The art of balance: an interview with Jennifer Haley

about 1 month ago Alex Voskou

technology

Jennifer Hayley is an Associate Director for Investigo’s Technology recruitment practice in New York. Joining the business last February, Jen has had an incredibly eventful first year with the company. As well as starting a new team and adapting her business priorities, she’s also managed to fit in having a child, all while facing the challenges of a global pandemic. Since then, it’s been something of a balancing act. Jen spoke to us about what’s going on in her market and the importance of setting aside a little time for yourself.

 

How did your new team come about?

I started in February 2020 to start up the Technology practice in the US.  I started the cyber security and data and analytics space prior to going on maternity leave. When I came back, one of our hires had left the business for a career change but we had traction on the SAP/ERP team, so I decided to head up this team and build it out further. We offer contract, permanent and project services for our SAP team along with our Cloud team and our newly created Salesforce team. We are currently looking to hire within all spaces and grow our whole Tech division as well! I am more focused on contract but I do help out on the permanent side whenever I can too.

 

How is your market being affected by the current crisis?

So far, we are seeing more movement. Before, with COVID just starting and the increasing number of cases, companies were not willing to spend on hiring and some even had to reduce staff. But now they’re either starting to open up budgets or have released project work, so we’re seeing more come through and expecting a great January and February.

How are your clients reacting to a challenging market?

In November and December, companies were brainstorming on budgets and prioritizing which roles would be necessary in the new year. But now with the vaccines actually out and being distributed, companies are now solidifying the return to work plan, although most still do not have a definite date of returning.

They now have more of a plan on if they are going to work remotely for an extended period, how their layout would have to look to provide a safe environment, and whether they’d have hybrid roles with a remote work and onsite option, since a lot of the candidate pool are used to a remote working life and would like to continue this way.

Some employers are trying to be ahead of the curve. So we’re having conversations on how they can adapt to the candidate pool, be competitive, set themselves apart, have the employer branding to bring in the best talent. How can we help you sell yourself to candidates? Tell us how you’re coping, about your environment and layout, and we can get the word out for you.

This is when we can emphasize our true partnership, using our consultative approach to better understand how we can attract the best talent for them. We can also be the SME in our markets, helping to educate our clients. With the candidate pool only getting larger and certain skill sets becoming even more essential, they need to be competitive with their salaries and hourly rates as well.

We hope to soon host a webinar gaging trends, topics they’re interested in, and from a cultural standpoint, how they can continue to remotely attract and onboard the right talent. On the project side, what percentage of initiatives have the green light to go forward? What percentage are still on hold? It depends on industries as well. A big portion of companies within the travel, hospitality and retail space are still being very cautious on spend and hiring. Those who did not have a successful online or mobile presence have been impacted more negatively due to COVID. But for the most part, a lot of industries across the board have opened up more and are moving along with their hiring plans.

We have also put a huge focus on building our candidate pool with high quality talent that has been affected by COVID, either by being let go or furloughed, to ensure we can help them land their next home or exciting new temporary project. We make our clients and potential clients aware of our efforts and the solid pipeline of talent we have ready to go. We continue to network and pride ourselves on the referral base we have and continue to grow.

 

What are the big trends you’re seeing in your market?

Towards the end of last year, we saw some trends of payroll, SAP SuccessFactors and treasury project opportunities coming about. This year, we believe that companies will continue to transition to cloud-based services. Now more than ever due to COVID, companies need to be able to support remote work environments and put more of an emphasis on their online commerce. We will also continue to see more opportunity within S/4HANA implementations and maintenance, especially with budgets becoming available and unfrozen.

From a tech perspective, there will be new opportunities coming up now budgets are being freed up. The vaccines are on their way, people are starting to feel more comfortable and there are plans to go back and work onsite.

From a cultural perspective, partners, CTOs and presidents of consultancy firms are trying to understand their plan as a whole. How do they make it safe when going back to work? Should they offer different benefits? Do they offer a higher salary or more perks? Do they cover childcare?

The higher the level of the hiring managers and passive candidates I speak with, the more they are saying that customer experience has always been important, but is really important now. Take, for example, the retail industry – they had to try and adapt to an online model to take advantage of sales and keep revenue coming in, or if they already had a presence, they needed to revamp or improve their customer experience and offer things like click to collect or curbside pickup. Now more than ever, companies have to be big innovators. In terms of supply chain, packaging and distribution, they have to design ways to deliver. Some of our potential clients are talking more about Industry Cloud, which is SAP’s open innovation platform. Some companies have had great success in using SAP Commerce Cloud to help come up with a more efficient solution on their issues.

AI and robotics will most likely become so much more essential because, for example, they can help warehouses and delivery services support automation even better and be more efficient as well. Also there has been more talk about mobile features like Fiori UX and Lumira. Especially since COVID, there has been increasing use of these types of services.

 

What will be the major challenges for employers in the year ahead?

The biggest thing is having companies feel comfortable looking at budgets and moving forward now things are becoming more normalised. Hopefully there will be less of COVID with the vaccine, education to help support clients with the issues they’re facing, remote onboarding and the cultural aspects. Companies will need to understand the costs they have to cut, if they need to sell office space, how they can remain stable. From a tech perspective, what are the best communication tools – for example, MS Teams, Zoom etc. – for remote working? They need the right choice for them, whether it’s a cost issue or for usage reasons. Are they a sales-based organisation where they have to adjust to different KPIs, or are they more corporate and need to communicate and bounce ideas?

 

What kind of technologies will be most important this year?

There’s been more of a spotlight within SAP Hybris as well as the continued trend of S/4HANA. We’ve seen some changes in the timeframe for S/4HANA implementations within some companies, as some have slowed their plans to migrate because they need to address other concerns that have come up due to the times we are faced with. From a strategy standpoint, they’re reprioritising and restarting to make sure they’re using their budget in the best way. Our job is to continue educating clients on the differences and also reminding them or making them aware of the potential perks of S/4HANA and how it may be beneficial to their company, and help with their project timeframes.

 

What skills do professionals need in this market?

AI, machine learning and robotics are becoming increasingly important. Advanced analytics and data partitioning will be huge as well. We’re only getting more advanced and some industries – including healthcare, pharmaceuticals, biotech and more – want to better understand how to advance data, look at things more effectively or quickly, or see different trends and break them down. Having this futuristic and quick process really enhances what’s going on.

 

Has the yoga helped during lockdown?

It’s been 100% key for me, not only being on lockdown but as a new mum also. My daughter’s seven months old and I’m getting through her schedule while building something from scratch at Investigo. Finding the time to release myself psychologically and physically, through exercise and meditation, is really important. Unplugging is the biggest aspect. Having a daughter, I have to do more work after hours, but after 9.30 I don’t look at my phone. I need that time off. Before winding down, make sure you’re unplugging from the world and be with your thoughts. My fiancé helped me realise some time ago that I needed more organisation, needed to detach and take a break. Time management has been huge for me.

If you’d like to speak to us about finding your next technology job or hire, or you’d like to find out more about what it’s like working at Investigo, get in touch now.