Connection Point October Front and Center
ATD Blog

Keep Talent Front and Center

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

In his session “Developing a Future-Ready Workforce,” Wagner Denuzzo—head of capabilities for future of work at Prudential—presented a case study of Prudential Financial. He discussed how the company strove to build its teams and prepare a future-ready workforce. Prudential defines future-ready as reinventing the workplace, workforce, and the work itself.

Some people immediately think about technology when they hear “the future world of work.” In an interview with McKinsey, though, Prudential Vice Chair Rob Falzon stated, “We know our talent is actually at the center of the future of work, as opposed to being marginalized by the future. And for us, the changing customer expectations are driving the urgency, and that’s why future of work is such a massive priority.”

To move forward, the financial organization began by asking employees what it is doing right, what isn’t working, and how it could do better. Denuzzo emphasized the need to co-create with the employees—those who would be affected by the change in work—as well as to ensure that employees believed in the path. He noted that belief in the purpose is incredibly important.

He continued that Prudential has a bold purpose: “We make lives better by solving the financial challenges of our changing world.” And that necessitates being customer obsessed, fully inclusive, outcomes driven, risk smart, and tech forward.

Denuzzo pointed out that being inclusive means having diverse perspectives, which challenge the way we think. Outcomes are about results, he said, contrasting outcomes with outputs, which are about being busy. Within the confines of abiding by regulations, Prudential wants to risk smart, taking appropriate risks with the consciousness of its stakeholders and company in mind.

With COVID-19, Denuzzo told attendees that they have the opportunity to disrupt like they have never done before. Doing so doesn’t mean they’ll have all the answers—in fact, he noted that innovation happens when we don’t have all the information. It’s about doing something new. That means that the number 1 trait leaders need today is courage.


Denuzzo outlined that every business transformation has three pillars: talent, competitiveness, and technology transformation. He and his small future of work team created an analytics team and used organizational design to rethink jobs. Denuzzo then turned to two other elements of talent catalysts: Prudential’s skills accelerator and career services.

In regard to their work and development, Prudential encourages employees to:

  • Own it.
  • Learn and grow.
  • Make an impact.

As part of the skills accelerator, Denuzzo and his team helped employees build their LinkedIn profile; obtain career advice; explore new roles, because he says cross-functional experiences are important; and start learning via a curated collection of resources.


Employees are encouraged to use at least four hours of learning each month, and they can earn badges. Prudential increased learning by 130 percent in 2020 over 2019 at the same time, year to year. Although learning is not mandatory, 71 percent of employees are fully using the skills accelerator. The beauty of the future of work team, Denuzzo explained, is to give employees learning journeys that enable them to attain the necessary skills for the future.

Earlier, Prudential tried to use an app for employees to improve their digital skills. But Denuzzo said the effort was too soon. That was before COVID-19, and employees weren’t ready. It was one lesson Denuzzo shared.

If you’re starting a transformation toward the future, start with the business capabilities necessary for competitiveness but also the functional capabilities for effectiveness, advised Denuzzo. As to Prudential’s experience: “Our transformation is leader-led, data-driven, and outcomes based.” Focus on being inclusive and ideate, prioritize and focus, and reinvent and reward, he concluded.

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About the Author

Connection Point is the daily news source written by ATD staff for the ATD Virtual Conference, relaying news, session coverage, and other updates.

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