Q&A: Meet the skills intelligence leaders powering the future of work

  • Employee Experience
  • About ServiceNow
  • 2022
  • Gretchen Alarcon
June 03, 2022

Skills intelligence leaders Heather Jerrehian and Kelley Steven-Waiss

Remote work, the Great Resignation, political and social unrest. The past few years have flipped the talent landscape on its head, and employees are rethinking what they want from work.

At the same time, companies know they need to recruit, develop, and retain a workforce that can respond to evolving business demands. As the relationship between an employee and employer evolves, talent strategy must get personal. Companies need to know their employees’ skills, interests, and goals to provide meaningful and impactful work experiences.

That’s why I’m thrilled ServiceNow is deepening its commitment to talent solutions and the future of work with the acquisition of Hitch Works, a skills mapping and intelligence company. Hitch will add a new layer of AI-powered skills insights to the Now Platform to help customers address talent gaps. It will also tie employee learning and development to workforce planning and more effectively match people to projects—all from a single platform.

As part of the acquisition, we’re proud to welcome two accomplished leaders to the team, Heather Jerrehian and Kelley Steven-Waiss. The pair built Hitch to make work more meaningful and purpose-driven. At ServiceNow, they’ll continue to build solutions to help customers address talent gaps and make work better for everyone.

ServiceNow and Hitch logos

I sat down with Heather and Kelley to learn more about their backgrounds and get their perspectives on the future of skills technology.

Q: Why ServiceNow and why now?

Heather: The market is here, and the moment is now to be the leader in skills intelligence. Joining forces with ServiceNow allows us to scale our skills-related capabilities across a wide ecosystem of business leaders, managers, and employees—and be at the forefront of the future of work.   

To rapidly deliver our skills intelligence and talent mobility solutions to the global market, we needed a strategic partner whose vision, mission, and values aligned with ours. At Hitch, we’re passionate about making work more meaningful and purpose-driven. ServiceNow’s relentless focus on making work better for everyone—and doing so collaboratively, inclusively, and with humility—resonated with us and was apparent from the very first meeting.

Kelley: ServiceNow and Hitch are aligned in our shared purpose to change the world by making work better for everyone. We share a belief that a productive and engaged workforce is the greatest asset of the organization. Creating a great employee experience is critical to supporting business agility. People are more than the job they’re doing today. They have an amalgamation of personal and professional experiences and skills that we need to make visible to drive positive outcomes.

As we emerge from the pandemic and combat the Great Resignation, we’ve realized the extent to which the employer value proposition is centered on employee experience. People need to be seen, valued, and heard. On top of this, employees want a single place to consume content, get work done, learn new things, and connect to information—and it needs to be consumer-grade and easy to use.

With ServiceNow, we have an opportunity to make the vision of Hitch a reality to win as the leader in workforce skills solutions.

Skills are the new currency and will become the basis for making recommendations about learning, roles, mobility, etc. - Kelley Steven-Waiss

Q: Where do you see the skills management/employee development market heading in the next 3–5 years?

Heather: Employees today expect their workplace technology to be highly customized and consumer-grade. Digital tools need to be intuitive, on-demand, connected, and collaborative.  

The same principles apply to skills management and employee development technologies. Although formal development planning happens a few times a year, employees are constantly learning on the job, in the flow of work, through informal conversations with colleagues and mentors, in virtual classrooms, on apps—and this list is not exhaustive.

In the future, I predict that AI-powered skills intelligence will bring these learning systems together and allow companies to have unprecedented, real-time visibility into the skills of their workforce. This will allow companies to tap into internal capacity, be more intentional about upskilling and reskilling, and promote and develop employees based on what they know, not who they know.  

Kelley: As many organizations are starting to realize, we’re living in a world that doesn’t stand still, and neither do skills. Employees are constantly looking for opportunities to learn and grow in their career. Skills are the new currency and will become the basis for making recommendations about learning, roles, mobility, etc.

People will need to reimage themselves and build a muscle to learn, unlearn, and relearn throughout their careers. As such, skills management needs to be dynamic and smart, capturing the movement of skills as they change by role, industry, and discipline.

In the employee development market, we expect learning to become more about experience and outcomes versus content. Technology will need to enable learning in the flow of work and be customized and personalized. Users will want it all in one place, which puts ServiceNow at the epicenter of this evolution.

Q: Any unique/favorite examples of learning experience technology in action?

Heather: In January 2022, Hitch launched a skills intelligence accelerator program open to all companies, not just customers. This was born from repeated discussions in which customers told us they didn’t know how or where to start on their skills-based work journey. This is an emerging and increasingly relevant space. However, there’s no playbook. 

In a matter of weeks, diverse yet like-minded companies came together in a monthly virtual roundtable to exchange ideas with luminaries in the field of skills-based work. The program addressed questions such as: 

  • How do you gain visibility into organizational skills and capabilities? 

  • What people-related processes and policies are impacted by moving to a skills-based enterprise? 

The resulting insights have been priceless. We’re on the path to the future of work where barriers to entry are low, participants are diverse, discussions are problem-based, and collaboration is technology-enabled. 

The market is here, and the moment is now to be the leader in skills intelligence. - Heather Jerrehian

When we first released Hitch to our early customers, we created apprenticeship opportunities that paired employees with experts in different fields to learn new skills on the job and in the flow of their daily work.

This idea later became the impetus for feature developments such as skills-based mentor matching and non-obvious career path offerings based on matching people with adjacent skills. It was also the start of our work on the proprietary algorithms and skills intelligence engine powering our platform and the direct link to learning content via learning management systems and learning experience platforms.

Since then, our customers have used this applied learning as a strategy to empower employee development by offering insights into new career pathways based on skills. Doing so allowed our customers to drive a great employee experience and proactively build a supply chain of critical skills from the inside.

Q. What’s the best career advice you ever received?

Heather: Ask for 100%, 100% of the time. A friend shared this with me. I thought it was brilliant and also terrifying because it can be difficult to ask for what you want. I’ve found it easier to advocate for others than myself, so I use this as a reminder that the worst thing that can happen is someone says no.

Kelley: I would say 1) Do what you love, and success will follow; and 2) Take the opportunities that scare you to death because that’s where you’ll learn and grow the most.

Find out more about how ServiceNow is helping organizations power the workforce of the future to create unified employee experiences.

Use of forward-looking statements

This blog contains "forward-looking statements" about the expectations, beliefs, plans, intentions, and strategies relating to ServiceNow’s acquisition of Hitch Works Inc. Such forward-looking statements include statements regarding future product capabilities and offerings and expected benefits to ServiceNow. Forward-looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties and are based on potentially inaccurate assumptions that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expected or implied by the forward-looking statements. If any such risks or uncertainties materialize or if any of the assumptions prove incorrect, our results could differ materially from the results expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements we make. We undertake no obligation, and do not intend, to update the forward-looking statements. Factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from those in any forward-looking statements include, without limitation, the inability to assimilate or integrate Hitch’s technology into our platform; the inability to retain employees of Hitch after the transaction closes; unanticipated expenses related to Hitch’s acquired technology; potential adverse tax consequences; disruption to our business and diversion of management attention and other resources; and potential unknown liabilities associated with Hitch’s business. Further information on factors that could affect our financial and other results is included in the filings we make with the Securities and Exchange Commission from time to time.

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