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How to engage leaders and workforce in digital transformation

— Talent Management

How to engage leaders and workforce in digital transformation

Elisabetta Galli, Global Head of Knowledge, Development & Talent Management at Banco Santander shared with us her experiences in the engagement of leaders and workforce in digital transformation. This article will also appear in ZigZagHR Magazine's November issue. 

With an academic background as a Clinical Psychologist, Elisabetta has developed a more than 25 year career in Human Resources, in local, regional and global roles, most of them as HR generalist in charge of multiple geographies and multinational teams. Before Santander, Elisabetta Galli has been working at Wolters Kluwer as global HRVP of the Legal & Regulatory Business Unit and at Johnson & Johnson, where she has been working 11 years in the Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices sectors.

Did you know that Santander was founded in 1857 as queen Isabella II of Spain signed a Royal Decree authorizing the incorporation of Banco Santander – initially to facilitate trade between the Port of Santander, in northern Spain, and Latin America? Today Santander is a global bank that grew through acquisitions. That’s why the culture is very diverse, integrating different cultures and ways of working.

The project: from a traditional retail bank to an open financial services platform

Two years ago the president of Santander, Ana Patricia Botin, announced she wanted Santander, a traditional retail bank, to transform into the best open financial services platform by 2025. This meant a huge change in terms of profiles, skills, processes, ways of working and mindset. Elisabetta Galli got the mandate to support this digital transformation that would completely alter the DNA of the entire company.

The biggest challenge: upskilling the workforce: 200.000 employees worldwide

Elisabetta Galli: “My focus the first couple of months was to get deep knowledge of the expertise that was already in house, getting familiar with my new team and making clear where we wanted to go. We need to grow together towards the change. I started with a vision and a mandate from my line managers and then we embarked on the journey together. The biggest challenge - as in every change project - is the organization’s readiness and eagerness to grow into something new. If Santander wanted to transform into an open financial services platform by 2025, upskilling our people was key!  When we carried out the first Strategic Workforce Planning analysis, it was no surprise that our people needed upskilling, but the magnitude was scary: 60% of our workforce worldwide were in need of upskilling or reskilling for 90% of their skillset!”

Dojo as the enabler of Santander’s digital transformation

Elisabetta Galli: “Our people lead the future, Dojo empowers them to fulfill this objective. Dojo is actually a Japanese term used to describe a space for immersive learning or meditation to achieve physical, moral, mental and spiritual perfection. Santander Dojo is a transformation program redesigning the operating model of the learning function and democratizing the learning experience at Santander.

At the center of this ecosystem is a state of the art learning experience platform, enabled with artificial intelligence. It was conceived as one of HR’s strategic solutions to develop the talent for the future, by offering personalized learning experiences for all +200k employees worldwide, but is also a powerful element of attraction and retention for the digital talent we need to achieve our strategic goals. Dojo allows our employees to find the resources and learning experiences they need to grow both personally and professionally. People lead their own development. The platform gives them ownership to choose their pace and helps them to focus on what matters.

In Dojo we also have 400 subject matter experts, we call Scouts, who are available to deliver support and training to their colleagues. That way we take full advantage of our intrinsic knowledge (there is a lot of expertise in the company!) sharing and multiplying it throughout the organization

Dojo connects the Santander Vision with the necessary skills to achieve that vision; it connects all the knowledge and content of Santander, from every corner of the world as well as content and learning objects from the best global providers. Dojo connects employees from every country, facilitating knowledge sharing beyond the digital space. It has really shifted the learning paradigm by democratizing Santander’s learning offer: global content in multiple languages, available for everyone, anywhere, anytime. It turns the tables on the way people develop their capabilities with new and engaging learning outputs.

In order to engage our learning leaders across the globe we created a global learning community (the Global Learning Council or GLC) and invested heavily in co-creation and communication.

A toolkit has been developed for the local L&D teams to support them in the execution of the  local change management plans. The GLC meets every second week,  to share information, learn and make decisions on the contents, and two people from my team engaged with local L&D leaders on a daily basis, towards the full transformation. Staying close to the countries and working together with them instead of pushing the change from the top through is critical for succes.

Looking back on the journey

Looking back on this journey, Elisabetta shares  3 major learnings:

  • First of all, you need to ensure full and strong endorsement; the top of the house needs to be all-in!
  • Second, never underestimate the political aspect of transformation, especially when you are working in a multi-cultural and multi-country company.
  • Third, always trust on people, take people on board, clarify the strategy and mission, engage with them in order to grow. Without engagement of people and a good change management plan you cannot do anything!

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