Tech Talent Transformation Strategies by Robert Gasser.
Tech Talent Transformation Strategies: Robert Gasser

A New Model for Hiring Tech Talent with Robert Gasser of Revature

Episode Overview

Episode Topic:

Welcome to an insightful episode of PayPod. we dive into the heart of Tech Talent Transformation, a revolutionary approach spearheaded by Revature to meet the evolving demands of the tech industry. Robert Gasser, Vice Chairman at Revature, shares invaluable insights on how their unique model not only addresses the skills gap but also transforms the landscape of tech talent acquisition and training. This episode is a must-listen for anyone interested in the future of technology workforces and the innovative strategies that are reshaping how companies hire, train, and retain software engineers in a rapidly changing digital world.

Lessons You’ll Learn:

Through the lens of Tech Talent Transformation, this episode offers a treasure trove of lessons on enhancing tech hiring practices, nurturing talent, and fostering a workforce capable of adapting to the dynamic tech landscape. Listeners will learn about the pivotal role of project-based training, the importance of bridging the knowledge-skills divide, and the impact of such transformations on both individuals and Fortune 500 companies. Robert Gasser’s experiences and Revature’s success stories illuminate the path for creating a resilient, future-ready tech talent pool that thrives on innovation and inclusivity.

About Our Guest:

Robert Gasser, Vice Chairman at Revature, is at the forefront of the Tech Talent Transformation movement. With a rich background spanning over three decades in financial services and fintech, Robert’s journey from being a client to leading Revature is a testament to his commitment to democratizing tech opportunities. Under his guidance, Revature has emerged as a beacon of innovation, training, and deploying thousands of software engineers across the globe. His visionary approach not only enhances the capabilities of individuals entering the tech space but also revolutionizes how companies perceive and invest in talent development.

Topics Covered:

This episode covers a broad spectrum of topics central to Tech Talent Transformation, including the challenges of traditional hiring models in the tech sector, the effectiveness of Revature’s hire-train-deploy model, and the strategic integration of Gen AI into curricula to prepare the next generation of tech professionals. We delve into the importance of customized training programs that cater to the specific needs of enterprises and the transformative impact of such programs on employee retention and productivity. Additionally, we explore the broader implications of Tech Talent Transformation for the industry, highlighting the shift towards more equitable and opportunity-rich pathways for aspiring tech talent.

Our Guest: Robert Gasser- Behind the Scenes of Tech Talent Transformation

Robert Gasser, Vice Chairman at Revature, stands at the vanguard of Tech Talent Transformation, an initiative reshaping the framework of tech talent acquisition, training, and deployment in the contemporary digital landscape. With an illustrious career spanning over three decades in the financial services and fintech sectors, Gasser’s transition from a client to a pivotal figure within Revature underscores his deep-seated belief in democratizing access to tech careers. His leadership has been instrumental in steering the company towards unprecedented success, positioning it as a linchpin in the development and nurturing of software engineering talent for the global tech industry. Gasser’s journey is marked by his roles as CEO of two public companies within the fintech realm, where he first encountered and grappled with the challenges of attracting and scaling up tech talent in a competitive and rapidly evolving market.

Under Robert Gasser’s stewardship, Revature has pioneered a unique model that not only addresses the critical skills gap plaguing the tech sector but also offers a transformative blueprint for cultivating a future-ready workforce. This model, emphasizing a “earn to learn” philosophy, provides rigorous, project-based training, ensuring that graduates are not just knowledgeable but are immediately productive. Gasser’s innovative approach to workforce development, emphasizing inclusivity and opportunity, has effectively broadened the talent pool, tapping into underrepresented demographics and offering them a conduit to transformative career paths. His initiatives have significantly impacted thousands of individuals, propelling them into meaningful, well-compensated roles within Fortune 500 companies and beyond, thereby contributing to the overarching goal of fostering a diverse and dynamic tech ecosystem.

Gasser’s vision extends beyond mere technical training; it encompasses a holistic strategy aimed at redefining the essence of tech talent cultivation. By integrating cutting-edge technologies like Gen AI into Revature’s curriculum, he ensures that the workforce remains at the forefront of technological advancements, ready to tackle the challenges of tomorrow. His efforts to bridge the gap between knowledge and practical skills have set a new standard in tech education, one that prioritizes adaptability, continuous learning, and innovation. Robert Gasser’s role in the Tech Talent Transformation narrative is not just about reshaping how tech talent is developed; it’s about altering the very fabric of the tech industry to become more inclusive, innovative, and forward-thinking. His contributions have solidified Revature’s reputation as a trailblazer in the field, illustrating the profound impact that visionary leadership can have on the global technological landscape.

Episode Transcript

Robert Gasser: Even a CS major that graduates from the top CS program in the country comes in with a set of they have knowledge, but they don’t have skills. and there’s a difference between knowledge and skills. So what we’ve proven, we’ve trained and deployed 15,000 software engineers to Fortune 500 companies throughout the country and the world, that there is a process that if you follow that system, that process, you can create a high level of productivity on day one that will help you from the standpoint of your talent strategy. That’s been, I think, the most interesting part of the value proposition for me.

Jacob Hollabaugh: Welcome to PayPod, the Payments Industry Podcast. Each week, we’ll bring you in-depth conversations with leaders who are shaping the payments and fintech world, from payment processing to risk management, and from new technology to entirely new payment types. If you want to know what’s happening in the world of fintech and payments, you’re in the right place. Hello everyone, Welcome to Pay Pod. I’m your host, Jacob Hollabaugh, and today on the show, we are diving into the tech portion of fintech and specifically discussing hiring the right tech personnel to allow your enterprise to keep pace with an ever-evolving landscape of tech needs and innovation. Old hiring models have begun to prove ineffective when applied to modern technical needs and positions. But luckily, our guest today is helping to lead a company that has a solution for this very problem. I’m pleased to be joined today by Robert Gasser, Vice Chairman at Revature, the company transforming the way tech talent works. Robert, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Robert Gasser: Well, thank you so much, Jacob. It’s great to be here.

Jacob Hollabaugh: It’s great to have you. And as we were discussing before we clicked record here hiring of tech talent is a topic that comes up on this show, but usually just purely in the frustration of some of the wonderful fintech we’ve spoken to being like we have this great vision, but it’s hard to get the people who can make it happen in the best of those people and to get them to be able to stay and everything else. So let’s start by broadly discussing that issue, that is why hiring tech talent has become so difficult. What are the factors that have caused this particular area of hiring for these particular roles to become such a struggle prior to a company like yours coming along?

Robert Gasser: Well, I think primarily because when you think about tech talent and our firm focuses on two areas of two, two basically pillars that are to support our business model. One is we have a highly trained employee model, which I can talk about in a little bit more detail. Then we have a workforce transformation model. So we focus on talent mobility within our clients. And obviously, the product cycles within technology are compressing day by day by day. Certainly with Gen I, it’s probably an accelerate all of that once again. So on the higher train deploy side, we focus on recruiting at scale. We had about 200,000 applicants to the firm last year. We accepted about 2% of that group. They go through tech screens, soft skill screens, personality traits, and all the things that we think are predictors of success in the model. Then once they agree to relocate anywhere in the United States and be trained in the curricula of our choice, which is customized for clients. I think that the training is really the core asset of the of the firm. I started out as a client of curvature about five years ago. I joined because I fell in love with the model in the mission, which is to democratize or more accurately expand the aperture of folks in the market that probably lack the visibility. they had an opportunity clearly and to transform their lives.

Robert Gasser: So when they when they joined, as I said, they’re paid from day one. We’re not a boot camp. You don’t pay us to be trained, you earn to learn. You go through our training, which is as a client. The thing that attracted me to the firm was the pedagogy of the training, which is focused on project-based work. It is focused on day one, job readiness, and return on investment for our clients. and the training is intense. There’s no doubt about it. We have about a 25% washout rate. After all the things that I talked about in terms of screening. Then once they matriculate from the training, they join our clients as a contingent worker. So it’s a try before you buy a model. Then at about 18 months, they have the ability to convert them into an FTE. So we’re reducing the risk for the employer. We’re opening up the opportunity for our candidates who really are the models in a shell. I started out in banking. I’ve been in financial services for 32 years. I’ve been the CEO of two public companies both fintech companies. and I experienced this myself, which was how do we attract the best talent to the firm? We might not have the brand energy of some of the largest Fortune 500 firms, but there are some great opportunities here.

Robert Gasser: How do we find these people? But more importantly, how do we scale them up such that they are successful in their role? so that’s really the model on the hire-train deploy side. I just to talk a little bit more about the training because it applies to both. The training is highly customized to the client and their need and their tech stack Where they’re evolving. We do that both with talent mobility With hire-train deployment. That really is a secret sauce. We serve seven of the top ten banks today in the United States. We serve the largest fintech probably in the world and a variety of obviously smaller companies that are experiencing the same type of challenges. We have an 85% conversion rate into FTEs, so into full-time employees, which is pretty extraordinary. But I think the thing that jumps off the page with our Fortune 500 companies as well is that we have an 89% retention rate out to five years. I’ve been on the other side of this. So at JP Morgan, I ran equity trading, and I used to sit down with my peers and I’d say how many Harvard lacrosse players can you hire this year? How many Yale hockey players can you marry this year? We’re looking in the wrong places. And the response to me always was, well that’s that’s where we go, that’s where we that’s where we came from, why do you want to upset the apple? I didn’t come from that, by the way.

Robert Gasser: It really struck me that my team that hired people from Cuny Queens and Pace and Baruch had a much, much higher retention rate. For the folks that landed within our teams, within Rivers teams, this is the golden ticket for them. They are so gratified by the opportunity. As I said, it’s transformational for them. Sometimes generationally, it’s transformational. When I started, which was pre-COVID, I would go out and take some of these cohorts out to dinner and I would get to know them. I was in Chicago, we were converting a cohort of about 15 people into full-time employees at JP Morgan. I went around the table and said, so just tell me something about yourself. Well, I went through Western Kentucky and I worked at Pizza Hut. I went to North Carolina A&T and I was working in Kroger. I went to Drexel and I was driving an Uber. What you realize immediately is that these folks have all the aptitude, the ability, the motivation, and most importantly, the grit to get the job done. For me, it was just emblematic of why I joined. That’s probably a long-winded answer to your question, but hopefully, it provides some context.

Jacob Hollabaugh: No, absolutely. It provides it answered a few other questions that I would have had, anyway, to follow up with. I think it’s just such a brilliant model and it has a lot of things. In our world today kind of just like the whole like we, we do this because that’s how we’ve always done it. Does anyone want to look around and realize that it’s not working quite as well anymore? so bringing this model and bringing these different pieces. I like that you pointed out we’re not a boot camp and it’s different than that, but it is bringing an element of there’s these disparate worlds within hiring or how skills are brought together, and you’re combining all of it into one. Let’s talk from the enterprise side that is coming to work with you. What is that initial process that the collaboration process like to build up to make it very specific to what they’re going to need on day one? Is it all you referenced? Having cohorts at different times? Are you working with one cohort for one enterprise client at a time? Is it a bunch of people at different times? What does that initial collaboration and initial trust-building look like? Because I’m sure your numbers speak for yourselves now. Certainly, as you work with different big companies over time, you’re like, it’s worked continuously. So that trust is there. But that initial time of let us do this for you, let us in, let us collaborate with you. I’m sure there’s a bit of trust-building that has to take place because this is such that this is the whole business. Essentially, this is as important of a faction of employees as they’re going to have.

Robert Gasser: It’s an interesting question. When I was when I was a client what I saw was open wrecks everywhere within a large bank. And I would say to the leaders within our firm, we’re looking for the same skill set with 3 to 5 years of experience. This wreck has been open for nine months. Like what is going on here? I mean, you can’t find the person. You can’t fill the role. So why are you thinking about just hammering that same nail into concrete? Why aren’t you thinking alternatively? That’s when I really got focused on our entry-level program and hired Ravager. What I found was that there was our training has the ability to condense the time at which entry-level software engineers are productive. So even a CS major that graduates from the top CS program in the country comes in with a set of they have knowledge, but they don’t have skills. and there’s a difference between knowledge and skills. So what we’ve proven, we’ve trained and deployed 15,000 software engineers to Fortune 500 companies throughout the country and the world, that there is a process that if you follow that system, that process, you can create a high level of productivity on day one that will help you from the standpoint of your talent strategy.

Robert Gasser: That’s been, I think, the most interesting part of the value proposition for me. On the training side, we bring in folks that are highly, highly technical. In fact, I’ve never seen one of our folks stumped by a hiring manager. They come in They talk about the tech stack. They talk about the persona. Who do you want to hire here What what is the output persona look like? They design the curriculum accordingly, 8 to 10 weeks typically. So it’s highly, highly collaborative. It gets granular in terms of every day, every week, and really how you’re going to be assessed at the end in terms of the quality of what we’ve produced. So there’s a level of intimacy with the client that I think is very, very eye-opening for a lot of the folks that we serve and it’s a proven model. So once you’re in there and you train cohorts for a firm, they come back for more because sometimes to the disadvantage of their own entry-level program, which is pretty interesting, pretty fascinating. And let’s face it, in my experience, their own entry-level program tends to be focused on those top schools. It’s the top 20 CS, but the third largest major at Revature is music. So CS stem is about 60% of our folks that are deployed, and 40% are liberal arts majors. We have art history majors who have done well. So it’s not a skills gap, it’s an opportunity gap that we’ve addressed.

Jacob Hollabaugh: Then of the entire model, all of it stands out and the value is pretty clear across the board. But the part that struck me the most when you were kind of laying out the process at the beginning is you didn’t use the word liability, but I, I will in the sense of you’re you. I think you said 18 months before full-time employee, you’re paying them. They’re not paying you to come, do the initial boot camp and placement and everything. That’s very different than any traditional staffing agencies and how that would all work. I don’t know if liability is the right word, but pass between you and the enterprise that you’re working with. I mean, that seems probably maybe the most bold of the entire model. The bold aspect of the entire model is we’re going to pay you to come in here because we’re so confident that this is going to work for you, which will eventually then work for them. So we can kind of put that trust in ourselves upfront and make that kind of bold claim upfront. Am I on the right track there? When does that kind of shift from Ravager to the enterprise? Is it when they’re officially a full-time employee or is it earlier?

Robert Gasser: We take all the risk. We take the risk in the person from the day that they join training. So that’s the other thing. I think that our clients find it very attractive that we de-risk the model for them in a significant way. And, and, you know there are times when a person’s not working out, we will take them back to bench. If it’s not a performance, there are tons of idiosyncratic things that happen, we’re not making widgets. This is human capital. But there are times when even a client says, hey, listen, I’ve lost the budget, I can’t employ this person any longer, and I need to return them to you, We’ll place them on our bench, we’ll place them elsewhere. Particularly if you’ve got one year of experience, you’ve done well, that’s a pretty hot market. We have a plethora of clients who will take not only our freshers, but we’ll take folks who return to the bench and assume and screen for the fact that it’s not a performance-based issue.

Jacob Hollabaugh: What kind of scale are you working at right now? You’ve referenced some of the different cohorts and things. Are you open to anyone and everyone that wants to come in? You’ll find people to match them with. Do you do it on a cohort basis if we bring find the client and then bring in X amount of people for that? What’s the kind of scale you’re operating at now? What’s the kind of hope for growth of that scale?

Robert Gasser: It’s pretty significant. As I said, we’ve placed 15,000 folks in the last five years. That’s in the US alone. So we operate in the UK, Canada, and India. Obviously, India operates on a very significant scale. But we have cohorts lined up, week by week, month by month, they’re typically dedicated to a client or maybe two that have signed up for that curriculum, which is really the important thing. So we have a pretty consistent pipeline of folks that are entering those cohorts and are going through the training. The pace is pretty frenetic, quite frankly. I think this is probably one of the more important parts of the model. The trainers are proprietary to Revature. We’re not outsourcing this to anybody else, and it’s all synchronous. It’s not asynchronous learning. We are religious about synchronous learning in that we believe that asynchronous learning is a bit of wasted learning. So one of the things we’ve done in the last 18 months to, I think, open up the aperture even more is we give away free training to folks who have an interest in software engineering but might not graduate with an accounting degree They might not be confident that they can get through this.

Robert Gasser: We give away 200 hours of learning for free with no obligation. So rather than go into Coursera or Udemy and pay those guys, you can come to us, you go through the program, we have trainer hours in the morning and the evening to accommodate people. They have jobs. and once you get that through that training, you can apply to the firm, take our screens and if you pass the screens, you’re going to enter the program. So at the end of it, there’s optionality in terms of having a job and not paying us for it which has been brilliant. It’s increased our diversity numbers. We employ three times the national average in terms of people of color in the software engineering space. I think that that number can only climb from here. But most importantly, DNI is a significant topic today. Most importantly though, these folks are operating have been trained. They’re operating at a level that is significant with any. So you cannot say that they’ve been given an opportunity to the detriment of somebody else, which I think is really where the market’s headed. I think we can, we can absolutely prove it.

Jacob Hollabaugh: Finding that equilibrium of true opportunity for all, equal opportunity for all without it tipping one way. That’s really brilliant and cool to hear. So tech worker developer kind of broad scope here, broad frame. You mentioned working with Fortune 500 companies of all types. Are there any industries you’re seeing hiring the most right now for tech-related talent or potentially some specific types of tech-related skill sets or roles that are maybe most in demand right now in the current market?

Robert Gasser: I’d say financial services continue to be a very good market for us. Every financial services firm is going through a variety of different digital transformations. I think that banks call themselves tech companies with balance sheets now. So They’re all they’re all actively engaged in fintech, as you know. I think that financial services is still a very good space. As I said, in seven of the top ten banks in the United States, we serve three of the top five asset managers in the world, insurance companies, Blue Cross, and Blue Shields. As it pertains to maybe some section of your audience. We do serve smaller cap companies, startups, folks that are maybe series A, B, C. Because they don’t talk about brand energy, they don’t have the brand energy, but they have a lot of smart people in their tech groups, typically who went to Carnegie Mellon or went to Duke, who went to MIT, or wherever Caltech. They’re hoping that they can attract that person beyond hope to their teams. I think we evangelize with those folks is, hey, listen, you might find a kid from the University of Maryland who’s just as good, maybe better, and I can come up with a ton of references of smaller firms that were holding out for 1 to 3 years, 3 to 5 years, maybe even a fresher. It can’t get the person in the middle of their very small target. We come in We say trust us, and we’ll find that person for you. They’ll be amazingly gratified to be working with you, and you can retain them. They’re not going to be a mercenary.

Jacob Hollabaugh: I love that. That speaks to the kind of democratization you were speaking about earlier, of bringing this to everyone and widening our scope of who’s capable of this and some old ideas or methods of the talent are concentrated so much. In today’s world, the talent, the knowledge pool, there’s no concentration of any of it anymore. It’s everywhere that you can look. You also referenced earlier AI, that is one thing I want to ask about because obviously with its impact and generative AI coming along is impacting the entire landscape of everything, the entire world. But we’re talking tech-related positions here that are the first ones that are going to be impacted the most by all of this stuff because it is a part of their world. How do you see Gen AI impacting both the skill sets needed for these people and the curricula that you’re then going to have to come up with? What can organizations and tech professionals alike be doing to prepare for the many, many changes? Because I have heard from some people, I’m in my early 30s now, I’m kind of in that stage of life where a lot of folks who I maybe went to school with or anything have tried a career or two and have audibled at different points or decided I didn’t want to do this or that in a common refrain from I think my generation and even older is I would love to learn a new skill, but it seems like that skill might be obsolete. By the time I actually learn how to do it, there’s a whole new version of it. So how do you see AI impacting? What can organizations and folks who want to work on the talent side do to prepare for these changes?

Robert Gasser: Well, we’re excited by Gen AI, like a lot of other people. But as it pertains to us more specifically, we integrated gen AI into our curriculum for every curriculum about a year ago. So every one of our folks is trained in large language models, prompt engineering rag. It’s the next-gen. I think one interesting benefit is that it opens up the aperture even more because when you look at the work that a software engineer does it can be productivity can increase significantly. Yeah. and the skill set, the input persona doesn’t necessarily need to be a CS major. If you’re a Java full-stack engineer, you can use AI very productively in your job. I don’t know if I want to put it this way, but it lowers the bar for folks who are considering that. For existing talent, it is a challenge because software engineers in their 7 to 10 years in that kind of middle tier, a lot of them have embraced technologies continually and adapted. But if you don’t adapt, you’re going to be gone.

Robert Gasser: So we’re training a lot of existing engineers, that’s our talent mobility side workforce transformation side, that’s a big part of what we do today is training existing engineers in that experience level to be AI-enabled. The other thing that’s emerged is that we are training people along the lines of business. So these are commercial folks, we train them to come up with proofs of concept that they can plug into an AI center of excellence. So that’s the other piece of the equation. How do you get the two worlds working together and get them to speak the same language and to qualify parts of their product base or their system or their back office or whatever it is? How do you qualify for those opportunities to plug into an AI engineering team? We’re very excited about it. Certainly, there’s a lot of froth coming from the equity trading world, I’ll tell you, there’s a ton of froth, but there’s a lot of real-world outcomes that are starting to emerge. We think the pace is going to pick up significantly over the next one to 1 to 2 years.

Jacob Hollabaugh: Absolutely. It’s more of an opportunity even for a company like yours to be like we’re one of the places that can help you stay on the forefront of this and not get left behind by a world adapting to it to help you then adapt.

Robert Gasser: One thing I would add is that we have a lot of clients who are, I just got off the phone with one a couple of minutes ago who they’re in a location, let’s call it Central Florida, they’re building out a team, they want to start with the mid-level. They say I need a 5 to 7-year AI blah, blah, blah, blah blah. The talent pool is shallow, so good luck with that. Well, I would hire a PhD. Good luck with that. Your nation, like Plano, Texas, Jacksonville, Florida, or your Alpharetta, Georgia, good luck with that.

Jacob Hollabaugh: It speaks to again kind of the value. You referenced earlier too that you’re going to need to widen your scope. But also in this particular like this stuff hasn’t been around that long. There’s now way more need than there are people who have figured, we didn’t see the need in advance. It had to crop up first. So there’s not that many people. You have to expand in a company like you that can say, we can help by when you expand that, we can help those people get to where they need to go to meet these requirements that look different than what you’re saying, but eventually have the same result.

Robert Gasser: Absolutely. Take some of your existing folks, train them up, and combine them with a fresher. Then you really do have a center of excellence. You’ve got folks on your side that have domain knowledge. They don’t necessarily rule out alternative solutions.

Jacob Hollabaugh: The final question I have for you then, is the one it kind of seems the most natural to ask here is does this model work for other industries and other verticals? Because it seems immense value, obviously immense success so far, and I can only imagine continued that it seems obvious that you guys would have kind of stumbled, not stumbled into, created a new model that was going to work. You know, this was the most relevant place for it to work first that had the biggest need. But like all things, that need exists in other places So do you see this higher train deploy type of model, bringing all these pieces together, working for other industries, other verticals beyond tech and developers?

Robert Gasser: Absolutely. That’s probably been one of the most profound things for us over the last couple of years, we had now a very significant retail vertical. Obviously, retailers are all undergoing quite a bit of digital transformation themselves. We have good telecom vertical insurance, particularly health insurance, which is highly regulated by HIPAA and other things. That’s another good vertical for the strong vertical for us. Then there are some media companies that are, the top three media companies who are digitally native. So it’s expanded. I mean, I come from the financial services world, that’s where I spend the vast majority of my time. But of my time, my colleagues are all dedicated to these verticals because they all have unique needs They speak the same language, and they have varying degrees of regulation that they confront. But location is interesting too because there are a lot of companies that we serve that have delivery centers and places where it’s very difficult to hire. So for a retail company that probably has pretty high brand energy but has a delivery center, and I’m not going to say the name because then you’ll know it is, they struggle. Although the quality of life there is fantastic, and I’ve been there a bunch of times. But I think the vertical diversity is something. That’s really a journey that we’ve embarked on for probably the last 2 or 3 years. It’s been pretty successful.

Jacob Hollabaugh: Well, I’m fascinated to see where it all leads to where this model can be taken. Robert, this has been a real pleasure for those listening who may want to learn more about Revature or get in touch with you, where’s the best place for them to go to find you?

Robert Gasser: Please feel free to drop me a line. It’s Robert Gasser at Revature, which is spelled Please drop me a note, we’ll take it from there.

Jacob Hollabaugh: Awesome, we’ll include that and a bunch of links and everything in the show notes below. So anyone listening wants to check that out, just head down there and click on those. Robert, thank you so much for the time and knowledge. They have greatly enjoyed it and hope to speak again sometime soon.

Robert Gasser: That’s great, Jacob. Thank you. Thank you for the opportunity.
Jacob Hollabaugh: If you enjoyed this episode and want to hear more, head on over to to subscribe on your podcast listening platform of choice. That’s