2020-02-07 | Podcasts
Solve the People Side, Make Magic Happen - Twitter, Director of Talent, Steve Fogarty

Solve the People Side, Make Magic Happen - Twitter, Director of Talent, Steve Fogarty

E11 S1 - Talk Roleshare Podcast

Steve Fogarty, Director of Talent Experience at Twitter, wants to build a culture of hyper obsession with candidates, recruiters, and hiring managers. He brings a fresh perspective to HR to solve the ever-growing challenge of finding the right people for roles, speedily, in a competitive and scarce talent market.

Episode Transcript

Sophie Smallwood: Hey, this is Talk with Roleshare, I'm Sophie Smallwood, co-founder of Roleshare.com. Design plus art plus science equals Director of Talent Experience at Twitter. Not the typical combination for H.R. leader, but refreshingly surprising. Today we talk with Steve Fogarty; before joining Twitter, he was an H.R. leader at Adidas for nine years. Today at Twitter, he wants to build a culture of hyper obsession with the candidate experience and recruiters hiring managers. He brings a fresh twist to H.R. with his design thinking. Here's Steve as he describes why he got into H.R. to start.

Steve Fogarty: The world was really shifting in terms of how it saw people in the workplace and how organizations were starting to value people differently and in turn starting to invest differently in that area. It was only the beginning stages, but I was instantly intrigued by it. Mainly from the fact that if you figure out the people side and people do the work, they make the magic happen, then you can have one of the biggest impacts that you possibly can on what an organization could achieve. I joined Twitter leading what is called the Talent Experience Team. We have three kind of core focus areas. It's T.A. innovation. So all of the technology to run T.A. Our talent brand studio, which is how do we communicate with candidates and employees to excite them around our culture and what we are and allow them to self select if it's the right place for them, and then T.A. Learning, which is all about capability building and change management and bringing people into our culture in the right way. And the reason those three are together, and when I joined it was called Recruiting Operations, we changed it to Talent Experience. It's not just the name change, but it's really to build a team and a culture that's hyper obsessed with our end users, candidates, first recruiters and hiring managers. Really, when you consider talent brand work, the activation is mostly digital. When you talk about automation and giving more time back to recruiters to be more human and spend more time with people, you're talking about having the right technology layer's, data layers. And then when you consider how fast the world is moving and all the change that's hitting people, the learning layer allows us to ensure we're not just building things, but we are bringing people along for the ride. So they want to use them and they understand them and they know how to leverage them best. The reality is, there's a lot of long term things we need to think about with AI and automation. But in terms of the promise right now, if we get it right, what it really means is giving a lot of time back to our recruiting organization so that they can actually spend more time with people and with humans. That's where technology needs to go, get us offline a little bit more and back into real conversations and into the real world. If we look at it right and we bring people along and they understand how to leverage this stuff, that'll prepare us for the best we can for what's next.

Sophie Smallwood: I love what you're saying here around creativity. Right. So you are an individual who is creative. And I'd love to know what do you think is the next big creative challenge that you will need to face in the recruiting space?

Steve Fogarty: One of the hardest pieces there is right now is speed and probably fear. Speed in the sense that especially in Silicon Valley, it's very, very fast moving. Competition is fierce and they are just environments that think fast and move fast. Twitter, if you go back to 2014, we were the darling in the industry. We were still considered a baby. People were flocking to us, no pun intended. We were at the top of the charts in terms of top employers. And then we went through what I would call our high school years. For a minute there we weren't sure if we were going to make it through a lot of ups and downs. And now we've kind of entered our college years. We realize there is a future and we realize the importance of getting what Twitter's trying to do right. The importance just in the world in general. And so we're really putting a lot of things in place to build or I think a more stable future. At the same time, we don't want to lose the really fast-moving, purpose-driven, creative, fun culture that Twitter has. It's so strong internally, but when we look at the external perception, it hasn't yet followed suit. It hasn't caught up with what it feels like to be in Twitter right now. This is a challenge we have where as an organization, we're going after a lot of the same talent that other organizations are going after. Almost every organization in the world is going after digital talent now, engineers, senior engineers, ML, data scientists. With three point six percent unemployment, the war for talent, it's real. It's definitely still there. It's sort of like if there is a battle and you've got an army running toward you and, you know, if you hold the line, you're going to win. But getting everybody to understand, to hold the line when it feels like you just want to run is very difficult. And I think that can strain a creative process because the teams you have working on it, there's constant deadlines and demands. And at the same time, you're trying to inspire pushing their thinking to the edge. And the other thing is who you hire or you're hiring people similar to yourself. I tend to go after people who are literally the complete opposite in every direction. I try to go after people who have like skills but not exact skills to what they're going to do because I want them to apply a different layer of thinking. I think how to do things. It's pretty accessible like theory behind things. You can literally look it up in three seconds. But leveraging your brain to solve problems in new ways, is one of the most valuable things to have. So I like to say, like, I like to hire a bunch of misfits. It's hard, it's emotional, but the creative return is great. And I think having norms on your team that allow creative friction, we talk a lot about thinking like designers putting our work up on the wall. If you're a designer, you put your designs up on the wall and you let your peers critique it. And so on the tech side, we haven't caught up on the consumer space. But what we're seeing now is finally a lot of money, a lot of investment pouring into this area in Silicon Valley, like watching Google get into this space with Google Job and now hired by Google, watching Microsoft buy LinkedIn, LinkedIn buying Glints and you're watching some really interesting pivot's in this space right now. A lot of new technologies coming out. The industry is finally being taken more seriously and looked at as more of an investment opportunity. So I think we're going to see a lot coming in this space. And so for me, what's most important is having a foundation layer that can be built on. So if you want good AI, if you want good automation, you better have good data. If you don't have that layer right and the foundation in place, then as a world starts to ship and all these new technologies come out, they're going to be harder and it's going to take longer for you to get integrated into your company in the right way where they really add the advantage.

Sophie Smallwood: I spoke with another individual not long ago, who is ahead of diversity at a big tech company and there was a program that was introduced where they actually were accepting candidates that didn't necessarily go to the Ivy League schools in engineering and such. They were actually starting to look at candidates who had taken sort of more of these professional training courses and professional certificates because they wanted to open up the pool of candidates to individuals who maybe don't have the big accolade on their CV, but might be just as talented as somebody else and for whatever reason, didn't go to an Ivy League school. And there could be a wide array of reasons behind that. So I thought that was quite a creative way to bring talent in, opening up doors for more individuals and perhaps some great surprises as well. There are some interesting opportunities there. How do you face that challenge of having the scarcity of candidates? How do you pivot so typical approaches to recruiting?

Steve Fogarty: A lot of companies talk about this concept of bringing your whole self to work. I think it sounds almost cliche at this point.

Sophie Smallwood: The authentic self.

Steve Fogarty: The authentic self. Yeah, It's sort of like I really sort of wonder if the concept is caught up truly with how people really live it and bring it to life. And I think really letting people be their authentic self. People might think they're doing that, but they're not always there's still sort of applying guardrails and principles that potentially put people back in the box. For us, it's, is this a culture you identify with? Is this the type of environment that you feel you can thrive in that the purpose itself is something that interests you, that you want to sign up for, and then are you someone who deeply cares about your craft? Why do you do what you do and what inspires you about it? Who do you follow in your space? So, we want people who love their domain expertise or have a deep passion, a deep obsession with it, because those are the people that generally show up and want to put in everything they have to that thing. It's their love. It's the thing they care most about. And I think how we find those people is in so many different ways on our own platform. We have our hiring managers. Our head of engineering was tweeting not too long ago. And these aren't things we're pushing from a talent brand. They're just things they do. So they'll go out and say, hey, we have this immense challenge in this area and here's what we're trying to solve. Who can help us solve it? And just a string goes, I agree with you one hundred percent. Organizations it's not even a matter of have to, they should want to look at people from a broader lens. I think the Silicon Valley in general has evolved a lot from the old days of pedigree and degrees as the only way to break in.

Sophie Smallwood: Based on a study that I read recently called Millennial Careers 2020 Vision by Manpower, they really focused on the millennial generation. And they said that something that I thought was really interesting because I'm reading a book called The One Hundred Year Life right Now, but they were talking about how millennials have a career ultramarathon ahead of them and they know it, right. So, early retirement, you know, all the benefits that come along with that is not necessarily something that they think is a reality for them. And many of them think that they're going to have to live and die. Basically, it'll be that they have to work until they die. So, if you think about also the trends moving forward, people are living longer. My son, who's two years old, he is part of a generation that the projection is that 50 percent of them will be centenarians. So their relationship with work and the way their careers will unfold will be very different from my father's and different from me. And right now, how do we tackle those changes in the workforce?

Steve Fogarty: Give me the answer, Steve, that might be for a whole other podcast, but hey.

Sophie Smallwood: Yeah, that is one big existential question. I think if organizations focus more on a healthy workplace, a healthy culture that just meets the, I would say, the most important needs of people in the workplace in general and encourage them to truly not feel like they have to act a certain way. If you're a boomer, you don't have to act like a millennial. If you're a millennial, you don't have to act like an Xer. If you're from whatever sort of culture, economic status, whatever, just show up and bring your thinking into the office, challenge in a way that you would challenge. Share your ideas in a way that feels most comfortable for you. And you create an environment where people are safe to do that. Then I think you stop really caring so much of whether someone has gray hair like me or is a millennial. And I think we almost over generationalise, instead of kind of really looking at who is this person and what's affecting them, what do they need?

Sophie Smallwood: Yeah, and I think that's a really good point because ultimately people are people. Right. And just going back to very early on, you mentioned this whole idea of the authentic self, which, yes, it's being used quite a bit. Sometimes I wonder if it's more of a sort of a Silicon Valley tech industry term. I'm not sure banks talk that language. I don't know. What is your authentic self? Yes, of course. It's my gender, my Midcity, my cultural background, my physical ability and a number of the other standard criteria. But I think of my authentic self probably more so in my values, my passions, my interests, all the things that basically encompass my weekends, my evenings, my mornings before I start working. If I'm going to live a hundred-year life, I care about my career. I want to make sure I can sustain the quality of life that I'm used to.

Steve Fogarty: It goes back to my notion of craft, whatever. Just in talking to the team about the work we do, we're talking about even designing video for talent brand or one advertisement. How will we be the team that leads? We're not looking at what someone's doing down the street, but we're pushing our own thinking to the point where we produce art that people go, wow, that's telling a story we haven't seen before. That's new. How do you care so deeply about creativity that you don't let it get watered down? I think when you love something to that degree, it doesn't become a job that you retire from. When you look at how the world is changing, there are so many things we just don't know. They say by 20, 30, not a single job description will be the same. Maybe it's even less time than I can remember what the stat is, but every single job description will be different. The rate of technology, automation, the weirdness of global politics, the changes in the environment, our world, it's going to be going through rapid, dramatic change without a question. There's already cars driving themselves, already cars that are going to have to make moral decisions on who it hits if there's an accident. So, our lives are going to change absolutely dramatically. Just even thinking in terms of how we've thought about work-life in the past of go to school, get a degree, work nine to five, retire at 60. I think those days are gone. They're not gone yet. But as far as I'm concerned, they're kind of dead. I don't know exactly what's next. I am not sure anybody does it. We can do our best to predict. I don't know that we can even look that far out. Even company plans that are used to be let's do the 2020 plan in twenty fifteen. The whole world's changed three times overin that amount of time, the plans almost are never, never the same.

Sophie Smallwood: And that was Steve Fogarty the director of Talent Experience at Twitter. Finding the right people speedily in a competitive and scarce talent market is a creative challenge for each other. So, how do we increase the talent pool fast enough? We've all seen these optical illusions. Look at it one way you see a face, look at it further and you'll see a face. What if the talent has been there under our noses the whole time? We just need to look at the market a bit differently. And perhaps it's not about the talent pool, but rather how companies classify talent. What would happen if a company tried deconstructing the traditional terminology and boundaries of FTE or full time employees and the term headcount? I'm Sophie Smallwood, co-founder of Roleshare.com. Thanks for listening and join us for the next episode of Talk with Roleshare.

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