It's important women techies return to the workforce after career breaks: Unisys

Technology and software company Unisys is taking a fresh look at its long-term strategy to prioritise reskilling and diversity, says Katie Ebrahimi, chief human resources officer, Unisys. In an interview with ET, Ebrahimi talks about the importance of the India team, the talent roadmap for the year ahead, and the new focus on the gig economy. Edited excerpts:

What is the importance of the India team with respect to your global operations – what kind of work are they doing?
This is a key time for us; we have just reformatted and looked at our long-term strategy which takes us up to about five years. In the last year, we’ve really taken a step back and built our foundations around talent engagement, culture, and identifying the key things which make our culture unique. A big part of the conversation has been India – this is the one location where every part of our organisation shows up – every function, technical capability, every piece of our enterprise services business. A lot of the ideas which we roll out globally are actually innovated here among our 4,400-strong workforce.

One of the major priorities for technology companies today is reskilling. What is being around this at Unisys?
We initiated this work about 18 months ago, and developed an entire end-to-end programme for emerging technology capabilities. So it starts with a foundational level of those capabilities and people who are participating in them can self-select into the programme. Some of them are experienced engineers but their experience is in older technologies and they’re interested in understanding newer ones. We are now in the process of developing the intermediate and advanced levels which will be rolled out soon.

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In India there is a very real problem of women dropping out of the workforce at different life stages. Are you doing anything to specifically tackle this?
It is very important to us that women technologists return to the workforce after career breaks. For us, it starts the moment a manager knows that an associate is pregnant – we pair them up with a ‘maternity buddy’, who shadows them throughout their pregnancy and then stay connected even through the maternity leave. So, it’s almost a full-year engagement with that associate to support them through that process to ensure they get what they need throughout that transition back to the workforce.

What is the most important global talent trend you’re seeing at the moment?

Over the last couple of years, there has been a real shift towards the concept of ‘borrowing’ skills and we have been talking very frequently about the gig economy. Organisations need to prioritise maximising that talent in a way that provides flexibility – keeping in mind necessary legalities. I think it’s an area that is going to expand very quickly. There is a lot of desire for non-traditional work relationships, and we foresee an increasing use of predictive analytics to predict things like performance and attrition and a variety of workforce elements that are going to come into play.



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