As a follow-up to the list of Women in HR Tech, we reached out a few of these women entrepreneurs to understand more about the HR Tech space. In this TechTalk, we interviewed Shelly Singh – co-Founder at PeopleStrong to share her journey and her views on HR Tech. As Chief Business Officer she anchors the strategic and operational initiatives at PeopleStrong. Identified as a “Thought Leader” by HRO Today, Asia Pacific Forum in 2014, Shelly is one of the leading ladies of the HR technology entrepreneurial landscape in India and Globally.
1. Please share a bit about your role and a typical day for you
As an entrepreneur and Co-Founder of a growing company, you need to wear multiple hats during a day. Be it Customer Acquisition, Customer Success, Business/Product Strategy or Company Brand, most or some of these end up being part of a day at work. Having said that, we have looked at building teams that are independent, devolution of power is the most important learning which means decision makings has to be pushed at the right stockholder. Else everything in a growing organization has a tendency to reach the table. However, there are clear focus areas which one needs to have, for me PandL and brand of Business are two key focus areas. I am an early riser which I believe helps me lot as a working parent, I start my day at 5:30 am that helps me to focus on self which is a huge savior for the roller-coaster in a day that lies ahead. As working parent, I am a proponent of starting and ending the workday early and if I am not traveling I make sure it a point to adhere to the schedule. In order to have more productive day and week, I make sure to pick up not more than 3 agenda items a day and ensure focus on it rather than distributing the attention span. Most part of my work is debottlenecking and advising teams to look at next level of agenda and doing what I love is solving customer problems.
2. What's similar or different about being a woman in HR Tech?
HR Tech industry in India is in the growth phase (analyst estimations peg it at a number of 25%). Being in HR tech makes you very courageous as the market is opening up rapidly and is changing at such a fast pace that you have to be on top of your game to be relevant. Having said that it is this pace of change and innovation that adds to the thrill and excitement. Also, gender does make a difference in the roles of engineering, we need to do a lot to get the Talent. In roles of product management, design, customer success, gender really doesn’t matter. In fact, I would go to the extent of saying since women are more detail-oriented and born problem-solvers, these skills beautifully align with these roles.
3. Your view on the overall HR Tech industry?
We are a country of 6 million workforces which will perhaps grow to 10 million workforces (organized) by 2020. Compare that with the industry size of 600 million that will grow to 1 billion, it’s a gold mine to be tapped. and the reason I say so is that we are at a very interesting vantage point, user and disruption are changing the way HR technology was seen. No-one wants to wait for 2 years to deploy a system of record, user for the first time (thankfully) is at the forefront, conversational HR is going to replace transaction. Imagine how powerful it is, that a ChatBot (Jinie) will kill the password and you have everything available through the bot interface making life seamless. On top of that, with the current pace of disruption, innovation whether its Machine learning, Chatbots or Gig workforce, one will see very exciting products in Recruitment, productivity and employee engagement as well. Another exciting piece of HR tech landscape is the immense opportunity that exists in the mid-market segment. This market is ready to be explored and an ideal candidate for HR Tech.
4. Your advice to someone looking to build a career in HR Tech Industry?
My advice would be to keep your mind open to the immense possibilities the world of work brings. As part of the HR Tech World, you would need to anticipate the needs of the workforce then only would you be able to add value to the HR fraternity. Steve Jobs once said, “It’s not the consumers' job to know what they want”. I see HR technology folks as evangelists rather than anything else, be prepared to face the brunt of driving change but if you have the capacity to crystal gaze this will be a cakewalk. Agility is going to be the rule of the game to stay relevant.
5. What about the future of HR Tech excites you the most.
The opportunity to be at the forefront of a major change our times would see. By 2027, most of the workforce across the world is going to be freelancing. Imagine the power it will create for not only Business but human beings too. HR/ Workforce Technology be it how you manage productivity through work and time modules, acquire Talent through matchmaking using AI or managing performance is a big game changer to create meaningful work and life as well. How we embed technology to make jobs richer, hire the right Talent delayering the organizations for an impactful work structure (customer should be maximum three degrees away from you) are some of the exciting possibilities new wave of workforce technology would bring.
This is the first interview in a series of four on HR Tech Women Leaders