HRD catches up with Chloe Fast, senior people & culture business partner, carsales.com.au, to discuss the company’s training opportunities and why Hackathons are so vital to innovation.
HRD: What are some of the employment training and development opportunities which carsales.com.au offers?
At carsales, we offer a range of internal and external training and development opportunities for our people. From an internal perspective, we have a large tech workforce within our business, so we've run internal coding camps for our people, to engender that interest, knowledge and awareness of tech.
We also put on regular ‘expert series’ events, where thought leaders from across the business share their experiences and knowledge with other employees to help them grow professionally. In terms of formal education, carsales also offers an annual CEO Scholarship that provides a carsales team member the opportunity to invest in their career and personal development.
Additionally, carsales supports our people who wish to attend or undertake approved external training courses and events. Some of the most common requests we receive are to attend conferences, like TEDx, leadership courses and professional networking events.
For people starting out in their careers, this year we launched a graduate program, where we’ve brought six paid business and technology graduates into the organization for 18 months.
At a tertiary level, we've been working with Swinburne University and provided a scholarship and for one candidate to study a computer science degree; plus we offer internship opportunities for them here. For primary school-aged children, we run Kids Coding Camps during the school holidays, to introduce them to the IT industry, excite them about technology and help them pursue their interest in the field.
HRD: carsales also runs Hackathons, can you tell us a bit about how these work?
Innovation is at the core of our carsales culture, and our bi-annual Hackathons provide a valuable opportunity to bring our people from across the business together, away from the day-to-day business activities, to work together to generate ideas to improve carsales, help our consumers and solve business issues.
At our most recent Hackathon, ideas were presented by 12 teams, and Jason Blackman, our carsales Chief Information Officer, said he can realistically see around half of these ideas being put into production in the near future.
Earlier this year, carsales won the Best Internal Innovation at the 2018 Financial Review Most Innovative Companies Awards, for Cyclops, an image recognition tool, which was an idea born at a recent carsales Hackathon, which is a great example of what can be achieved when people have the time and freedom to be innovative.
HRD: What advice would give to HR or L&D professionals to prepare a workforce for the future of work?
Make smart hiring decisions that focus less on skills and knowledge and more on the behaviours and attitude that a person can bring to your business. Embrace creativity, problem solving ability, emotional intelligence and critical thinking. Take diversity and inclusion seriously to help continually fuel innovation and growth in highly competitive markets.
Once you get the right people in door, provide them with an exceptional employee experience that gets them excited to jump out of bed and come to work each day.
Foster a culture of lifelong learning - top talent won’t hang around if they can’t see opportunities for growth and development in their career with you. Lastly, avoid complacency and equip your team to pivot – constantly looking for new solutions and approaches to business problems will keep your people engaged through working on interesting projects, and help you to stay ahead of the game.