This year’s Fintech Summit in Cape Town South Africa had a number of panel discussions one of which focused on the human capital in the industry. Financial Insight Zambia sat down with the Head of People Operations at Nigerian Fintech Payhippo which specializes, among other services, in instant loans for African SMEs.
Nkem was part of the panel that discussed issues on Tech talent empowerment in the industry. She expressed excitement and elation in sharing her insights with other industry professionals who look into and manage human capital issues.
“I have been so elated with the amount of conversation on talent in Africa. It warms my heart as we touched on the crisis points that surround talent management. There were a lot of questions around issues relating to hiring of talent”.
Nkem’s focus was on the economic challenges of hiring. “My tangent was more about accepting the talent. So a lot of African talent there is a lot of fear and trauma from doing all the hard work and feeling like you have really excelled. But the economic circumstances do not allow (them) to position themselves in the right place”.
There are several reasons for the mismatch that has led to this challenge and one of them is the economic circumstances of a country.
Conversely, this has led to a change not only in job market but also the attitude of talent towards work in the industry. The fear and trauma has created an environment where we ”are susceptible to poachers” and “talent opting to keep to themselves or work part-time”.
One of the reasons for this is the lack of job permanency. “The longevity and security aspect of it is not certain. This can be (due) to the history of the country. It can also be due to the fragility of the currency”.
Nkem believes company’s need to do more. “I think companies need to step up by showing the talent that work for them that they are able to protect them (during their tenure) against the fragilities of the economy whilst at the same time ensuring longevity of their tenure ”.
She further disclosed that the panel discussion also touched on new trends in the tech job market. “We also spoke about new trends such as aqui-hire”. Aqui-hire is a relatively new phenomenon in tech industry which stands for purchasing companies in order to recruit and acquire its employees, while the product of the company becomes secondary. “My position is this is that it dilutes the fluidity of the eco-system. By acquiring talent in this way, you are creating exclusive clubs which dilutes the fluidity of the eco-system”.
Nkem opts for human face when dealing with tech talent as opposed to aqui-hire. “The way my team and I approach tech talent and we speak to them to find out what their struggles are. We find that we learn a lot from them (through this process of engagement) by understanding what their hopes and dreams (aspirations)”.
“Therefore, by aquiring whole companies of tech talent, you destroy the ecosystems and networks that the talent build”. Through these networks, tech talent are able to develop and learn from each other. This is what builds strong software development houses whose background may not be the traditional stem-cell type programs but ones who can evolve into roles.
Another area that the panel discussion touched on was on skills. “Skills have evolved. It’s not just about hard skills. It’s also about soft skills, its creativity and innovation. Its about how you balance communication between stakeholders”.
Nkem believes there is need for flexibility especially when dealing with tech talent. “For example, when you hire engineers, they have a different language (in the work environment) in how they perceive office dynamics. So the recruitment process has to be adaptive to accommodate these differences ”.