In today’s changing environmental landscape, business leaders recognize that sustainability is fundamental to remain competitive. The global pandemic is accelerating the need for digital reinvention and adoption in the organization and has become more vital than ever.
Meanwhile, Victoria Pelletier feels fortunate working for IBM – an industry leader in IT & Services with a phenomenal learning and skills platform. An interview conducted between Victoria Pelletier – Vice President of Talent & Transformation for North America and Insights Success shares her experience, feedback, and opinions to drive successful outcomes.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Kindly take us through your journey on becoming a proficient tech business leader.
I have been a very early adopter of technology most of my life, and my career has centered around technology being a business enabler. I transitioned early in my career from being a heavy user of technology to leading technology teams as I transitioned into the world of Business Process Outsourcing leading very large teams of sales, customer service, and technical help desk operations supporting many business clients.
My success in leadership in this space, however, has not been by selling technology – it has been about solving challenges for clients; understanding their strategy and pain points and then advising and co-creating with them, the solutions with technology, that enables the people and processes to deliver against the strategy and outcomes desired.
How do you diversify your organization’s offerings to entice the target audience?
The most important criteria, in my opinion, is to understand WHO your target audience is – what challenges they are facing – often not a singular problem, but a multidimensional problem set. Once you understand your audience and frame their pain points, then there is an opportunity to create a differentiated solution that targets these challenges and tells a story about how your solutions will solve these challenges.
How do you keep yourself up to date with the latest technology?
I am a voracious reader and have subscriptions to many digital news and media publications and also have alerts set up for many of the favorite topics that I follow. This includes news and social posts from some of the top technology and business leaders that I follow.
What roadblocks or challenges were faced by you in a corporate business? And how did you overcome them?
I have faced many challenges in my career – one of the earliest was becoming an executive at aged 24 – just a few months after giving birth to my first child. I had to balance an extremely demanding role with long hours and significant travel with the needs of my young family. I have also faced being the only woman, or one of very few, at the executive table for a vast majority of my career and have faced discrimination, bullying, and some mudslinging, as a result.
I have also faced the types of challenges that I thrive in – organizational change and transformation. I have personally been a part of 18 mergers or acquisitions and often sat at the heart of the integration and transition – something I deeply love as the challenge of building something new and different is extremely motivating to me. I have overcome significant adversity in my life that has driven me to a philosophy whereby I believe that I am unstoppable, always finding solutions for the challenges I face. I live a life of #NoExcuses – I use this hashtag liberally, signing my social media posts with it, and even had a custom phone case made with this motto on it!
What culture change you suggest for companies that want to embrace the full power of AI?
I believe that there are a number of key elements to creating a culture and environment that will be successful in both adopting and adapting to AI in the workplace. Importantly, it’s about creating a place that fosters a growth–mind set with continuous learning and feedback – of creating a vision and allowing the team to work in a very agile way to achieve the desired outcomes. New kinds of skills are required for this moment, especially as employees are working outside a traditional office and increasingly apply digital tools and emerging technology to how they work. Also, critically important is creating an open, transparent and empathetic culture that promotes differing points of view, and public dissent as necessary, however, all with a high degree of integrity and ethically based and data-driven decision making.
What does it take to attract and retain tech talent?
Retaining top tech talent, and quite frankly, retaining ALL talent across an organization, is about creating both a positive culture and a highly engaging environment that offers career development and advancement. For leading organizations, artificial intelligence will increasingly play an important data-driven approach to all these areas of personalized career and skills, compensation and performance management, and creating an environment of engagement and belonging.
This approach is very multi-faceted and includes strong leadership – those operating with transparency and authenticity and modelling the values aligned to the business they joined. It is also about individual development opportunities with a particular focus on skill development and/or reskilling; this is especially important in technology given the rapid acceleration of change and the shortened shelf-life of skills.
Retention is also linked to transparency in performance management and pay; that is – clarity in expectations and goals to measure performance and doing so across a multidimensional set of goals, not a singular measure and ensuring that pay is linked to performance and also tied into the demand for the skills that one brings to and develops in their role. One of the most critical areas is also around creating a place where people feel comfortable bringing their true and authentic whole selves to the workplace.
Where are you focusing your energy now, and where do you hope to make an impact next?
I have been spending my time and energy very focused on culture, talent strategy, diversity, equity and inclusion, talent and skills development, and the enabled workforce of the future. My role at IBM is leading our Americas Talent & Transformation business unit supporting clients, so not only is this a space that I am passionate about, but I get to help companies in these areas.
A very focused area, both within and outside of IBM has been my work on DE&I given the escalation in social unrest and the need for better cultures and outcomes in the workplace and in our communities. I want to have an impact and leave a legacy around my work in creating better workplace culture and environments to live and thrive in.
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