Rackspace Technology® lives its Core Value of Expertise with initiatives designed to enable the continuous professional growth of Rackers. For example, in 2020, Rackspace Technology University (RU), our dedicated learning and development department, launched the 52+ Learning Hours initiative to encourage Rackers to be intentional about building their Expertise. And this isn’t just for Rackers — having a highly skilled workforce is just one of the ways that we deliver Fanatical Experience® for our customers.
RU developed the 52+ Learning Hours initiative in response to our annual employee engagement survey RackerPulse. The survey found that Rackers felt they needed dedicated time and space to enable their professional growth.
52+ Learning Hours Initiative
The initiative encourages Rackers to commit at least one hour a week to achieve their career development goals each year. And as part of our commitment to celebrating Rackers’ development, Rackers who successfully accrue 52 or more learning hours receive an achievement badge through our internal recognition platform, which many of our Rackers proudly share via social media.
“We’re fueling a culture of continuous development and creating excitement around learning,” said RaChelle Streetman, Director of our Global Talent Development. “With the 52+ Learning Hours initiative, we’ve provided an engaging way for Rackers to keep growing.”
There’s no limit to learning, and there’s no cap on the number of hours a Racker can record. In 2021, 245,445 hours were recorded by 2,260 Rackers all around the world. Rackers earned more than 2,700 certifications from the likes of Microsoft, Google, and AWS, as well as professional disciplines like project management and the Information Technology Information Library (ITIL) .
With each learning hour logged, a Racker boosts their knowledge, skills, or expands their Expertise. Anything can count toward a Racker’s learning hours — from competency-building projects, creating solutions for customers, and time spent learning through coaching, mentoring, or peer-to-peer relationships. As Streetman explained, “What we have created with this initiative is magical, as we drive resources and energy into helping Rackers recognize and leverage all the learning opportunities available to them.”
For example, we even count informal, small-group conversations with senior leaders, like Racker Chats, towards the 52+ Learning Hours initiative. These Zoom-based chats are available to Rackers around the globe, and they provide Rackers with an opportunity to connect, ask questions and learn about different parts of the business. Rackers have also created additional opportunities to learn within their teams, like Systems Engineering Manager Jim Simpson, who started weekly recurring training sessions where his team members could share their knowledge and skills.
“Rackspace’s 52+ Learning Hours initiative helped the Content Strategy Team focus on cross-training each other on the different technologies members of the team use each day, such as the One Wiki and Jira,” said Simpson. “Feedback from the sessions was more than positive, with all participants eager to learn more. Everyone was also quite pleased with Rackspace’s commitment to our learning and growth.”
Rackers also have the unique opportunity to tailor their learning based on their personal and professional goals. For some, growth opportunities are made up of hours on the job, while others can be time spent in formal training. Arsany Atya, Cloud Engineer in our EMEA region, has taken classes in the programming language Python among other subjects.
“I’m passionate about learning,” said Atya. “I love spending time developing my technical, coaching, and communication skills. Through this training, I’m better able to meet customer needs.”
RU is continually evolving to help Rackers build their learning paths. In 2020, the department added 36 new instructor-led courses to meet Rackers’ needs. There’s also a dedicated internal website that provides details on learning resources.
Technical Onboarding Program
One of the newest formal training initiatives is the Technical Onboarding Program (TOP). TOP upskills Rackers who are looking to change career paths by moving to high-growth areas of our business, like Professional Services. Following an application and interview, Rackers accepted to this full-time, 90-day program are paid to learn, achieve certifications, and prepare for new roles including cloud engineer, cloud native software engineer, and data engineer.
TOP has enabled Rackspace Technology to hire talent from within to expand the Professional Services department or join an Elastic Engineering for Security pod, a team of on-demand security specialists that support customers worldwide. TOP is helping Rackspace Technology to avoid the cybersecurity talent shortage. Rackers in these roles are tackling some of the most complex challenges through hands-on and consultative engagements.
Our Culture of Learners
“Not only does Rackspace Technology have the best professionals and the best offerings, but we have the best talent supported by the best learning,” said Streetman.
Learning is at the heart of Rackspace Technology as the CliftonStrengths® assessment from Gallup® has been a foundational part of Racker onboarding since the early days of the business. Rackspace Technology focuses on developing Rackers’ strengths using the 34 talent themes from the CliftonStrengths assessment.
Our learning culture is even more apparent when we look at the top talent themes amongst our global force of Rackers. In fact, out of the 34 CliftonStrengths themes, Learner, Achiever, and Responsibility are the three most popular. Specifically, 35% of Rackers have Learner in their top five strengths, 31% have Achiever, and 30% have Responsibility.