It’s no secret the automotive industry is desperate to hire more software engineers, user experience designers and experts in everything from machine learning to big data analytics. Automakers and suppliers are mounting major efforts to establish outposts in Silicon Valley and boost programs in science, technology, engineering and math at all educational levels in order to develop the skills the industry needs.
But tomorrow’s autonomous and super-connected vehicles are being designed now, expertise is needed right away, and it’s tough to convince people from the tech world to move from sunny California and commit to automotive jobs.
A company named Toptal, short for “top talent,” says it has the answer. It provides high-skill on-demand freelance labor.
Founded in 2010, the company serves thousands of clients from J.P. Morgan and Pfizer to Airbnb and has annual revenues exceeding $100 million. It has launched a new business unit aimed specifically at automotive and the burgeoning mobility industry.
“We know the largest pain point for automakers and suppliers today is the scarcity of software developers and designers,” says Jennifer Johnson, the recently appointed director of the company’s automotive and mobility unit.
Toptal is offering a “custom-tailored initiative that will fill the automotive industry’s extreme high-skilled talent gap by infusing it with on-demand access to software developers, data scientists and UX/UI designers versed in the leading technologies that enable the next generation of connected, self-driving vehicles and personalized mobility services,” Johnson says.
The parent company’s established platform already has proven itself in the technology area, and the automotive and mobility unit will leverage that knowledge and those resources to help automakers and suppliers access the talent they need, she says.
Johnson says she already has a client list that includes OEMs, Tier 1 suppliers and some automotive consulting companies. She doesn’t disclose most of them, but she cites Thierry Jakircevic, general manager-Digital Solutions at tire supplier Bridgestone as a happy customer. Software designers provided by Toptal helped streamline Bridgestone’s tire retreading process by creating a digitization solution for tracking tires through the many steps of the remanufacturing and customer delivery process.
“The mission of Toptal is to connect world-class talent to world-class organizations all around the world. We’re providing access to developers, designers who already have the skills and technologies that are enabling the next generation of vehicle technologies,” Johnson says.
Toptal workers undergo a rigorous screening process that accepts less than 3% of applicants. Clients like not going through the work of digging through resumes and doing technical interviews, Johnson says. And even though a lot of applicants are screened out, thanks to Toptal’s already established network of talent, there already are a large number of workers and experts around the world who are able to jump into projects remotely for three weeks, six weeks or even a year on a part-time or fulltime basis.
“We are agnostic to the location where they reside or where they are working at the moment,” Johnson says.
However, in a video on Toptal’s automotive website at www.toptal.com/enterprise/automotive
Bridgestone’s Jakircevic makes it clear it’s about finding expertise, not low-cost workers.
“Toptal gave us access to the best designers out there and they’re not easy to find,” he says in the video. “The solution required a lot of thought around design process – user interface, user experiments, that’s why we chose Toptal.”