I spoke at the second Annual INFORM conference on Big Data and Analytics at the University of Chicago’s Gleacher Center on a panel discussion entitled: Big Data Analytics: The Power of Practice.
There were over 100 people there from various companies like Walgreen’s, Accenture, Nielsen, and others as well as some academics from the major universities around Chicago.
The University of Chicago also has a graduate program in Analytics, so there were also several people there who were currently enrolled in their Masters’ program. The conference featured speakers from academic institutions to companies that were in various industry segments.
The one session I happened to sit in on was very eye-opening. The Chief Analytics Officer of this Chicago-based financial company talked about how focused they were on their young staff and how they had a whole program to nurture them because in today’s market, good talent is hard to find AND harder to keep. He had my attention because he was saying the right words.
He discussed setting up a college recruitment program and focusing on those who looked promising. He talked about their sophisticated internship program and how they determined upfront, the right talent to “fit their different product teams.”
He also talked about knowing who the “best of the best” were and that because of the competition for good people, you need to identify who your “rock stars” are and make sure they know you know.
WE TAKE CARE OF OUR ROCK STARS
Being myself, I was more in a “politically accurate” mode than a politically correct mode, so I had to comment on this executive’s big pitch about hiring graduates and younger people. It sounded like a pretty comprehensive program that reminded me of something like Bell Telephone Labs where I worked at in the beginning of my career.
The question I asked and thought the answer was going to be a definite “yes” was, “Do you have a tuition reimbursement program for these “Rock Stars”?” The answer was no. WHAT?
Credibility? BANG. ZERO. Are we talking about hiring “Rock Stars” or just “roadies”?
Well, wait a second. You went through 15 minutes of why it is so important to focus on the motivations and aspirations of these recent graduates so that they can do a good job and not walk away to another company, tuition reimbursement should be a given.
Rock stars? I think not. If someone is really good and there is no investing into their skill sets, they are going to walk. To be brutally honest, I felt that this was just another company that focuses on the “talent of the day,” gives it a “you are special to us” sales-pitch, burns it up, and then goes out and recruits the next “bunch of roadies” for next year’s tour.
Real investing – like paying for a grad degree or at least paying for 50% is what is needed to retain talent, not getting them enrolled in the one-hour free webinar on analytics. Or having some rah-rah event for “team-building”.
Let’s cut the corporate-speak as well as the awarding of a “This is a good place to work award because they have an Expresso Latte machine and lets you wear jeans to work” by junior journalists who don’t have a clue on what a good workplace environment is.
When it came time to give my two cents in the panel discussion, I ripped into some of this thought process. I spoke about building team dynamics within coursework in college – and not give everyone just individual projects to work on for their grade. Another professor in the panel agreed with me. Too many school do not focus on building people’s social and team skills while they are in college. Waiting until they get on the job is too late.
Insights for buying systems and technology from my perspective on the panel:
There is no such thing as a new, $5,000 Rolls-Royce. You want the performance, the quality, and the engineering – you need to pay for it.
Same goes for if you are not spending much money: There is no such thing as a Formula One Yugo. $5,000 is not going to get you 0-60 in 2.4 seconds.
A woman in the audience asked, “How do we push our children into the right direction?” I grabbed the mic and said, “Stop coddling them.”
As to Millennials, there is no “special sense” about them. They want what we all wanted when we started our career: A good-paying job, a good (and understanding boss), and a fair chance to put forth effort in exchange for a decent reward, AND a place to grow professionally.
I had several younger analysts come up and thank me for pointing out the shortfalls of most companies today. They said I “nailed it on the head” as far as describing what goes on at their companies.
Companies do not invest in the employee and just work them until they leave. Good talent goes out the door and you have to start from square one again. Are you really saving money with that hiring approach? I don’t think so when you are dealing with something as sophisticated as operational analytics and statistics.
NOTE TO HIRING MANAGERS OF COMPANIES: You don’t get Superman by paying Jimmy Olson wages. Good people cost money not only upfront, but if you want to retain them you need to invest in them.
The argument that if you invest in people, they are going to walk – is a bad judgment call. If you don’t invest in them, the good ones WILL walk.
What we need today are more work environments like Bell Labs and not Taco Bell.
NOTE TO RECENT GRADS: Come to work on time. Dress for success. Do your job well and you will be rewarded well. We will INVEST in you. (That is what the company should be telling you – and taking action on, like a tuition reimbursement program.)
If you are buying off on the “Let’s paddle on the Lake” event or the “Clean up this part of the Forest after we take a zip line through it”, don’t tell me your “special” and need to be coddled. You’re just this year’s roadie. We’ll use you until we find someone to replace you after you burn out.
Come to work dressed like you are flying in the corporate jet, not like you are here to wash it down. As I advised some in an Executive Masters class once who came in dressed too raggedy, “Casual doesn’t mean Homeless.”
Young people are looking for real leadership – and they can see through the phonies. You know you are right when the next day you get all these people wanting to be in your LINKED IN network.
CARLINI-ISM: “It’s good to be the pragmatic Josey Wales in an environment of snake-oil salesmen and unarmed intellects. Few of us still speak with “words of iron”, but when we do, we strike fear in those who are the double tongues.”
Carlini’s visionary upcoming book, Location Location Connectivity will be available later this year.
He will be speaking at two upcoming conferences in October (Chicago and Las Vegas). Details are forthcoming.
Copyright 2014 – James Carlini – All rights reserved
COPYRIGHT 2014 – JAMES CARLINI