Accenture hiring on 'learning agility', says CHRO

Increased demands on employees to adapt to new technologies has led to Accenture looking at learning agility, along with existing skills, in its recruitment process, according to chief HR officer Ellyn Shook.

Shook told HR magazine the need to pick up new skills and behaviours is particularly noticeable when "growing into emerging markets".

"We've seen a pattern in the past two years of our clients really demanding deep, specialised skills across a variety of industries and technologies," she said. "In new markets especially, talent is the fuel that drives high performance. Our staff are having to adapt to new technologies and even to changing work environments."

The ability to spot traits such as "intellectual curiosity" is key to recognising which potential employees will thrive in the modern workplace, according to Shook.

"Our people need to have learning agility so they stay current and also have the ability to reinvent themselves," she added.

Shook highlights the process of "democratising" learning as a way of ensuring employees are best equipped to deal with the fast pace of modern business. 

The approach, which Shook calls Accenture Connected Learning, spans the company’s network of virtual and physical training environments that gives employees more say over their development, rapid access to expert content and lessens reliance on traditional “campus style learning.”

"New technologies like facial recognition are really at the core of business," she said. "Democratised learning allows you to meet your clients' needs by building specialisation at scale and at speed."

Adopting the new approach isn't about reducing costs, according to Shook. She added that Accenture itself still spends a significant amount on training, but companies need to understand the end goal for it to be effective.

"Companies are looking at how to do this but it really requires a very clear understanding of the business strategy and the skills and capabilities that you need," she said.