EP69: Riot Games - Building a Practical Onboarding Journey

November 29, 2023
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State of Recruitment 2024

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All-In Recruitment is a podcast by Manatal focusing on all things related to the recruitment industry’s missions and trends. Join us in our weekly conversations with leaders in the recruitment space and learn their best practices to transform the way you hire.

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Lydia: Welcome to the All-In Recruitment podcast by Manatal, where we explore best practices, learnings, and trends with leaders in the recruitment space. If you like our content, please subscribe to our channels on YouTube and Spotify to stay tuned for our weekly episodes. I’m your host, Lydia, and joining us today is Rajashree Chandramogan from Riot Games. Welcome, Shree. Good to have you with us today.

Shree: Thank you for having me, as well, Lydia. Hi to everyone who is listening and watching.

Differences Between Talent Acquisition and HR Business Partner

Lydia: So Shree, tell us a little bit about your role in Riot Games. I understand that your area of focus is APAC currently.

Shree: That's correct. So, my current role is the HR business partner for APAC publishing. I guess a lot of people would wonder what HR business partnering is all about. I'll try to keep it brief. Essentially, as an HR business partner, we are partnering with the pillar that we are working with to touch on anything that has to do with people strategy. That's from hiring, all the way to performance management, learning and development, DE&I, and up till the exit. Anything that cuts across people in the pillar, such as expansion in other countries, would be something that we partner with the business to work on.

Lydia: So, how does that differ from talent acquisition? What are the subtle nuances?

Shree: Great question. So, talent acquisition, as the name suggests, is mainly focused on acquiring talent. Some people might call it recruitment, and some people call it talent acquisition, but their focus is very pure on the strategy of hiring and attracting talent to the organization.

As the HR business partner, while we do touch a little bit on hiring, our focus is mainly on the lifecycle of the talent once they join the organization.

So, talent acquisition is attraction and getting the talent to the door, and then once they’ve come through the door, and they start with us, that’s when HR business partnering takes a more active approach to the employee lifecycle all the way to exit.

Lydia: In that sense, is there a specific time period before that baton is passed over to HRBP?

Shree: I think there’s always collaboration because I don’t think one team can work at its best all by themselves. So, talent acquisition is the experts in understanding the current trends in the market, understanding the pulse of the talent, and then we typically partner with them at the stage to talk about what are the requirements of the business. How do we identify the right candidate? Then the offering, going through all of the great stuff as to what the benefits within the organization are, all of that is handled by TA. And then the baton is passed to us typically after day one. They come in on day one, and then they’re like, “Hey, Shree, here you go, take it and run with it.” So, we come in from that point onwards.

Adopting Flexible and Agile Policies for Talent Acquisition

Lydia: In the recent past when you've been with Riot Games and as HRBP for this particular region, are there any observations you’ve made about talent availability? How does that relate or how does that match business needs?

Shree: I think the one thing I can say is how COVID has changed the way we recruit, as many other guests have probably said. So, there was always a focus on seeing the candidates face to face, especially if they were in the same country, right? And then we know all of that went out the window during COVID. A lot of the decisions had to be made through Zoom calls. And you had to get comfortable with a Zoom call, and likewise for the candidates. So, I think the hiring experience itself has become more streamlined in that sense.

And it's also more about what are the online tools to help you gauge the candidates better, right? So, I also feel that over the time period, more interviews have come into play. Maybe what was three or four interview rounds has become six or seven rounds, just to give the comfort to both parties that they are making the right decision. I think there's always an advantage to being there physically. But just to make sure that both parties feel comfortable that they have seen enough and they have enough data points to make a decision, more interview rounds come into play.

From a tech perspective, of course, you have people making it through online tests. It could be aptitude testing, or it could be some other kind of case study that you need to present. All of that has existed even before COVID. But I feel like more of those kinds of case studies and work are done upfront during the interview process.

I think what has also been really interesting is that remote work is often a question that we get asked a lot. And then for remote work, now we're kind of going into hybrid work arrangements. And I think it really depends on the flexibility on both sides. Because I always say, “As much as this is about choosing someone, it's about them choosing us as well.” It's not just a one-sided decision.

So, I think it's really important for employers to be upfront about work culture, benefits, and what they're expecting, and for prospective employees to ask as many questions as they can upfront, and not to be afraid or shy of it. I feel that I've seen people come out of their shells a bit, instead of how it used to be, where it was just about saying the right thing to land the role. And it's now about what can you bring to the table to match what I'm bringing to the table.

So those are some of the changes that I've seen, which I do see as positive. But going forward to the future, it goes back a lot to policies, benefits, and how we can be nimble and agile. I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all approach and it's about how you share that with them. To some extent, as an HRBP, it might even be going back to the business to say, you can't be so rigid or traditional, what do you think we can do to make sure we get the right talent?

Attracting and Retaining Top Talent in the Gaming Industry

Lydia: In terms of what candidates are looking for, are there any specific expectations that come from them, especially in this particular field, or publishing for the gaming industry in this vertical?

Shree: I think if I were to talk about publishing specifically, because I'm not sure if many people know it, but publishing is really the sales and marketing arm. That's what we call publishing. So, a lot of individuals in these roles typically look for areas of growth in the role. And they also look for training opportunities, because an area like marketing, for example, has so many changes that you need to keep up with. There are so many different social media channels. And the traditional form may not necessarily work for the industry that we're in.

So, how do we stay updated and do the right thing? So, a lot of the candidates tend to ask about on-the-job training, the kind of support that we give for them to attend seminars outside of work, courses, and all of those things. And then there's also always the concept of being in the region.

We are based in Singapore, but we cover APAC. So, how do I get exposure to other locations? Because again, marketing in one country looks very different from another, just because of the types of channels that might be more popular, right? So, it's also about candidates asking questions about the exposure that they might get to add more tools to their cap, so to speak.

Now, if I were to step away from that pillar, which is publishing, I think, generally, as I mentioned earlier, what I'm hearing from candidates is more on what we stand for. They want to see what is the impact of their work, in terms of the hours that they put in. What will be the impact on us? Obviously, it is the game that comes out, it could be the community of players that we are building. In other cases, it may not be as clear. So, I think people want to know how the work that they're putting in translates into the vision and mission of the organization. So again, it requires us to be very transparent and vocal about areas of growth, and areas of opportunities, so that we can ride through that journey together.

And the third, which I think cuts across all organizations and industries, is again, a lot of people are looking for flexibility. And I think, besides Riot Games, how are employers able to offer that flexibility? I think it's key for us to be able to articulate that. For example, single moms want to be part of the workforce, but if they're going to be part of an organization that wants them to be strictly in the office from nine to seven, how's that going to work for them? Maybe that may not be the right place for them. So, it's really about what we can offer, from a benefits and policies perspective, and also training and on-the-job training. How do we allow them to scale their knowledge as well?

Onboarding: It’s a Journey, not a Destination

Lydia: You mentioned earlier that it’s not a very clear-cut passing of the baton, but it is about taking on a new candidate or employee into the company and taking them forward from there. So, what does that look like in terms of the interaction with the new employee and their employee experience? Especially when they have been at the talent acquisition stage and attracted by the employer brand with some expectations or promises. How do you manage the relationship with the candidate or employee?

Shree: Onboarding is a journey, where you break it down into 30, 60, 90 days, and beyond. Because I think someone gets excited and wants to join an organization for the prospect of what it will bring to their career and what they think they can do for the company.

But once they're in, I think it's really about giving them all the tools that are required for them to learn their role and then scale from there. I always look at the journey of the first 30 to 45 days as really giving them all the tools that they need. This is where you get them to meet as many people as possible, understand the systems, the technology, what's at their disposal to do the role better and learn how things are done within the organization?

I would say anywhere from 45 to about 60 days or so is when they get to meet folks beyond the wider team. So, this could be folks who are based elsewhere in the organization. For example, there are people sitting in India, who will be working with folks based in Singapore, who will be working with people in central, which is L.A. So, how do they work across all of them?

90 days is when we are like, “Okay, you're three months into the role, you have the tools, you've met the people, what do you think are some of the ways that we could work better or change some of the ways we do things? Maybe our working style or habits? Is this working for you? If not, how do you think it could work?” So, I think the onboarding process is typically broken into these different categories.

In my opinion, it also depends on how big the organization is. For some organizations, the onboarding, although it might sound crazy, might last for six months, because that is as many people as you need to meet. In some smaller organizations like startups, you might have a smaller team and you might feel like, “Okay, I've known everyone, I know how they work, I'm going to hit the ground running.” So it really depends on the organization as well.

Create a Realistic and Meaningful Onboarding Experience

Lydia: So, there are advantages to making sure there's a dedicated unit, or there's a dedicated team looking into onboarding and beyond. What might be some immediate advantages for companies to invest in this competency or this function?

Shree: I think there are so many studies that have shown that the onboarding experience actually makes or breaks how long a person stays within the organization. So I think it's absolutely vital that the onboarding experience is realistic. I want to stay away from the word positive because I think there are always ups and downs. It's also important to invest in systems or people who will be able to bring talent through that journey. So, from that perspective, I have always said that for startups, there might be challenges with investing in a particular software or technology, but there are people.

So, maybe it's about streamlining the process as to how to make them feel more at home, how to really bring them through the journey with you. When I was part of a previous organization, one of the things I had to do was to go with the delivery rider to understand what the end-mile delivery was like, all the groceries that we were delivering at one point in time. That gave me an insight that I would not have had if I had not been part of an onboarding journey.

It's really about investing in the onboarding journey in a way that is meaningful from a technology and people's standpoint, so they can understand the vision, mission and goal of the organization.

Flexibility in Work Arrangements and Policies

Lydia: HRBPs naturally have to collaborate with so many different stakeholders in the company, of varying sizes, like in your experience. So, what might be some common challenges that the HRBPs face when they try to foster this collaboration - be it in a slightly more mature startup, or even in a larger organization? And how did you, in your experience, overcome such challenges?

Shree: I think I'm still overcoming some of the challenges, to be honest. Different organizations have - for lack of a better word, different baggage that they come with. What I mean by that is that people's perception of the people team or HR, as some people call us, varies depending on what they have seen in their previous experiences. So, when they come into the door, and you sit down and have a discussion with them, that's when you realize whether the people team has a seat at the table or not. And sometimes, if you don't, you then work towards getting a seat at the table to make the decisions with the business. So that’s step one; understanding where they’re coming from, what their expectations are, and then getting yourself a seat at the table.

Then, once you've got a seat at the table, it's about how you collaborate to give the strategic advice that you are able to give. I think for that, one of the things that the people team and HR need to focus on is really being data-driven. I think often, there is the old school of thought that HR may not necessarily have as many data points, or they might come in with more of the emotional side of things, which is true because we are dealing with people.

So, I'm not going to say that the qualitative side of things should be ignored, because that is where our strength is, as well. But we should also come to the table with a more data-driven approach. For example, instead of just looking at the attrition rate, which might not be the best indicator, because sometimes there is natural attrition, what other data sets should we be looking at? Like, how are we promoting our internal staff from one level to another? Do we see sufficient progress in that? Within that, maybe we could talk about the gender split such as how many of your female employees are progressing as opposed to males?

Then we could talk about whether this is something we want to change and about when we are expanding in other locations and countries, how can we be hyperlocal? Because that's something that's quite close to publishing. We want to remain hyperlocal in our gaming experience with players. So, how do we reflect that in the people who we hire as well? It's a lot of this data and information that we come to the table with to foster that collaboration.

And I think, last but not least, it's never one size fits all. Your leaders come from different backgrounds and different cultures.

I think we have to learn to be a little nimble as well and regulate our emotions, which has become one of my favourite words, actually, because in these current times, mental health is very important. And that applies to folks within the HR team as well. We often are the point of contact for many matters. I think we need to regulate our emotions and give ourselves the space to think and be neutral when it comes to our suggestions.

So, I would say that better collaboration often comes with understanding where our leaders are coming from, and their priorities - getting a seat at the table. Better collaboration will work with us in coming up with data, and qualitative and quantitative reasons as to why we are suggesting what we are suggesting. Allow and give ourselves the space to make mistakes and grow and learn with the business as well, because they are also experimenting. So, it’s about partnering in the right way so that we are both experimenting and learning from what we are doing.

Using Data to Humanize HR Solutions

Lydia: Now data obviously comes from technology and the implementation of technology to support HR business partners. So, are there any specific tools that you use? Or how do the team of Riot Games and HRBPs leverage these technologies that are available to enhance or maybe smoothen the collaboration process?

Shree: I would say that for us, there’s a lot of data available, but how are we triangulating the data? So it’s not just about taking the data, but how are we turning it into insights? So, this goes back to almost storyboarding from the data. The data that we often get could be from some of the standard programs that many organizations have, and getting the data from there, and then making sense of the data. This is where you need to start connecting the dots.

But if I were to take a step back and look at my past organizations as well, there are a lot of data sets that we get through different systems and sources. But it’s about how we make sense of it so that it makes sense to the business, and that there is connectivity among them. I think that’s where the lag is. And often, while there could be some systems that help us connect the dots, it’s often us, being in the role of HR business partner, that needs to make sense of these and share them back with the business.

So, for example, if someone were to come to me and go like, “Hey, Shree, can you think of, from your perspective, what would be a good L&D program for leaders? Or how do you think we can educate our leaders from a DE&I perspective? And what would be the baseline we can start with?” I can go to ChatGPT and get some basic ideas. But that would just be the baseline. How you build on top of it really comes from the knowledge of the business, what you know about the industry, and how you can integrate that. So that’s why I say, while technology helps, in many ways, to take away a lot of the manual side of collecting data, and it gives you data that is much easier for you to understand. It’s then about how you make sense of the data.

Lydia: So, in terms of metrics, there's always one extra couple of layers that you have to put effort into in order to really extrapolate that and make sense of it as you said. Do you have any stories or any kind of anecdotes that might illustrate this kind of approach?

Shree: Sure. I was part of a startup called Flow which was based in Singapore. But we did have branches in Indonesia, Vietnam, and India. And it was a very unique business. We were focusing on customer service agents who would call up folks and ask about their repayment of loans and how they were going to work through it, especially during COVID.

Now, one of the challenges that we had back then was that we were just not able to get enough customer service agents who could join us. And there were so many challenges with technology as well. So we were thinking of what we could do about this, specifically for India. When I was working with my then HR business partner, we came up with an idea. Why don't we partner with the underserved side of society, which is some of the differently abled individuals who are working from home and looking for roles? And this was a role that was perfect for them. They just needed a laptop, internet connectivity, and some training and scripts to connect with individuals. And that could actually help us bridge the gap in terms of retaining individuals.

And I really saw a strong uptake in that. We were able to hire about 15 to 20 individuals at the onset, and we trained them and brought them up to speed. And that was interesting because that was not an idea that we had explored before. We were thinking about fresh graduates, but we completely left out the underserved part of the market. So, I think with some of the data that we had, such as the number of people who were interested, and the NGOs that we could partner with, we decided to give it a shot. And I'm glad that we did that because that gave us an experience as to what we could do.

And I really have to thank my then HR manager who was based in India for coming up with the idea and sharing it with me as well. So, that was an experiment that started off as a challenge, but it served us well during the time period when we were having some talent issues.

Localized Approach to Employee Development

Lydia: That’s an interesting takeaway in terms of DE&I as well. It adds to the community that you build within the company and the kinds of people you bring in. Different perspectives are brought into the company, which eventually enriches it. So, in terms of your previous experience, were you in talent acquisition before?

Shree: In my previous role with Flow, I was the CHRO (Chief Hiring Recruitment Officer.) So, I was running all of our operations. And for me, that was interesting because that was a role where you cut across everything and you look at everything in totality. We were in a crunch because that was smack in the middle of COVID. No one was going to come out of their house for an interview. And we were like, “How do we get people to join us?” That was really interesting and I know that was particularly the time in India when they had very strong lockdown measures, compared to some other countries. So, that was very interesting.

Lydia: As CHRO, you would have also been able to, I presume, look into the kinds of policies or the kind of support that might be needed for a group that might be coming in that may not have been previously spotted. So, were there any steps to look into those things?

Shree: We did. One of the things that we were looking at that point was, again, “How do we revitalize and energize the customer agents that we have in the different locations?” And one of the things we realized was that it was a very low-hanging fruit, but something that they would really appreciate, which was having English classes. Some of the different cohorts wanted to have basic English classes taught to them. And I was like, “Why not? Let’s do it. It’s not going to cost us a lot.” And this is something that shows that this is what they want. And this is a way for us to show that we care and that we are investing in them. So, that’s something that we did for cohorts who were interested in language courses.

Some of the other people were more interested in finding out more about their personality type, like Myers-Briggs, for example. They wanted to know more about themselves, and about the team they work with, and how they could work better. We also did some courses on communication, how to communicate better within the team and with our bosses. Before I sort of came into that role, we didn’t necessarily have a formal training session or any training program, that we were running. And I think, by setting up and evaluating, not just from a cost perspective, but from the ROI perspective, this was something that showed to them that we care. It was not a lot that they were asking for. And it made perfect sense to give them the support to enable them to do their role better and grow in the role. So, that was something that I recall, I looked through in terms of each location, what was the kind of training that would be suitable for them, and let that happen within the countries that we were operating in.

Building a Future-Ready Talent Pipeline

Lydia: Now, talent teams have to plan ahead in terms of the talent pipeline, or even managing the talent that they already have. In what ways do you think TA leaders can look into fulfilling business needs now, as you beautifully pointed out earlier, and also in the future? If we should use the term future-proofing at all.

Shree: I think it always starts with understanding what the business is looking at, in the next year, next three years, next five years. So, as TA leaders, I think it’s about getting the right people into the organization. But I think the future-proofing of it will be to really understand the direction in which the organization or the particular team is looking to grow and this could happen even at the briefing stage of a role that’s opening up.

For example, someone might say that they are looking to hire a software engineer. A typical software engineer is either back end or front end. But then the questions to ask would be, as a TA, “What is the current makeup? Maybe there are more males than females. Would you like to have more female engineers on the team? If so, these are some of the different avenues and areas that we can go and look into.”

But putting the DE&I aside, maybe asking about the skill sets perspective. Do you want someone who’s able to do both front end and back end? Just so that if there’s a change in the makeup of the team, this individual could step up and play that role as well. Again, it goes to the T-shaped engineer. We’re talking about someone who might have come across different technologies but could be more vertically interested in one particular area. So, I think these are the kinds of questions that we ask, and as a TA, I think it’s also about connecting with the business to understand what their future looks like.

In the future, how many more mobile engineers do you need? They might tell you that in the future, mobile engineering is going to be centralized out of x country, then they may not necessarily be a need here for the time being. So, what else could we look at? It always starts with tying back to the current and future plans, and sort of building a pipeline around that. I think that is really key and important for TA.

And I think it’s also about constantly being in the feedback loop for the business as well. They are the ones who are interacting with all these talents in the market. The talent might have a certain perception about the company that the business may not know. So, it’s also our role to be the conduit to actually come back and provide some of this feedback and go like, “Hey, I mean, one of the things I know is a lot of talent are like, when is Riot going to become more active on mobile games? Because right now, we’re still very much PC and console.

So, those are the feedbacks that we could come back and give, which I think will help the business to understand the pulse of whom they’re trying to serve. Also be careful about how to position this to them, to let them know that this is something that is in the works, but they may not get to see it yet. So again, then it goes back to how we put information out there. How do we share with talents our value add?

Lydia: You brought up a key point about culture earlier and how it is important to get people integrated into the internal culture. You also mentioned another key point earlier, which is being hyperlocal where Riot Games is concerned. And there is also this focus on APAC. So, in terms of hiring, how does culture play a role in getting international hires? Do they move about different markets? Or do you prefer to hire only in a specific region, people who are from there?

Shree: I think it's a mixed bag. I do feel that there are talents who are definitely keen to get exposure around the world. They would want to be in one area more than another. But I think as TA, it's also about us having a few buckets that we need to clear and look into.

One of the things is, for example, people who want to move to Singapore. I think it's very important that we educate them about not just the talent market climate, but also about things that are very crucial, like the housing aspect of things. A lot of talents often get a shock when they get to know how high the rental prices are and they’re like this is too much. All these play a part, and I think that's where becoming a more holistic TA individual helps.

It's not just from TA, it’s even HR business partners. Some of them are moving with their children. They will ask you questions about how the international schools are their location, and what some of the costs are. You would need to step out of your realm to provide some of this information, so they can make a more holistic decision.

I think there are certain requirements, though, of course, like in Japan. I think it might be interesting for them to actually, while they are open to hiring folks from abroad, I think there's still a strong reason to be able to find locals who can fit into the role, just from a talent market perspective, or from a culture perspective.

So I think, culturally, besides educating them on the company culture, it is very critical for us to talk to talents who are looking to relocate, about the culture of the location that they are relocating to, so that they get a better understanding. There are so many sources that people can get information from friends, family, and all of that, but it is our responsibility to shed some light on some of the more challenging aspects, which they may not get to hear from others as well.

Essential Skills for HR Business Partners

Lydia: So, HRBP essentially has to wear many hats in this sense. Clearly, the role also has to evolve according to not just the market trends, but also the candidates’ preferences and as they become an employee, what are they actually looking for in terms of what the company has to offer them. Looking into the role of HRBP, what do you think they might need to have in terms of skills, or what kind of personality or value should they bring to their role?

Shree: If I were to say that, I think one of the things that an HR business partner needs to have is the ability to look at different things and approach them on a case-by-case basis. I think sometimes when we are in other roles, it's easy to approach them with the same method, because there’s a cookie cutter, but the basics remain the same. However, as an HR business partner, I think you need to assess each case with its own merit because you could be working in a different location, with a different set of principles, legislative labor laws, and so many other things. So, from that perspective, it’s really critical that you come into the role, while you're going to be an expert in some areas, be open to learning as well. I think APAC as a region is growing so much legislatively, and it's also so different from each other. So, you have to be open to learning and growing with the role.

Secondly, I think getting comfortable with data is definitely crucial. People's strategy is not just on the hiring aspects, but so many other aspects that you need to deal with. Like I said, performance management, learning, and development, and for a lot of this you need to get comfortable with not just data, but storytelling the data as well. Because often your stakeholders are looking at you to be like, “Okay, you shared the data, what does this mean for me?” That's a skill that I'm still learning - how do I make sense of this data to tie it back to what we're doing?

And last but not least, it's the ability to not hide behind policies. I say this because a lot of times, it's easy to say, this is our policy. This is just the way it is. And it might seem in some cases, that we have to do that because there are some rigid legislative laws that do not allow us to do otherwise, but where possible, I think, to approach policies with a sense of what can we do better? Are we doing right by our employees? So, always look at it with an open eye and flexibility on what can we do better, and what remains status quo and the way it is. Those would be the three things that I would say are skill sets that I think HRBPs need to come into and accept as they grow in that role.

Using AI to Create a Baseline

Lydia: And then, of course, we have AI coming into play. We’ve seen that throughout this year. We’ve got ChatGPT, which everyone has tried. I’ve tried it myself, and I’m sure you have too. So, what do you think is the impact of AI in your current role? Also, what are some predictions or trends that you have seen or expect to see in the future?

Shree: I think the first thing I see is, as I mentioned previously, in my example, AI gives you a very comfortable baseline if you're using it to understand a little bit more about compensation strategy, or what the competition's philosophy looks like. I think a lot of that is helpful for people who are not too keen on reading all those crazy thick books. AI is a great way to set the baseline and from there, you can build on it.

From a TA perspective, of course, there are so many software out there that allow you to narrow down the pool of individuals that you need to hire. I would say it's a healthy dependence on AI, but it shouldn't be an over-dependence and I think that's the challenge. Because as much as AI plays a part in helping you remove some of the more time-consuming processes, there is the need for you to come in with your insight as an individual as to what you can do better.

So, for myself, I was using, as I mentioned, ChatGPT to understand a little bit about different policies, and what's out there in the market. I would go and enter a query about a particular market and go like, “What are some of the legislative laws here?” “Are there any websites that I can go to, to understand these?” Then I would get a list that I typically use. But I still have to go and build on top of it. I keep coming back to this point because it's about being able to stand behind your recommendation or the work that you do. Often, if there's an over-dependence, you're not going to be able to stand behind the decision and say, “This is why I arrived at this decision.”

So, from that perspective, AI, I would say, is a tool that we all need to get comfortable with and understand. It shouldn't be something that we should shy away from. It's like a codependence. We can depend on AI to get the information that we want and make the quality of our work better. At the same time, learn how to live with AI as we go forward. I think there's a lot of worry and fear around it, which I do understand. Some of the applications could have some real-life impact. But I've not seen that happen yet. So it's about really understanding AI, and how you bring it into your line of work and see how that moves forward.

Leveraging Different Vantage Points for Holistic Cultural Insights

Lydia: Using AI efficiently and effectively, as you described it, requires a TA professional or an HRBP, for that matter, to really go back to what you said earlier, which is to know the business and where it’s headed, in order to make sense of what you just read. So, moving on to recruitment technology, in your experience, what have been some of the benefits or advantages that it brings?

Shree: I think for me, recruitment, as I mentioned before, helps with the pool of candidates coming through. In the past, when I wanted to do recruitment, I was seeing hundreds of CVs. I would do maybe a control, find on keyword search, which is not helpful by the way in any sense. But that was the extent to which the tools available helped.

Now, there are a lot of ways to do pre-filters, or filters that you can use, like CRM, to reach out to candidates who are not applying, but who could be active. There are so many tools at our disposal to get the right kind of candidates in and bring back candidates who may not be considering the role. So, I think there are all these different avenues that are helping recruiters spend their time effectively on building relationships with candidates and finding the right candidate.

I do see the great advantage that we have there. As I said, I think where the person’s value add, on top of the system’s value add, would be what the system is not able to detect. If this person will be a cultural fit, they might ask a bunch of questions, but you would know as a recruiter talking to them whether they are really going to be a cultural fit or not. So, I think that’s where the individual perspective as a TA individual comes in.

But the tools out there, in terms of even video recording, for example, are a great tool for us to be able to assess fresh graduates coming into the market. I’ve been part of groups where there were 60 people in a room split into five rooms. Then you had to talk about a topic which could be quite unnerving. Extroverts tend to fare better than as opposed to introverts, but now with a lot of this technology, I think it does away with some of the fuzziness of things and it allows people to be who they are. So, I do see that there’s a great advantage for TA in terms of the tools that are out there. And they could add their personal touch on top of it by being really able to pull through in areas where systems are not able to really see through yet.

Lydia: I’m curious, as an HRBP, do you get a closer view or a deeper perspective into a company’s evolving culture, being so close to a business unit, as opposed to TA? How do you channel that information or give that feedback back to the TA team?

Shree: I feel like we all have the same amount of exposure. To be honest, I don’t think it’s really more for me than for TA. Because I feel like TA and I are traveling in parallel at the same pace with the business. So, as an HR business partner, what I may get to see more than TA would be some of the business decisions that they make and why they’re doing that. TA may just get to see the outcomes, they may not get to understand the reason why. But as an HR business partner, which is generally a generalist role, you get to understand the why behind the business decisions, which gives you an insight into, is the culture remains the same, whether is it shifting now with new leadership, or are we moving towards a North Star that will again change the culture in the next three to five years? So I think from that perspective, I might get a little bit more into the why as opposed to TA. But like I said, there are different vantage points from which we’re seeing the culture shifting.

Resilience as a Key Skill in People Roles

Lydia: That’s a great perspective to have and combining it makes it very powerful. So, Shree, I’m sure you’ve had extensive experience, in the talent space, not just as an HRBP, but also in TA and recruitment and planning out large strategies for companies. So, what advice would you give someone who’s starting out in this space today? I think you did cover a little bit about that earlier.

Shree: Yes, I did. I think if I were to talk about maybe two perspectives. I think regardless of whether you’re a TA or you want to be an HR business partner, the advice I would give you is to explore different industries. Don’t limit yourself to one industry and think that that is the best industry.

For me, I started off with banking, and then it was financial institutions. Then I made a conscious pivot to startups, specifically in APAC because I wanted to see the growth of startups in the Asia region. I think that gave me a whole lot of experience, both good and bad, and realizing how to deal with it. So, I would tell people not to limit themselves to a particular kind of industry, do not write off an industry saying that it’s boring, or it’s bad, per se.

I think if you find a role that is interesting if you find a manager that you can get along with, try it. It might give you a perspective that you may not get in other industries, which might help you later. So, I think that’s the main thing I want to say regardless of what role you go into. I think that’s a key suggestion that I would give.

For anyone who is particularly interested in being in the people team, be it TA or HRBP, I would say that the key skill that you need to focus on is being resilient. Because it is a department, it is a team that often deals with handling, as much as we talk about positive, some of the more difficult and challenging decisions as well. You’re going to be hearing a lot of people coming to you for a whole lot of different reasons. So, you need to be mentally and physically resilient in order to be able to remain neutral and try to help them as much as you can.

It’s not about being more towards whether you’re a people person or not. It’s about really remaining neutral and focused on not just being outcome-driven, but also putting people first. So, it’s a fine balance. I would say that that would be my suggestion for anyone considering TA, HRBP, or just any industry for that matter. Try different industries and organizations where you can get an understanding of what the climate is like.

Lydia: Thank you very much, Shree, for your time and your insights. These have been great, especially coming from your experience. It's broad, and it's interesting to look at the differences between different teams in the company and where the value comes in for HRBP. I'm sure the audience listening might want to pick up a conversation with you and take it further. So, you can mention your contact details or which channel you’d prefer to be contacted on.

Shree: Sure, please connect with me on LinkedIn. It’s my full name, Rajashree Chandramogan. I also have my personal email address, which is shree.cmogan@gmail.com.

Please feel free to reach out to me. I’m happy to connect and talk about HR business partnering, TA, or just the talent industry as a whole.

Lydia: Thank you so much, Shree. It's such a pleasure to have you with us today.

Shree: And thank you for having me as well, Lydia. I think it gave me a very much-needed break from work and you really got me thinking about the questions as well. Thank you so much.

Lydia: You're welcome. And we have been in conversation with Rajashree Chandramogan from Riot Games. Thank you for joining us and stay tuned for more weekly episodes from All-In Recruitment.

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Bill Twinning
Talent Resources & Development Director - Charoen Pokphand Group
Manatal is the best ATS we worked with. Simplicity, efficency and the latest technologies combined make it an indispensable tool for any large-scale HR team. Since its adoption, we've seen a huge increase across all our key recruitment metrics. To summarize. it is a must-have.
Ahmed Firdaus
Director - MRI Network, Executive Search Firm
I've been using Manatal for the past couple of months and the platform is excellent, user-friendly and it has helped me a lot in my recruitment process, operation and database management. I'm very happy with their great support. Whenever I ask something they come back to me within minutes.
Dina Demajo
Senior Talent Acquisition - Manpower Group
Manpower has been using Manatal and we couldn't be happier as a team with the services this platform has provided. The application is extremely user-friendly and very well equipped with all the useful functions one would required for successful recruitment. The support team is also excellent with very fast response time.
Edmund Yeo
Human Resources Manager - Oakwood
Manatal is a sophisticated, easy-to-use, mobile-friendly, and cloud-based applicant tracking system that helps companies achieve digitalization and seamless integration to Linkedin and other job boards. The team at Manatal is very supportive, helpful, prompt in their replies and we were pleased to see that the support they offer exceeded our expectations.
Maxime Ferreira
International Director - JB Hired
Manatal has been at the core of our agency's expansion. Using it has greatly improved and simplified our recruitment processes. Incredibly easy and intuitive to use, customizable to a tee, and offers top-tier live support. Our recruiters love it. A must-have for all recruitment agencies. Definitely recommend!
Ngoc-Thinh Tran
HR Manager, Talent Sourcing & Acquisition - Suntory PepsiCo Beverage
I am using Manatal for talent sourcing and it is the best platform ever. I am so impressed, the Manatal team did an excellent work. This is so much awesome, I am recommending the solution to all recruiters I know.
Bill Twinning
Talent Resources & Development Director - Charoen Pokphand Group
Manatal is the best ATS we worked with. Simplicity, efficency and the latest technologies combined make it an indispensable tool for any large-scale HR team. Since its adoption, we've seen a huge increase across all our key recruitment metrics. To summarize. it is a must-have.
Ahmed Firdaus
Director - MRINetwork, Executive Search Firm
I've been using Manatal for the past couple of months and the platform is excellent, user-friendly and it has helped me a lot in my recruitment process, operation and database management. I'm very happy with their great support. whenever I asked something they come back to me within minutes.
Dina Demajo
Senior Talent Acquisition - Manpower Group
Manpower has been using Manatal and we couldn't be happier as a team with the services this platform has provided. The application is extremely user-friendly and very well equipped with all the useful functions one would required for successful requirement. The support team is also excellent with very fast response time.
Kevin Martin
Human Resources Manager - Oakwood
Manatal is a sophisticated, easy-to-use, mobile-friendly, and cloud-based applicant tracking system that helps companies achieve digitalization and seamless integration to Linkedin and other job boards. The team at Manatal is very supportive, helpful, prompt in their replies and we were pleased to see that the support they offer exceeded our expectations.
Maxime Ferreira
International Director - JB Hired
Manatal has been at the core of our agency's expansion. Using it has greatly improved and simplified our recruitment processes. Incredibly easy and intuitive to use, customizable to a tee, and offers top-tier live support. Our recruiters love it. A must-have for all recruitment agencies. Definitely recommend!
Ngoc-Thinh Tran
HR Manager, Talent Sourcing & Acquisition - Suntory PepsiCo Beverage
I am using Manatal for talent sourcing and it is the best platform ever. I am so impressed, the Manatal team did an excellent work. This is so much awesome, I am recommending the solution to all recruiters I know.

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