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How HSBC is upskilling at scale with Google Cloud

December 16, 2022
Adrian Phelan

Global Head of Google Cloud, HSBC

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Editor’s note: Founded in 1865, HSBC is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organizations. In today’s post, Adrian Phelan, Global Head of Google Cloud, HSBC, explains how the organization is working with Google Cloud to drive cloud adoption at scale. 

Close to 90% of corporations say they’re affected by digital skills gaps, or expect to be within the next five years. Technologies and business models are evolving rapidly, and companies are deploying a multi-pronged approach to ensure they have the right skills in the right places.

Here at HSBC, one of the bank’s strategic priorities is digitizing at scale. As people operate in a more digital world, we want to supply them with services quickly and in ways they want to use them. We initially worked with Google Cloud to implement more than 1,700 data analytics, customer experience, cybersecurity and emission reduction projects. A big part of rolling these out has been getting our teams skilled in the right way.

Empowering employees with a culture of learning

This approach has evolved over time, but central to it has been proactively instilling a culture of learning. We started out in 2018 with a few small-scale training projects, and it quickly became clear that the teams who had participated in them delivered better and faster than those who hadn’t. They were also more independent and less dependent on central expertise.

This inspired us to scale up our learning programs across the organization, which was a challenge because of the sheer size of our technical staff: tens of thousands of employees.  

After some really positive feedback for our early training programs with Google Cloud, we set up our Google Accelerated Certification Program (GACP). It’s a 10-week blended learning model including self-learning, case studies, and hands-on practice followed by an examination preparation boot camp.

This combination of theory and practice in a safe environment helped build employees’ confidence. Two thousand people have gone through this training so far, and it’s really helped accelerate their journey towards achieving Google Cloud certification. The learning programs also offer other digital credentials, such as completion badges and skill badges, which provide encouragement and help participants measure their progress.  

Company-wide knowledge building

When we started our learning journey, we focused on IT roles for obvious reasons, but we are increasingly moving towards training people in business functions.

One of our aims is to educate our less technical employees about the broad capabilities that exist within the cloud. IT teams are often the ones to say, "Hey, we could do this in a better, more efficient, different way by using the cloud", and to make that happen we need to work in close collaboration with our business colleagues, so it’s equally important that they understand the technology.

To enable this kind of innovation, you have to educate the whole organization in the ‘art of the possible’. One of the ways we did that was by organizing a month-long Cloud Festival that reached 10,000 employees, which included three Google Cloud sessions. This really helped us build a foundational level of knowledge with business and technology colleagues across the organization.

As we continue along our training path, interest in the cloud within the organization continues to increase. Our channel for communicating any changes related to cloud technology, processes or ways of working now has an audience of close to 8,000 employees. 

Looking to the future with targeted training 

The Google Cloud team has provided a lot of support in helping us get our training off the ground. It has always been a true process of co-creation, of listening, testing things, and seeing what works best. We meet weekly in order to keep our learning journey moving forward, listen to the demands of the business, understand what the pipeline of work is, and what the up and coming Google Cloud product launches are, so that we can stay one step ahead.

One example of this is the bespoke training we introduced for business leaders. So far, 250 senior business leaders have completed it with great feedback. They have told us that the program improved their understanding of how the cloud can help to more quickly meet customer expectations, increase speed to market, reduce overheads and grow revenue through new product streams and continuous innovation. It also covered potential business activities suitable for migration to the cloud.

When it comes to learning and training, you can either let it happen organically, or you can drive it. Our choice was to drive it and invest in it, and I’d highly recommend anybody trying to adopt cloud at scale does the same: they will see the return on that investment many times over. 

Learn more about Google Cloud training and certification and the impact it can have on your team.

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