Hosted by Chris Dyer, the CEO of PeopleG2 – TalentTalk Radio features engaging conversation with CEOs, thought leaders and HR executives. TalentTalk connects professionals who care about talent-related issues and having the cultural mindset to embrace the needed diversity of the workplace.
Today’s guests are Joseph Fung, VP of HCM Products for NetSuite and Rosalind Cohen-Baruch, Vice President of Human Capital at Hall Capital Partners, LLC. To hear the entire show, click here. These are two senior executives, one providing HR solutions to make workplaces happier and the other working towards executing strategic human capital plans.
Joseph Fung was the owner and CEO of TribeHR before it got acquired by NetSuite a little over 18 months ago. He is currently working in the product organization at NetSuite as the VP of HCM Products. He is responsible for all of the Human Capital Management (HCM) products which include TribeHR products, NetSuite’s payroll product, new products they are building and any of the HR technology partnerships such as global payroll solutions, background screening solutions and so on.
All of the business strategy responsibilities from product execution to sales and customer engagement continue to be the same for Fung as they were when he was the CEO of TribeHR. But there is an added set of responsibilities at NetSuite which includes growing the R&D operations at the Canadian Waterloo office. Their Canadian office has almost grown three fold in the last year. The transition from TribeHR to NetSuite has been very smooth for Fung. He believes it is better for one founder to report to another instead of reporting to the board. Thus, in some ways he feels like a lot of stress has been taken off his shoulders. Also, NetSuite is a much larger organization with 24 offices worldwide. Fung and his team get to work with all these different offices across time zones and cultures and it’s been very fascinating for him.
The original objective of TribeHR was “how do we help managers become better managers and how do we help employees become better employees” explains Fung. They wanted to help HR work more effectively and efficiently but often the users that see the biggest change are front line managers because HR is actually everyone’s responsibility. Thus, Fung and his team spend a lot of time building social tools for frontline managers and rethink HR processes and try to put more power in the hands of managers and employees to collaborate and streamline those processes. “We need to onboard managers really quickly and we need to get them to become effective champions of the culture right from day one,” he explains. Thus, the social tools they build like recognition and social comments and some that apply to more mundane tasks such as job requisition management and time off management make the HR systems more friendly and enjoyable and eventually help get tasks completed more effectively.
When TribeHR was founded in Canada, Fung and his team knew they wanted to take it to international markets such US and other places. Thus, they spent a lot of time looking for the right location and leadership. They eventually chose Boston because there was a really strong cultural fit. Fung says that during his interactions with entrepreneurs and people in Boston he got the same answers and vibes as he would back in Canada. People there have a strong sense of civic responsibilities. At TribeHR, a sense of social responsibility for both, an individual and the company, is very crucial. Fung makes a very interesting point. He says that as a software company your customer base is everywhere. It is very easy to forget about the local community. But if that’s the place where your employees live and are raising their families, we have a strong responsibility to take care and give back. Fung makes sure he volunteers and donates to the local community and also gives his employees paid time off to volunteer. As a company they also make software solutions for free for nonprofit customers. He has noticed that employees not only enjoy living in the community but they also stick around longer.
TribeHR vs NetSuite
One of the reasons why Fung believes TribeHR’s acquisition by NetSuite was successful and smooth was because they had a great cultural fit. But as with any organizational change there are always adjustments. The smaller changes that Fung and his team deal with come from the fact that NetSuite is a much larger organization with offices across the globe which has resulted in increased international travel for them. But the real difference is around the scope of offerings. They have financial data from all over the world which requires them to be really rigorous with compliance, current legislation and so on. Earlier, since TribeHR’s operations were predominantly in North America, their scope of compliance was slightly different. With the size of the customers and scope at NetSuite they have to be much more diligent.
“When you’re running a small startup there is a lot of risk involved and by virtue of that you end up being brave. When you’re working for a much larger publicly traded company, it is easy to start feeling you’re in a safe bubble. That was one big change. We keep telling people that it’s alright to be brave and make some decisions and that you don’t need umpteen approvals for everything,” says Fung. He encourages his people to take intelligent and smart risks.
What Are You Reading?
Joseph Fung is currently reading “Content” by Cory Doctorow which is a collection of essays on content storage and how he characterizes the pulse of scarcity economics.
How Can People Connect With You?
Connect with Joseph via his Twitter @JosephFung, on LinkedIn, or learn more about his company at www.netsuite.com
Rosalind Cohen-Baruch is the VP of Human Capital at Hall Capital Partners, LLC which is an asset management company based in San Francisco and has offices in New York. Rosalind is responsible for all the people and the processes, both tactical and strategic, for the organization.
She joined Hall Capital Partners just over two years ago. Her first year at the company was all about understanding the culture and strategic objectives and applying her prior experience to the job. Now that she is entering her third year at the company, it is all about understanding people and the business at a deeper level as well as being able to encapsulate the culture of the organization in the context of the business objectives and helping the organization move forward by getting the right people to do the right job and at the right time.
Employee engagement, according to Rosalind, is critically important for the business. She quotes a Gallup study that says 450 to 550 billion dollars are wasted annually due to washed productivity. She feels like a lot of time is wasted on focusing on engagement as a one-size-fits-all model. There are a few things that she thinks are very important while considering engagement for any organization. Firstly, it is important to find out the values of the company, what it is that the organization believes in and stands behind. Secondly, the company should find out what is it that makes employees stay above and beyond monetary compensation. It should be done in a very practical way that gives managers a clear understanding. It doesn’t have to be a survey. “Once you have that information, be transparent about it. If there are fifteen things that come out of the survey as a list of things the company should do, pick two or three things which you feel are the most important and make them your mission,” explains Rosalind. To figure out employee engagement it is imperative to understand the business and the people.
Successful Human Capital Management Plan
In order to drive a successful human capital management plan, the human capital person needs to become a credible partner to the department in need and the senior leadership. Just having a title or having experience doesn’t cut it. “You have to understand what an organization does more than just have a sense of entitlement with your title,” says Rosalind. She believes the human capital person should firstly find out what is it that the department needs to do to drive the business. Secondly, he or she needs to figure out what is currently in place – whether it’s people, skills, infrastructure and so on. Thirdly, identify the gaps that exist and finally to analyze what does the department actually need in order to fulfill those things. “There are so many regulations in the human capital field, there are so many things we are told that we have to do. But when you are able to understand what your organization does you are able to take these regulations and legal guidelines and apply them in a practical way explaining the risk, explaining why we can or can’t do something and then let the organization judge what the best direction is for them,” she adds. This way you are more involved with the business and more involved with the strategic plan of the company.
Pillars of Culture
If there is transparency and integrity among the senior leadership then there is a strong foundation. If employees don’t trust the senior management there is a problem. One of the keys for successful company cultures is codification of culture which means what the senior leadership wants it to be and what the employees believe it to be. For human capital the question is how do you tie different initiatives and different organizational directives to support the culture? Most companies tie it back to taking up things like wellness initiatives where they pay for gym memberships. Hall Capital does that with a little twist. As opposed to telling people to go to a specific gym, they give their employees a certain amount of money that they can use for a wellness initiative that has some guidelines and frameworks around it. The employees are free to make a decision about what they think is best for them as opposed to an organization mandating that. This is how they codify their culture at Hall Capital and tie it back to human capital. “You need to think about what are the things about your organization that are original and are key factors to supporting that culture and then empower your leaders and managers to do the right things at the right time to help support it,” says Rosalind.
Strategic Plan for Developing Leaders
“If you don’t have a strategic plan you’ll have no idea what an organization is going to look like in five to ten years. You need to be a part of that discussion and find out how it’ll affect key departments – both revenue generating and non-revenue generating departments. If the company is expected to grow by x% over time how is it going to affect everyone from the IT to the folks generating revenue to the human capital group,” Rosalind elaborates. She says the company needs to find out what skills are needed internally to meet that plan. Once that is figured out, it is time to think about what are you doing within the organization in order to help support that kind of group building initiative within the time that the organization needs to grow by and what are the departments that need to execute the plan.
What Are You Reading?
Rosalind Cohen-Baruch is currently reading “Leadership Playbook: Creating a Coaching Culture to Build Winning Business Teams” by Nathan Jamail and “Missoula” by Jon Krakauer that is a powerful narrative on a series of sexual assaults at the University of Montana.
How Can People Connect With You?
Connect with Rosalind via LinkedIn and to learn more about her company visit www.hallcapital.com.