Future of Work

Future of Work: Insights From Fortune 500s

As we transition to a new world of work, organizational leadership is essential to help workers continuously upskill and collaborate across the employment landscape. This leadership must be characterized by the authenticity and honesty that workers increasingly demand; by visibility as workers increasingly work remotely; and empathy as it is imperative that everyone in the organization understand what others are experiencing.


This Future of Work guide is designed to describe some of the key insights from Fortune500’s  in the future of work. It tries to summarize some of the important insights which were discussed in the Future of Work Pioneers Podcast. There is a great deal of nuance in these discussions and the reader would benefit from going straight to the original podcasts online, with the summary in this guide serving as a sign post for topics he or she finds interesting.

Guide Overview:

  1. John Murabito ( Former CHRO, EVP and Chief Administrative Officer at Cigna)
    Future of Work at Cigna: Leadership, Culture, & Upskilling
  2. Christy Pambianchi (Former EVP &CHRO, Verizon,EVP& Chief People Officer, Intel)
    Future of Work at Verizon: The Pandemic, Digital Transformation, & Diversity
  3. Lisa Gevelber (Founder & VPatGrow with Google & CMO America’s at Google)
    Future of Work at Google: Grow with Google & Overcoming Career Barriers
  4. Tracy Keog (Former CHRO at HP, CPO at Great Hill partners)
     Leading the future of work the HP Way
Future of Work - Fortune 500s
Future of Work – Key Insights from Fortune 500s

Future of Work at Cigna: Leadership, Culture, & Upskilling

Discussion with John Murabito ( Former CHRO, EVP and Chief Administrative Officer at Cigna)

The role of leadership in the current crisis has been critical. Murabito see three values that leaders need to embrace. One is authenticity, as employees are demanding more transparency and honesty from their leaders more than anything else. The second is visibility, as we are in a time and world where people cannot come together. He describes the importance of reaching out to employees and continuing social gatherings and events even if it is all done virtually. The last one is empathy and the importance of knowing and understanding what everyone is going through.

The pandemic has also started a drive to redesign employee experience, with companies re-evaluating their culture that would make their employees feel more supported during these challenging times.

Murabito believes that applying what they have learned through the pandemic would give Cigna a competitive advantage as a company because it benefits Cigna’s most important resource, its people.

In terms of managing its talent, Cigna focused on giving its employees learning opportunities to upskill and adjust their current skills, while moving away from the traditional performance appraisals. 

Cigna has proven to be a very progressive organization by making an effort to combat systemic racism through an initiative called Building Equity and Equality. The program encourages sharing of perspectives on race. Murabito points out the importance of having these deep conversations and trying to understand how their people are feeling through different kinds of situations.

Cigna’s Building Equity and Equality program is a five-year initiative aimed at accelerating the company’s efforts to support communities of color. Cigna has launched a new product to support women and minority-owned businesses as part of this five-year initiative. In order to promote the pipeline for urban education leaders, the company has worked with colleges and academia. 

Equity and Equality highlights that true change and influence require time, and that businesses should not get involved in these movements [such as Black Lives Matter] for a short period. Stop, listen, and comprehend — these three acts are essential for making a genuine difference in these communities.  

From Murabito’s perspective, the keyword that would best describe the workforce of the future is flexibility. The challenge is how companies can optimize their employees to be their best, respect what they want to do, and find a way that benefits both parties.

Murabito then talks about hybrid workforce. He sees Cigna having a relatively small population of senior levels that come into the office almost every day, a portion of their employees continuing to work from home, and a sizable group in the middle of the spectrum. Offices will become collaboration hubs – places where people come together for events rather than necessarily for everyday work.

What about training? Cigna has always been in a traditional learning management system, with specific kinds of training courses that people would access. At the beginning of 2021, Cigna implemented a new learning experience platform as an initiative for upskilling and reskilling.
The amount of content available for people to access has exponentially increased, and these can all be accessed across geographies. Emphasizing the importance of education, he comments:

At the end of the day, you can’t beat smart, well-intentioned people who are focused on the business.

Murabito believes that H.R. leaders are the ones who put a team together that is diverse, not just in their backgrounds, but more importantly, in the way they think and in the way they come up with solutions and ideas. Leaders should be able to put tough questions on the table and have good solutions that could be creative and different versus the same old tried and true things.

This exclusive content is part of ‘The Future of Work: Lessons from the Trenches of Corporate America’ | Download the eBook


Future of Work at Verizon: The Pandemic, Digital Transformation, & Diversity

Discussion with Christy Pambianchi (Former EVP &CHRO, Verizon, EVP& Chief People Officer, Intel)

Lessons can be learned from the experience of large enterprises such as Verizon during the pandemic. Digital transformation has been dramatically accelerated. Employment is becoming more flexible with a greater emphasis on collaboration, innovation and teamwork. Also, in response to the protests against racial injustice, the company is becoming more committed to diversity and inclusion.

The pandemic has challenged the notions around how work gets done. As an essential service provider, like Verizon, we were curious to know how the company handled the transformation of its 100,000 employees for remote work at the beginning of the global pandemic.

One of the first actions that Verizon took was to mobilize their Asia response team in order to begin to lay out a plan around the crisis to support its employees in Asia. Over the last 20 years, Pambianchi has handled many crises, and her background equipped her team to respond to the predicament unfolded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pambianchi admits that she and the whole leadership team at Verizon were stunned by the challenge of putting an order to their 90,000 out of their 135,000 employees that they consider to have frontline roles – working at retail stores, and those in the field as technicians, who are out building telecom networks and servicing customers at their homes, small businesses, and corporate businesses. Pambianchi states the reality of the situation:
And that’s what happens in a crisis that you are not in control of, and you actually have to find a way to confront that reality if you’re going to be able to continue to conduct business.

As daunting as it sounds, Verizon managed to successfully pivot their employees to working remotely from their homes in just a matter of days. Interestingly, Pambianchi mentions that it was innovation, collaboration, and making use of their connections, all of which were paramount in making it all happen.

The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation and the future of work in unprecedented ways. For Pambianchi, it is an exciting time to now be thinking about the long-term impacts and reflecting on the learning that companies have gone through. 

Old habits die hard, and according to Pambianchi, companies like Verizon are still heavily reliant on physical presence and the in-person experience. Verizon plans to retain retail store locations, but the experiences they offer to customers will continue to evolve as they plan to dive deeper into what their customers want and what employees want, along with understanding how to support remote work.

Pambianchi emphasizes that jobs at Verizon will offer more flexibility and that working on-premise would happen when collaborating, innovating, and engaging in cross-functional teamwork. The physical space is key to who they are as a company, but Verizon plans to have a lot more remote roles, in addition to more digital and hybrid work.

On top of all the initiatives Pambianchi is working on, Verizon has also taken an active role in driving racial justice and equality both within and beyond its walls. 

According to Pambianchi,
Step one of any self-improvement program is to admit there’s a problem, right? And, if you don’t admit there’s a problem, we’re probably not going to fix the problem.

Courageous Conversations is an initiative started by Verizon’s leadership team and a number of its board members where they broadcast and talk openly about issues, along with acknowledging that they aren’t going to make any progress as a society and move forward in terms of racial equality and eliminating racism unless they are willing to talk about these things openly. 

The three main tenets of their actions have focused on continuing those courageous conversations, creating safe spaces for those conversations where everyone can be heard, and participating in helping colleagues become leaders in society.

Pambianchi, however, admits there are employee requests seeking a more nuanced understanding of the history of these matters pertaining to racism. In answer to this, Verizon has pivoted and put together a curriculum on their learning portal that all employees can access to better understand the history of race relations in the U.S. and in other parts of the world. This curriculum will educate people about the problem, so that they can figure out how to integrate this knowledge with their firsthand personal experiences and find ways to engage in a solution.

Verizon has also donated $10 million to seven leading organizations on racial justice and social justice, such as the NAACP and the Rainbow Coalition. Pambianchi points out that their CEO and head of social responsibility has been meeting with the leaders of those organizations in order to understand how that money will be utilized. Also, to learn what they are focused on, and what they need leaders of corporate America to be doing in order to help advance criminal and social justice reform as well as racial relations reform.

Pambianchi further explains:
I think it’s an opportunity. Sometimes, the world presents you with a situation that you didn’t anticipate, and I think we rose to the occasion, and it’s a real opportunity for us to become something we had on our 10-year roadmap.

Not all organizations have Verizon’s resources, and in the next one to two years, Pambianchi hopes that they will get to complete that roadmap while helping and inspiring other organizations along their journey as well.

This exclusive content is part of ‘The Future of Work: Lessons from the Trenches of Corporate America’ | Download the eBook

Future of Work at Google: Grow with Google & Overcoming Career Barriers

Discussion with Lisa Gevelber (Founder & VPatGrow with Google & CMO America’s at Google)

Google is embracing the future of work through Grow with Google, which offers a wide array of job training programs to help individuals to enhance their skills. The company also has programs such as Google Applied Digital Skills that are available to educators so as to assist them in teaching.

Gevelber starts off by mentioning that according to the World Economic Forum, half the people around the world would need to reskill by 2025. The team at Google knew that they had to play a role because they know that technology can be an enabler and that they could play a disproportionate role in making sure that the opportunities created by technology are truly available to everyone.

Gevelber is the Vice President of Grow with Google, an initiative she started in 2017 to ensure that individuals and businesses of all sizes have the opportunity to use technology to grow and become their best selves, and also to reach their economic potential.

According to Gevelber,
Small businesses have always been the heart and soul of Google. We only succeed when our customers succeed.

Grow with Google’s earliest customers were small businesses that understood that by harnessing the power of the Internet, they could reach even more people outside of their immediate area.  Ever since then, Grow with Google has been helping small businesses go online and use tools.

Grow with Google has a whole spectrum of job training programs to help individuals maximize their potential, from learning the basics of making a spreadsheet to writing emails, along with mid-level digital skills like coding and programming. Gevelber also mentions that they have programs that any educator can use, such as Google Applied Digital Skills, which has over two million students from middle school and high school.

There are also programs that run a full semester, with 90 hours of instruction, and it’s all hands-on pragmatic and project-oriented work, which Gevelber likes to call life skills plus work skills. These programs teach people how to think critically when it comes to making good decisions with their money. Gevelber emphasizes that the program is free and available to anyone who wants to use it, and that they also use it with adults who are looking for employment.

Grow with Google’s career certificates take pride in approaching the learning process holistically. Gevelber explains that they have tried to do two things with these programs. One is to create a robust pipeline of non-traditional talent by giving them the right training. The second is to help employers think differently about the people they hire, and what requirements are really needed. 

Gevelber reminds us that there are nearly 80 million people in the U.S. who are without a college degree and see not having a degree as a barrier to getting a good job. Grow with Google career certificate’s goal is to attempt to remove this barrier. 

How does Google achieve this?
By making sure that anyone, regardless of their educational background or experience, can get the training they need to get into various high-paying, in-demand, and high-growth job fields. Career certificates are available in four fields so far – IT support, user experience design, project management, and data analytics. Among these four fields, there are 1.3 million open jobs in the U.S. right now, so these happen to be in-demand skills with excellent job prospects.  Grow with Google is  taking a full ecosystem approach, to which Gevelber explains that not only are they giving people the training they need, but they’ve also worked extensively with employers to create the training that they want people to have.

Non-traditional learners (people who don’t have college degrees) are often working one or two jobs and are facing other challenges. 

How does Grow with Google support these learners given the context they are in?

Gevelber mentions that her team is working with the American Association of Community Colleges, and also works directly with over 100 community colleges in the U.S. This way, people who have no resources for online learning in their homes have the option to have an instructor-led or cohort-based environment. Her team is also working with non-profit organizations around the country, such as the United Service Organizations, and Goodwill, to create cohort-based learning environments for people who want extra support and to have the feeling of a community,  

I think at the end of the day, what we’re trying to do is make sure we’re creating an economy that truly works for everyone, and to create an inclusive and equitable economy.

Gevelber makes us aware that in order to create a truly inclusive and equitable economy, it will take the whole ecosystem of educational institutions, governments, non-profit organizations, and employers to achieve it. Gevelber hopes that employers will start to think differently about how they can integrate nontraditional talent into their workforce. This will be the most important thing they can do.

This exclusive content is part of ‘The Future of Work: Lessons from the Trenches of Corporate America’ | Download the eBook

Leading the future of work the HP Way

HR departments must harness technology to extricate themselves from antiquated modalities. They must leverage AI and information technology to adapt to a world of work characterized by remote work, freelancing and digital recruitment.

Human resources is a multidisciplinary area, and the pandemic has brought to light specific talents that leaders must possess in order to navigate through such a crisis. One of the abilities Keogh finds crucial for any leader is the ability to build resiliency and make smart decisions. 

Being able to pivot quickly while facing incredibly uncertain situations, along with being able to operate effectively, is also very important. Not being able to figure out what to do in light of current uncertainties and not having the right data to make hard decisions aren’t helpful and would cause further problems. In a time where there are changes seen every day, leaders should be able to synthesize the information in the environment and make decisions quickly,

Keogh also makes us aware that while we are all dealing with the current pandemic and are looking forward to resolving the crisis, there’s always going to be another wave of challenges, such as climate change and viruses. So, the leadership capabilities we have today are going to be the ones that can help people manage through those situations in the future. 

Keogh believes that HR organizations are not only looking at how they are revamping HR from a technology standpoint by using A.I. and other technologies, but they are also responsible for upskilling and reskilling their employees in order to drive digital transformation. 

We have seen that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the role of technology, along with what it can bring. There are companies that are winning in this situation, and HP sees a huge impact on their products and services. Remote working has raised the demand for printers and computers into homes, but Keogh acknowledges that there’s still a lot of infrastructure that they need to manage effectively, and also more technologies that they want to be able to provide for their customers.

From the HR function, Keogh is redesigning their people strategies based on a much more mobile work environment, and she is looking at how technologies will facilitate career development. 

Keogh emphasizes that the opportunity to hire the best people from all parts of the world has never been more accessible than today, and managing teams remotely has become an important skill that has come with this new opportunity. At HP, they have rolled out a new manager mobility program, which helps managers figure out how to hire and manage teams effectively in a virtual environment.

The level of genuineness is currently unrivaled, and smart movement managers understand how to capitalize on these discussions, making their employees feel more connected to them. 

Keogh believes that every move HR professionals make, whether it’s sending employees home or bringing them back to work, should be viewed through the prism of culture.

In the context of thinking about the workforce of the future, freelancing is on the rise in the U.S., with about 35% of Americans freelancing today, Keogh believes employers should have multiple relationships with employees. It is particularly the younger generation that wants incredibly different experiences, and they don’t want to stay or work in one place. Keogh has people who come in and out, and it is important for her to maintain those relationships whether they’re a part of HP or not.

She then describes situations that she calls boomerangs, where people come back after they’ve gone somewhere else and gained some experience. The old ways of looking at employees as either “you’re part of us, or dead to me when you leave” is no longer applicable today. She believes that we are going to see that ebb and flow and those different relationships heightened as we move on to new technologies that are able to facilitate these different relationships with organizations.

According to Keogh,
People are worried sometimes about the future of work and how it’s all gonna be about technology. I think the thing that I see is technology will be critically important, and we have to look at it and, in every aspect, make sure we’re using it effectively for companies.

Utilizing new technologies in talent recruitment and management has become more important. Interestingly, We live in a bifurcated world, according to Keogh, where talent recruitment, talent management, and putting talent in the proper experiences so they can develop and lead your firm are just as critical as automating many of the HR function’s activities. 

Leaders should be able to hold both thoughts and think about them at the same time in order to really be successful in this new environment.

Organizational leadership is at a premium as the world of work is dramatically transformed. Not only must employees adapt to a workplace characterized by the need to continuously upgrade their skills but employers must create a workplace that is amenable to the needs of those employees. Authenticity, visibility and empathy are crucial and HR departments must be revamped with technology to adapt to new realities. This will require executive-level leadership and collaboration with employees to ascertain what is best going forward. Above all, CEOs must have the humility to listen and learn so as to adapt to rapidly changing realities.

This exclusive content is part of ‘The Future of Work: Lessons from the Trenches of Corporate America’ | Download the eBook