Cerstin Lang, Director for HR Group IT at TUI, reveals how its global For:ward program is driving digital transformation as the travel giant works with training partner Udacity to upskill IT talent

TUI is a leading travel industry player. Technology plays a pivotal role in its future. In recent years – and even during the pandemic – TUI has changed how it operates and runs its technology. One major step in this transformation was to develop from a regionally based IT organisation into one global domain organisation.

TUI BLUE is a collection of premium hotels. From swim-up suites and zen-like spas to stylish surroundings and high-quality cuisine, these hotels take holidaying to the next level
Cerstin Lang, TUI

This was a major task for Cerstin Lang and her team of HR professionals. An organisation of more than 1,700 IT people was reorganised. In addition to this, IT HR itself also went through a digital transformation.

People and talent have driven this change, who in turn are supported by that digital transformation of HR.

Digital Transformation

Making the transition from travel shop to digital player is a journey for TUI supported by a tech strategy that builds on APIs, Big Data, Cloud Computing and Digitisation. TUI´s approach is to have one common technology platform that supports all of its different holiday products – hotels, cruises, excursions & tours and flights. It uses the best of its existing tech solutions along with new ones developed and built by TUI´s tech teams. Over time, TUI will run one single, scalable, open ecosystem of technologies.

“The digital transformation journey started early and was accelerated by the pandemic. We knew early on that we would need new skills and capabilities in our teams to drive TUI’s digital transformation. There is a people side to every transformation. For example, we brought many of our servers into the cloud and had very specific needs in terms of capabilities. At the same time, we knew we had very motivated people in our teams who were eager to develop and take the next step in their careers. This was the starting point for our For:ward program. It supports our transformation as a company and offers a space for learning and development for our colleagues,” confirms Lang.

Upskilling talent with Udacity

“For:ward is a role transition programme which offers colleagues an opportunity to develop and grow personally,” explains Lang. “And it helps us as a company to keep people in the business which is especially relevant against the backdrop of the war for talent. This was a spur, so we have come together with Udacity to develop internal staff to new roles, with the right skills for our continuing digital transformation.”

BRISTOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 2019: German owned TUI is the UK's biggest package holiday operator.
BRISTOL, ENGLAND – AUGUST 2019: German owned TUI is the UK’s biggest package holiday operator

TUI were looking for DevOps engineers, data analysts, security specialists and data scientists – all hard roles to fill on the job market. The ‘Talent Transformation Suite’ was born. “We now offer a half-year program on the job while we give our colleagues the chance to work 30-50% on their current jobs while having enough time in parallel to upskill for a new in-demand role elsewhere in the IT organisation.”

“Working in this way with Udacity as a skills and training partner gives us the confidence to develop the people we already employ and retain their talent for TUI,” she explains. “The feedback has been great. Our people know that the company will invest in them so they can make a big step forward in their personal careers with TUI.”

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