Briefing Notes: Honest Conversations About Skills-Fit-Gap

Published: October 7, 2019

“Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.” —Margaret Wheatley


Instead of hiding and pretending it’s not happening, companies need to be having honest discussions with staff about the future of work (FOW) — especially their skills fit-gap — says Robert Falzon, Vice-Chairman of Prudential Investments in a conversation with Quartz at Work.

Asked about how FOW is playing out at Prudential, Falzon’s response caught my attention. It’s a plain, clear explanation why companies are pushing for advanced tech and what in turn, it means for you and me.

His answer is specific to the financial world, but read it with your own industry in mind to get a sense as to where the changes may be happening.
(edited for brevity)

What’s happening in society today? Amazon. Two clicks, two days to your front door, right? That’s your experience.

Now, as a consumer considering life insurance, you’re thinking, “Why should it be any different? Why can’t this be two clicks in two days and I’m done?”

We have to live up to that kind of expectation. So we’ve introduced AI into our underwriting process. We’re not quite down to two clicks, but with 7 pieces of information and 48 hours you can be insured for up to $1 million. What’s happening to the labor I need as a result of that?

Before, I needed a whole bunch of underwriters to take in and read all the forms, then profile you based on that information. I needed medical staff to take samples from you to do a part of the underwriting. Now, I no longer need these people.

What I need are data scientists and actuaries that can do the modeling to create the artificial intelligence that can get the process down to the seven questions I need to ask. To know the external databases that I can search to marry the data to the answers to those seven questions. So I can turn that underwriting around.

  • Speaking of Amazon’s impact … My latest podcast find: Land of the Giants. Facebook. Apple. Amazon. Netflix. Google. These five tech giants have changed the world. But how? And at what cost? The first season delves into Amazon, arguably the world’s largest marketplace and most valuable company.
  • The latest on Second Breaks: While on FB, Justine Sones responded to a random request for help. This small seed of an idea grew bigger and became the foundation of her new career. One thing I took away from our convo: how she separates the “where do I want to go” from “how do I get there”. Check out Ep 112 on your mobile device. Or read it here.


“If you accept as a premise that this is affecting everyone, would you rather be working for the company that’s having that honest conversation with you, and has a program helping you to manage your career as that change evolves? Or would you rather work with a company that says, ‘Nothing’s changing and we ‘promise’ you a long-term career?’ Because what I can tell you is that the latter instance is a company that is not going to be around long enough to actually fulfill that.” — Robert Falzon, Prudential Financial

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A former management consultant and IT leader, Lou Blaser is the editor of Briefing Notes and the host of the Second Breaks podcast. She is also the author of Break Free: The Courage to Reinvent Yourself and Your career. Lou’s work is focused on helping experienced professionals navigate an evolving work landscape so they can continue their impact and relevance in a changing world.

The world of work is changing.

Stay smart about it.

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