It has never been a more exciting time for HR professionals. Whether or not they have a seat at the organization’s table is no longer in discussion. HR professionals are already taking advantage of the ambiguous yet flexible functions that their role possesses. For Catalina Schveninger, Global Head of Learning – Vodafone, UK, to embrace the role’s multi-functionality is key in order to thrive in the digital era. She says: “We need to be digital marketers, tech experts, storytellers, in addition to employee advocates, coaches, and business leaders.” In this interview article with Schveninger, she shares her journey towards establishing a successful career in human resources, her future plans for Vodafone, and the importance of being digital at the age of industry 4.0.
Schveninger: How Did I Get Started in Human Resources?
A profession in Human Resources wasn’t always the plan in mind when Schveninger started launching her career. As a matter of fact, venturing out in the Human Resources industry was only by accident. “I started in recruitment by chance after graduating from communications and journalism and I never looked back,” she says. “My first corporate experience was with GE, one of the powerhouses of leadership development where I spent 10 amazing years developing my HR generalist and business skills.” She then started her Telco journey, first with T-Mobile as the HR Director in the Netherlands. Later in 2014, she became a part of Vodafone in her first Global Center of expertise role.
As a leader of the L&D function at Vodafone, a global total communications company employing over 100,000 employees across 25 countries, Schveninger considers that her sole purpose is to create engaging learning experiences and curate/create/provide the most relevant content so that everyone learns a lot, every day. “Learning doesn’t happen only in the classroom, it happens everywhere all the time,” she says. “Our Vodafone University platform is a best of breed in house-built collaboration space powered by recommendations and relevant content enticing everyone to binge- learn.” Despite being relatively new in this role, Schveninger considers herself as very fortunate to lead a great team, and work in an organization where agile ways of working allow her to drive change fast. “Learning is my second role at Vodafone and I’m thrilled to be able to share from what my team and I are working on at the conference,” she adds.
Vision for Vodafone
To be digital and not just do digital: that is the latest trend that most organizations challenge themselves at the moment. For Vodafone, to start with a compelling story of what digital can deliver is crucial in order to get everyone on board to believe and execute this transformation. “We have a vision for Digital Vodafone, to deliver the most engaging digital customer experience: blending the best of technology and human interaction in a personal, instant, and easy way,” she says. “This vision underpins all our learning, talent development and recruitment programs in an almost boringly consistent way.” This way, organizations will be able to eradicate the stigma that digital transformation is just another buzzword that will fade tomorrow. Ultimately, being digital will be put into action, and not just remain a stagnant idea.
The speed of change is in industry 4.0 exponential; “software is eating the world,” as Marc Andreessen puts it in 2011 in the Wall Street Journal. In order to succeed in this era, take digital transformation as a form of help and not a threat. It is vital to see the silver lining, and don’t overwhelm yourself with the drastic change. This doesn’t only require HR professionals, but every employee in the organization. The HR’s role is to spearhead this initiative and make sure that everyone is on the same page. “We need to harness that speed and power and use it to build better customer experiences and better lives for our employees and communities,” Schveninger says. “The big difference I am seeing is that we are no longer scared of technology and AI, and not seeing it as our potential replacement rather as an enhancer of life.”
Learn more about Catalina Schveninger, and her thoughts on the modern role of a HR Professional in our Digital HR and Analytics event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on the 27th February – 1st March 2019.
“I will share how we built The Future Job Finder – a digital tool targeted at young people, looking to address the imbalance of global youth unemployment by helping them monetise their strengths to thrive in the digital world. Participants will get the unfiltered story of a cross functional project team with people from HR, CSR, marketing and communications who worked as an agile squad and delivered a tool that has already been used by over 300,000 young people in 16 countries.”