities in technology.

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