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Is the Workforce of the Future Already Here?

Nadine Chakar | State Street Corporation

March 04,2021

In a digitally driven economy, innovation reigns supreme.

Both a creative and disruptive force, technology has the power to simplify processes, deliver efficiencies, solve client problems and help businesses grow in ways they only dreamed were possible.

But innovation requires more than just powerful tools. It demands new ideas to create value and better outcomes for clients. It also means a new take on the old ways of doing things powered by human talent.

As new technologies enter the field of finance and the battle for talent only intensifies, who better to look to for new ideas than your employees?

With the digital age presenting new ways of thinking and more data than ever before, there is a premium on applying in-demand skills in practical ways across a business. Companies that look inward to up-skill their employees have an innovation advantage.

Numeracy skills — abilities that incorporate the use of mathematical concepts and knowledge — allow us to make conclusions and decisions using numerical information.

Computers process calculations and simulations at a speed much faster than any human ever could, but the output the machines generate is not always a binary answer. An employee with strong quantitative skills can understand what the data means. Managers also know that their employee’s qualitative abilities — such as their capacity to explain and present ideas in easy-to-understand terms — is equally important.

At State Street, two of our in-house teams saw an opportunity to learn from each other when a quantitative specialist from State Street Associates began working with our securities finance algorithmic trading team several times a week. Blending financial and quantitative skills helped to create a stronger operating model that aligned to both our business and broader organizational goals. 

Recognizing the value of this cross-collaboration, we launched the Numerates Network in 2017. The network brings together employees who have strong quantitative, data science, analytics, machine learning and mathematical skills to improve mobility across our organization, and to cross-pollinate ideas and skillsets. With a goal of recruiting, developing and retaining a tech-savvy, quant-enabled workforce, the Numerates Network hosts seminars and networking events that are open to all employees.

As new technologies enter the field of finance and the battle for talent only intensifies, who better to look to for new ideas than your employees?

The community also offers a nine-month specialized program of courses and workshops, and pairs program participants with a senior-level member from another division of the bank. Mentoring relationships can create a two-way environment for employees to build their own knowledge, and also contribute to the ongoing education and up-skilling of colleagues at all levels of the organization. Mentoring partnerships offer opportunities for self-growth, expanding one’s professional network, planning a career strategy, and developing a better understanding of an organization and culture.

With a focus on topics such as data science, presentation expertise and design thinking, the Numerates community is helping our employees think of new ways to work together to solve the challenges our clients face. This variety of complementary skills that employees learn from each other helps us work more effectively together to solve problems.

The opportunity to debate ideas, ask questions and collaborate with similar-minded employees is what Elena Strekalova says drew her to the program. A quantitative researcher for the Global Markets’ eFX trading team, Elena says that networking is what she values most in the Numerates Network. “Connecting with new colleagues offers a pool of people who can share advice, ideas and knowledge,” she says. In 2019, Elena used the network as a launching pad to organize a seven-month group training program to help her colleagues learn the programming language, Python.

As we settle into the new decade, vision boards for the future of finance abound. While we may not know what technologies will prevail or where the markets will land over the next year (or even over the next decade), refreshing the skills and expertise of the workforce will remain as important as ever.  

Nothing will take the place of personal touch-points or client face time. Firms looking inward to upskill their employees are at an advantage. The people who best know your business and clients are already in your organization.

Topics: Leadership , Talent

Nadine Chakar | State Street Corporation

Nadine is an executive vice president and head of State Street Global Markets. In this role, Nadine oversees all aspects of Global Markets’ trading, product and operations platform, helping to drive successful client solutions. She is also a member of the company’s Management Committee.