Article: Here’s how Pitney Bowes is building a future-ready workforce


Here’s how Pitney Bowes is building a future-ready workforce

Before the US-based global technology company, Pitney Bowes Inc. completes 100 years next year, it prepares its talent for the next 100 years with various skilling initiatives. Ruchi Bhalla, VP, Human Resources, APAC, Pitney Bowes Inc. talks about the L&D agenda of the company in detail in an interaction with People Matters.
Here’s how Pitney Bowes is building a future-ready workforce

With a passion to build people-oriented organizations Ruchi Bhalla, currently, VP, Human Resources, APAC, Pitney Bowes Inc. started her career as an HR professional in 2001. After working in companies like RMSI and Fiserv she joined Pitney Bowes as Manager - Human Resources in 2008. In a span of over 10 years, Ruchi has grown in Human Resources and most recently she took an APAC wide role. 

In her overall experience of more than 17 years, Ruchi has realized the importance of creating a positive talent experience. 

Ruchi Bhalla, VP, Human Resources, APAC, Pitney Bowes Inc. says, “Creating a positive talent experience breeds clients centricity.”

She stresses the need for creating excellent talent experience specifically for an industry like technology which is competitive and fast moving. 

One of the crucial elements of creating talent experience is the investment one makes in the learning and development of their employees. As the cycle of technological changes becomes shorter and the competition gets fierce, skilling and upskilling become critical. 

Pitney Bowes, which completes 100 years next year is a company based on the value of innovation. 

For a company with innovation at the center, investing in continuous learning of employees is an essential business priority. 

In an interaction with People Matters, Ruchi shares. “A couple of years back when Pitney Bowes embarked on the journey of transformation we identified the skills that we would be needing to build our company for the next 100 years as we complete 100 years next year.”

Here is an excerpt from the interview:

Pitney Bowes is a leader in its space, globally and with the increased demand for technological solutions by almost every industry and function, it has the potential to grow further. What are the current opportunities in the tech space and how is Pitney Bowes making most of it? What does it mean for the talent?

The combination of technologies such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things is changing the world we see today. These skills are critical for Pitney Bowes as well as we sit at the intersection of physical and digital space. What has also gone up is the rise of on-demand workers, which has given way to gig-economy. It has made businesses take up a 'light and fast' approach to talent acquisition, an increase in workforce and training largely to stay abreast and keep up with the growing technical demands. 

These skills in demand are expensive and if you don’t take the effort to build the strategy to foster these skills in house for retooling the existing workforce, then you create pressure on not only your organization’s bottom line but also the economy at large. As there would be a portion of the workforce who will become redundant because no one is willing to invest in them. 

With increased competition, innovation has become absolutely essential and businesses have to stay ahead of the curve. This puts pressure on the companies to hire that talent in their organizations who are not only able to work as per the current requirements but also are able to think ahead and create unique solutions for the business. Keeping this in mind what skilling & upskilling initiatives does Pitney Bowes have in place to ensure the talent is future ready?

We are focused on creating and encouraging a self-upskilling culture and providing various avenues to our employees to seek knowledge and update themselves. One of our very successful programs is called PB Digital Academy, that helps employees to explore a very extensive online learning library of courses ranging from technical skills to soft skills. We have partnered with Udemy for the same. 

Another very successful program is the Global Early in Career initiative which is aimed to accelerate careers of high potential talent in the company all over the world. Under this initiative, we have identified people who have high potential and are early in career. Then we put them through an 18-month learning journey of a very intensive program skill development workshop around specific areas that can help them accelerate their career. This is how we encourage employees to take stretched projects and prepare for unforeseen challenges and prepare a strong pipeline of future leaders. 

Besides these initiatives, we also encourage employees to take up cross business unit stretch projects and team up with teams globally. Hackathons are also a superb way of teaming people together and give them the opportunity to work on a project they like. An internal program called PB League of Innovation has been designed for this purpose and so far 130 hacks have been submitted. 

We also hold frequent sessions in partnership with NASSCOM, PB Tech Series for our technology community, with SMEs coming in to talk about cutting edge tech. It has proven to be a great platform for peer to peer learning between various technology companies.

Combining priorities around skilling and gender diversity, we have built programs to impart exclusive learning and development opportunities to our women employees in technology, popularly known as the ‘Dhaarna’ program. ‘Dhaarna’ is designed as a multi-touch initiative to enhance the capabilities of women executives and equip them for the new, complex gamut of responsibilities in areas such as people management, stakeholder management, and business acumen. 

In the last one or two years, what is that one L&D practice that has made a significant business impact for Pitney Bowes? 

A couple of years back when we were reviewing what it would take for us to get to the next 100 years, we identified that it is important that we embrace the digital skills of the future. That’s when we put together the program, PB Digital Academy which provides a platform to all employees to equip themselves with the most relevant skills for them. 

We created a playlist of courses for various segments of employees, from novice to expert and made it available to them on their mobile phones. 

Through this self-paced, personalized learning program we were able to drive an increase of 20 percent in revenue from new products. 

Earlier the percentage increase had been in single digits. Creating an extensive library of courses around all the new age skills with the help of Udemy worked for us. 

What are some top skills in demand in the sector currently and what skills do you foresee to be in demand in the next three to five years?

New avenues in tech like blockchain, IoT, AI, Machine Learning, NLP are steadily becoming very critical in every organization. Data Science and Analytics are also viewed as hot jobs. And I do believe that freelance developer opportunities in the country and gig workforce, in general, are also increasing. 

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Topics: Skilling, #SkillUp

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