31st January 2024

Unlocking your potential: The Digital Engineering UK Career Accelerator

Vodafone Engineering
Steven Noakes
Software Engineering Manager

As one of the leading telecommunications companies in the world, Vodafone is always at the forefront of innovation. We understand that our engineering teams are the backbone of our success, which is why we are constantly looking for ways to support and develop our talented people.

Introducing or changing a framework can be a game-changer for businesses looking to boost their employees’ engagement, productivity, and retention. By clearly outlining the skills, behaviours, and milestones that people need to achieve to progress in their careers, our career accelerator provides a roadmap for and development and promotion.

Not only does this give people a sense of direction and purpose, but it also helps them to understand how their work contributes to the company’s goals and mission. By setting clear expectations and providing regular feedback, managers can help their team members to feel valued and supported, which can lead to improved morale and job satisfaction. Ultimately, a well-designed framework can help businesses to attract and retain top talent, while also driving innovation and advancement.

Reinventing Our Framework

Why We Took a Ground-Up Approach to Support Engineers’ Career Development

We’re constantly seeking ways to help our talented engineers reach their full potential. That’s why we had already implemented a framework in the past, which had proved successful in enabling our engineers to gain promotions and advance their careers.

However, we didn’t rest on our laurels. We recognised that to remain at the forefront of innovation, we needed to take a fresh approach to supporting our employees’ growth and development. While the framework was working it had also stayed dormant for some time due to a lack of dedicated resource to keep this up to date. This meant that the content and structure was no longer suitable for what we were doing now. This was in a short period of time and evidence of the fast paced nature of change in these roles.

We started to get pockets of feedback about this, and that it was becoming increasingly difficult to understand or get the correct experience based on content that was no longer appropriate. We had also used a tool that was easy for us to create it but not so easy for our engineers to use as an evidence gathering portfolio which was a challenge for many. So, we set out to re-energise our existing framework, gathering as much feedback as possible from our engineers to identify what worked and what didn’t and start again having learned as much as we can.

We began with a complete overhaul of the tooling for people to manage their progress. The old system was difficult to use and cumbersome, so we developed a new system in a better tool that was user-friendly and intuitive. But we didn’t stop there. We also updated and in most cases created brand new content to make sure it was relevant to our current standards and covered all areas of work our talented engineers get involved with.

Our goal is to create a more centralised and open approach to career development, opening up opportunities for engineers to explore other areas of the business such as front-end, back-end, architecture, and DevOps and seek moves into other roles. We wanted to ensure that our engineers had access to the training and support they needed to succeed in any role they chose to pursue.

In addition to updating our framework, we also increased the number of secondments into other areas of the business. This allowed our engineers to “try out” different roles, gaining valuable experience and identifying any knowledge or skill gaps that needed to be addressed to make a successful transition.

What is the framework?

Vodafone Technical Career Paths (TCP)

Vodafone has put in place a framework called TCP this is a system where in any technical role we are identifying and ratifying our experts within our business. Experts are a community of around 130 people currently who play a key role in Vodafone’s success, and they have a direct input into our Innovative Technology Strategy.

Becoming an expert means that they will be relied upon by the Technology Leadership Team, and even the ExCo for their experience, knowledge and expertise to be thought leaders and to input into decisions that affect the direction of not only the Technology function, but Vodafone overall. So, they will be on the forefront by contributing to the Tech2025 agenda; this is why this community is so key to the success of our business.

Digital Engineering UK Career Accelerator

This article is about the lower levels of an engineers development before they might consider themselves to be an expert. This is a comprehensive system that covers the traditional levels and roles available to our engineers for example Junior → Mid → Senior. It provides a collection of skills either specific to the domain of the given role or ones that are shared across other domains too where we are able to do so. All of these skills sit under key pillars to give an understanding of the varied requirements of any role. These pillars are aligned to those in TCP expert levels which keeps all paths aligned and familiar for our engineers when looking at either framework.

At its core, the framework is a tool to help our engineers identify the training and development opportunities they need to evidence as part of their job to prove their ability in these areas to achieve their career goals. It’s a single, centralised system that makes it easier for our engineers to accelerate their careers and provides much-needed clarity on what they need to focus on to achieve their full potential.

The framework is designed to provide clear guidelines within those specific skills and behaviours that engineers should exhibit in their daily job. For example, if you’re a front-end developer, the framework includes a skill for your Javascript/TypeScript knowledge, this same skill is utilised at all relevant levels. From the early stages of learning as an associate to influencing and refining the engineering roadmap for that skill as a principal engineer this is all covered under a single skill that evolves with you.

What has the impact been?

The framework we’ve introduced has been a game changer for our engineering team - from retaining great talent, and seeing more and more engineers achieving new roles, responsibilities and skills as they progress through the framework.

We believe that every engineer deserves a clear and achievable path to accelerate in their career, and our framework provides just that.

As part of our commitment to the framework, we’ve made it a standard part of our onboarding process for new engineers. We’ve already received positive feedback from our team members, and we’ve taken their feedback to heart to make necessary improvements. We’re excited to see how our framework will continue to impact our engineering team and our overall success as a company.

The Future of the Career Accelerator Framework

We’re committed to continuously evolving our framework to meet the changing needs of our engineers. While some disciplines are already well-developed, others are still being refined and expanded to better serve our people.

One of our key goals is to distribute the framework more widely across all disciplines, ensuring that all our engineers have access to the same level of support and guidance. This will make it easier for individuals to identify and pursue parallel discipline moves, opening up new career opportunities that may not have been available to them before.

In addition to this, we’re also working on dedicated learning paths for each role and skill covered by the framework. This involves identifying relevant training resources and opportunities that engineers can get involved with to gain valuable experience in areas they may not have had the chance to explore within their current team.

Our ultimate aim is to create a more centralised and open way of thinking about career growth that benefits all our people internally. By providing clear guidelines and support for career development, we believe that the framework will help our engineers achieve their full potential and succeed in their chosen fields.

Our goal is to continue to improve the framework and make it the best it can be at all times. We want to make it a collaborative effort and gather input from a wide range of engineers to ensure it stays relevant and up-to-date. The engineers are best placed to best placed to identify outdated content, gaps, and issues with the expectations.

We are committed to dedicating resources to maintain and evolve the framework over time. We recognise that frameworks can sometimes lose traction and ultimately become redundant without proper ownership and support. To avoid this, we are taking a proactive approach and investing in the framework’s ongoing development.

Interested in joining us?