Friday August 22nd marked the grand opening of General Motors’ fourth (and final) Information Technology innovation center. Located in Chandler, Arizona, the fourth center set a milestone in the ongoing makeover of GM’s IT operations, which thus far have resulted in the hiring 9,000 salaried employees.
GM Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Randy Mott is the mastermind behind the highly-vital initiative, and discussed the ongoing makeover by answering the following five comprehensive questions:
1. What has GM learned through opening four innovation centers over the last two years?
It is all about attracting the best talent, whether it is recent college graduates or experienced professionals. Locating the four innovation centers strategically near top universities and places where the top talent works has given us a pool of the best of the best from which to draw. Recognizing that people don’t always want to move for that next job gives us an advantage because we are bringing that next job to them. GM chose the innovation center locations by looking at IT talent-rich areas that also offer a strong community, attractive cost of living, an appealing business environment and high-tech industry presence.
2. What were the challenges you faced during the development, building, staffing and now opening of the facility?
The facility in Chandler is the only one of the four innovation centers built from the ground up; the other centers in Warren, Michigan; Austin, Texas; and Roswell, Georgia, are located in existing facilities. What surprised us is the overwhelming interest from students and experienced IT professionals to join the team. The pace of our hiring put us at capacity limits in the temporary location in Arizona while the permanent facility was being finished. We were worried about outgrowing the temporary facility too soon and losing our hiring momentum. We needed to bring in all the new talent possible to support the important work happening within the business while balancing space constraints against hiring opportunities.
3. How has recruitment and staffing gone thus far?
In Chandler, our newest center, we expect to hire 1,000 employees over the next two years, so we are right on track. About a quarter of the first 500 employees working at the center are recent college graduates. The majority have come from Arizona State, University of Arizona, Brigham Young University and Northern Arizona University. Four of five IT majors at higher education institutions across the states are within a three-hour drive of a GM IT innovation center. Combined, the four centers have access to more than 7,000 students at more than 150 colleges and universities majoring in information technology-related fields. GM is targeting recruitment efforts at up to a dozen key universities within each geographic region.
4. What has been the biggest surprise for you throughout the overall IT transformation process?
With all the national coverage suggesting a high-tech employee skills shortage, we have experienced the opposite. It’s been a pleasant surprise how easy it has been to find, recruit and retain highly talented information technologists to work for General Motors.
5. The innovation centers were a cornerstone of your plan to remake IT at GM. How is the rest of the insourcing of IT work going?
In terms of accomplishing our original objectives set out in 2012, we are at nearly 75 percent of our overall hiring goals across all four innovation centers. When we look at our transformation objectives and initiatives — doubling the speed of project delivery, tripling innovation, building enterprise data centers, creating an enterprise data warehouse — we’re more than halfway there.