Namely’s HR Redefined 2018 conference was a veritable who’s who of the Talent and HR world. Amidst the hustle and bustle that is attending a conference (and writing this article recapping the session “What is the Future of HR?”), I snagged some time with three amazing speakers to learn more about their experiences in the industry. They are:
- Lars Schmidt, Founder of Amplify Talent & Co-Founder of HR Open Source
- Laxmi Shetty, Senior HR Manager at Outdoor Voices, and
- Omer Aziz, Chief HR Officer at Flight Network
Here’s what they had to say...
Q: What drew you to this industry?
Lars: When I first got into the industry, it was entirely by accident. I lived in Florida, I wanted to move to L.A., and a technical recruiting company came through campus from an office in L.A.. It was the only reason I even interviewed with them. I had no idea what recruiting was, didn’t know what it meant, but I got in and I really loved it. It’s such an intimate thing. You’re working with people, you’re helping them through one of the biggest decisions they make in their lives. To play a part in that is a special thing. I was really drawn to that, and from there moved into leadership roles to shape organizations by the talent that I brought in.
Laxmi: I’ve always had a passion for helping people, and actually started off in pre-med and psychology in undergrad. I quickly switched from that, but was still trying to navigate how I could have an impact on people’s lives and that’s where I think HR really comes into play - you’re impacting people’s careers and their growth and all of that is incredibly rewarding.
Omer: Well being an engineer, I was drawn by how unintuitive it looks that an engineer could move into HR. That unintuitive nature is what made me feel like there was a real “peanut butter and chocolate” opportunity here. I think HR is about people systems, and systems are what engineers focus on, so I think engineering skills can be applied in the HR industry. Trying to see if that combo would work is what really drew me.
Q: What is one secret to success that you wish you knew when you first started in HR?
Lars: It may seem obvious for people in recruiting that your network is your value and what you bring, but I would flip that a little bit. I think most recruiters think that their network is their candidates, or people they might be able to hire. That’s obvious, but I challenge people to make sure they’re building a diverse network outside of their field. Find people that are experts in areas that you’re not. Because especially if you’re in a corporate recruiting role, at some point, your job is going to be beyond hiring people. You’re going to be working on different initiatives, likely in areas that you’ve never experienced before.
Laxmi: I wish I wasn’t so hard on myself to learn all of the information I learned in the last year and a half. Especially running a one-person HR team, I now know networking is key. Network, network, network, because there’s always someone in your boat, and there’s always someone willing to help. You don’t have to put the world on your shoulders. I keep repeating it to people - please don’t think you’re ever alone.
Omer: Something I heard Steve Jobs say at a commencement address is, “You can’t connect the dots until after the fact.” Don’t try to connect the dots ahead of time, look back and connect the dots of all the different things that bring out your best and that you love to do. I wish I had known that at the beginning, because I wouldn’t have spent so much time trying to figure out what my career path is. It’s more about doing a whole bunch of things and looking back at the common elements that you love.
Q: In one word, what do you think the future of HR is?
Lars: Progressive. I think we’re seeing a shift in the field. We’re moving from this legacy organization that is typically a punchline and is very transactionally oriented, to a group that’s become much more strategic and impactful. It’s aligned to the executives, and the CPO is now also a key executive role. The skillset is very different than it was 10 years ago. So overall, we’re in this important transformation period where the field is becoming much more progressive.
Laxmi: Strategic. I think there has been a huge shift in the industry where once upon a time, HR was just reflected as kind of the operator in the sense of “oh you’re just going to get this stuff done - you’re going to hire or fire.” Now I think it really is important to have a seat at the table and help drive leadership decisions.
Omer: Optimistic. The future is going to be fantastic. A company’s whole competitive advantage used to be manufacturing, or natural resources, or a whole bunch of things. At the end of the day a business’s competitive advantage is really its talent. Talent is the one most important thing - and I think the whole world is starting to say that now, and that’s why I’m optimistic.
Interested in attending a thought-provoking NYC industry event like this? Save the date for our upcoming workshop with General Assembly about launching a successful diversity hiring initiative within your organization. Register today!