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A Talent Marketplace is not a Plug and Play


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On 30th March, we held our second virtual roundtable of 2023. We had the pleasure of welcoming Karen Powell, Chief Talent and Learning Officer at IQVIA to discuss their strategy of “One IQVIA, Multiple Careers” and the journey they have been on to build an agile, skills driven organisation.

Many organisations are scrambling to understand today’s workforce, the skills needed to drive business growth, and the competitive talent landscape. The way forward can be confusing and require significant investment. And as Karen revealed, it’s not a question of simply plugging in the latest technology and platforms to achieve success.

Karen joined IQVIA in 2019 with the mandate of building a strategic talent and learning function to support IQVIA’s unprecedented growth by empowering over 90,000 employees to succeed. The backdrop for the business was one of ongoing employee growth, with employee numbers expected to rise sharply over the next couple of years.

The business case for talent and learning

The business case for a focus on talent and learning was that the demand for critical skills was clearly outstripping supply. There was also clearly a need for a more agile talent market, one which enabled IQVIA to identify and mobilise talent where and when it was needed to deliver on its growth strategy.

So how can a talent and learning strategy provide this dynamism? Karen outlined five drivers underpinning growth.

  • Advancing human health via an engaged and inclusive employee experience
  • Building critical skills and future-ready leaders to support business growth
  • Promoting a continuous learning and feedback environment to help career development
  • Enabling technology, tools and analytics that support data-driven business decisions
  • Creating a recognisable brand through strategic platforms, programmes and partnerships

Making Career Connections

To realise the potential of these drivers, IQVIA launched Career Connections, its talent marketplace. Its agility was enabled by a technology-enabled internal mobility platform, including AI algorithms that matched employees with personalised opportunities based on skills and aspirations. The launch of the platform encompassed an initial pilot phase, which was then expanded and ultimately resulted in a global, enterprise-wide launch in mid-2022.

The marketplace encompasses:

  • Projects, to help employees gain experiences through development opportunities and employers to find skills internally
  • Mentorship, to build relationships that matter through traditional, reverse and peer mentorship programmes
  • Jobs (Positions), to optimise the talent pool, by instantly surfacing internal candidates for a role, comparing candidates, and building internal talent pipelines

A future-proofed mindset

A talent marketplace can only be effective if accompanied by a major shift in the mindset around talent. Those in IQVIA needed to think about careers very differently, away from a traditional and towards a more future-proofed mindset. What does this look like? Karen defined it in the following ways:

  • Work broken down into critical skills needed
  • Career growth through new experiences
  • Requires employees to be a “learn it all”, rather than a “know it all”
  • Employees owning their development, in partnership with managers, mentors and others
  • Performance management driven by ongoing conversations
  • Talent is a part of the whole organisation, with managers inspiring, developing and coaching.

Clear benefits

The career strategy shift – together with the talent marketplace – provided clear benefits at every level for IQVIA.

  • For the business: The benefits were the ability to build and deploy skills for the future, increase internal mobility, improve engagement and retention and deliver the growth strategy
  • For managers and recruiters: Career Connections helped them tap into the internal pool of skills, discover hidden talent and deliver on business goals
  • For employees: The talent marketplace clearly supported career development that was aligned to aspirations and achieving career goals

Finally, Karen talked about the results that IQVIA has generated. The business uses many metrics, but she highlighted an increase in the percentage of internal employee movement, over the last 3 years by ~6%. Given the sharp increase in headcount over this period, this represents a very large increase in internal movement. And crucially, all of the data coming from the talent marketplace is integrated with IQVIA’s broader people metrics.

Our view

We were inspired by Karen’s presentation. It highlighted for us five essential ingredients for getting a career strategy right:

  • Articulate a compelling business case to show how a focus on skill building, diverse career options, and talent mobility supports your business strategy
  • Understand that investing in a future-focused career strategy is a long-term commitment, not a quick fix
  • Recognise the value of alignment with other HR disciplines, and the importance of resolving disconnects
  • Engage the senior leadership in advocacy, as well as sponsorship
  • Appoint someone to lead the project who has organisational credibility and a deep understanding of the business’s core operations

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