HR Tech Interview with Paul Devlin, Chief Customer Officer at SUSE

Journey into Tech

Paul, please tell us about your role and the team/technology you handle at SUSE? How did you arrive here?

I’ve been with SUSE for nearly two years where I focus on supporting and inspiring leaders and teams to achieve, for the benefit of themselves, our company and the customers we serve. As SUSE’s Chief Customer Officer, I’m responsible for our global routes to market including, field sales, channel sales, presales, SUSE’s services, and enablement.

How have Employee learning and training management practices evolved in the last 2-3 years? 

The way we work and what companies offer employees has drastically changed over the years thanks to today’s technology, providing increased flexibility for varying schedules and work arrangements, which has been especially evident throughout the pandemic.

Investing in opportunities to retain talent, and most importantly ensure employees love what they do, has become increasingly important. There is a clear trend toward implementing an employee-tailored work environment and that extends beyond traditional benefit offerings and paid time off.

There is a desire to not only upskill the workforce but provide additional opportunities for employees to grow both professional and personally. As a company executive, it is our duty to make sure that we hold true on those promises and create an environment that allows employees to attain new skills beyond just technical. We also recognize that this type of commitment needs to extend beyond employee offerings and reach those entering the workforce. The technology ecosystem is continuously changing and if we expect new talent to have certain skillsets we need to give them the tools to succeed, which is why we recently partnered with Udacity, the global online learning platform, to address an industry-wide talent shortage in the critical area of cloud native application delivery. Through this partnerships we have introduced a Cloud Native Application Architecture Nanodegree program and are offering 300 scholarships to aspiring cloud native practitioners, enterprises and higher education institutions to ensure we do our part to be a part of the solution and help individual adapt for today, tomorrow and the years to come.

Career development needs to be agile and relevant to the employee, which ultimately means companies should provide numerous types of courses, including employee training and leadership opportunities that are not a one-size fits all.

Did COVID-19 lockdown change the way employee T&D efforts and policies are now understood by the CHROs and CPOs?

Even before the pandemic the IT skills gap has continued to widen. IDC’s 2019 Worldwide CIO report shows that 30% of high-demand roles for emerging technologies will remain unfilled through 2022. As a result, training existing teams remains a top priority for CIOs, and SUSE is here to provide the level of support needed to accomplish this.

The COVID-19 pandemic shed light on many areas where companies need to improve and spearheaded innovation that would normally take years. While there is still much room for improvement the pandemic elevated the need to equip employees with the right tools and skillsets to succeed no matter what challenge a business faces.

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What is SUSE e-learning platform? Who benefit the most from using SUSE?

The SUSE eLearning platform is an easy-to-use digital platform that provides access to all SUSE technical training at one low cost. SUSE eLearning is perfect on its own or as a complement to an offline, live training course. With a SUSE eLearning subscription, each user gets access to:

– High-quality videos from certified professional trainers

– The ability to download ebooks for offline content

– Progress reports to help reach your goals

– 24x7x365 access to courseware anytime/anywhere

– Dedicated email support line for technical issues

The SUSE eLearning program is designed for our corporate customers and their employees around the world. The eLearning subscription gives members of your team a self-paced method they can use to brush up on critical skills or add emerging skills to their portfolio. They can even follow a well-defined training path, with access to the content they need to get certified on SUSE technologies.

Could you tell us more about recent hiring trends in the industry and how SUSE elearning is enabling users to meet their hiring goals?

Closing the skills gap is critical and can’t be done without the help of companies willing to put the time into to invest. Companies are continuously looking for specific skillsets, and in the technology ecosystem, these skillsets are continuously changing so employers need to create agile programs that allow employees to adapt and grow.

Through the SUSE eLearning program, new hires and current employees can attain the skills they need to continue to progress and evolve at their job. Just as important, your business needs to modernize with new technology so that your team can keep pace with the ongoing innovation driving industries forward.

The SUSE eLearning program is not designed to be static. There will be new courses, online training and video classrooms released to ensure that the program evolves to meet the demand of new skillsets.

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According to you, what types of training content are best suited for modern business groups? What recommendations do you usually get from your customers? 

Whether you offer technology-focused courses, ones structured towards to improved leadership and collaboration, DE&I and more, every business is different but there is always an opportunity to provide employees with new opportunities to expand professionally and personally. However, when creating these programs the more important question to ask is, how will these training courses solve a solution, improve your organization or truly benefit your employees?

Enterprise container management is becoming significantly more prevalent as companies look to containerize more and more of their applications, and they need to build skills and talent alongside of that, which is what our eLearning solution enables our customers and our partners to be able to do. Additionally, customers voice that the looking at the solutions for containerizing applications, but at the same time, they’re finding it challenging to find and onboard, highly skilled or highly enabled talent. By integrating a program such as our early learning solution we aim to help companies and their employees learn new skills at their own pace, which enables them to plug gaps in places like enterprise container management.

Tell us how you tackle the perennial challenges of delivering employee experience to your customers?

Putting people first is critical if you want to unlock a better business outcome. Our employees are the heart everything that we do at SUSE. In order to deliver the best customer service, it is vital to first understand your employer-employee dynamic so that your employees are not only engaged and knowledgeable of the work being done from the bottom up but also ensure this translates when employees engage customers.

How is employee engagement related to culture of an organization?

Employee engagement is of the upmost importance to our culture at SUSE. Our employees and community at SUSE are what make us the innovators we are today. We find that being open, collaborative, and honest allows us to ensure we are respectful and inclusive – at all stages.

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Tell us more about the relationship between DEI and Digital Transformation? Are these related to eLearning applications?

The process of digital transformation allows companies to look for opportunities to innovate and modernize their business and it goes hand-in-hand with DE&I. Businesses of course benefit from this, but going through the digital transformation process also allows companies to rethink current systems in place and provide access to real-time information, which leads to smarter decision making.

Our open source industry, like all other industries, needs to have diversity and inclusion in all areas – developer community, customers, employees and partners.  Open source has incredible potential for diversity as, by its nature, open source extends across geography, gender, political affiliation, and life experience.

eLearning programs can of course be an opportunity to engage employees through DE&I initiatives. At SUSE, we also have a range of employee networks (Women In Technology, Go Green and Pride) that facilitate an inclusive environment for our existing employees. Through these networks, SUSE works to achieve common business objectives, self-advocacy, and to promote development.

Thank you, Paul! That was fun and hope to see you back on HR Tech Series soon.

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Paul is SUSE’s Chief Customer Officer, and is responsible for SUSE’s global routes to market including, field sales, channel sales, presales, SUSE’s services, and enablement. Paul has over 25 years of leadership experience in sales and consulting and has held various executive leadership positions in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States at tech companies including SAP, SAS, Teradata, and MicroStrategy.

Paul has a Master’s Degree in Leading Sales Transformation from Middlesex University, and holds advanced leadership certifications from Cranfield University and the Centre for Creative Leadership. Paul lives in the United Kingdom.


SUSE is a global leader in innovative, reliable and enterprise-grade open source solutions. We specialize in Enterprise Linux, Kubernetes Management, and Edge solutions, and collaborate with partners and communities to empower our customers to innovate everywhere –- from the data center, to the cloud, to the edge and beyond. SUSE puts the “open” back in open source, giving customers the agility to tackle innovation challenges today and the freedom to evolve their strategy and solutions tomorrow.