CIO Casper Pierce finds a unique way to attract and retain IT skills in a competitive marketplace.
Two years ago, Momentum Metropolitan Group IT Operations started looking at ways to improve its visibility and better reach out to talent online. Managers involved in candidate interviews noted that the purpose and story behind Group IT Operations was not widely known, despite the fact that it had subject matter experts.
This realisation led to the concept of the Group IT Operations Brand Ambassador programme, to allow employees to tell the story of Group IT Ops.
Chief information officer (CIO) Casper Pierce says, “Specifically in the IT division, it was important to focus on people and attracting and keeping talent.”
This was also a new approach for the business, with each business unit driving and running its own federated culture under the leadership of the relevant executive committee leader.
“This ownership culture in Momentum Metropolitan allows each business area to focus on what’s important for them. It drives its own priorities under the leadership of the relevant executive committee leader. For example, we do not have to wait on a centralised operating structure to roll out what we are calling the people’s programme,” Casper adds.
A lot of research went into the ambassador programme as Group IT Ops didn’t want to come across as a “fuddy-duddy and stuffy big corporate”.
Eugene Brockman, talent consultant for tech at Momentum Metropolitan, says, “We are in financial services and Group IT is about real people being at the top of their game in technology. We wanted the programme to have authenticity and build genuine connection with prospective talent in the market.
“The end goal was for us to build a body of evidence via social media about who we are, who our subject experts are, how we celebrate each other and have fun. We know Group IT Ops is a great place to work, but we wanted people to know it before they came for an interview. Better yet, apply without us even reaching out,” he adds.
In order to do this, the first step was to define the purpose of a brand ambassador. For Group IT Ops, this meant showcasing a diversity of talent and backgrounds, levels of accountability, telling stories about professions within the division, living values publicly – all while building and telling a tangible narrative of Momentum Metropolitan as an employer.
As a result, the brand ambassador programme was designed around six stages:
- Pitch and sign off: Presenting the business case and acknowledging the risk of showcasing top talent in a competitive market.
- Design and content creation: Marketing signed off on the look and feel, which was a shift in the traditional marketing approach of showcasing the company to consumers and offering formal financial advice, to being authentic and fun in the way the story was being told.
- Sourcing ambassadors: Convincing techies to put themselves out there, which wasn’t easy and involved numerous talks on a team-by-team basis to get people to step forward and be comfortable with showcasing their value.
- Coaching and training: Many of the ambassadors were starting off a zero social media base, with some not even having a LinkedIn presence. This meant taking ambassadors through training on how to write a profile professionally, using LinkedIn appropriately and how to build a personal brand.
- Photo and video shoot: Partnering with the marketing division and staging a photo and video shoot.
- Showcasing and integration: Rollout of the programme and integration into the Group IT Ops culture.
Casper acknowledges that initially the manager layer was a bit hesitant as the feeling was that “IT people don’t do this, we write code and engineer IT systems”.
There was also concern about activity on social media and the pitfalls that could present.
“We moved past that and when we put it out to the teams and gave people the opportunity to decide for themselves, they loved it. We also did not leave people alone, and supported and helped them throughout the process,” he says.
The uptake was extremely good, with the divisional staff complement of 370 boasting 45 brand ambassadors, which includes three senior managers.
“The final product was the brand ambassador and their superpower, with a nickname or hero name and a description of the impact they have on the business, which is also used as a recruitment tool. We chose our messaging carefully around a core persona for every person, with the underlying thread being that everyone can come, find connection, have fellowship and inclusion, and get the business to work better, faster and stronger,” Eugene explains.
Casper adds, “They almost became the comic book heroes to the internal talent of the organisation. Many of the teams actually relate to people on a peer level, so they resonate with the vibe and energy, the brand and the collective superpowers.
“The ambassador programme is evolving. We didn’t have all the answers upfront. We now find that mentorship is happening almost organically. The programme has also helped with onboarding new people virtually. The number of followers on our LinkedIn pages is at the highest it’s ever been. Employees are sharing the content with their friends and connections and engaging with it,” he explains.
In terms of showcasing talent in a competitive marketplace, Casper is frank in his view. “I believe that if you do the right stuff right, then people stay. Through this programme, people are able to showcase their talent, find their voices and say, ‘I’m making a difference.’”