winning secrets

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EPAM Systems is no different from the rest of the world in having faced many pandemic-related challenges. What makes it different is the way in which it redesigned the way the company works, learns, and collaborates in the new reality, says Olga Gavrilova, Head of L&D, APAC.

At the Employee Experience Awards 2021, Singapore, EPAM Systems received the gold award for Best In-House Certification programme.

In this interview, Olga Gavrilova, Head of Learning & Development, EPAM Systems, APAC share the secrets behind this win - and how they redesigned the way the company works, learns, and collaborates in the new reality with various programmes, digital solutions, and more.

Q Congratulations on bagging this award! What is your award-winning employee experience strategy that led to this win?

Thank you! We are excited to have been recognised as an organisation that is dedicated to creating a learning-inspired employee experience!

Our strategy is very simple. EPAM Systems has always been a very people-focused organisation that helps our employees thrive professionally—relentlessly working on bringing the employee experience to new heights at all stages of the employee lifecycle.

Being a mature learning organisation, we foster a continuous learning culture for all functions and levels of our more than 43,000 employees worldwide. In the APAC region, our goal was to present learning solutions that are highly valued by our learners and clients, because they can see the tangible impact they make on the performance and quality of work.

That’s why the keyword that describes our strategy is a ‘genuine’ presentation of our in-house certification programme that helps employees grow professionally.

Q How did you and your team conceptualise and adapt this strategy to suit evolving workforce needs in the past year?

Globally, the past year was a huge challenge. But it was a very productive year for learning & development.

We decided that the best strategy to continue our organisational growth would be to focus on learning and growing professionally, and it proved to be a winning strategy.

We redesigned our in-house learning programmes to meet the growing needs of employees in a fast-changing and volatile environment, making sure they felt safe, supported, and empowered to deliver the best results no matter what was happening around them. 

We did our best to make sure the employee experience not only remained positive, but also supported by the necessary internal tools and processes within our people management ecosystem to ensure secure and happy work-from-home or -from-office routines amid possible pandemic limitations.

Of course, we had to innovate and introduce new roles (such as virtual learning assistants, project onboarding buddies, and etc.) and processes (remote onboarding journey, 'Lightning Talks' to develop a sense of belonging, to name a few; to onboard our accelerated career programmes’ learners, support leaders who lead hybrid and remote teams, and generally foster wellbeing and productivity while providing value and addressing the unique needs of our clients.

Q What challenges did you face along the way, and how did you overcome them?

We are no different from the rest of the world and faced many pandemic-related challenges. But since EPAM Systems operates in 35+ countries and regions, we learned to become adaptive and resilient to change long ago.

EPAM Systems’ Remote-by-Design, Organisational Enablement, Enterprise Technology & Operations Transformation, and many other solutions, for instance, helped us redesign the way we work, learn, and collaborate in the new reality.

But there’s another important aspect that helped us overcome these challenges and become stronger as a team.

Within EPAM Systems' corporate social responsibility programmes, we strive to make the planet a better place by driving green challenges, helping underprivileged kids and communities in need.

By giving to others – especially during the pandemic – we lead a more purposeful life and feel even more connected as a global team at EPAM Systems, which makes it so easy to jump into a new opportunity and work towards the same goal.

Q How did the strategy add to the overall employee experience in your organisation, in terms of ROI? Any achievements you’d like to show off?

The consistent positive employee feedback indicates that our employees thrive in the environment where they are explicitly encouraged to learn and grow, which proves our focus on learning was the best strategy.

The most significant business-related achievement for EPAM Systems is our clients’ satisfaction with our quality solutions where we go beyond engineering excellence to deliver value. This is possible only because our organisation invests in upskilling and reskilling employees, implements agile learning techniques and encourages continuous learning in the flow of work.

Continuous learning helps EPAM Systems grow its business and results in steady increase of ROI of our internal L&D programmes.

Q What is the most exciting and valuable thing about being part of (and winning at!) the debut Employee Experience Awards?

The most exciting thing about winning the debut Employee Experience Awards is the recognition of our global core programme in the Asia Pacific region. Our APAC offices are relatively small as compared to other EPAM Systems offices that employ up to 2,000, 5,000, or 10,000 people each, but we are actively growing and customising more solutions to train local talent.

So, it’s proof we are doing the right thing for the local market, and it also flags to our employees and students about our L&D programmes that their professional future is in good hands at EPAM Systems.

Q Looking ahead, what else do you have planned as you continue to enhance the overall employee experience?

At EPAM Systems APAC, we are doing our best to make sure every person is heard, supported, and encouraged to fully realise their potential.

We provide safe and top-notch equipment and office environment (or help to arrange safe and comfortable work-from-home routines), opportunities to grow at all levels, implement a lot of up-to-date professional development solutions for all levels from top executives who are our learning champions leading by example to fresh university graduates who join our career accelerator programmes (like the Emerging Engineers Academy and the Emerging Designers Academy).

We are also actively implementing our best global solutions in APAC and investing in local ones that meet the unique needs of our employees and clients in Asia Pacific countries. This win at the Singapore EXA proves we are on the right track with a lot more to come!

Q Do share tips to inspire your peers who are working on their EX strategies and would love to participate in the awards next year.

Employee experience is multi-faceted and holistic, which means the best strategy is to work as a team, with your colleagues who see things from a different angle, and who can help bring their own pieces to the common puzzle to make it comprehensive and persuasive. Enjoy every minute of your teamwork and cooperation because you will make a lot of discoveries along the way.

The notion of teamwork to reach a common goal will unite your team better than anything else!

Q Lastly, to end on a fun note – if you could describe the employee experience at your organisation in one sentence, what would that be?

Can I quote what our employees say? "It’s a friendly and supportive world of top-notch opportunities to us!"

And join us today to truly experience what our EPAMers feel!


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Read more interviews on why organisations have won trophies for their HR practices - head over to our Winning Secrets' section!

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