INVESTING IN EMPLOYEE GROWTH
Ambit Group enables the government to run agile, lean program operations focused on making sure that people, processes and technologies are well integrated. The company embarked on a major rebranding 30 months ago, and CEO and co-founder Kim Hayes reached a conclusion: It would be easier for the company to build its own training, with quality standards it could control, rather than continue to outsource training and development to an array of outside vendors.
For Ambit, that decision led to a comprehensive set of internal options for employees to develop and thrive within the organization. The goal was to ensure current employees had the options to develop skills they needed to serve an evolving client base.
It’s a very powerful thing to be able to go to an existing employee and tell that person the company wants to develop his or her skills, rather than hiring a new staffer to deal with changing market conditions or client needs, says Bob Nunnally, Ambit Group’s president and COO.
One way the company supports skill building in its employees is by creating a plan that’s unique to each individual.“A few years ago, we put in place what we call a career map, and during multiple sessions, supervisors interact with staff,” Nunnally says. “In one of the sessions, they use our career map to basically churn out where the staff member feels they want to go in their career. Ambit doesn’t hire just for the job we have at hand. What we hire for is where you could be in four to 10 to 15 years if you were to stay with us.”
Even if a young staffer came in and said he or she is really interested in being CEO of the company, Ambit Group has a way to show the employee how to progress down that path, Nunnally says.
Ambit Group pairs the career map with its Ambit University, “which is our own internal learning center,” Hayes says. This positions the company to provide internalized training unique to each employee.
“Ambit University is critical to our brand as well. One of our commitments to both our customers and to our employees is that we will always be ahead of the curve and anticipate where the markets are going,” Hayes says. “Part of that is paying attention to market trends to understand what the market requirements will be in the next two, four, six years.”
Last year, Ambit was able to complete almost 540 individual career development or skills development plans, Nunnally says.
Ambit University connects the company’s culture, brand and delivery in a more holistic environment. To build the university, the company invested in Skillsoft software and a full-time equivalent employee with a public education background.
“Then we have the processes by which you can ask for your tuition assistance, you can ask for the actual career development plan developed specifically for you on whatever skills that you needed, and then we have internal and external classrooms,” Nunnally says.
Ambit Group just trained 30 people for certain types of work, even though there wasn’t an immediate need for the training. It’s an agile way of thinking that helps the company every day. Helping to train employees in different ways for different jobs simply implements the feedback that comes from the employees themselves.
“In our annual employee outreach this spring, we took out new culture and values guides, really reinforcing that. One thing we heard back is that our employees wanted not only the classroom learning, they also wanted more brown bag on-site expertise learning,” Hayes says. “‘Bring us the experts in the company and let us share and talk with them.’ So beginning this fall, we’ll be deploying brown bag lunches and on-site chat sessions. We’re also looking at virtual learning where we can establish blogs or video blogs from the office.”
Ambit acknowledges that its approach probably costs more than it might to continue to outsource training, but the company also believes the approach gives it a competitive advantage and a human advantage. When a client seeks skills Ambit Group may not have, the company can show how it will invest the dollars and training internally to still get the job done.
Photos (L to R): Kim Hayes, CEO and Co-founder; John Condon, Chairman and Co-Founder; Bob Nunnally, president and COO; Doug Berry, CTO; Ashequl Hoque, CFO