AT&T recently announced a $1 billion commitment to “reskill” (as they call it) an enormous number of people in its workforce. Yes, allocating that much capital to any one initiative is always a risk but the risk of not taking such a bold step is far greater. As a compliance professional in any industry, you’re witnessing up close the digitization of your business, your customers, and, well, everything. Finding and retaining people with the right skills and tools on your staff is a challenge for most compliance organizations, something that I see anecdotally with my client organizations, and we all see reported by analysts (see first bullet below). Among the key items from the CNBC report on AT&T’s plan:
- Willis Towers Watson reports that while 90 percent of maturing companies expect digital disruption, only 44 percent are adequately preparing for it.
- Center for American Progress reports the median cost of replacing a worker is 21 percent of an employee’s salary.
How does this relate to Compliance? Many compliance departments are staffed with workers well-versed in their industry’s rules and regulations as well as their business’ activities, highly valuable knowledge and experience. At present, however, many Chief Compliance Officers are concerned that they and their team members lack more current skills relevant to the inexorable digitization of their business.
As I work across a variety of organizations in a handful of industries (mostly financial services and technology, but others as well), I am continuously inspired by the deep and genuine desire I see in compliance professionals of all ages to keep learning new skills. I advise my clients to embrace that energy and ensure their compliance staff has access to training and education that gives them the skills they need to stay competitive. CCOs and their fellow executives see the ROI instantly: retain the valuable institutional and regulatory knowledge that informs better judgment while enhancing their skills to ensure they can apply that knowledge to their business as it modernizes and evolves.
Staying curious — or to paraphrase Steve Jobs’ famous advice, staying hungry and staying foolish — is good for us all in so many ways. CCOs, encourage your staff to do so, and lead by your own example!
In honor of Albert Einstein’s birthday this week — he was born March 14, 1879…and yes, Stephen Hawking died this March 14, which is also ‘Pi Day’ (3.14…you get it), so a whole lot of synergy going on here — we’ll close with a famous quote of his germane to this conversation:
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.“