(US & Canada) VIDEO | Internal Equity Is Fundamental for Talent Retention — General Motors Former Director of Data Strategy and Transformation

Amanda Eastman, Former Director of Data Strategy and Transformation at General Motors, speaks about revamping the talent strategy, talent retention and cultivation, and the need for data leaders to be creative.
(US & Canada) VIDEO | Internal Equity Is Fundamental for Talent Retention — General Motors Former Director of Data Strategy and Transformation

Amanda Eastman, Former Director of Data Strategy and Transformation at General Motors, speaks with Chris Sittig, Field CTO at Stratascale, in a video interview about revamping the talent strategy, talent retention and cultivation, addressing pain points, eliminating traditional requirements, and the need for data leaders to be creative.

General Motors revamped its talent strategy amid the pandemic and not because of it, says Eastman as she begins the conversation. The two big drivers that led to the revamping were the need to improve diversity statistics and to combat the compensation packages offered by other tech giants to attract in-house talent.

To retain talent, General Motors offered remote and hybrid work options as its new talent strategy. Next, Eastman affirms taking a deep dive into the compensation programs. She notes that although General Motors has the best HR structure for automotive engineers, it does not have the same for data engineers and scientists.

Therefore, the company worked with the HR partners to restructure by introducing new compensation programs, keeping in mind that the entire structure is not affected, says Eastman. The company also reviewed compensation in general and for base salaries.

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(US & Canada) VIDEO | Internal Equity Is Fundamental for Talent Retention — General Motors Former Director of Data Strategy and Transformation

Further, Eastman recounts that through this restructuring of strategy, it became evident that internal equity is fundamental for talent retention. Referring to companies that are not mature in the technology aspect, she states that it is critical for those to review the compensation packages to retain the ‘brains’ that keep the company running.

Emphasizing the talent retention and cultivation aspect, Eastman asserts that focusing on diversity became important, especially with the influx of emerging technologies like Generative AI.

To address this issue, Eastman worked with the leadership team on the dashboards to understand what is being done to not only bring in talent but also develop them. She notes that monitoring pipelines is critical.

Secondly, the company decommissioned work because in certain scenarios, maintaining dashboards, and reports was not adding value as required. Eastman says that although the discussion was difficult with internal customers, the decommissioning plan relieved people as they could move on to do more progressive work.

Thirdly, General Motors created new talent programs that included an early career program that recruited Bachelor, Master, and Ph.D. level candidates. To be successful with this program, the company had to do a massive PR campaign that led to favorable results, she adds.

Furthermore, Eastman highlights the pain points of in-house talent in their mid-career journey. She states that as a company, it did not invest enough for them to feel that they had career opportunities.

Therefore, General Motors created a mid-career program that was a cohort, wherein the participants got specific training, projects, and networking opportunities through global events that enhanced their perspectives. This initiative helped the talent develop critical thinking skills and look at careers in a different light.

When asked about eliminating traditional requirements for talent, Eastman states that General Motors has room for improvement in this space. Working in both financial services and automotive manufacturing, she maintains that the sectors put different levels of importance on higher education and certifications.

Eastman shares that while most of the HR teams are not quite ready to eliminate such requirements, they are ready to have the conversation. She opines that the higher education space needs to look at how the training is done and what it means to get a degree or technical certification.

In continuation, Eastman asserts that when it comes to leadership roles it is not about knowing technology, but skills such as decision-making, problem-solving, and communication. She says that talent management is a crucial part of most of the strategies concerning data and analytics, and there is yet to be progression in this space. However, Eastman applauds some tech companies for starting to look at qualifications in a new way.

Moving forward, she shares an example to show how communication and creativity help. She recalls an instance where there was a target to get 1,200 data standards to build a data dictionary to launch data governance. On reaching 50, Eastman decided to celebrate the small win by buying a bunch of 50th birthday balloons for every person engaged in the task, while thanking them for their efforts.

In conclusion, Eastman explains how this act encouraged conversations about the data program leading to success eventually. She urges data and technical people to be creative and get the message out for the big payoff.

CDO Magazine appreciates Amanda Eastman for sharing her insights with our global community.

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