Mr. Ivey is a Sr. Director within the Professional Services Organization at Fair Isaac. Fair Isaac is an entity with a household name in terms of identifying one’s credit (or “FICO”) score. Fair Isaac is a large, publicly traded entity that further defines itself as “providing analytics and decision making services – including credit scoring – intended to help their clientele make high volume decisions.” We asked Mr. Ivey for his insight about a variety of items aligned with the technology staffing arena and beyond, and the transcript below captures that exchange.
UDig: You head up an organization comprised of elite information technologists. What is the #1 challenge you face in terms of identifying, qualifying and engaging the right talent for your organization today?
Ivey: In FICO Professional Services, we’re looking to create careers for individuals with great customer facing skills (communication is king) and the core technical competencies we need. Like any service organization, our goal is to delight and add value to our clients each day and finding that right combination of strengths is the key challenge for any organization in today’s marketplace.
UDig: How would you describe the supply-demand balance in the IT labor pool today? What hard technical or business skills do you feel are particularly in demand right now?
Ivey: The balance of course depends specifically on what skill you need. There is certainly high demand and low supply in the area of analytic scientists currently and an area we pride ourselves on cultivating and retaining given that is a major focus of our business. Another area of complexity is driven by the numerous technology skills needed for integration of products with customer platforms. Here, experience using a specific set of technologies together in a certain way is often necessary given the intricacies of how they may interact. To begin to mitigate this, FICO has deployed the FICO Analytic Cloud which is helping us to standardize, speed and reduce cost of integration and deployment of products for our customers.
UDig: There has been a great deal of recent discussion surrounding the availability of technical talent from overseas. How does that affect your ability to fully staff your organization? What is your opinion about the United States’ approach to its workforce immigration policies (i.e. H1B Visas in particular)?
Ivey: In FICO Professional Services, we have developed Centers of Excellence situated around the globe which consists of groups that are highly skilled in delivering technologies or products in certain areas. In some cases where high US client engagement is needed, that CoE is located in the US and conversely where a majority of our clients may be in the APAC region, the CoE could be in India or Europe. To that end, in the US we draw from those CoE’s to deliver the expertise needed and have had success in obtaining H1B’s where needed given our ability to show specific expertise.
UDig: What are you reading? What online or print sources do you follow as most relevant to your role and what you are asked to accomplish for FICO?
Ivey: I finished reading the “Innovator’s Dilemma” by Clayton Christensen recently and I’m on to “Lead with Luv” by Ken Blanchard and Colleen Barrett. It is imperative that our team members see a tangible career and skill path that aligns with company and personal goals and that they are routinely recognized for accomplishments along the way and how they contribute directly to our collective success. This book relays the Southwest Airlines culture that is certainly an example of the employee engagement we strive for each day here at FICO. In terms of other reading I find that CIO and American Banker tend to have great stories relevant to trends in our business.
UDig: What do you see as both the greatest threats and opportunities in your space over the next one to five years?
Ivey: The biggest threat and opportunity in our space is time to value. Most customers are under increasing pressure to deliver more with less and it’s imperative that our products, team members and technology infrastructure (i.e. the FICO Analytic Cloud) deliver value to our customers faster and with very high quality. In the context of staffing, this translates to team members with great technical and communication skills to maintain scope, mitigate risks and develop quality implementations the first time around.
UDig: You’ve accomplished a great deal since you completed your undergraduate work. What advice do you have for this year’s newest college graduates?
Ivey: For a new college graduate, I think personal drive and being pro-active is key. Any thriving company these days is going to have complex products or services that are not easily copied and that means it takes time and dedication to learn them. Seek out information and opportunities to learn and don’t expect it will all be laid out in front of you. Spend your off time practicing and getting ahead of the curve. Find ways to learn about the industries you’ll support. You won’t have the experience of working in a bank or an airline or an insurer for a decade but you can begin to learn the industry by talking to colleagues about the problems you are solving for those customers. Set professional and personal goals for where you want to be in 3, 6, and 12 months and stick to them.
UDig: What is your outlook for the overall high tech labor market in the coming one to two years?
Ivey: Given a continued shift to cloud environments using numerous innovative technologies and Big Data, we’re going to be looking for resources that are flexible, adaptable and quick learning. This should signal growing opportunities for the high-tech labor market that can help companies like ours accelerate the value we derive from those technologies in solving our customer’s problems.UDig Brain Dig: Q&A with Chris Ivey, Senior Director at Fair Isaac