Vodafone NZ is embarking on a campaign to fill 100 IT department vacancies, following a decision to move its offshore operation in India back in house. Chief technology officer Sandra Pickering says the telco has decided it will be more efficient and cost-effective to hire permanent IT professionals in New Zealand, rather then continue with its current offshoring arrangement.
“A lot of our IT application and maintenance had been done offshore, we have now made the decision to do it onshore with New Zealand resources,” Pickering says. “It’s critical that we retain IP over our products, services and our applications that support those.”
She says that traditionally at Vodafone, only parts of the product development life cycle were handled by New Zealand staff, and a large part of its development and testing was conducted offshore. Pickering says there were multiple suppliers but she wouldn’t name them or say how much these contracts were worth, citing commercial sensitivity.
According to Vodafone the recruitment of 100 new staff will ensure that applications that give the telco a competitive advantage – for example over the top applications for smartphones devices – are completed end-to-end in-house.
At the same time Vodafone has issued an RFP for a single technology partner to handle all of its infrastructure support and maintenance. “Things like storage and desktop and all those things that are critical to a business but which you don’t derive a competitive advantage from,” says Pickering.
Vodafone says its decision last year to bring the call centre operation, which had been located in Egypt, back to New Zealand has inspired the move to abandon offshoring for IT as well.
“That [moving the call centre in house] was so successful and drove quite different levels of customer satisfaction and we found that we actually saved money doing it as well,” says Pickering.
Pickering says the reason for offshoring is often cheaper labour, “but by the time you add in the management layers and the physical communication to get it done... New Zealand’s a lot smaller and the scale doesn’t necessarily support the additional cost.”
There are currently around 160 permanent IT staff and 500 contractors working for Vodafone.
In the network area, which Pickering also oversees, there are 220 permanent staff.
“Vodafone is known as a company that has great technology around networks and great people to support them. We’re trying to build a similar culture in IT,” she says.
The company is looking to recruit project managers, IT architects, business analysts, software developers, testers — which Pickering describes as “the full range of people that you need to deliver products and services on IT applications end to end ”.
The company has launched a recruitment campaign called ‘Youtopia,’ designed by recruitment marketing agency Haines Attract.
In addition, Vodafone is boosting its graduate programme to include IT graduates, and Pickering is also looking at targeting school leavers, so they can train people “from the ground up.”
In particular Pickering wants to attract more women, because she says it is important to address the gender imbalance in the IT industry. “When we are looking at graduate hires or internships we are actively seeking out female candidates, because if you don’t do anything different, nothing changes.”
Pickering is sponsoring an initiative at Vodafone called “Inspiring women into technology,” which is designed to support women staff in their pursuit of technology careers within the company.
In addition, she is keen to get the message about the advantages of ICT careers to girls aged 14-16 years who may be put off by an image of “geeks and gadgets”. Pickering recently spoke to group of girls at Selwyn College about technology careers.
“Technology is such an empowering career for women. It’s transportable, there is worldwide demand, it pays well and it can lead to so many different things,” says Pickering.