SWANosaurus or How We Teach People to be Successful with Short Arms
At Avanceon, our people are our greatest asset. And that makes sense for a services company. After all, if you think about it, what you’re really selling, is your people (and their expertise and/or skills) in a wrapper of your company’s “special sauce”. But to make that sustainable, you need a continual supply of top-quality new people. In an industry such as ours, where niche technology paradigms (where else do you need to know a dozen different flavors and nuances of different manufacturer’s versions of ladder logic?) are intersecting with modern information technology approaches (analytics, machine learning, autonomous operation, AI, etc.), it borders on the insane to expect a regularly available talent pool possessing the essential skills you need, when you need them. Since we only beat our heads against the wall as a hobby and don’t like to do it full time, we really focus on building people at Avanceon.
From a recruiting standpoint, we focus on looking for SWANs: folks who are smart, work hard, are ambitious (motivated) and are nice to be around. This approach serves us well. SWANs tend to be ‘athletes’ in the sense that their inherent skills and make-up allow them to quickly become successful in our agile and adaptive world. Direct experience is great, but often times the things we do are so specialized (compared to the broader work force) and specific to our company’s approach, that we have accepted the fact that we will need to provide training around the exact technologies we deploy. During our hiring process, we look for candidates with experiences that demonstrate that they can learn new technologies quickly, interact with internal team members and external customers in a professional manner while getting results. In addition to all that, we ask them to explain and help us understand how they have produced extraordinary results in other areas where they have skills and passion.
And we aren’t just tech people either. While our business is engineering services, we have a number of extremely awesome people who make that possible who aren’t engineers (and who don’t do engineer-y things). Whether it’s finance, management, business development, recruiting or a host of other functions, there are a number of crucial roles that allow our engineering teams to do what they do best. It’s equally important and critical that we recruit top quality people for these spots on our team as well.
Once you have awesome people, you need ways to make them “awesomer”. At Avanceon, we have developed and continue to refine and enhance Avanceon U, a collection of trainings around the skills needed to be successful along a variety of avenues. We have a number of partners and vendors that we utilize to enhance specific technical and soft skills. But, most importantly, we look to implement a learning program that encompasses all aspects of how we successfully serve our customers. It’s not only about understanding the technology used, good architecture and programming approaches, how to execute and/or manage a project etc. It’s also about how to relate to, and successfully interact with people, how to understand true business needs and drivers and how to foresee issues before they arise and proactively address them. It’s this commitment to the success of both the people and businesses we service, not just technical compliance that allows us to be successful and provide true value to our customers.
Equally important is that it allows for better success with our team and team members as well. What we want to get exposure to, like to do and have a knack for can change and evolve over time. We want to make sure that we can help and support not only those that want to continue to grow on the path they’re on, but also transition to other avenues and aspects. As an Avanceoneer, we already know they are awesome and they’ll be a great fit into whatever they are passionate and excited about, we just need to help give them to the tools and skills to be successful there.
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