Chief learning officers, distributed HR departments and broader cybersecurity remits could define the new workforce, members of the Braintrust say.
Good afternoon! Through the pandemic, companies have pivoted, taken on new responsibilities and found ways to bridge new technical gaps. As the business world looks ahead to the future, we asked the experts to think about the jobs or types of jobs that would either be created or rethought in their own industries to grapple with the new normal. Questions or comments? Send us a note at email@example.com
Chief Enterprise Officer at Coursera
The disruption caused by the pandemic and rapid acceleration of automation have dramatically changed the way we work and operate businesses. The rise of AI, machine learning and cloud technologies is driving increased demand for digital roles. However, businesses are struggling to keep up with demand due to lack of critical skills internally and the growing shortage of talent externally.
As a result, learning and development (L&D) roles have significantly increased in importance and scope of responsibility since the pandemic began. Industries sprinted to build digital infrastructure and streamline processes for remote work in 2020. Moving forward, the focus will be on long-term impact. Businesses are growing L&D teams and introducing permanent new roles, such as chief learning officers. These leaders are now responsible for delivering an enterprise-wide learning strategy and partnering with business units to help drive longer-lasting organizational change.
In the midst of the Great Resignation, the growth of L&D programs also helps support better internal mobility. This is crucial to retaining employees who are contemplating making a change, or who wish to build proficiency in high-demand skills and evolve their roles.
As remote and hybrid work continues, leaders know that by investing in people, they are also investing in the future of their business. Upskilling and reskilling can help companies keep pace, unlock cross-disciplinary roles and attract and retain the top talent needed to thrive in the new economy.
Co-founder & Co-CEO at monday.com
Before COVID-19, no one could have anticipated the accelerated shift to hybrid and remote work. This is a huge shift in the way work gets done, which has required adjusting workflows, increased transparency and asynchronous communication, and also adjusting how we work together as teams and how we value our teammates. The need to put our people first has never been more evident. In the past, thinking through the whole employee experience was the domain of HR experts. Today, it has become the responsibility of every leader in the organization to make people feel valued and heard. Rather than creating a new role to manage the new hybrid experience, at monday.com we've infused this into our hiring and retention strategies for every role and at every level.
This is a wholesale change in mindset that means we have to adapt to the way people work, not the other way around. It means thinking strategically about our team's wellness as individuals by providing more flexibility and access to more diverse resources like workplace psychologists, and better communication strategies. In the absence of shared spaces and hallway check-ins, leaders today have to take a more active role in the whole employee experience, providing more certainty in the workplace.
Chief Product Officer at Elastic
In a world where businesses have traditionally been built for speed—not resilience and predictability—supply chain analysts are being tasked with safeguarding business continuity and improving operational efficiencies. Supply chain analysts now sit at the nexus of product teams and finance teams as organizations work to optimize business value while balancing risk and resilience.
Much of the conversation about impacts to the global supply chain has focused on the raw materials required for manufacturing and how dependent any one country should be on another for materials. But the systems and networks required to support new devices, technology, and infrastructure requires us to look even further down the supply chain to the people who understand how to analyze and optimize supply chain data. The pandemic has given birth to a new crop of data analysts that are - and will continue to be - in high demand.
Alongside the urgency for supply chain analysts, the pandemic has also accelerated the need for engineering, security, and cloud development talent to support increased demand for cloud adoption and migration, increased spend on data security, and increased dependence on remote workers. While it has always been a challenge for the tech industry to hire for these roles, the pandemic has made recruiting for these positions even more difficult.
Head of Marketing at Trello
Tech companies were some of the first to announce permanent remote work policies following the stay-at-home mandates of the pandemic. With policy comes responsibility, so unsurprisingly, we have seen many organizations like Facebook, Dropbox and Stripe hire remote work leadership. Whether the job title is "head of remote work," or in the case of Okta, "head of dynamic work," remote work leadership needs to be geared toward advocacy and development of company culture: Culture that is inclusive and productive for the unique challenges of distributed work.
Once your teams have adapted to remote or hybrid work, you could assume this is temporary, right? Instead, it can be a long-term strategy shared among your leadership team, like we did at Trello when we instituted remote work a decade ago. Working from home in a pandemic is not remote work fully actualized. Where diversity and inclusion was once a general line item for HR leadership roles, we now know we need permanent "head of diversity" leaders and teams. Similarly, the remote work landscape is far from being defined or standardized — dedicated leaders to ensure the experience remains equitable and effective for all employees, regardless of location, are now a necessity. What does a 30-year career path look like from the view of a home office? How do hiring, onboarding and employee satisfaction thrive long-term in a distributed office? Which productivity tools and infrastructure will sustain collaboration for decades? With questions like these still in the balance, we have a long way to go.
CIO at Extreme Networks
We will see a merging of two jobs: network administration and security specialization. The most significant change that has occurred as a result of the pandemic is the work-from-home explosion, creating the need for higher network bandwidth in the home. This demand will continue to increase and networks will become more complex in order to deliver equal experiences at home and in the office. To meet this demand while ensuring networks remain secure, organizations will require an IT workforce with greater SASE skills, in particular people who understand that secure networking at the edge will continue to quickly evolve.
Senior Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton
As the intelligence community (IC) modernizes to manage evolving threats, securing highly technical talent is a major challenge — and one that necessitates nontraditional approaches. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for social distancing, national security agencies were ready to experiment beyond the traditional model requiring talent with high-level security clearances to work in Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities (SCIF), traditionally located in and near the nation's capital.
Prior to COVID-19, Booz Allen had already begun experimenting with a nontraditional approach known as a hybrid cleared workforce — a framework that could allow the IC to use digital experts, skilled but not yet cleared, to accelerate classified missions. In the case of our program, uncleared developers in the process of obtaining high-level clearances developed code; the classified team securely migrated it onto classified networks. This minimizes the number of staff required in the SCIF.
This evolved way of working provides multiple advantages. Beyond rapid development of highly technical work, it boosts productivity, morale and resiliency. And the flexible mindset supports new thinking to modernize IC infrastructure, with processes and policies providing new efficiencies. National security agencies receive advantages across three dimensions, working with teams which are digitally enabled, distributed geographically and diverse in background and perspective. Given these advantages, we continue to encourage agencies to experiment with this method.
CEO and Co-founder at Instawork
The pandemic was an opportunity for millions of hard-working Americans to revisit their priorities. When things shut down, they became accustomed to spending significant amounts of quality time with their families and having more flexibility around their schedules. Now as things begin to return to normal, they are reimagining what their new "work life" will look like.
Across all industries, we're seeing conversations around how people will return to the workforce. In the conversations we have with skilled workers, we hear how important flexibility and higher pay will be for them to return to the workforce successfully. We believe and are seeing an increased need for staffing manager positions in companies with large numbers of hourly workers as these organizations adapt how they recruit and schedule their team members in order to accommodate a permanent shift in the expectations of workers.
Dr. Robert Blumofe
EVP and CTO at Akamai
The pandemic has completely shifted how we think about where we work and the purpose of the office. This means that the office shifts from being the place we work to being a place we work. The office of the future is a private coffee shop with great Wi-Fi, a place we go for collaboration and social interaction. In a sense, the pandemic has accelerated a digital transformation that was already underway, but what might have taken decades is now happening in just months or years. This rapid shift means that there are a host of networking and security challenges that — while they certainly existed before — must be urgently addressed to ensure the hybrid-first work environment aids productivity and limits opportunities for bad actors.
We must completely rethink the enterprise network architecture and cybersecurity, and we need security professionals with skills in these realms. Out is centralization, appliances and data centers, and in is distribution, software as a service, the cloud and the edge. When it comes to cybersecurity, the traditional model of security appliances in the data center no longer makes sense. After all, if your employees are working from anywhere and your applications are in the cloud, why would you backhaul traffic into the data center? Security must move to the cloud and to the edge. Administering on-prem security appliances is no longer the key skill. Rather we need security professionals who can manage policies in security services such as Secure Web Gateways, Zero Trust Access and Micro-Segmentation. These professionals will need to understand modern security principles, all while maintaining a high level of user experience and supporting business growth.
See who's who in the Protocol Braintrust and browse every previous edition by category here (Updated Oct. 14, 2021).
Kevin McAllister ( @k__mcallister) is a Research Editor at Protocol, leading the development of Braintrust. Prior to joining the team, he was a rankings data reporter at The Wall Street Journal, where he oversaw structured data projects for the Journal's strategy team.
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