Why Dynamic Skills Strategy Matters: “The Very Nature of Career is Changing Today” Rachna Sampayo Opines

September 7, 20214:59 pm4693 views

The pandemic continues to amplify the need for new skills as organisations adapt to new ways of working. With more organizations shift their business models in the new normal, leaders must ensure the workforce are equipped with the right skills to do their job as conditions change quickly.

Embracing dynamic skills strategy is the key to foster career development that builds operating-model resilience. Rachna Sampayo, Vice President Human Resources, Oracle Corporation Asia Pacific & Japan at Oracle shares her view on why dynamic skills matters.

  • A changing world demands a change of skills. Professionals across industries are urged to redevelop their skills every 12-18 months because skills are becoming obsolete at an accelerating rate. What’s your opinion on this?

Answer: The very nature of career is changing today. If you think the pace of innovation has an overwhelming impact on your lifestyle, imagine what it’s doing to your skillset. In order to keep pace with the heightened demands of job markets, individuals need to commit to learning, growing, and continuously polishing their skills. This also means that organisations have to upskill their employees more rapidly, and more regularly than ever.

As the role of HR is evolving so is learning and development (L&D). With multi-generational workforce and varied learning needs, blended learning solutions and gamification of learning and development programs are the way to go. It is essential for organization to demonstrate care for their employees’ learning desires, and a real way to grow their talents with dedicated personal development programs in action.   

  • Do you think that something like ‘evergreen skills’ still exists? If yes, what are those skills?

Answer: There are certain skills that I do feel are transferrable across different roles, or as you refer it as “evergreen”. So yes, I think such skills do exist, which involves a combination of different attributes that place you on the path of success across industries.

Personally, there are four areas that I feel are critical to remaining “evergreen” in today’s market:

  1. Learning mindset – As long as there is a desire to grow and find new ways to create value, the right skills will come as natural parts of progression. Staying curious and reflecting on ourselves give us the ability to recognise gaps and work on them to improve.
  2. Adaptability – We’ve all heard of survival of the fittest. But I find that today it is more pertinent to say “survival of the most adaptable”. We all know that “the only constant in life is change”. However, change is becoming more and more unpredictable. The current pandemic keeps reminding us to live and work in a new way, which requires organizations and individuals to become more adaptable, more innovative and more agile with upgraded skills to thrive even in tough times.
  3. Communication skills – During the pandemic, remote working and virtual communication has become the new norm. Effective communication skills have become even more critical, especially for managers and leaders. Leaders need to upgrade their skills for team management, and keep their staff engaged and motivated virtually.
  4. Analytical skills – Today, data permeates through every function, and there is not a field that does not benefit from it. Regardless of your role, it is essential for individuals to be able to analyse data and define actions with data insights.  It will be a great asset to any talent. We live in a time where data is abundant. Turning data into daily life asset is one of the “evergreen skills” to bring value to your organization.
  • From years of experience as an HR leader, how do you deal with talents whose skills are no longer relevant with their roles? 

Answer: Today business strategies have short shelf lives in the face of fast-changing realities.  Therefore, organizations need to enable “on-demand” workforce design allowing “trial and error”. The ability to rapidly assemble teams with the right mix of mindset and skillset to meet fast-changing externalities is crucial.

Often we see one of the two scenarios: either an employee outgrows the role or the role outgrows the individual.

At Oracle, we have a comprehensive Career Development Framework to support employees in their development planning and re-skilling.  This framework helps explore career goals and identify the tools and resources to create development plan by focusing on the skills and experience required for today and the future. 

By leveraging the Career Development Framework, having robust career dialogue with the manager, and using internal mobility opportunities, employees can transition into the role where they can apply their abilities the best. We have internal programs such as “Advantage you” and “Get Ahead” that provide our employees with practical training on finding their next role that best fits their skills and aspirations. 

  • What can companies do to support their employees’ professional growth and address such skills mismatch?

Answer: Strategies for talent development and career growth are most critical for retaining talent.

If the skills are mismatched to the roles, either employees will be overwhelmed with their workload, or managers will be under pressure to build the right work environment. While HR is trying to build programs for well-being and work-life balance, the business leaders are focused on business outcomes.

Companies used to invest heavily in employees with the intention of keeping them for decades and seeing them grow and contribute for the foreseeable future. Today, because retention landscape has become more dynamic, organizations must provide development more quickly, provide continuous cycles of progression in form of job rotation, stretch assignments and give employees more tools to manage their own careers. 

In June 2021, Oracle introduces Oracle Dynamic Skills, a new offering to better detect, manage, and grow the skills of the workforce to our customers. Oracle Dynamic Skills, part of Oracle Fusion Cloud Human Capital Management (HCM), gives HR and business leaders the insights to ensure they have the right talent both now and in the future by providing a comprehensive view of the skills within their workforce. Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), the new capabilities provide business leaders with an always up-to-date skills inventory that delivers actionable recommendations to help attract, develop, and grow talent.

It is an ongoing journey for organizations and individuals to develop skills in order to stay relevant in the industry they are in and to the customer they serve.

  • The Great Resignation is expected to come soon. Why do people take the risk of leaving their stable jobs and look for new ones, considering that the global economy is still pretty much struggling from the pandemic?

Answer: People are leaving their jobs in droves just as businesses are starting to bring many remote workers back on site. One upside of the otherwise traumatic pandemic is that it gave people a chance to rethink their lives, reflecting on what makes them happy — or unhappy.

And the result is that many workers are voting with their feet, quitting jobs to use their skills with a different company or something entirely new. In a way, this isn’t a Great Resignation, but rather a Great Awakening.

It’s high time for organizations to reflect on this trend and come up with a response — at least if they want to retain good workers. To do that, employers must first understand why people are resigning and how to change workplace policies to keep, rather than lose their best people.

From the employers’ standpoint, it’s critical to figure out how to keep good workers since it is more time consuming and expensive to find, recruit, and hire new people than retain existing employees.

Employers should listen and be fully aware of their talents’ needs. Here are a few aspect to start with:

  1. Flexibility – Talents want to have more control over their schedules and working environments. Remote working has shown to be just as effective as physical spaces.
  2. Creativity – Working on projects that inspire your team members.
  3. Meaningful work – Employees today want to see a clear connection between what they highly value and what they spend time doing.
  • Do you think that the old mantra ‘Hire for attitude, train for skill’ is still applicable in today’s evolving world?

Absolutely. I firmly believe that is more relevant today than ever.

Today’s business landscape is constantly evolving, and shelf life of learned skills has reduced. The hiring managers should focus on whether or not the person you are hiring is willing to keep up with new developments, not whether or not only they are skilful enough at the present time.

I have a number of very successful examples in my own team where the basis of my hiring was the right attitude and not just aptitude.

  • What has ORACLE done differently to attract and grow their talents?

Answer: We understand the right tools can help us do the job right. We introduced Oracle Fusion Cloud Human Capital Management (HCM) within our company.  

Managers enjoyed the benefits by having better visibility to our employees’ needs through real-time personal data analytics, business KPIs from hire to retire. Oracle HCM provides a new way of talent management with improved user experience both for the managers and for our employees. 

Through a series of innovative on-boarding programs, we provide our new hires not only amazing new hire experience, but also help them connect and navigate smoothly with various business units for inter-team collaboration. It is key to help employees quickly identify the available resources to get up to speed, especially for large organizations. Whilst COVID has impacted our ability to run these sessions in-person, we are doing our best to create a great virtual experience. Again, we continually enhance and improve based on what we hear through survey or directly from our new hires.

We use Oracle HCM as a way for employees and managers to connect the dots between goal setting, feedback and career conversations, and annual reviews in an intuitive way. This flows into talent reviews and opportunities for internal career mobility as well as other opportunities to learn and grow. This provides managers more time to focus on strategic work like mentoring and growing their people with less time spent on administrative tasks.

There is a range of initiatives and platforms that provide employees the opportunity to continuously learn and grow. Career development is the top focus for employees and a key piece of our employee value proposition.

We want to give employees a personalized experience to support their development. So we shifted our annual performance feedback approach to a continuous feedback throughout the employee’s journey. Employees can set up a personal talent profile, align goals to the business strategy, plan out their career path, and get feedback and coaching from their managers.

As the world continues to navigate through a period of uncertainity due to COVID period, we are presented with new challenges, including prolonged isolation and challenges. At Oracle, we provide various types of support to our employees such as wellness workshops, employee assistance program, which improve day-to-day experience that truly impact their well-being.

Oracle’s innovation and competitive advantage depend on the talents, skills, and backgrounds of its diverse workforce. Through employee resource groups, like Oracle Women Leadership (OWL), employees are given platforms to discuss and initiate efforts towards diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We strongly believe in creating an environment where employees should feel safe and comfortable can bring the best employee experience, both in and out of the office.

  • Lastly, what’s the role technology can play in future-proofing the organisational workforce?

Answer: Technology definitely plays a key role, especially in this time of the pandemic. When we started working from home last year, we’ve seen a change in employee behaviour, including how we interact and work together. As such, we need to adapt quickly to make sure that employee experience and engagement are addressed by leveraging available tools and resources covering analytics, learning and engagement, HR process improvement, etc.

It has been imperative that we always look at available employee data to ensure that we develop and implement purposeful HR programs. The available reports also help HR business partners in providing relevant information and advice to the business in making people decisions.

It has definitely been a challenge to sustain learning and engagement when we started to do things 100% virtually. We had to resort to digital gamification, creating and promoting training video content and webinars to help remote employees feel more connected.

Remote working paved the way for us to look at our existing HR processes and eliminate manual processes that we are so used to be doing when we were in the office. We simplified local HR processes, and making use of that enables us to still efficiently continue and improve our HR operations on top of the work-from-home arrangement.

Technology is seen as a great enabler for us. We not only offer employees the customisability to work in their most preferred manner to achieve the full potential, but also provide us the means to identify where skills gaps in our organisations lie and shore them up as soon as we can to remain relevant in a highly competitive space.

Having this macro view through embedding technology into our everyday work life also makes us very data and insights driven. We constantly monitor the impact of any decisions we make and use that to inform and support business leaders on how they can continue to ensure robust, resilient growth in a sustainable fashion.


Rachna Sampayo is Vice President of Human Resources at Oracle Corp, APAC based in Singapore.

As an established HR Leader, Rachna’s forte is in enabling businesses achieve real outcomes through innovative human capital strategies. Rachna has over 28 years of experience across industries and geographies ranging from Middle East & Africa to Australia, Japan and Asia-Pacific.

Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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