Vattenfall is a pan European Swedish-owned energy generator and distributor operating predominantly in Nordics, United Kingdom and Continental Europe (e.g. Germany, The Netherlands). The business has a turnover of almost 50mln SEK with more than 30,000 employees and is one of the largest wind power developers and operators in Europe.
Felicitas von Kyaw, VP of HR for the Vattenfall Customer & Solutions Business Area, which services Vattenfall’s customers and develops smart solutions for customers’ energy needs, talked to us about how they are tackling
changing market demands internally with regards to organisational agility and talent in this turbulent environment. “The transformation of the traditional energy companies is a demanding journey requiring an intense amount of energy, continuous efforts and most of all - “new ways” of working. The energy landscape is changing on the supply as well as on the demand side, putting tremendous requirements on us as a market player.”
Vattenfall has driven significant changes to introduce flatter structures and new (more agile) ways of working that allow it to respond more flexibly and quickly to market changes. Felicitas explained that an agile organisation is not just about structural changes but is foremost about the following:
• Customer focus - to be responsive to changing customer demands and needs and see things through the eyes and mind of the customer
• Agility - to increase flexibility, doing more “trial and error” and “fast failure”
• Speed - to adapt to the new pace of change by increasing pace and ability to move
• Co-Creation - to foster collaboration and new ways of developing solutions between functions for example marketing and IT
• Culture - to have the “right” mind-set and behaviours supporting the digital journey
Correspondingly, the requirements on talent profiles are changing. As an example, Vattenfall sees a relevant shift towards digital competencies within its sales, marketing and customer services organisation. Mastering the (digital) channel mix, ensuring online access to customers or allowing for well targeted digital campaigns are some of the
The industry is reviewing how it can work more effectively. Whilst Vattenfall, like many others in the industry, has had to let go of some employees as it restructured the organisation, it has also concurrently invested in developing its talent and stepping up to the required shift in competencies. Felicitas implemented a Digital Academy to drive enablement and know how within the sales and marketing community towards online sales and marketing, big data and business intelligence.
Felicitas says there is always room for talent development, even in difficult and particularly in changing times. A key task of talent management in a changing business landscape is to organise skill and competency shifts. For organisations that are confronted with changing industry dynamics and restructuring / downsizing scenarios these difficult situations present a wake-up call and can offer opportunities as things start to move. Developing individuals and retaining talents that embrace change is crucial from an employers´ perspective, yet also the employee must individually make the decision to remain part of the challenge or to leave.
Felicitas points out it is a two way street between the employee and organisation: whereas the organisation owns the responsibility to recognise talent and enhance development opportunities the employee needs to seize the opportunities. Talent management helps to identify potential and performance yet the talent and career development remains an individual perspective and responsibility.
Felicitas’s personal talent management and development philosophy centres around three thoughts: “Stay curious and courageous and take ownership of your own development”. It is refreshing to see an HR professional like Felicitas and an organisation like Vattenfall taking a realistic view on how it adapts to a changing industry.
As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said; “Change is the only constant in life” and much like Felicitas’s personal talent philosophy, those organisations that accept this norm and embrace practices to become more agile are those that are more likely to prosper.