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Liberty Global EVP: Long-term careers a thing of the past

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Organisations must give employees the opportunities they want if they're to retain the best talent, according to Liberty Global's Enrique Rodriguez

Speaking at a London HR Connection event, the executive vice president and chief technology officer for Liberty Global (parent company of Virgin Media) said that employees are more excited by short-term project work than long-term career plans.

“The types of skills that people expect are completely different [now]. Back when I started you were making decisions based on a career plan for the next 10 or 15 years. We don’t think about the long-term career anymore,” he said.

“The way we drive our talent is through getting people excited about what they’re going to be working on, and who they’re going to be working with. People often don’t develop a passion for the industry; they develop a passion for a particular project or for a specific market.”

Rodriguez said that giving employees the opportunities they now want is a necessity for employers, as competition for talent has never been fiercer. "It used to be the case that everyone wanted to be the smartest person in the room, but now everyone is. You’re seeing really talented people across the board,” he said.

“The competition for talent in software is extremely high. We’re moving a significant number of our staff to Reading soon, knowing full well we might not be able to hang on to them. The key is to make people feel as though they can move on.”

Referencing a career spanning 25 years in tech, Rodriguez described how the media and technology industries are rapidly changing. “What we’re seeing today is probably the biggest change that I have seen, and that is about the way consumers can expect to enjoy entertainment. This is a big change from even five years ago when people were still, to an extent, comfortable paying for television,” he said.

In light of these changes employers must learn to trust their talent and focus on their strengths and passion for the job at hand, Rodriguez added.

“Recently we were discussing the potential for offering a few days a week to work from home. Executives were worried that some people might not actually be working. Ten years ago you were probably having similar arguments, but about whether you should have the internet in the office and worrying that people would spend all day online shopping,” he commented.

“But today who would ever work in an office where you didn’t have internet access? You need to stop worrying about the details, what I care about far more is that my people are passionate about the product.”