Written by Tim Brogan on Jul 11, 2017

Developing a Talent for IT Talent Retention Part 1

Innovation and technology infrastructure are important to the success of every business, and why the IT organization, and its teams, is a critical element in achieving business goals.  However, as reported in our upcoming IT Talent Report, loss of talent is a big issue for IT leaders. “Sixty percent of IT leaders report that their current talent challenges represent a threat to the future success of their entire organization,” says Brendan McGowan, CIO Executive Council Global Media Bureau, and Client Research Manager.

One of the main reasons for this distress is the large talent gap that exists in IT (detailed in our 2015 IT Talent Report.)  To very briefly summarize, there are more skilled IT jobs than skilled IT talent, which begs the question, “If that is true, how do you retain your existing good talent?” For more information, we turned to two industry leading IT leaders, and Council members: Bill Thirsk, VP of IT/CIO of Marist College and Jacky Wright, Corporate VP of Microsoft.

“To retain great talent, you need to ensure that everyone feels like they are part of a team,” said Jacky. “I have learned that it is also important to make sure that everyone is clear about their roles and understands their purpose and value-add to the organization.”

Bill expanded on this, saying, “Set the organizational culture so the work is challenging, enjoyable, and achievable. In my shop, everyone has a regular job and must also select an innovation project to achieve each year.  This keeps the employees quite busy, gives them some control over their careers, and builds in a reason to periodically celebrate.”

What about competitive pay and poaching? In many cases IT budgets are stretched thin, making it hard to compete with firms that can afford to pay more for talent. According to Bill, “If a line executive is constantly losing talent solely due to money, clearly something else is wrong.  The salary differential is just the symptom.”

To combat this, IT leaders should practice competitive IT, Bill explains.  “We make it a point to apply for awards and recognition from professional technology organizations and associations.  Most of the projects we undertake are meant to build capability and improve the reputation of our institution.”

Jacky and Bill come from very different industries which may offer different benefits and experiences for IT talent: Jacky from the enterprise IT industry and Bill from higher education. Still, they both have seen much success in keeping good talent on hand.  Much of that boils down to culture and the communication of value.  We will continue this conversation, with a focus on talent acquisition in the next blog post in this series!

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Jacky Wright, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft

As Corporate Vice President of Microsoft IT Strategic Enterprise Services (SESIT), Jacky Wright leads an organization that drives product and operational excellence, agility, and customer centricity across the Company.

Jacky inspires teams to drive innovation, develop enterprise technology solutions, and transform business models. She has created deep partnerships between IT and product engineering to drive digital transformation of customer experiences leveraging Microsoft Azure, Office365, PowerBI and Skype for Business, among others.

She has been widely recognized for her many contributions in technology and diversity, including an honorary doctorate from Aston University, and inclusion on the Britain’s Powerlist 100 of Most Influential People, the Top 100 BAME Leaders in Business, and Savoy Magazine’s Top Women list.

Bill Thirsk, Vice President of Information Technology and CIO, Marist College

Bill Thirsk oversees all areas of information technology at Marist College.  He was named one of Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leaders in 2013.

Bill is a recognized expert in higher education technology management and enterprise resource planning (ERP), providing insights to internationally recognized publications such as The Wall Street Journal, IBM Systems Magazine, NPR, CIO, and Computerworld.

Additionally, Bill has presented to large global audiences at conferences such as IBM Pulse, Ellucian Live, and the Network World Open Network Exchange (ONX).