Mr Francis Goh, chief executive officer of cybersecurity firm Netpoleon Solutions, constantly wrestles with one key challenge: Staff retention.
As more organisations adopt digital solutions and services, and threats and requirements evolve, the cybersecurity sector continues to grapple with a global shortage of trained professionals. For instance, data protection is critical in the telecommunications, financial services and public sectors, which routinely handle sensitive personal and business information.
With demand outstripping supply, trained cybersecurity professionals are expensive to hire, but the alternative for businesses like Netpoleon Solutions could be even bleaker, according to Mr Goh.
“While high manpower costs affect our ability to compete, the severe lack of skilled engineers threatens our very business existence,” he said.
AN INNOVATIVE SOLUTION TO A PERENNIAL PROBLEM
Netpoleon Solutions thought outside the box to address this: Hiring and training employees from less conventional backgrounds.
Said Mr Goh: “Our ability to train people with no IT skills or with limited IT experience lowers our costs and resolves the skill shortage challenge simultaneously.”
The company is open to hiring fresh graduates and mid-career professionals without infocomm technology (ICT) backgrounds. The former group attends a three to six-month in-house cybersecurity programme that includes on-the-job training, mentoring and progress reviews.
The latter group also receives guidance, with a mentor assigned to them while they undergo training to become skilled in providing IT support and managing services.
In a constantly evolving cybersecurity landscape, it became essential to upgrade the skills of Netpoleon Solutions’ staff – both new and existing – while enhancing service delivery quality.
The company’s efforts have been recognised with the SkillsFuture Employer Award, which recognises employers who help develop workers by championing lifelong learning and skills mastery.
NEW HIRES, NEW CAREERS
Age is no barrier at Netpoleon Solutions, which has not shied away from hiring mid-career and older workers, like the 59-year-old it hired who has been with the company for over five years.
Recent older hires are “usually concentrated at management level and bring with them a wealth of business experience from large corporations, widening the outlook of the company’s direction”, Mr Goh explained.
Hiring mid-career professionals without ICT backgrounds has also paid off in other intangible ways. Said Mr Goh: “They generally display desirable mental qualities like determination and resilience. They bring in positive energy and set a good example for other team members, particularly when facing challenges.”
CUSTOMISED TRAINING FOR BUSINESS NEEDS
In the past, Netpoleon Solutions sourced its training from third-party vendors, which was costly and not tailored to the company’s needs.
Recently, it participated in Enterprise Singapore’s Business Advisory Programme (BAP). Through BAP, Netpoleon Solutions engaged a veteran trainer who specialised in leadership and commercial skills and created curated content that was relevant to its day-to-day operations.
Netpoleon Solutions also carries out in-house training, providing an Accelerated Technical Leadership Programme for sales staff and a standardised fundamental training and enablement programme for engineers. The latter was developed by the company’s deputy director of enablement and consultation, who has first-hand experience of Netpoleon Solutions’ products and years of experience.
Said Mr Goh: “This training has allowed the team to easily build on their established foundation in IT skills and helped to shorten the time to market for our engineers. The company also sends our technical staff for industry-recognised certification courses that are beneficial for their professional growth.”
A TIGHTER TEAM AT WORK
Ms Alicia Tio is just one employee who has benefitted from the company’s commitment to training and supporting staff.
The training opportunities offered allowed her to take on more responsibilities and this led to her recently being promoted to the post of Netpoleon Solutions’ human resources manager.
A supportive work environment also helped. She said: “When certain training deadlines came up and I was suddenly called in to assist on a project, it could get stressful. On these occasions, I could usually ask peers to help with work or request for an extended deadline of the training task.”
She said: “We help one another in our team and share information. The team is very cohesive and open, which allows me to understand the way another person receives information. It also opens my mind to alternative perspectives, allowing me to gain knowledge more easily.”
CEO Mr Goh said that Netpoleon Solutions’ staff retention rate and motivation have increased, as workers are assured that the company is keen to invest in them through training. Staff are now more eager to provide feedback at focus group meetings with peers and management.
“This has fostered a working rapport between the management and ground staff, and paved the way for staff to provide constructive suggestions to the company on how we may further improve and take the organisation to the next level of success.”
Presented by the President of the Republic of Singapore, the SkillsFuture Employer Awards honour organisations that champion their employees’ skills development and build a lifelong learning culture at the workplace. The awards comprise the SME and non-SME categories and is a prestigious symbol of excellence that helps the company gain a competitive edge in talent attraction and retention.
The SkillsFuture Employer Awards is open to all Singapore registered entities, including small and medium enterprises (SMEs), corporations and voluntary welfare organisations. Visit skillsfuture.sg/employerawards to find out more about the Skillsfuture Employer Awards.