Joining us to talk about hiring across the world is Tessa James, the CEO of Talent Reimagined.
Tessa has been a Global Talent Acquisition leader for more than 15 years, most recently starting her own venture, where she reimagines the future – one where organizations and talent can find each other again.
A strategic partner in Talent transformation – she helps companies reimagine their talent processes to drive better business outcomes. The pillars of her firm include change, innovation, and agility, driven by reimagining, reshaping, and reinventing human interactions.
Hi, everyone, this is the hiring mode on podcast. I’m Taylor Schaffer with Zak Wehman. And we are from the ERIN team. Today’s Zack. And I will be speaking with Tessa James, who is the founder and CEO of talent reimagined. Thanks for joining us today, Tessa.
Great, thanks for having me.
Zak Wehman 0:21
So Tessa, just to kind of kick things off here, what is talent reimagined?
So I’ve got many ways of describing talent reimagines, but somehow I tend to share it with clients and with my network that we see ourselves as a new generation of talent, strategy consultants. And talent reimagine in itself is actually it’s a home of independent consultants and consultants who have deep and broad experience in talent transformation. And together with those combined different skill sets that we have across the whole talent strategy arena. And we come together as teams to figure out new and novel ways to support our clients through strategic projects, and also enterprise wide transformation.
Zak Wehman 1:07
Wow, that sounds really exciting. How did you get involved in talent strategy specifically?
So my background, I actually started in occupational psychology. So we’re actually clinical psychology, my initial thinking was that I would go into more of a clinical psychology career path. And then I discovered occupational psychology and started to go more into the space of assessment developments, and talent management type topics, and I was consulting in that space for a period of time, I’ve always had a real interest in human potential. And I think my psychology background has very much been connected to that aspect. And I started my career in Australia. And then in 2007, life moved me to London, where I was consulting in the talent space, and then was asked by clients to actually transition and work with them. And that’s when I started on a journey of talent acquisition specifically.
And then life moved us to Zurich. And that was when I actually joined my previous company before I found a talent reimagined, which was a healthcare company, a very big organization. And I spent seven years with them, studying in more talent acquisition leadership positions, and then transitioning through in 2016, I was very much involved in transformation, and actually had a really incredible opportunity to lead transformation globally, we had a work stream global work stream that was focused on standardizing talent acquisition across more than 70 countries across the world. And it was an incredible learning curve. For me, I was able to see recruitment and to see change management of recruitment from many geographies and many different perspectives, and had this opportunity to really transform the function in quite a short period of time. And from there, I actually stepped up into a global leadership role. So I had two hats. At that time, I had a hat of stabilizing all the transformation that we had done globally. And I had a hat of operations and actually delivering on the recruitment that needed to be delivered. And at that point in time, we were hiring about 10,000 people a year. So it was a huge opportunity to, you know, to take a leadership role from both aspects. But what I realized at that point in time in my career was it’s a very different skill set and a very different need. And when you’re for the transformation space, and what you need to do, not only to implement those types of transformation programs, but also to stabilize those transformation programs, versus actually delivering on operations and the hiring that the organization needs to meet. And it was difficult for me as a talent leader to go out into the market and find the right people to augment my team and support us in terms of the transformation work. So when I got to a crossroads of figuring out what to continue on this path, or would I step out and create something I decided to step out, I decided to find talent reimagined at the end of 2019. So right ahead of the pandemic, and to solve what I think is, is that gap in the market so that’s what we’re here today.
Zak Wehman 4:31
Now, that’s s o awesome. Thanks a lot for sharing that. Yeah, I can only imagine, 70 different countries, you know, as a global leader in talent transformation, what were some of the biggest differences or challenges you’ve faced kind of operating across such a vast expanse?
You know, I think there’s different aspects to it, I think in different regions around the world, people, organizations, certain locations are at a different level of maturity as it relates to – we’re talking about talent acquisition specifically. But the other piece is I think there are a lot of organizations, I think, have looked at operations like this and treated them quite differently at a regional country level, I actually think I mean, there’s always going to be differences and nuances, as you get down into country’s legal requirements, there’s always going to be that aspect. But actually, what I think is an opportunity for organizations moving forward is to have more of a connection around process and around technology. And so some of the work that we do, and when we approach the work that we’re doing, we’re very focused on making sure that the experience and the way that technology can actually support and enable the experiences is foremost, because I think there is an opportunity for organizations to be able to get more insights from their data than than what they have in the past. But I also think that change management from every location is very different. So depending on the size of the organization, there is a lot of focus that needs to be put on how that’s translated and how the adoption of that changes is monitored as well.
We have definitely been seeing a lot of changes due to the pandemic. So what are some of the challenges and opportunities you see as organizations make the shift to post pandemic work?
So I think the opportunity right now is that organizations, I mean, in the midst of this pandemic, organizations, had to move into a remote, flexible working type environment. And it’s an interesting element for talent reimagine, because part of the vision and mission of the organization, at least the starting point, and as I was setting up, talent reimagined was to really help organizations shift to a point of being able to allow people to be hired where they are to work flexibly to work purposefully, because I genuinely believe and it’s part of the ethos of the company, that when people are working in that way, that when they’re in flow, and they have those inflow moments that productivity increases, performance increases. And so it was really interesting, as we went into the pandemic, to watch what happened as organizations were forced to allow people to work from home, and couldn’t sort of hide behind this concept of it doesn’t work because they had to allow it and it did work. And these all these people who were working from, you know, their dining room tables or whatever they’re, they’re keeping these organizations afloat. And so I think the opportunity now for companies is to leverage what this actually can bring to them. Because if they allow the organization to work in a hybrid capacity, it not only opens the talent pool wider, because it gives an organization an opportunity to hire where the talent is not necessarily where the office is. But it also for me, I feel like it changes the game as it relates to diversity. Because you’re seeing more people open up and be looking at opportunities because of the flexibility that it creates. So my my advice, we have some methodologies that we’ve developed to support clients accelerate through through this turn, that we’re in, but my advice is pretty consistent to make sure that the organization’s are actually listening to what employees want, and putting listening systems in place to figure out what is the right approach to make the shift and to actually help it stick. Because the second part of that as well is another piece that I see organizations thinking about, and we’re also doing some work in this space is if you can hire and have your organization in more of a hybrid remote environment. It also changes the kind of urgency and nervousness that organizations have around the future skill set. Because if you can create a more hybrid remote workforce, I actually genuinely believe that you can create different types of you can construct different types of teams in a remote capacity, you can create opportunities for different teams to come together and learn new skills, as well. So I think it not only changes the game from a talent acquisition perspective, but also from a talent development perspective. So sorry, I know there’s a lot there. But I think there’s a unique opportunity here for organizations.
Zak Wehman 9:18
Yeah, no, that was phenomenal. And thank you so much for Yeah, that all the depth that you kind of brought to that answer that, um, you know, it is kind of funny to think when you’re, you’re allowed to look around the whole world for the perfect candidate. You know, obviously they’d be they’d be a lot easier to find
You know, we talked about the war for talent. And, you know, sometimes I hear people saying it’s sort of, you know, it’s the other way around now and I’m like, there is still a war for talent. It’s just that it’s a different type of war. It’s kind of, you know, war 2.0 because now you’ve if you’ve opened the doors as wide as the whole world, how do you know that you’re actually hiring the right person and, and that they’re going to feel connected and engaged in a remote culture. So yeah, it’s an interesting time for everyone, I think.
Zak Wehman 10:01
Tessa, that actually segues perfectly into my next question. I think we’ve all adopted zoom, we’ve all we’re all on slack more than likely at this point, but lre there any other systems , any other technology or just processes that companies should be investing in to kind of adapt to this permanent remote model? Just to kind of create that culture of inclusivity? in their company?
Yeah. So it’s, it’s actually, it’s a interesting point, because in terms of the hybrid workforce, right, when I talk to organizations that are not sure if this is what they want to do, I think there’s two things that come into into the frame one is having a process around hiring developing talent that’s completely remote, because that in itself brings that brings its own set of opportunities and challenges. I think the other, which is, you know, I think almost outweighs the process of technology. How do you make sure and guard against the culture and make sure that culture is not diluted, because people are not connecting and coming together, you know, in an office environment. And so one of the things that we’re actually doing at the moment is partnering with the technology, which will provide a really interesting way to diagnose, do a health check around culture effectively, and to link that into recruitment, team fit and development. Because I still feel that I don’t think I hold the I don’t think you have to be physically present, to have culture. And I think culture is what happens when people aren’t really talking about it, right? The way that people behave when no one’s watching. It’s something that lives and breathes in the organization. And people just need to know how to enable it. And I think you don’t have to be in a physical environment to do that. But I’m very focused right now on the business on making sure that we can provide solutions. So the companies feel that they can have that continuity from a culture perspective in a hybrid environment.
So hybrid, is there a best approach for implementing a hybrid model then?
I don’t think there’s necessarily a best approach to do it.
For me, I mean, the methodology that we have without diving into it involves being able to get a snapshot of how the organization’s feeling what they actually want to do, because at the end of the day, if you don’t have that information as a leadership team, then either you’re blindsided by what happens, or you’re going to implement something that people don’t want. So I think without fail information, understanding what people want, and where they’re at is critical.
And the second piece is, you know, I’ve talked a lot with organizations around how do you, if you are going to entertain a hybrid environment, what’s going to be important, and for me, what’s important is mapping out in the organization, the moments that matter. And those moments that matter can be quite can be taken from a professional lens, or a personal lens. So it could be that organizations bring people together, organization wide or functionally for specific moments in that employees lifecycle. So it could be there’s a connection point around onboarding, there’s a connection point around promotions, and whether that’s virtual or in person, there could be kickoffs, where people come together and they they meet, but then you know, outside of that, it’s a very remote driven type environment.
So I think that what I wouldn’t do is, is decide as a leadership team, here’s the guidelines, here’s how we’re going to operate, and then let people interpret that I think it’s really important to get into the details, listen, and be quite clear around, you know, how this is going to unfold with the understanding that as you get down into, you know, a location level, it may look a little bit different, right. But that’s our advice, at least on that piece.
Zak Wehman 13:47
Right. And that sounds really similar to what we’ve heard from diversity and inclusion leaders kind of across the board that at the end of the day, you know, only so many decisions can be made from the C suite of their directors office that, you know, if you really want to know how to take good care of your people, you know, you just, it sounds silly, but you just need to get down there and just really talk to them. Um, and thinking about markets, you know, in that international sense, you know, we have a lot of diverse cultures, a lot of like, different kinds of viewpoints on the world. Are there any common, you know, kind of errors or missteps that you see taken when trying to, you know, recruit remote international talent, or, you know, account for the culture there.
I don’t think it’s so much about the culture of remote talent as much but what I, what I do feel around opportunities for business and HR leaders is I do feel that we’re at a turning point and we have been for a while to reinvest into talent. Basically, I feel like when I look at the way that organizations Think about the roadmap around transforming talent. It’s, it feels like it. So it’s a very extensive process, it’s usually a multi year journey that people are on. And I think with the right investment and taking a more holistic approach to actually transforming the talent strategy can create a lot of efficiencies. So for example, we, I mean, in terms of the work that we do, a lot of it is across talent acquisition, we touched into some talent management processes as well. But our approach to the work that we do is the key segments. If you think about talent acquisition, right, you’ve got brand workforce design, you’ve got assessment, strategy, technology, and process. And quite often, what we see is that HR leaders will take one slice of that and work through and make some changes and upgrade and maybe introduce a new technology. But the reality is that all of those segments, they’re interconnected, they have dependencies across each other. And so kind of the methodology that we bring in, especially from a talent acquisition standpoint is to say, we can come and actually provide a holistic approach to this. So that you Yes, that’s a larger investment for you for in terms of actually looking across enterprise wide across all of the aspects in your talent strategy that you create, not only create efficiencies downstream by actually doing looking across the full spectrum, upfront, but you also be able to accelerate the change and realize the benefits of that transformation sooner. And those benefits are always going to be cost reduction, efficiencies in time and an increase in quality.
Unknown Speaker 16:54
Zak Wehman 16:54
So it sounds like the real challenge is, um, you know, just looking at things with a long term mindset, as opposed to just just trying to put out the fires that we’re seeing today.
Yeah, I think being able to actually go to you know what we’re at, and especially now, right, because there’s this unique opportunity to really leap forward, and everything’s changed out, we’re in a lot of change, we’re going to be working in different ways. And everyone’s in that sort of mindset, not just organizations, but candidates as well. And employees. So now’s the time to actually rather than to your point, jump into one aspect of it like optimizing technology only, or rethinking process, or just looking at in isolation, I think now’s the opportunity to actually look at it holistically, and change up all of the different elements, because that’s where you can actually really leap forward into a new operating way of operating. Yep. Do you think there are ways that smaller companies with less resources can adopt some of these similar tactics? Or do you think, you know, generally speaking, the strategies are the same, you should just always be looking at the big picture.
I think the strategy is the same. And you know, when I left the organization to find talent, one of my missions was to really focus on supporting small to medium sized organizations. And the reason for that is because I think they have an advantage in that they can move quicker in this space. And so my big dream was to come out, we’re still at a session. So it is my big dream, to create this change to change the narrative around how we hire people, and how they feel about the work that they’re doing, and to create purpose driven workforce, workforces, etc. And, and I come from a really large organization environment, but what I wanted to do was to create a lot of change. And so my strategy and my thinking was, I want to support smaller organizations that are more agile, that are really hungry to change, and they want their differentiated to be the innovation that they inject into their talent strategy. So I actually think that the same opportunity exists to your point for small, medium, large organizations, but I think the unique part for smaller organizations is that they can implement it faster. And part of the thinking as well with talent reimagined is I think it’s harder sometimes for smaller organizations to perhaps build the infrastructure, which includes individuals who are practitioners in program management, change, management, transformation, etc. So, part of the goal was to be able to provide those resources which is what we have in the network of talent reimagined, and provide those resources to smaller organizations as well.
Zak Wehman 19:46
Aside from like, all those, those kinds of human capital constraints, um, you know, with limited resources, is there a definitive area that companies should be looking to invest in or is it kind of dependent on their, their situation and their unique challenges?
I think it’s quite dependent on, there is a dependency right on what they’re trying to where they’re trying to get through, I think where there is a real need and necessity to do this work and to do it holistically. So to look at every aspect of talent acquisition, the operating model is where you’re in a high growth mode. And you’re transitioning or and or transitioning from sort of startup to meet medium sized, or, or even sort of beyond that, where there is a need to really connect some disconnected, disjointed processes. And there’s a sequence to it, I think around understanding where you are in your current state, and then spending time to think about where do we want to get to in the future state? And let’s kind of push that even a little bit further. And then, you know, it’s really about figuring out what is the right roadmap forward? And that’s the approach we typically take. So with every client that we work with, the starting point for us is to reimagine and reimagine what is your current state? Where do you need to get to to support and scale with the business? And how are we going to get you there in the quickest time possible? So that is the step one that we take with organizations before we kind of map out everything else? Yeah.
Zak Wehman 21:19
Yeah, I really like that just kind of thinking about, you know, making a map before you decide to go on a trip, or, you know, in similar analogy, where, you know, it’s hard to know where you’re going if you haven’t kind of zoomed out and seeing the lay of the land.
Zak Wehman 21:53
Yeah, it feels like there’s never been a more exciting time to be in HR. But
Unknown Speaker 21:45
I think we’ve covered most of it, I think, you know, depending on listening in. And yeah, I guess just reiterating the point that the time is now I think this is an amazing opportunity for organizations to reimagine their talent acquisition operations, their talent development strategy, the way that teams come together and connect the way that they, you know, accelerate through this turn into into an amazing opportunity of hybrid, hybrid working, I think now is the time to for business leaders to invest in their talent leaders allow them to invest, and also to think about how do you accelerate that change? Because then, you know, it’s an important one to turn into. And I think there’s a lot of opportunities for organizations that are willing to do that. So I’m excited because I think there’s, it’s where we’re at a kind of Pinnacle, you know, in terms of the way that the employment model will move forward, and adapt and change. And I think, also a really unique point in time where people actually truly, it’s not just hearsay, people are truly bringing their whole selves to work. And the employment model and environment is now starting to actually support that. So it’s, yeah, I’m excited to be in this. We’re in this realm of work doing this type of work at this point in time. I think it’s, it’s amazing.
Zak Wehman 23:14
Yeah. To wrap things up Tessa, where can people stay up to date on not only yourself as well as Talent, Reimagined, any content you guys are coming out with or the thought leadership you provide?
Yeah, I mean, we’re present on LinkedIn. So we have a company page, and we post a lot of the network posts, different articles and information out on LinkedIn. We also are quite active on Instagram, which I know is maybe unique, but reimagined in that space, too. And, Facebook and yeah, on our website. So on our website, we have a lot of contents, case studies. You can meet further members of the team on the website as well. And yeah, and all of our details and, you know, a calendar and scheduling time is on there as well.
Thank you again, Tessa, for joining us today.
You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.
Absolutely. Well, that will wrap up our episode three of hiring mode on you can stay up to date by following us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and eriapp.com