Helping IT Professionals Thrive in Times of Rapid Change

By Susan Gueli, SVP & CIO, Nationwide Insurance

Susan Gueli, SVP & CIO, Nationwide Insurance

I believe we’d all agree that the pace of change today is faster than we’ve ever seen in our lifetime. Experts say that the half-life of a skill today is merely five years. This means, that half of what we learned five years ago is no longer relevant. In IT, it’s likely two years, which points to the ever-growing need for a deliberate approach to supporting and helping our workforce succeed in this new normal so we’re collectively prepared for all that lies ahead.

In this pace of change, we can’t do things the way we’ve always done them and expect to be successful. The mindsets of today don’t fully support our success, and our behaviors today don’t position us to flourish. IT leaders must focus on culture because of its significant role in achieving a successful strategy. At Nationwide, we’ve been very deliberate about defining key mindsets of our culture so we are better positioned to deliver upon our priorities and capabilities.

An Effective Workforce Thrives in a Strong Culture

Who we are and how we deliver IT solutions is anchored in our culture. To proactively adapt to the evolving macro trends in cloud, digital, data and cyber, we’re focused on inspiring new ways of thinking and working together so that we can continue to excel in a rapidly changing environment. These trends are driving Nationwide IT associate readiness efforts to ensure we are ready with the right people, the right skills, on the right work and as they are needed. In order to do this successfully, Nationwide IT has deliberately rooted specific mindsets and behaviors into its strategy to drive and foster a culture of collaboration, learning, and innovation.

Collaborating and Thinking End-To-End

First, we are committed to bringing end-to-end thinking to deliver holistic solutions, whether we’re building new applications, considering new approaches to infrastructure or delivering new capabilities. Our IT workforce is made up of more than 5,000 IT professionals across 10 IT professions, so it’s important we reach across organizational lines and collaborate to deliver. Collaboration ensures end-to-end thinking for the effective delivery of complete solutions now and in the future.

Embracing Change and Continuously Learning

It’s also critical to embrace change in order to meet customer needs and to remain competitive. This means we see the opportunities that come with change, and we anticipate that change. It’s also true in this fast pace that IT professionals must become lifelong continuous learners and take accountability to grow and build skills needed for the future.

Employees must feel fully empowered to take charge of their own development planning and continuously look for ways to upskill and reskill based on the trends within the industry and strategic IT direction. This not only benefits career growth, but mutually supports competitiveness in a rapidly changing environment.

Leadership also plays a big role in driving cultural behaviors. It casts a shadow that supports continuous education and re-education for a prepared workforce that can effectively adapt and have long fulfilling careers. We do this by investing in our associates’ education in many ways to fully prepare them for the future by providing resources, tools and training opportunities.

Leaning in to New Opportunities

Finally, innovation is central to the evolution of our business. The ability to creatively apply new tech capabilities that will benefit and differentiate our business is something for which we constantly strive. In connection with innovative thinking, we must also look for ways to eliminate inefficiencies by practicing lean problem solving techniques to meet the needs of our changing environment, both from a business and technology perspective.

While it feels like breakneck speed today, the pace of change will never be slower than it is right now. For this reason and many others, it is imperative that we anticipate and adapt to changing business demands and technology trends and understand the impact on our workforce. When our associates can say “I am ready,” Nationwide can say “we are ready” as a company—collectively prepared for what lies ahead and best positioned to achieve success.

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