Helena Sjöström on HR, coding and human interaction – technology


Helena Sjöström on HR, coding and human interaction – technology

The human interaction – technology will only increase. This creates opportunities and challenges in all types of organisations and professional roles. In order to seize the opportunities, we must follow along.  "Understanding that we constantly need to learn new is a mindset everyone will need to have. We will no longer be training for a job, we will have to work on constantly training. Approaching technology then becomes an area relevant to virtually everyone." Says Helena Sjöström, one of the initiators of HRgoesTech and GoTech from NOX Consulting. NOX Consulting is a virtual consulting company in the gig economy with a network of over 1500 freelance IT consultants and through the sister company NOX Academy they create programming camps for children.

Helena is a trained behavioral scientist, she has extensive experience from the HR field, as a business developer and as CEO. At a time when many people see the rapid advance of digitalisation as a threat, together with her colleague Madeleine Harju, she has started the HRgoesTech initiative where they teach coding to increase knowledge about digitalisation. An initiative that, after the great interest, has resulted in GoTech. Helena tells Mentor about the importance of the HR role in organizations and how HR and digitalization are connected.

How was your interest in digitalization and coding created?
"Almost 10 years ago, I joined a small IT consulting company. At the time, I knew nothing about IT. It was my first contact with code. My practical experience in programming grew when I started at NOX, as we conduct programming camps for children. Through HRgoesTech and GoTech, NOX today does programming workshops and trainings for entire organizations and often as part of the company's digitalization journey, where our efforts will be to concretize by allowing everyone to test programming. After a few hours of workshop, most people think it's pretty cool and the experience always provides great discussions and insights. It is both creative, a form of problem solving and something we actually benefit from in many different contexts.

How did you get into the subject of digitalization and HR?
"When my colleague Madeleine Harju and I started HRgoesTech, we did it because we could both relate to a knowledge gap that we experienced in our roles in HR. When we then looked at what made us better in our HR roles, we found that knowledge of code and digitalization has been very helpful. We created an arrangement where we teach a basic understanding of programming. Because it's not about everyone having to become good developers. Basic technical knowledge is good enough. As time went on, however, we realized that it's not just HR that needs to learn about programming. That's all professional roles. There are surprisingly many people who have never seen code even though the world we live in is largely driven by technology and software.

Why do you need this basic understanding? Is it not enough to know the systems you work in?
"I think most people can agree that IT and technology are changing our societies, our organizations, but also how we humans behave. The interaction between man and technology will only increase. No matter what professional role you will have, no matter what you will work with, in your working life you will face the increased digitalization in some form. Perhaps you will order or require IT in the future, or you will work with some kind of business development that is also most likely linked to IT. If you have a basic understanding of how IT is developed and what programming is, it will facilitate enormously.

What will the organizations of the future look like?
"It's a great question that I've thought about a lot. What is my positive belief is that HR will be even more relevant. Digitalizing HR through good tools and systems, I think, is a hygiene factor to be able to be fast, flexible but also wise in doing the right things. What distinguishes those who do well and do not, is to prioritize doing just the right things. Then you need to ensure that you as HR can spend time on leadership, on values and on culture. What are our behaviors in our organization and how do we work with it continuously? It is my belief in the future that HR will work much more to ensure that you get the right people into the companies and also help them to exist and develop in the organization. From what I see today, HR often gets stuck in administrative and coordinating work. There is nothing more important to HR than constantly developing leadership, behaviors and how to be with each other and around each other. I think there is a risk that if you do not step on digitalization now, all the things that you are going to deliver as an HR department will require more and more people to get the results you need. That puts you in the wrong balance.

Is there a concern in the HR profession that digitalisation will take over the professional role?
"Maybe a certain anxiety but also combined with a little low self-confidence: "here comes something that I don't know about". Technology redefines the HR field, just as it redefines many other professional roles. Will AI start recruiting instead of me? There will be software that replaces parts of what we do today as HR professionals. With a wisely digitized HR, I hope HR becomes a more significant key function for creating innovation and profitability regardless of industry by focusing on culture and leadership. I think it's these areas that determine how you succeed or not as an organization and I hope the HR profession will be more about those parts.

"Digitizing HR through good tools and systems, I think, is a hygiene factor to be able to be fast, flexible but also wise in doing the right things."

"The right way to go is to equip yourself with skills and somewhere realize that "I live in a time when I will constantly have to keep learning". Approaching technology is something that becomes relevant to virtually everyone.

What are the risks of not following developments?
I think it's crass. If you don't turn technology into your friend and into something that helps you, I think you're going to have a hard time. If you follow developments, however, it will be easier to be fast enough, flexible enough and insightful enough. There will always be risks and opportunities in parallel and I believe that knowledge and ability to learn is what gives you leeway to create the role and future you want.

Visit Nox Consulting here. To learn more about GoTech, click here! Do you want to develop leadership and employeeship in your organization? Contact us at HR2 Mentor!