A woman wearing a blue shirt and glasses smiles at the camera during a remote video interview.
Claire Kelly, MSD. Image: Connor McKenna/SiliconRepublic.com

Why employers need to allow time for digital upskilling

18 Jan 2022

MSD’s Claire Kelly discusses the importance of digital skills and how her own team adapted to a new way of working during the pandemic.

A central part of the future of work for many companies is ensuring staff are up to speed on digital and tech skills.

Nothing has made these skills more important than the last two years, when many teams had to learn how to work and collaborate completely remotely for the first time.

Claire Kelly is associate director of digital enablement at MSD Ireland. She spoke to SiliconRepublic.com about the ways in which digital skills have been adopted at the pharma business.

“Prior to Covid, my teams would have been global so we would have always had to rely on technology in that respect. But obviously since Covid, it’s even more so, given that our team members who used to co-locate are now all remote,” she said.

“Things have come a long way since when I first started. We used to have to send emails to each other and say, you know, ‘Who’s in the spreadsheet?’ So it’s amazing how quickly technology has progressed in that respect.”

Kelly said one of the key changes her team has adopted is the agile framework, a specific approach to planning, managing and executing work. As part of this, the team uses the Jira tool to track and manage day-to-day tasks.

“When you’re remote, you really have to make time and effort for the softer side of things,” added Kelly.

“Things that would naturally happen in an office where you just learn more about a person, that doesn’t naturally happen remotely. So, it’s something you have to really focus on and make sure that you are connecting with your team members and your stakeholders.”

When it comes to actually upskilling a team, Kelly said the speed at which technology is moving means employers have to “carve out time” for their employees to get to grips with new tools and technologies.

“These tools are really powerful so you need the time to really invest and experiment and understand, because often what you learn in a standard training session, it will get you a certain part of the way. But often it’s [with] true experimentation that you really can see how a particular tool or technology can bring value to the business.”

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Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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