Industry Insider: Maria Zhang, Senior Director, Human Resources, Juniper Networks Asia Pacific
Sector spotlight: Computer networking
Based in: Singapore

With many enterprises transforming their networking infrastructure for a multi-cloud world, see how this company is fulfilling its strong demand for talent in sales, services and system engineering who can not only perform but also lead effectively.

The number one talent challenge this sector is facing

The technology industry has been evolving significantly with many enterprises transforming their networking infrastructure to better prepare for a multi-cloud world. There is also a rising demand for software-centric solutions and our cloud offerings in the service provider and enterprise segments. As a result, the competencies of our workforce, as well as our business model and partner ecosystem have largely evolved from the past decade.

There is strong demand for talent in sales, services and system engineering who can perform and lead effectively in this fast-evolving landscape. The diversified salesforce will need to understand industry verticals and customer buying behaviours. The ideal talent comprises agile learners who strive to stay ahead of technological advancements, confidently deal with ambiguities, and are ready to foster partnerships and alliances.

Developments that are intensifying this challenge

The technology landscape is transforming at rapid pace, driven by the influx of many new software companies and cloud players that have joined the game and are competing to hire from the same pool of tech talent.

The shortage of skilled tech professionals in Singapore is largely attributed to perceptions of the industry, with less than 20% indicating that STEM fields will lead to satisfying careers in a global science perception survey. There is also a noticeable delay in hiring STEM candidates, with what used to take only four to eight weeks for a hire, now spanning three months. The fierce talent war will never stop as more companies embrace digital transformation.

The ideal talent comprises agile learners who strive to stay ahead of technological advancements, confidently deal with ambiguities, and are ready to foster partnerships and alliances.

Best practices: Strategies that have worked in tackling this challenge

The HR team needs to stay abreast with business direction and operating model, and realign the organisation structure and people resources to meet business needs. Our regular organisation and talent reviews (OTRs) help us look out beyond the daily operations, guide our discussions and decisions on a workforce plan, and identify skill sets needed for tomorrow’s business growth. It strikes a balance between the talent needed to support the existing business and having a talent pipeline in place to drive future growth.

This year a key priority for employer branding is to build from within. We understand that our employees are our best advocates and will continue to make Juniper a great place to work at. Furthermore, we also extend employee training programmes to our partners so that we stay on the path of growing and working together in mutually beneficial ways.

At Juniper, we continue to hire fresh graduates that have both the skill sets, as well as the mindset that best align with the company. We also understand the potential a diverse and inclusive workforce can bring, and hire people from different industry verticals like automobiles, FSI, government, public sectors and healthcare.

We ensure that managers and the HR team work closely with employees to chart out individualised development plans. We also believe that it is crucial to have a well-designed and year-round sales enablement programme for sales and system engineers. This includes sharing latest updates to our product portfolio, as well as building their consultation skills to help them understand the needs of customers and drive sales. Performance management is an ongoing activity throughout the year to encourage high levels of performance and maintain a competitive workforce.

The next big priority for HR professionals in this sector

HR professionals need to understand that they play an integral part in the business, and are vital to the successful planning and execution of the people strategy. Furthermore, they need to keep up with the latest technology trends, deepen their understanding of business and financial indices in a global competitive context, be able to predict headwinds, and always be prepared even ahead of business leaders.

How CEOs are proactively preparing for the future workplace

Retaining talent by helping them in their journey to success is a key focus at Juniper. We believe that manager effectiveness is key to winning this talent war and the ability to develop the right people is a key priority for the business.

To proactively prepare for the future workplace and equip our leaders at Juniper to better meet the needs of the transforming workplace, we launched the People Manager Network, an HR initiative and an essential part of our Manager Development Programme 2020. Through learning forums and peer-to-peer exchanges, this community of new and experienced people managers will come together to be equipped with the skills needed to build and lead great teams.

Photo / Provided

This interview has been published exclusively in the Mar-Apr 2020 issue of Human Resources. Read this edition of Human Resources, Singapore:

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