June 6, 2:00 PM ET

Skills-based organization strategy: Latest fad or real transformation?


June 13, 4 PM ET

HR Tech Conference Virtual: Keynote - Learning & Development's Next Chapter: Skills as the North Star


Narrowing Scope & Purpose to Ease the Transition to a Skills-Based Organization: Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s (HPE) Kay Slay and Vandana Bhagtani

by Dani Johnson and Stacia Garr | November 8th, 2023

Transitioning a large company like Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to a skills-based organization could be a daunting task. That’s why focusing on scope and purpose was an important place to start for Vandana Bhagtani and Kaye Slay. 

In this conversation, Vandana—The Director of Technical Talent Management—and Kaye—The User Experience and Adoption Lead for Talent and Learning Systems—share how they’ve worked together to develop a strategy for transitioning HPE to a skills-based organization. 

They also share why they chose to focus on a particular group and narrowed their scope further to talent acquisition and people development (all the while leveraging technology and AI). They’re at the start of their journey and will evolve and develop as they transition to a skills-based organization. 

The scope & purpose they’re focusing on

The technical career path at HPE is well-established and helps people in tech roles think about how they’ll grow at HPE. So they’re starting with the technical community as their pilot program to prove their concept. If their transition to skills-based roles works with their technical teams, it will work for the broader HPE strategy. They’re focusing on skills in talent acquisition as well as learning and career development. 

When they started talking about scope & purpose, they wanted to start by helping people understand the skills people needed to be successful in their roles. They need to know how they should grow along their career path. They wanted people to focus on self-development and consistent hiring practices across the organization. 

Some fundamental skills are needed across all engineering roles and some that are specialized to job families. They can tell you what the skills are as a starting point. As they mature, they’ll use skills to assess the performance process as well. So while they were creating the model, they reminded people that they’d be assessed against it at some point.

The process of defining scope and purpose

Vandana notes that skills are critical to transforming talent management. So they started with the need to create a skills model. They started by focusing on a few roles. They had to answer the question: What are we going to use this for? They had to demonstrate how skills would be integrated into the ecosystem and what that would mean. 

They’d provide the hiring manager or recruiter with the skills model as a starting point. They can customize it where needed for a particular hire. Candidates may not have all of the necessary skills but can learn them once they’re hired. 

They identified four skills that are core to all jobs across engineering with an additional set of skills depending on the specific job. The goal was to avoid making skill sets niche. So if someone wants to move from software engineering to cloud engineering, there might only be a couple of skills they’d need to learn. They wanted to allow for mobility. 

Kaye points out that career progression isn’t just about climbing the corporate ladder. Now, their team members can follow their skills—and what they like to do—to their next role. They’ll know the skills they need to learn to get into a different role and develop accordingly. It’s about building a skillset versus focusing on the job title. Skills and experiences matter in the conversation. 

The role technology plays in enabling a skills-based organization

Because they’re leveraging AI and machine learning in this process, they don’t have to rely on manually managing a list of skills. Technology is allowing them to scale quickly. 

Their approach is to start simple and allow AI to drive recommendations as they collect feedback. People who would have been doing the manual work are gathering feedback in focus groups to understand what’s needed for strategy. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Verdana and Kaye


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