We recently sat down with Julia Veall, Senior Manager of Asset Management at Vodafone, to discuss her thoughts on the emerging talent crisis in ITAM, particularly at the mid-level. With many people leaving ITAM after only a few years, where is the next generation of ITAM leaders going to come from?
1. Is there a talent crisis emerging in ITAM?
I think there’s been a talent crisis for some time. ITAM pros are getting older but there isn’t that pool of younger talent coming through to replace them. This has resulted in situations where those with only a modest amount of experience (2-3 years) are chasing more senior roles than they’re qualified for, and often getting them.
Often those roles are emerging in companies which don’t have an established SAM function. They’re hiring people that are more junior than the role (and salary) denotes because of this talent/expertise gap.
One of the problems is that ITAM is not one of those jobs that people actively pick. Most people evolve into it, or they do something else (such as data analytics) and slide into it from there, or they’re seconded in. But I’m seeing fewer people moving across into ITAM and I don’t know why.
2. What risk does this pose to the future of ITAM?
The main issue is that people are gaining roles higher than their experience level. This will damage the effectiveness of the ITAM they perform and potentially damage ITAM’s reputation in the long term.
People with just a few years’ experience are coming through and looking for top end roles and salary. We can’t pay them that, but someone out there will.
The ITAM talent shortage is also putting pressure on everyone in the team, both at the bottom and the top – junior staff are being forced to learn faster than they should, or take on responsibilities too soon, while senior staff are having to work on technical things they shouldn’t be doing anymore, which is holding them back from their day-to-day duties.
Aside from that, we are also missing out on the new ideas that mid-level people bring with them when they enter a new organisation. We need that.
3. What do you see as the cause(s) of this talent crisis?
There just aren’t enough people coming through the system from junior roles. Maybe the software vendors are scooping up the talent first? Maybe.
4. What do you see as the biggest challenges in recruiting into ITAM today?
Again, it’s the lack of people coming through the funnel, particularly at the 2-3+ year level.
Location is less of an issue for us than it used to be. We used to sponsor people to come to the UK, but we don’t actively do this now since the pandemic showed us that people can work from anywhere. We can recruit globally now because they don’t have to be based in the UK. But this is a problem sometimes because some people want to take the job specifically to move into the UK/EU.
There are also other topics in IT that are considered more “sexy” e.g., FinOps, that attract the talent away from ITAM. There is also a lot of competition for the same skillsets. We are often competing with other departments or IT functions which can appear more interesting to an outsider. This is more of a problem with junior staff where those with 2+ years’ experience tend to move onto other things outside of ITAM.
The lack of “sexiness” has been a long-term problem for ITAM. What are the benefits, training etc. needed to encourage someone to stick with ITAM long-term? How do you sell ITAM?
5. Which roles are you recruiting for right now?
It’s that middle role of 2-3 years’ experience, particularly in India and Romania. We are looking for those who want to take that next step, want to work in global markets.
6. What skills and personal qualities do you look for in your ITAM team?
We like to give a fairly technical interview. We require the candidate to prove a working knowledge of SAM principles. We are looking for someone to prove their knowledge and see how they approach problems.
We like an analytical mindset – why is it done this way? What is the data telling me? What do I need to tell someone else? We like someone who will question and challenge the data before they use it.
At the more junior level we don’t need SAM experience specifically, but data analytical experience is important.
The ability to cope with, and embrace, change is also important. Licensing changes all the time, so what was fact one month is fiction the next. We need people who can respond to changes.
We want good communicators. We don’t want people that sit on problems but can communicate and collaborate with others to find solutions.
Proactivity is also important. If someone finds a problem, they will proactively find the solution.
7. How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the world of recruitment? Have you seen a change in people’s priorities and work/life goals?
As mentioned earlier, we can now recruit globally. Before the pandemic we used to require people to come into the office every day.
People have made personal changes since the pandemic too. Whether that’s spending more time with the family, doing the school run, volunteering etc. people’s priorities have changed and are reluctant to give that all up.
At the same time there has been a desire to reconnect with real people on a more regular basis. No one I know wants to work from home indefinitely. Most people want more of a hybrid way of working now, they like less structure. The organisation is more casual about which days you choose to come in. I like to use office days for collaboration with others for example and use my home days for focused working.
8. Has Brexit affected your ability to recruit in any way?
No, not for us. I do wonder if it would have done if we hadn’t had the pandemic showing us and our employers that we really can work from anywhere. Now we are happy to recruit people from anywhere and have them work remotely.
If you would like to contact Julia, you can reach her on her LinkedIn profile.