Intel’s HR director explains why HR leaders need to be tech savvy

A year ago this week, Christy Pambianchi began as vice president and chief people officer of Intel Corp. As the chief human resources executive for the famed maker of microprocessors that power everything from computers and workstations to mobile devices, Pambianchi’s mission upon arrival it was threefold: Navigating the global company through the COVID-19 pandemic, driving people innovation for two new large-scale facilities, and offering policies and protocols for the changing modern workforce. A veteran of Verizon, Corning and PepsiCo, Pambianchi now oversees 121,000 employees and their needs for hybrid work models and new skills.

Pambianchi spoke with HRE a week before the HR Technology Conference on his thoughts on how technology has transformed the role of HR leaders in general and HR managers in particular. At the HR Tech Conference, Pambianchi will speak on the closing main panel, “Meet the CHRO of the future…a tech expert.” with Lisa Buckingham, former CPO of Lincoln Financial, and Deborah DeVerna, CHRO of Qontigo.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

HRE: Regarding your main panel, what can a techie bring to the HR role that they couldn’t in the past?

Christy Pambianchi, Intel
Christy Pambianchi (Credit: Intel Corporation)

Christy Pambianchi: I have been practicing human resources for a long time and have seen the evolution of technology throughout my career. In the early days, HR information systems could (primarily) manage payroll and help track people’s benefits and financial plan or 401(k) choices. Thirty-odd years later, the technology has evolved with mobile devices, the Internet, the Internet of Things, and AI machine learning. It is embedded in everything we do in human resources.

Someone in my job needs to be knowledgeable about the ways people live their lives, the way society behaves, what it means for the way work gets done in the workplace, and how technology can empower and enhance employees in the workplace. They also need to know how technology can enable, enhance and streamline our capabilities as HR leaders.

HRE: Can you give some examples?

Pambianchi: If you look at the talent acquisition space, we’ve gone to a completely digital experience that didn’t even exist a few years ago when we had job boards and some online PR pointing to a link to put in your resume. Now we have a whole set of millions of people capable of viewing millions of jobs, and we have artificial intelligence and other capabilities to bring together hiring managers and candidates capable of having a completely different experience.

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HRE: Where else has HR technology mostly helped?

Pambianchi: There are plenty of onboarding experiences that companies have put in place so that employees can start to experience the company or connect with co-workers before they join or are at work. They are building social networks within the company that are digital to help drive employee connectivity and enhance culture and belonging and engagement with a company. In addition, learning has experienced an obvious explosion. Now HR says, let’s update the job architectures, the job taxonomies to really hone the skills, not just the job title or pay level.

HRE: What projects are you working on?

Pambianchi: We are thinking of doing two “greenfield” projects in Ohio and Germany. (The term “greenfield” refers to a technology project on a new site without legacy hardware such as data centers, workspaces, and in most cases has not yet been built. -Editor) I’ll be at the Ohio opening later this week before I’m in Vegas next week.

I had the opportunity to participate in the site selection, and workforce availability and access to talent was a key component of the selection. In addition to other physical attributes of the sites, be it land, access to water and energy, [we also worked] with partners and technology providers to understand a map of the entire region. We asked, what would access to talent availability look like over a 10-year span? What can we do to help increase that? How can we help influence and partner with local communities to develop talent for the jobs we’re going to have?

HRE: Can you tell us about your people analysis? What kind of image are you trying to get from your workforce?

Pambianchi: We have a great HR analytics team here at Intel, probably the most developed of any HR analytics team I’ve ever had, and this is coming up in my 14th or 15th year as CPO. I would say [people analytics] covers the whole range. On the front end, we’re using analytics right now on our two greenfield projects to fully map the region around where we’re building the facility to understand the workforce, the pipeline, and build a five-year plan on how to increase upload those places.

Within our existing workforce, we have screening surveys. We have an employee experience survey, which we do annually with sort of quarterly pulse checks.

We are also conducting an inclusion survey for the second year, which goes beyond the employee experience and we are delving into how included people feel. And we share those results with all employees and take advantage of that information. We also use our retention technology and analytics. One of the things that we’ve done right now is try to create a predictive analytics tool that looks at a number of factors that could help us understand the hot spots, where we might have an organization, a team, or a skill that’s becoming particularly objective. We can hone in before something becomes a problem and really start a dialogue and put some actions in place to address it.

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HRE: Any surprising discoveries from your people analysis?

Pambianchi: First, we are in a great transformation as a company. I think one of the great things we’ve been doing is bringing back a real emphasis on technology and technology expertise. And we’ve done a significant amount of recruiting and promotion of our technical colleagues and we’ve brought technical leaders back into the company. We also focus on how we improve the morale, enthusiasm, and engagement of our technical community.

Also, what are the dynamics in the workplace? We have a wide generational mix and more millennials who are now managers. It’s probably a big surprise that this group is reaching the age where they have 10 years of experience. They are entering their management years. So seeing this, we asked “do we need to refresh and refresh our thinking about growing our leaders?”

HRE: What’s on your tech wish list? Is there a piece of technology that you wish someone would create to make your personal or professional life easier?

Pambianchi: Honestly, there are so many incoming ways that information communications come to me. I would love an aggregator for all of that. I joke, Wow, Ryan from “The Office” had the right idea when he built the WUPH application in a closet Made this app that “wow” every time you get a message on any of your platforms. Honestly, I joke around with my husband and we have four kids who are 16-22 so they are super digital and there are a lot of incoming channels. It is very difficult if you want to be very receptive. I think we have to figure this out.

To learn more about Pambianchi, attend his closing remarks on September 16 at the HR Tech Conference in Las Vegas. Register here.

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