I’m Building the Future of Work by Democratizing Career Development with a Powerful New Program

Sponsored by Seagate Technology

Divkiran Kathuria

Image courtesy of Seagate.

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May 28, 2024 at 10:59AM UTC

Divkiran Kathuria, the director of talent marketplace technology and transformation at Seagate Technology, knows what the future of work looks like. In fact, she’s helping define that future! Thanks to her team’s efforts, Seagate launched Career Discovery, a large-scale, global HR transformation program that nurtures and grows internal talent through projects and mentoring.

“We call our internal marketplace Career Discovery because it’s now supporting Seagate in democratizing career development, unlocking skills and productivity, and future-proofing our workforce,” explains Kathuria. “Seagate employees can discover the next chapter of their careers, within the organization, guided by a powerful AI algorithm that delivers personalized recommendations based on current skills and experience, as well as career aspirations and dream roles. This helps hiring managers and HR teams by resurfacing our organization’s hidden talent, an “internal candidate-first” approach to recruiting.

In addition to the program’s use of emerging technologies, Kathuria shares that she’s most proud “of the program’s impact on the lives and careers of over 15,000 colleagues at Seagate across the globe.” 

“My passion for people is a value that I cherish, and Career Discovery allows me to leverage this in my professional space,” she says.

If you’d like to learn more about the future of work, how Kathuria grew this innovative program and her advice for starting something similar in your own organization, read on!

How did the Seagate Career Discovery Program get started, and how did you get involved?

Seagate is a storage company. We create a datasphere by innovating world-class precision-engineered data storage and management solutions. Over the last 40 years, Seagate has shipped over three billion terabytes of data capacity and secured our status as the world’s leading data storage solutions provider. 

To grow this business in the face of the global pandemic, we had to pivot and prioritize emerging areas of growth. To align with this business need, we decided to lift and shift our workforce to areas of growth. While skills need to be frequently upgraded, the knowledge, experience and cultural fit of an existing Seagate employee is far more attractive than exclusively pursuing external new hires. Growing our new operations from within became a story of our business goals aligning with the career goals of our employees, bringing them transparency and exposure to career opportunities across business units and geographies.

Due to my experience in HR Transformations and being  a thought leader in the talent market space, I was hired by Seagate to lead this disruptive transformation.

How do you manage and grow this program?

Disruptive changes like talent marketplaces are not a one-time effort. There are both systems and cultural changes that are initiated and need to be sustainable long-term. From a data metrics standpoint our initial numbers were a pleasant surprise and surpassed a lot of benchmarks:

  • 35,000 project hours unlocked during the first four months of usage

  • 88% of Seagate employees registered on Career Discovery within 45 days of launch

  • 87% of Career Discovery users have a high-profile completion rate

Also, in terms of engagement, diversity, and inclusion our outcomes surpassed what we initially envisioned. 

Getting here wasn’t easy and it’s not just about technology. Change is necessary across process and policy as well, to make it stick. 

Here’s what I do to manage and grow this program:

  1. Make sure to build the process and policies as part of the Talent Marketplace program to support the cultural change we want to promote. For example, at Seagate, we have a policy of keeping internal jobs open for two–to-four weeks before we look for external talent. Additionally, employees are allowed to spend 15% to 20% of their time on projects for their learning and development without manager approval.

  2. Have a solid change management plan. And remember there’s no such thing as "over-communicating”. With Career Discovery, we were looking at a large-scale disruptive transformation requiring change in organizational culture and behaviors. We have a well-designed change management plan, training, and webinar series. And an effective communications strategy around success is the cherry on the top. 

  1. Most importantly, facilitate collaboration among the various HR functions to ensure smooth operations and support for future innovation. Career Discovery is primarily a talent acquisition initiative which gives us an instant view of skillsets that are in-demand and available. Our talent management and learning and development teams use these insights to create internal academic curriculums for upskilling our internal talent and bridging existing gaps that could hinder internal mobility. Our PMO and tech teams help integrate various HR systems to support the talent marketplace operations, which ensures that the right data flows across systems for skills, learning, experience, and internal job applications. We also use the data to target communications and encourage employees and managers to engage with the system, and support change and initiatives. If anything’s not working or needs clarity, our HR Central team supports our end users by resolving their queries and issues.

How has Seagate helped this program (and you!) succeed?

We are fortunate that both our CEO Dave Mosely and CHRO Patricia Frost drive this from the top. Also, the collaborative and support structure that our HR team provides is connected and wonderful. Our talent acquisition business partners work closely with hiring managers to ensure job descriptions are accurately completed and compliant. HRBPs work closely with us to identify the improvement opportunities, while our Talent Management team ensures that an employee’s career discovery is truly supported by the right learning and mentoring programs.

We’ve progressed from identifying internal talent for full-time jobs to leveraging internal gigs and mentorships. FY2023, we are looking to further upgrade Career Discovery with career pathing.  

For me, this program brought about a new challenge. I’m a new mother and parenting an infant while leading a disruptive transformation like this global program has been somewhat of a daunting task. But with support from my team, HR colleagues and our Talent Acquisition leader Michelle Weisser, I have been able to create a favorable work-life integration and expand my role to take on additional TA programs. There’s a huge focus on prioritization, leading with empathy, and making room for personal time. This approach helps me plan my days and take care of my family.

How does the Career Discovery Program benefit Seagate employees? 

Career Discovery has helped democratize career development, unlock skills and future-proof the workforce by empowering the employees to drive their own careers and achieve their potential via full-time positions, part-time gigs, and internal mentor networks. Employees have visibility to internal careers as well as development and growth opportunities. Career Discovery also helps minimize human bias (both conscious and unconscious) from the talent-sourcing process.

Do you think other companies would benefit from similar programs?

Absolutely. This is the future of work and talent practices!

What advice would you give to others who are looking to develop or manage similar internal career mobility programs?

I would advise them to just do it. For any organization planning to consider a talent marketplace, remember to:

  1. Know the problem you want to solve.

  2. Make sure to do your research in terms of make-or-break criteria for your workforce, whether it's AI, UX, integration or something else. Then, do more research to select the right partner to embark on this journey.

  3. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Technology is just an enabler, and the real success comes from ensuring that you have evaluated and planned to transform across the three Ps: policy, process, and platform (technology).

  4. Don’t underestimate the importance of change management and communication. For a disruptive cultural change like this, you need to have your A-team and all your change and enablement ammunition loaded. It’s not one training, one webinar, or one event but rather an ongoing effort to launch and sustain this change.

Congratulations on receiving an Emerging Leaders award from the Economic Times HR World in India! Tell us more about this award.

Thank you so much! This recognition is a one-of-a-kind initiative that acknowledges a distinguished gathering of forward-thinking HR professionals and leaders in India. 

I’m honored and humbled to receive this recognition, especially since I get to share the space with the best and the brightest in the country. The jury members included business and HR leaders from leading organizations in India — which made it particularly special! It’s very motivating to know that my passion for what I do and my contribution to my organization are valued both internally and externally. It’s like a superfood for my confidence and a booster dose for my zeal to continue my efforts in the HR Transformation space. 

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