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Powering decision making: Technology careers at RELX Group

The battle for technology talent is intensifying. The shortage of skilled technology workers in some of the world’s biggest labour markets is widely recognised, and companies are working harder than ever to ensure they are attracting the expertise they need to compete in an increasingly digital world.

The colourful recruiting and retention techniques employed by the Silicon Valley giants, like Google and Facebook, are well documented. But as technology becomes progressively more integral to every industry, a broader range of companies are competing for skilled programmers, engineers and analysts. Technologists can now find compelling career options in sectors beyond those you might expect.

LexisNexis, a division of RELX Group, was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the ‘Top 10 Technology Employers in the United States’ in 2015. Based on employee surveys, the provider of legal, government, business and high-tech information sources came in at number 7 in the list, outranking many of its more well-known peers. In an interview with Forbes in 2016, Elsevier Chief Executive Ron Mobed discussed the fact that his company, also part of RELX Group, is hiring an increasing number of digital experts from companies like Amazon and Google. He explained that in order for Elsevier to innovate successfully, it needs two sets of experts: “the deep sector expertise, the doctor or the molecular biologist”, but also “experts in the world of digital technology” to help organise and present the data that is at the heart of its operations.

With over 30,000 employees and 7,000 technologists across LexisNexis, Elsevier, and its other businesses around the world, RELX Group employs a large and growing number of technology professionals. The FTSE 20 company offers an attractive proposition to technologists who want to see their work make a difference. Across the group, technology and data specialists help scientists make new discoveries, lawyers win cases, doctors save lives and insurance companies offer customers lower prices. They save taxpayers and consumers money by preventing fraud and help executives forge commercial relationships with their clients – improving outcomes for customers.

For many, this can be an attractive career option offering real job satisfaction, and an appealing alternative to a role at the largely advertising and consumer-focused multinationals, like Google. Kumsal Bayazit, Chair of the RELX Group Chief Technology Officer Forum explains that “Technology is the golden thread that runs through RELX Group. What makes us unique is that we’re fortunate to use our technology expertise to make a real difference, whether that’s advancing science and health or working with lawyer customers to prevent human trafficking around the world or helping find missing children in the US.  Our employees really care about these things and are passionate about using their skills and talents to benefit society.”

RELX Group also offers technologists the chance to work with truly cutting-edge, industry-leading technology. HPCC Systems, its proprietary open source big data platform, was developed by LexisNexis Risk Solutions and now powers most of the division’s operations. It can process petabytes of data from thousands of data sources and supports millions of transactions per minute. Flavio Villanustre, Vice President of Technology at LexisNexis Risk Solutions, leads the development of HPCC Systems and believes the platform is an attraction for aspiring technologists. “It positions RELX Group as a thought leader in data integration and analytics”, he says, “and helps us to attract employees who want to innovate. If you’re a developer you don’t want to be buying in an off-the-shelf product, you want to be the one who is actively developing it, and with HPCC systems our employees can do that.”

A key recruitment issue in the technology sector is diversity, and RELX Group scores well against other major technology companies on gender parity. Over a quarter of employees in technology roles across RELX Group are female, a higher proportion than many other technology companies. RELX Group believes that diversity strengthens the business, and actively works to create work patterns and environments that acknowledge the needs of all employees and promote inclusion, collaboration and innovation.

RELX Group also values diversity of experience, recruiting its technologists from a wide range of backgrounds and encouraging mobility and knowledge-sharing between businesses, disciplines and markets.

Meet one of our inspiring technologists below in the first of a series of profiles asking our people what it’s like to work in technology at RELX Group...

Monica Beltran, Software Engineer, Elsevier

Photo of Monica

“We’re always learning and innovating, searching for the latest technologies to use”

Monica is a Software Engineer at ScienceDirect, the online platform used by researchers to access scientific publications, and a key division within Elsevier.

She moved into technology two years ago, after working at Elsevier for two years in another division. In her previous role, Monica was Chief of Staff for Youngsuk 'YS' Chi, Elsevier’s Chairman and RELX Group’s Director of Corporate Affairs and Asia Strategy. She joined the company after graduating from Princeton University with a degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

After learning about Elsevier’s growing suite of digital products in her previous role, Monica became increasingly interested in how technology was transforming the publishing industry. She started exploring how she could move across to that side of the business, and applied for Elsevier’s Graduate Programme in Technology.

“For me,” she says, “going into a technology-focused role was the best way to make sure I was in the part of the industry that was driving change, rather than reacting to it. As a company, Elsevier has been really good at recognising early that it needs to adapt and respond to new technologies in order to thrive in the future. I’m excited to be part of such a forward-looking team, learning skills that will be crucial across industries in the future.”

In her current role, Monica is working on developing the customer-facing part of the new ScienceDirect platform, ensuring it is optimised for a seamless user experience across mobile, tablet and desktop.  She is also a ‘scrum master’ for her team within ScienceDirect, and facilitates the software development process using scrum, an agile software development model based on multiple small teams working in an intensive and interdependent manner.

“In my previous role with Elsevier, I travelled extensively, meeting publishers, university leaders, and government officials all over the world. This experience gave me a great understanding of the global impact the company has, and that definitely helps motivate me in the work we do day-to-day”, she says. “We’re making an impact by helping people in countries around the world access the information they need to push scientific research forward.”

A key feature of ScienceDirect, according to Monica, is the culture that encourages learning and sharing. “We have a diverse office and a very horizontal structure”, she says, “and that translates into the way we work. Everyone is encouraged to share new learnings, experiment and give their opinion about how something should be done or built. With diversity of opinion you end up building really great things.”

“Every Friday in the office we have something called ‘Knowledge Sharing’ where anyone can share anything they’ve learned recently. Often someone has learnt something interesting at a conference, or found a new software framework, or discovered some new way of doing things that might improve the way we build applications. It doesn’t have to be related to work, though – someone did a presentation recently on their drones! It’s a fun environment, you can grab a beer and everyone chats and shares ideas.”

Read Flavio Villanustre's technology story, visit the RELX Group Careers site and explore our businesses to see where you could start your career.

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