London Tech Week: Nurturing talent

People are at the heart of the technology space and shouldn’t necessarily be viewed as mutually exclusive, was the message imparted by a talk taking place at London Tech Week today (Wednesday, 12 June).

Under ‘The power of nurturing people - how to inspire talent, growth & innovation’ Jane Their, Reporter at Fortune moderated a panel with Hanno Renner, Co-Founder and CEO of Personio and Hayaatun Sillem, CEO of the Royal Academy of Engineering. 

Advice given from both panelists was to nurture talent, understand employees’ experience and not view people and technology in isolation.

“I started as a CEO in 2018 and coined this phrase ‘work in progress leadership’ because I wanted to differentiate myself from that more Alpha style heroic leadership approach that was relatively prevalent in my community,” explained Sillem. “There is no leader worth their salt who doesn’t understand it’s on us to keep investing in our knowledge and skills.” 

For companies scaling up, Sillem said, there needs to be this balance struck between being organisation centric and human centric. “I found as a leader it was hard to know how to get that balance right.”

Renner echoed this sentiment and said without investing in the right people, a company is at risk of crumbling. “It’s really important that you are bringing the right people with the right behaviours,” he said. 

Human centered work, in practice, looks at focusing on human outcomes, Sillem said. “You’re committing to focus on human outcomes, which technology is an enabler of that, but it’s human outcomes that matter.” This means understanding how experiences vary across different stakeholder groups and feedback recruiting. “You can’t just assume by sitting there you’re going to know exactly how everyone’s experiencing your feedback,” she stressed.

The topic of AI also came up, in relation to whether both panelists thought AI capabilities would support workers looking to scale up the corporate ladder. “The short answer is yes of course,” said Renner. “It’s the same as with other technologies: it’s an enhancer, and it’s really important to figure out where you want to use these technologies.” One example of AI enhancing the workplace is implementing AI and algorithms to support customers. 

“I think for the vast majority of workers most of us will be benefiting from AI through investing in products that we’ve already used and internal tools used to run our businesses and organisations,” added Sillem. She went on to stress that there is a gap in digital skills among the workforce that we need to be mindful of, and as a leader, companies need to navigate using tools in a way that benefits everybody.