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Host: Kris Johnson, Anglepoint Chief Product Officer

Speakers: Jeremy Vince, Executive Director of Organizational Excellence & Talent Strategy; Miles Christensen, Senior Analyst

This episode of the ITAM Executive focuses on talent strategy, particularly addressing the talent crunch or shortage of talent in the ITAM (IT Asset Management) industry.

The conversation between Kris, Jeremy, and Miles highlights challenges faced by companies in finding and retaining talent, especially in light of demographic shifts and changes in the workforce.

In fact, in the next five to six years, around 80% of employers are expected to struggle to find suitable candidates for their positions.

So how should ITAM organizations approach the ongoing talent crisis? This episode discusses some of the talent acquisition strategies that have proven effective in the ITAM industry already and how practitioners can implement them.

By listening to this episode, you’ll learn about:

  • The struggles ITAM teams face in finding skilled talent 
  • What skills-based hiring is and why it’s perfect for the ITAM industry
  • The benefits of internal talent development and mobility
  • How to align an organization’s needs with those of the its employees and why that matters
  • And more

Episode Transcript

Kris Johnson:

Hi, and welcome to another episode of the ITAM Executive.

I’m Kris Johnson, Chief Product Officer at Anglepoint. With me here today is Jeremy Vince, Executive Director of Organizational Excellence and Talent Strategy Development, and Miles Christensen, an analyst in one of our License Management Delivery Teams. And we’re here today to talk about Talent Strategy, and specifically the talent crunch or dearth of talent in the ITAM industry in general.

And talk about some of the challenges that companies face, our clients face, and how it can be overcome and what Anglepoint is doing as part of that to help our clients in that effort. Jeremy, maybe you can give us some updated information on just the information industry at large and the challenges that are faced there from a talent supply standpoint.

Jeremy Vince:

Sure, Kris. Thanks for the conversation today. If we look at the United States economy, we have seen, an economy that has changed a lot in the last, let’s say, four years with COVID and other changes.

But what we’re seeing right now is something we, we pretty much forecasted of maybe 10 years ago. Where we saw that there were less people being born. And we saw that there would be a time period when there would be a lot of people retiring. And it would probably coincide with there’s not as many people that were coming into the workforce.

So the problem we have in 2023, and probably for the next five years, which is why talent strategy is so important for not just the ITAM industry, but all of the U. S. economy, is… Every year for the next five, six years and for the last two years, is we have more people retiring than we have people that are coming into any industry, coming out of college, coming out of high school.

So we have where about 80% of employers right now are having a really hard time finding people to fill positions. And then, when they get those people in those positions, they want to retain them, they want to train them, they want to upskill them and have them develop and stay. So that’s a different challenge, but first we need to find people that want to come work for us and want to help us with what we’re trying to accomplish.

Kris Johnson:

So just on the supply side then, there’s fewer graduates coming into the workforce and in the information worker industry in general than are exiting. What about on the demand side?

Jeremy Vince:

The demand, when we look at companies there, we were a little bit unsure for the last few months, but what the U.S. economy is looking at is one of the strongest in the world right now. And so hiring has never… It’s never really slowed down, we never actually went to where there weren’t jobs, or we had a lack of jobs. So we had open positions. I believe last time I checked, there was two positions for every person that was looking, to change jobs. So if there’s twice as many open jobs as there are people even willing to change jobs, there’s going to be a huge gap.

Korn Ferry did a study and they said you look forward seven years and there might be a gap of as large as 85 million people. So the amount of people that we are going to try to hire, everybody’s in competition now. And then that competition is leading people from my side, talent strategy, recruiting, talent acquisition, talent development.

To say, okay where are we going to find people that fit these jobs? And then how are we going to make sure that we can get them ready to do the best job possible?

Kris Johnson:

Yeah. On the supply side, there’s more people retiring because of these factors that you mentioned, and fewer new graduates coming into some of these fields in business and technology in general.

But then an increased demand such that there’s a huge gap. I think we’re feeling that particularly acutely in IT asset management because it is a specialized field and one for which there’s not a perfect alignment necessarily that you don’t graduate with a degree in IT asset management typically.

And so there’s skill sets that need to be learned and acquired and they’re adjacent to some academic fields. But there’s a lot of on-the-job training that needs to occur as a result. Miles you joined Anglepoint a year and a half ago. A year and a half ago, coming off an internship program.

And your background, you studied engineering, right? Tell us about your journey into IT asset management. How did you find yourself here?

Miles Christensen:

Absolutely. I think it’s an interesting story. I started out as a kid wanting to be an engineer because I was good at math and that was the only subject at school that I really excelled in.

I liked creating things with my hands. I liked tinkering with cars and with toys. And so all throughout school I thought, I’ll just be an engineer, throughout college I learned… A huge skill set. In engineering you have to learn data analysis , you’re having to learn how to program machines, you’re having to learn how to design things with your hands, creative thinking, a lot of process and manual things, and that really applies itself to lots of different areas.

I found myself in ITAM because my senior year I actually had an internship with an engineering company and personally for me, I just realized that the career that I wanted in terms of career growth didn’t fit well with engineering.

And so I decided to look at other opportunities. The ITAM industry just happened to present itself right when I was looking for jobs at the beginning of my senior year, where I went to a consulting night and I was talking to a bunch of recruiters and I met Michael Nixon from Anglepoint who talked to me about what Anglepoint was doing, the growth that they were projecting for the next couple of years in the ITAM industry, and that’s what really attracted me, was the career potential and the opportunity to grow.

Kris Johnson:

I imagine in your engineering courses, you probably also had some exposure to some programming languages as part of that.

Miles Christensen:

Little bit. We learned a little bit of Python. We learned a little bit of C++ Mainly in programming microchips.

Not too much in server application, but it does get you exposed to the languages and gets you familiar with it. So that if I had to go learn something like that, it doesn’t take me as long as somebody who had no exposure.

Kris Johnson:

Yeah. A philosophy that we at Anglepoint have had for the longest time, really since our inception, that we’ve carried forward, that I think the industry is, I think embodying a little bit more today is this concept of hiring for someone’s slope and not their intercept.

It’s always about a person’s trajectory, their ability to learn, their ability to, break complex problems down and do problem solving in a creative way. That’s what we look for is people that are motivated to scale a learning curve and do it quickly rather than where they’re starting from.

Myself I studied international politics and got minors in business and Russian area studies and studied French and, very kind of holistic education, but it taught me how to think. It taught me how to learn quickly and put myself through school, working technical jobs, gaining experience that way.

And so that translated well to, to ITAM as well, being detail oriented quantitative to some degree and very analytical. Jeremy, how does this translate to, the ITAM industry more broadly as far as, how should organizations approach this skills gap? And the answer can’t always be you just need to hire consulting firms.

There’s a, there’s certainly a role for internal personnel that understand the business working in IT. Maybe alongside a managed services provider such as Anglepoint, but how should an ITAM executive that’s looking to build out a team approach this skills gap?

Jeremy Vince:

So I think what I would suggest is there’s a couple of different parts of this, Kris. I think we could talk about our, an internship program where we build a talent pool or build a group of people. That would come into the industry like we’ve described already. But the holistic answer is probably more of a ITAM executive or it would probably be a good idea to start thinking like the executives in other industries that maybe have already adapted to this and are getting to, and are having success and not being as far behind the curve.

And so those areas we’re, we think about how they build a talent strategy of how do we want to hire, rather than who do we want to hire. And you were into this a minute ago when we talked about slope intercept. Because if you think of the slope intercept, if you think about how a lot of companies, how they hire.

Like we need to hire an accounting manager. So they need to have been a senior accountant. They need to have been an accountant. They need to have an accounting degree. They need to have a CPA. They intercept at a point like, okay it’s probably about seven years out of school where they’re probably had enough experience depending on what size companies they’ve worked in, international, U.S. experience, or platforms they’ve worked in. So these are like small pieces underneath, but it’s still seven years out of school. They probably have built enough skills that now that we can bring them in at the level that we need them to fill this seat. A lot of hiring now, when we have such a gap, we have such a skill need, or people need, is we need to start thinking about how are we going to hire, instead of saying, I want a CPA that has seven years of accounting experience, the questions that we go into as recruiting professionals, talent acquisition people, is sitting down with you and you say, I need somebody, I need a ITAM consultant.

I need an ITAM senior director. Okay why do you say you need that person when they’re going to do this job? What skills do they need to do that job, Kris? We try to take you back earlier in your journey and say, okay, what are the real skills this person needs to know how to do? And then as you give the skills, we say, okay, what’s most important, maybe the five most important, and the five other ones you’d like to have.

And then we look at those five things that you’re like, The most important. We say did they really need to have a bachelor’s degree in this to be able to have that skill? Yeah. And you probably say no, they probably don’t have to. They probably could have got that skill somewhere else. So I’m a little bit more open that they don’t have to have the exact degree that I was thinking of at first.

Like accounting is the one that’s like really hard to do this in. But ITAM is different. It’s

Kris Johnson:


Jeremy Vince:

You can build a lot of skills from a lot of places that you can bring into this. And then we start to say, okay, how do we apply these skills to the role? The super interesting thing of this is there’s research and LinkedIn did this.

And they said if you go and say, identify the skills you need to hire, rather than identifying the title or the degree that you need to hire, the people that you are able to go recruit from. increases tenfold. Yeah. So instead of saying there’s X amount of people that have an accounting degree and have a CPA and live in the state we can say hey there’s ten times as many people if we just look at skills.

Yeah. In the ITAM industry we need skills. We don’t need CPAs. We don’t have to have this exact designation. So we get to be in an industry where we can really focus in on what are the key important skills. And then we start to build upon that. And we start to go next level.

Kris Johnson:

So it’s kind of broadening the concept of the profile, right?

Defining it in terms of skills and sort of the jobs to be done and the skills necessary to be successful in accomplishing that job.

Jeremy Vince:

Yeah, skills-based hiring is pretty much where most, high class recruiting organizations inside of companies know that they have to move to.

It’s just how hard is it to move to this and some big companies are with certain legacy industries. It’s really hard. In the ITAM industry. I have not seen a reluctance to modify, to move and then there’s more skills and there’s more. expertise we can build inside of skills-based hiring. If I’m an ITAM executive, and I’ve sat down with my recruiter, and I’ve said, okay, here’s the five most important skills, then we start to do a couple other exercises.

We say, okay, Kris, you’ve given me these five skills, do they have to be a master at any of them? Or can they be competent? Which one, maybe give me, you can have one, that they have to be a master at? And then the other four, they can be competent. Yeah. And then if all of a sudden then it was like okay, they don’t have to be the best person ever at all five.

They don’t have to be an expert in all five. But they have to have a certain level of competence. Yeah. And then an expert at one of these.

Kris Johnson:

Yeah, and an aptitude for learning and that’s a really great point. One thing that we’re experiencing more and more with existing clients and prospects and people we talk to in the industry is, because there’s this gap, they’re needing help, sometimes to fill a position.

So like an ITAM director or an ITAM manager, somebody that’s responsible for the program. And as, you’re here over Talent Acquisition and Development and you’re a team, we actually provide a service to clients to find them qualified resources. Not in a lone staff arrangement sort of way per se, but in a…

In a sort of a finding capacity, right? So we have some former recruiters such as yourself and others on your team that know the ITAM industry very well. And have a network to bring candidates to our clients for them to interview for positions, full time positions within those organizations. So it’s a unique thing that’s cropped up that we hadn’t necessarily anticipated, but we happen to have very good skill sets in these areas and we see needs within the industry that we’re able to help out with to bridge that that, that gap in some cases.

Jeremy Vince:

I really wanted to think about this engineering degree because this is the example of what we would do with an ITAM executive. We would sit down and say, okay, Kris, who have you seen that’s a successful ITAM practitioner?

And then we start looking at some LinkedIn profiles, and we look at Miles that’s working here with us, and we say, okay. Did he have a specific degree that made him successful? No. Did he have a sector experience that made him successful? No. He does have the aptitude for learning and he does have the ability to become competent and go through learning development programs and pick up new skills.

But that review of people is sometimes a really good exercise for an ITAM executive. Because then they say, wait a minute, I, you’re right. I know there’s five people over there. I’m really good at this. And they came from five different places. Yeah, one’s a mechanical engineer. One came from language studies.

Yeah. One came from IT. One came from development. Okay sector might not matter.

Kris Johnson:

Yeah, for sure. And we should mention that Miles is an absolute rock star in his team. He’s a technical anchor. He’s very dependable. Scales a learning curve extremely quickly and has been absolutely indispensable for us.

But yeah, what you’re saying really resonates because at Anglepoint, there’s not a single profile or background of person when it comes to our delivery personnel or embedded practitioners for example. We do draw upon a lot of very different disciplines which is actually a real benefit to us as an organization and to our clients because not everybody thinks the same way, approaches things the same way and I think that diversity of thought.

Diversity of backgrounds enriches what we’re able to bring to the table and help our clients with. In addition to just exposure to different industries, right? You’ve been able to work on some engineering clients that have engineering applications and having an engineering background, gives you a bit more rapport or, common ground with some of those clients.

Absolutely. And we have that in life sciences, we have that in banking and finance and so forth. And I think any time that we can find the skill sets and the aptitudes and the slope for learning and skill acquisition. And from a diversity of backgrounds, it’s obviously a benefit to us and our clients.

Jeremy Vince:

Can we talk about one more topic, Kris? I’d love to talk about internal talent. Now this is some new data for me that I saw just in the last couple days, where it takes three years for an external hire to get up to speed as much as an internal hire.

It could be very industry specific, that data, and it may not apply as much in the ITAM industry, but I think in the ITAM industry, we could say if you’re in a company of large enough size. All these companies are looking to retain talent and upskilling talent and talent mobility, which angle point has a very good program of how we work with this from interns all the way through people who have been here for 10 years.

Our talent mobility program or any talent mobility program is what it’s doing is trying to say, what are the skills we need to hire? There may be people that have those skills that are already working for us and are looking to do something else.

Yeah. And looking to grow their career. And the ITAM industry seems like one that’s just ripe for upskilling people into being able to do these jobs. Or finding people that have certain skills and then moving them laterally. Yeah. Most of talent development these days we think of a lattice, not a ladder.

Yeah. So people look to move across to a different department. Get a whole new team, get a new fresh perspective, get to do new things. And we’re good at that here, Anglepoint. As small as we are, we’re not 100, 000 people. And we already have a good mobility program, but I think if I was an ITAM executive, I would be really trying to connect either into talking to Anglepoint about how we’ve done it, talking to other ITAM executives, talking to other executives in their own company.

Because those companies who do that well they’re doing a much better job. of tackling the skill gap.

Kris Johnson:

And nobody ever wants to feel trapped or boxed in, right? Or feeling that this is my job for the next ten years, and I think you know people just entering the workforce particularly feel that, right?

Wanting to have flexibility, wanting to have mobility and yeah, I think that really resonates with a lot of us.

Miles Christensen:

If I could add something to that, I think that is one of the attractions of the ITAM industry. It is unlike engineering where you have to have a solid base in algebra and calculus and eight different kinds of thermodynamics.

ITAM can be trained pretty quickly if you have a good program like Anglepoint does. It took me about six months to a year to become proficient in Microsoft licensing, and that skill set is only getting better and better because of the talent training that we have. And so, if you’re looking to switch industries, it can be really attractive to see ITAM as an option, purely because it’s a lot faster.

of a track. You don’t have to spend as much time learning a new skill set. You can take the skill set that you have and just learn new items like Microsoft licensing or maybe it’s another form of delivery or what may it be. And I think that’s an attractive offer to people who are trying to switch in the industry.

Kris Johnson:

I feel like, too, it’s learning a new programming language. You’ve gone through the learning process for Microsoft licensing. licensing, but you’ve learned how contracts work, you’ve learned how to read language, you’ve learned how to look for different operative terms and how that applies in the technical markers to look for at least Windows based applications and there’s a lot of principles to master and analytical skills to develop that you can now translate and take those to when it comes to understanding micro focus licensing, which is very different from Microsoft.

You still know how to read a contract, and you know what to look for, and you know where the gotchas are, and so it’s exciting to be able to develop new skills that are transferable to other areas that can be still new and exciting without doing the same thing over and over again.

Miles Christensen:

Yeah, and that again is one of the things that attracted me to the ITAM space. Michael Nixon, the one who recruited me to Anglepoint here, he talked not only about the great training that you guys have at Anglepoint, that I have got to experience now, but how easy it is to move laterally within the company.

Because once you learn a specific skill set for a specific publisher, you can move to other publishers a lot more easy than, in another example, engineering. If one type of engineering, automotive, very well, it can be difficult to go to civil engineering or to electrical engineering because they’re completely different skill sets.

And I think ITAM executives should use that as leverage when they’re trying to recruit people from different areas and know that is one of the things that will attract new hires. Absolutely.

Kris Johnson:

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention, our approach to people is one where we recognize that our people are our product in large degree, right?

That’s who we are. We’re consultants. We’re experts in our field, but we’re real people at the end of the day and that’s part of what I think our clients appreciate about Anglepoint is we’re not these robots, that are faceless, right? We’re there working alongside them to come up with solutions to help them be successful and so forth.

And we take that approach and expand that in all aspects of our business such that, we have employees that have been with us for a number of years and they’ve gone through a mobility program, perhaps internally, but maybe they have aspirations outside of Anglepoint. We’re very open to that and want to help them with whatever the next best career advancement is for them.

Sometimes that’s opening doors for them within the industry or within a tooling aspect that we don’t cover or something like that. As an organization, and I think there’s relevance here for managers and ITAM managers in general here, is put your people first.

Try and align their needs to, your needs as an organization, and when those needs maybe don’t perfectly align, be flexible enough to extend yourself to help your employees that have helped you in making contributions to help them in their next progression in their career. And you never know, sometimes those people, we’ve hired them back.

In some cases where they’ve had an outside experience, scratched that itch a little bit and found that maybe it wasn’t for them, that entrepreneurial venture that they started in, and then we bring them back and it’s always it’s always wonderful to see somebody take the skills and experience that we can help develop and then they take that to the next level wherever that does take them.

Very true. Well, Thanks again, Miles and Jeremy. I think it’s been a good discussion. Hopefully this has been relevant for our audience as well. And if you are an ITAM executive and finding that you’re needing help with finding good, qualified candidates, we have a service to help you from a recruiting standpoint, find hires to bring into your organization. In addition to the, obviously the managed services that we provide as well. Until next time, thank you. Thank you.

For more insights on the ITAM talent crisis, take a look at our key takeaways from our recent roundtable event in the UK covering the ITAM Skills Gap, Roundtable Insights: Addressing the ITAM Skills Gap.

If you’re interested in learning more about Jeremy, Miles, or Kris, connect with them on LinkedIn.

Listen in on our latest podcasts by checking out the ITAM Executive.

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