dax

Canada Life Director of TA Dax Sardinha

Dax Sardinha

Dax Sardinha is a human resources expert and talent acquisition specialist who has been helping businesses recruit the most suitable talent for over 19 years. Dax is also director of talent at of Canada Life, which is Canada’s largest insurance provider for groups and individuals across the country. In today’s episode we hear about Dax’s personal journey from talent expert to leader, and some of the most valuable lessons he learnt along the way.

Episode Transcript

TTTM 224 Transcript EPISODE 224  

[INTRODUCTION]  

[00:00:05] RS: Welcome to Talk Talent To Me, a podcast featuring the most elite talent leaders  on the frontlines of modern recruitment. 

[00:00:11] FEMALE: We actually want to understand the themes of someone’s life. We want to  understand how they make decisions. Where they’re willing to take risks and what it looks when  they fail. 

[00:00:21] RS: No holds barred, completely off the cuff interviews with Directors of Recruitment,  VPs of global talent, CHROs, and everyone in between. 

[00:00:30] FEMALE: Once I went through the classes and the trainings and got the  certifications through diversity inclusion, I still felt something was missing. 

[00:00:38] MALE: Talent acquisition. It’s a fantastic career. You are trusted by the organization.  You get to work with the C-suite and the security at the front desk and everybody in between  and everybody knows you. 

[00:00:51] RS: I’m your host, Rob Stevenson, and you’re about to hear the best in the biz. Talk  Talent To Me.  

[INTERVIEW]  

[00:00:59] RS: Today, on Talk Talent To Me is the Director of Talent Acquisition for Canada Life,  Dax Sardinha. Dax, welcome to the podcast. How are you today? 

[00:01:06] DS: I’m good, Rob. Thanks for having me here.  

[00:01:08] RS: We’re really pleased to have you in. How’s your week shaping up? Is it chaos?  Is it unmitigated chaos? Is it mitigated chaos? How busy and crazy are things for you? 

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[00:01:16] DS: Yeah. It is controlled chaos at this point. We’re just trying to keep the plates  spinning with the assets that are coming in from the business, and keep the team obviously  motivated at the same time. It is a balancing act between trying to meet all the requirements  coming in and what we can actually do. 

[00:01:30] RS: I want to know more about the plates you’re spinning, Dax. First, would you  mind telling us a little bit about the company and your role in it just to set some context as we  move forward? 

[00:01:38] DS: Yeah, absolutely. Canada Life is Canada’s largest insurance provider, financial  insurance provider, both in group and individual customers across Canada. So, we support  everything from your regular standard benefits, like dental and medical, and all the way up to  wealth management and investment advice. It’s a great company to work for, very much a salt  of the earth type of people. My side of it is leading the talent acquisition or the recruitment for  new talent. Everything from the high level, some people call them entry level, I don’t like to call  them entry level, because for some that’s for destination role. All the way from those high  volume roles all the way up to the executive level. 

[00:02:16] RS: I like that you call it a destination role, because saying things entry level, it just  comes the negative cachet, right? Especially when you get into this inevitable question of  should I continue as a specialized individual contributor? Should I go into management? You  don’t have to go into leadership and management. You can stay as individual contributor. That  might be just a more effective, perhaps highly compensated version of a “entry level role” right? 

[00:02:40] DS: You’re absolutely right. There’s so many people that get into an organization  thinking that, well, I’ll just use this as a stepping stone opportunity. Next thing you know, 25  years later, they’re still in the same job. Obviously, they’ve progressed to their compensation,  but they’ve loved the job that they’re doing, and they haven’t decided to move on. They don’t  want to be a leader, they don’t want to move to other areas of the organization. They’re really  happy with what they’re doing. They’re an expert in that space. We love to see that.  

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[00:03:03] RS: Maybe it’s an American thing, but this pressure to constantly get promoted, get  more responsibility, more resources, direct reports, get the fancy title, that’s a real professional  pressure people face. I don’t think it’s strictly necessary. If you enjoy the function that you are  working on, you think of what role your job plays in your greater life goals and aspirations, then  that’s totally fine, right? For someone to stick there, I think we ought to normalize someone  wanting to stay in that role. 

[00:03:33] DS: Absolutely. For some people, this is what the level they want, it gives them the  capacity to do other things. It gives them the opportunity to develop in other spaces, versus  always chasing that next role, that next title, that next opportunity. What you see, in some cases,  that people chase those opportunities so often that they actually get promoted to a level of  incompetence, because they’re just not ready, they grew so quickly, they grew so fast, that  they’re not actually ready for that, that advance seat at the table. Then they struggle. Then they  wonder why they struggled. Where some people that they come into a role, they’re really happy  with it to become experts in that space. I don’t have to struggle to do my job. I can set it and  forget it. I can think about my work life balance accordingly. That’s okay. There’s nothing wrong  with that. 

[00:04:16] RS: I have this conversation with a handful of my friends off microphone about  whether they ought to pursue management or continue on their IC path. I think what the lever,  the inescapable lever there, I think, is that there’s a ceiling on comp for individual contributor.  You could, a friend of mine, for example, he’s L6 Software Engineer at Square, and I think the  highest is L7. At a certain point, there’s just no room above that, right? They’re going to be like,  “Look, you’re the most senior person we can have in this role without taking on more  responsibility. This is the top of the compensation range.” Is that a reality? Or do you think you  can continue having like continue to progress in terms of compensation and skill growth in a role  like that?  

[00:04:59] DS: Yeah. I think it really does come down to the role and you use software, you  know software engineer, software developer is a great example. I think you have the ability to  continue to progress in your salary, in your compensation in that space, unlike other areas,  because you can continue to build on new skill sets or niche skill sets that let’s face it, the  market always looking for. So you have that ability to progress and get compensated  

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accordingly for that. Other areas, if you think about again, let’s use those high volume roles,  coming in as a customer service rep. Or if you’re in the retail space, you are going to be limited  in your compensation, you are going to reach a ceiling and then you do have to balance. Do I want to continue being an individual contributor? Or do I want to take on that people  leadership role? That’s not for everybody, right? Taking on that people leadership role is a  different set of responsibility, you’re no longer the doer, you’re now supporting those that  execute. For someone in the software world, that’s boring, right? The reason why they got into  that space, because they love to code, they love to get into the cool new thing. They love to be  able to create. As you get more and more into leadership, you lose that ability to do so. That’s a  challenge for many people. 

For me, I would say, always look at what is it you’re hoping to get out of your career. If you want  to be able to impact and influence the company that you’re in on a grander scale than you are  going to want to have to progress into that people leadership in some way shape or form. If  you’re happy impacting and influencing the organization at the level that you’re at then you’re  not looking for that additional responsibility, then you don’t need to move into that leadership  type role, and stay to those individual contributor type opportunities. It’s just very different career  paths, depending on what your interests are. 

[00:06:32] RS: Yeah. I’m glad you called out that it’s not for everyone. Without reflecting, you  might just find yourself in that role, because it’s the path laid before you. It’s like this unexplored,  unexamined career path. It’s like, “Yeah. I just I took the manager role, because it was offered to  me, and because it was more senior more powerful, blah, blah.” All these things that we were  instilled in us as important to pursue, but not for everyone, as you say. It was, however, for you.  You find yourself in a directorial role. What was that personal journey like for you, when you  were progressing on from being an effective Talent Pro, and then wanting to take on more of a  team leading aspect? 

[00:07:09] DS: Yeah. It’s a great question. Actually, it harkens to what you just said that the  positions were just offered to me. I was good at what I did. They said, “Dax, what would you  mind training the new batch of people coming in?” As you train, you become moving to a team  lead role, and they see, oh, you’re doing great as a team lead, would you be open to a  managerial role and managing larger teams? That scope just started to grow over time. For me,  

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I loved it. I love the ability to, as I said, impact and influence an organization in a positive way.  As I got more and more leadership capability, I was able to create strategy and execute on  strategy. I love that. I’ve got a Lean Six Sigma background, a project management background.  I love being able to incorporate those pieces into my day-to-day work as I was leading the team.  as I was trying to support the business functions within the organizations that I was in. 

[00:07:57] RS: You mentioned earlier, the spinning plates, that you find yourself in this  directorial role, you’re doing more strategic thinking, more managing individual teammates,  perhaps. What are the plates are spinning? What’s top of mind for you right now? 

[00:08:11] DS: Yeah. That’s a great question. I mean, that the biggest challenge that we have  right now is just sheer workload, right? If you think about where we are, we are coming out of  this pandemic, where a lot of organizations have slowed down the hiring, they weren’t really  driving their organization to grow, because there was limited opportunity to do so. Other  organizations were holding off and waiting to see what was going on with the economy before  they started to grow. Then of course, lastly, you have organizations that are in the hospitality  and the food services industry that took an impact in many cases, because of the pandemic. 

Well, now every organization as we start to come out of COVID is really going gangbusters.  We’re no different, where our volumes are increasing, our customers are asking for more and  more services. That’s just driven our volumes higher than we’ve ever seen them before. So  when I think about the plate spinning, it’s on all avenues. It’s everything from a customer service  role, all the way up to executives, where individuals are now looking at opportunities to move to  other areas of the organization, or ultimately retire, because they’re baby boomers, and they’re  ready to do so, because they can afford to do so. 

We’re just seeing the impacts on so many levels. It’s not just us, it’s every industry, whether it’s  FI insurance, real estate, software development, everyone is seeing the same impact across the  board around, just the sheer volume of talent required to support the growing needs of an  organization. 

[00:09:25] RS: When most people think about hyper growth and the challenges of scaling up an  operation. The most common fear I hear from folks is we don’t want to hire for the sake of hiring,  

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dilute the culture, ruin what good thing we have here with these individuals who helped set up  what this company means and how we believe work is done, totally valid. You mentioned though  you’re concerned about the workload, right? You’re concerned about how are we going to  actually, the work hours involved, the labor involved to do this and how does that affect the  team? Is it as simple as just adding more resources and telling the powers that be, “Hey, I need  to hire more recruiters, or I need more resources.” Or are you also just you expect people to  take on more? How do you level set with your team make sure that they are in a position to fill  these roles, and themselves maintain — remain effective. 

[00:10:17] DS: I wish it was a matter of just waving the magic wand and adding team members  to the team. That is part of it, right? It’s going back and doing that workforce planning and going  back to the leadership and saying, “Listen you’ve increased your significant capacity of  requirements, we’re going to need XYZ to be able to support that.” Realistically, everybody is  looking for good talent acquisition specialist right now. It’s hard to find a talent, right? Why spend  the time looking to add to your team, you have to be able to meet the immediate needs of your  team, and of course, still be able to meet the team’s, the needs of the business. 

You can’t just keep adding more and more reps to them. You can, but then you have to start to  prioritize what that work really means, right? Where is it that’s focused for the activities of your  team? The most important thing is thinking about what is that balance for them, because they  

can’t continue to work overtime, endlessly, and not feel that burnout. That’s where we’re at. I  think this is where we’re at as an organizational piece, but also as an industry and talent is we  are close to burning out the people that we have in our teams by just putting more and more on  them. 

For me, it’s making sure that they understand that they are heard. Making sure that they have  an opportunity to stop doing what they see as wasteful activities, and raising those questions of,  “Why do we still have to do this? If we did something differently, can we not do that way — do it  that way and save some time?” Yes, and that’s what we asked for them, right? Is to look at how  do we be more effective? How do we be more efficient in our space? How do we do things  differently ultimately, so that the team can feel supported, the team can manage the workload at  a realistic state, but at the same time, when the day comes to an end, the day comes to an end  

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and empower them to be able to do that, and not feel that they have to keep the lights on just  because they’re committed to doing a great job, right? 

Empowering them to understand that, it’s okay, that when you’re putting a good 7.5 eight hour  day. You don’t have to do the overtime, the overtime is there if it’s going to keep you awake at  night, but do yourself a favor scheduling those breaks scheduled in a realistic time to end. One  of the things that I think most people have realized, since working from home due to the  pandemic and working virtual is that there’s been this huge blurring of work, life, balance, where  people start sooner because they don’t have a commute. They work to their lunch, because  they’re sitting at their desk, they don’t leave right away at five o’clock, “Hey, because I don’t  have to commute to go home.” People are actually putting in 12 hour days where they were  picking putting in a 7.5 or eight hour day, and that’s wearing people down. 

It’s encouraging them to speak up, empowering them to really understand that you don’t have to  do that. You can work your regular shift, there will always be work, work will still come, there  always be more. Make sure of course, ultimately, that you’re supporting their needs and being  mindful of how do you remove that waste. 

[00:13:02] RS: Most people, I think are not great at crying on goal when it comes to having too  much work to feeling burnout, and especially in a reality where lots of companies are hiring. It  might be easier to just work yourself to a breaking point and then up and quit with no warning  and then find a new job three weeks later, right? If someone to get driven to that point, I wouldn’t  necessarily fault them. How do you prevent that? You mentioned, yeah, it’s just as simple as  having empathy and talking to these folks. I guess part of it is like, how do you create a culture  where people feel comfortable saying, “Hey, Dax, I’m at a breaking point. I can’t take another  role, or I can’t keep doing this or I need time off.” As opposed to just doing the, again, the thing  we’re pressured to do professionally, which is just say yes, and continue delivering and just be  an exemplary employee mentor was asked of you? 

[00:13:52] DS: Yeah. It’s a really tough question. I mean, one of the great things about Canada  Life is our culture. It’s about who we are as an organization, and we are empathetic with each  other. It’s all about the people of the organization. We know the real differentiator between us  and our competitors are the people in the organization, right? No matter what our offerings are,  

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our competitors can offer the exact same thing. So we really have to focus on the people part of  it. For me, my style is to just be as transparent as I can and hope that the team will be as  transparent with me in our one-on-ones, right? Having regular scheduled one-on-ones is  absolutely critical. You can’t wait till someone is suffering in silence and then suddenly leaves on  you that you’re having these discussions. 

You need to have those ongoing, how are you doing those check ins, those engagements, the  development conversations still need to be part of it as well. Hopefully, if you’re doing all those  things that people feel comfortable enough to come to you. I use the word empowerment quite a  bit, but it’s because that’s a key principle, a key value of not only our organization, but also who I  am as an individual, as a leader but I believe in empowering my team so that they can speak up  so that they can own their space and they can control their space and they’re comfortable to  say, “You know Dax, I can’t do anymore, I need help.” Right? I don’t want them suffering in  silence. I think all those aspects leads the team hopefully to be comfortable to provide that  opportunity to put their hand up and say, “I need help.” To encourage the team to speak out  whether as a group or in an individual’s space to be able to say, “I need help.” 

[00:15:18] RS: Really crucial to create an environment where people are comfortable doing  that, but no matter what you do, some people may not be forthcoming. You mentioned also,  some people aren’t no matter how – what kind of supportive culture, environment you create,  some people may never just be comfortable raising their hand, because it’s exhibits weakness,  right? That’s a separate issue for folks, but I think it’s really common. So in those cases, where  no matter what you might not be able to count on someone to surface those concerns. You have  to be proactive. So like you said, can we remove some of this work that you think is leverage,  right? What is holding you back from hitting these other goals? What is the work you do that is  just busy work or filling time? 

I think that’s a constant question bosses need to be asking, because your employees are  probably spending time on something that’s a low leverage task for them to be doing and it  could be removed, there’s this great, what is it saying it’s never do what you can delegate, never  delegate, what you can automate, never automate what you can eliminate. This process of just  what is your high leverage activity. A friend of mine runs a company and every time they make  two full time hires, they hire a new virtual assistant who works 40 hours a week for them to  

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share. Then they just offload all of this busy work stuff that’s important, but it’s not perhaps the  best use of their time, updating spreadsheets, pulling reports those kind of things. 

Now they can focus on the high-level thing, because for a recruiter is being on the phone with  people. Making this relationship with candidates and that’s what ultimately moves the needle for  them. I’m talking a lot here. This isn’t my, you’re the guest on my podcast. So important to create  an environment like that and I think the challenge, though, is that no matter how supportive  environment you create, there are always going to be those holdouts, people who maybe aren’t  comfortable raising their own hands. So that’s when you have to have those leading  conversations like you said about what is the work you can remove from people’s plate? What is  the stuff that’s maybe not high leverage that they hate doing? How do you have those  prescriptive conversations with folks, if they’re not being forthcoming, so that you can make their  lives easier, make them more effective without them explicitly asking for it? 

[00:17:23] DS: Yeah. It’s a great question. Again, it goes back to my lean background, where I  look at what are the tasks that they’re doing. You call it out as well, how do you automate tasks  that could be automated, right? Leveraging new technology that’s available, so a scheduling tool  as an example. When we when I first came into the organization, the team was manually  scheduling interviews, right? So they’re picking up the phone, they’re calling candidates,  candidates aren’t there, they’re leaving a message. Candidates are calling back, well, I’m on the  phone, I missed you again. That was just a schedule interview. There’s a lot of back and forth,  where we’re using a free tool that came with Microsoft Bookings 365. It’s a scheduling tool,  right? 

There’s tons of tools like that out there, Calendly and a few other tools. That changed  fundamentally how they were executing and connecting with candidates to be able to schedule.  The candidates were able to schedule based on their availability at their whim. So if you show  up in the middle of the night, you got this email, I can schedule myself for an interview with Dax,  and here’s Dax’s availability. That fundamentally changed where they were spending their time  at the front end of that process. 

Always being mindful of what are the tasks that the team is doing? What can you automate?  What can you offload that is just pure wasted time, from a back and forth perspective, but giving  

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the team the voice, giving them the opportunity, whether it’s in large team meetings, or whether  it’s in one-on-one conversations to just say, “Hey, how’s it going? What’s a block or a challenger  that you’ve got today or that you’ve had this week?” Let them just voice that concern. Maybe  you can’t do anything about it, but hopefully, you’re going to get some cool nuggets to make  suggestions to the broader team that say, “Hey, if we stopped doing this, is everybody on site?”  Does this make sense? 

What if we lifted and shifted this work to someone else on the team that this is really closer to  what they do? Does that make sense? It’s just an opportunity to hopefully engage the team in  different conversation, but you have to know your process, you have to have a sense of what  your process is and ask those questions. Nothing is sacred. 

[00:19:11] RS: Yes. Can I just add, I started using Calendly recently, and I can’t believe it, I  didn’t do it year sooner. I spent so much time just playing ‘Go Fish’ with people’s availability,  emailing back and forth a million times, guessing when they might be available. Now I just, I  

have a keyboard shortcut that automatically generates the link and I tell people, because I don’t  want to be like, there’s also a weird power play though. It’s you booked me, you booked time on  my calendar. I always say, “Hey, if you send me a couple of times, I’m sure one of them can  work and I’ll send an invite, or if it’s easier, just use my Calendly. I’m trying to be delicate about  that, like, here I am asking enterprise level as VPs to book themselves on my calendar, but  anyway, just be mindful that, but tools like that, hugely important. 

I just encourage everyone to reflect on anything that they do, that’s like a recurring thing. I had a  career coach recently, Sarah Baker Andrus, who’s was on this podcast asked me, “What are the  things you routinely put off doing?” Which I thought was such a great, great way of thinking  about what you should automate delegate or eliminate, because it’s like, yeah, the stuff I put up  doing is the stuff I know is important, but I’m just procrastinating, because I don’t like it, I don’t  want to do it. That’s a great way to have someone surface those things that maybe you can take  off their plate. 

[00:20:29] DS: I agree. 100%. I love that. I think people like the ability to own and control. From  a candidate perspective, if you’re giving them the ability to schedule you, they like that, right? I  

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think people the ability to say, “Hey, I’m going to book myself at your convenience.” And the  more you can do that the better. 

[00:20:48] RS: Yep, absolutely. Another thing you mentioned earlier was, you hinted at  succession planning, right? All these baby boomers are considering retirement, are they going  to be leaving the workforce in the next few years? What does the next generation of that VP and  C-level talent look like? How are you approaching succession planning? 

[00:21:05] DS: Yeah, it’s a great question. It’s a challenge for most organizations, and we’re no  different is really looking at the demographic gap. What I mean by that is, we have the largest  population right now who’s going to be retiring over the next one to five years. The next  generation, my generation, that generation X group moving into that space, there’s not as many  people. So how do you solve for that, because it creates another gap of replacing my level role,  that mid management level role, because the next generation behind me, while there’s enough  of them, they haven’t had the opportunities to grow into those leadership roles. 

When you think about succession, it’s a huge domino impact. It’s a big concern in most  organizations, and it’s one of those things that keeps me awake at night is how are we going to  manage that? Succession planning is a key critical piece of that being able to identify talent,  those high performers, ‘hypose’, if you will, that can move into those executive level roles very  quickly. Those that can be progressed over the next I’ll say, two to 10 years, as well, that next  level. Then of course the last group of who can progress over the next 10 to 15 years.  Succession planning is critical. I don’t think we’ve got it solved yet. It’s the first organization that  can do it from the top all the way down to the bottom base, that’ll be their secret sauce, that’s  going to be the differentiator, but we’re working on it, we just still haven’t solved for that yet. 

[00:22:22] RS: I don’t want to freak anyone out, but it strikes me that it’s probably never too  soon to start planning for this thing, because you never know when someone’s going to decide  that they’ve had it. I remember when they want to move on. It’s not as simple as just elevating  your next most senior person. Surely, there’s a longer process of making sure someone is ready  for this new elevated roll. Like you mentioned earlier, people often just sprint through  promotions, and then they get ahead of their own, they out kick their coverage. Now they’re in a  

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role, they probably had no business being in, because the organization needed it. They said,  yes, because you should say yes to a promotion. 

This planning takes longer, and you need to put people in position, I guess. So that three, four  or five years down the line, they are able to step into these roles. Is that the timeframe you’re  working with? How do you think of taking stock of what the leadership looks like now, and what  its going to look in the next five years? 

[00:23:20] DS: Yeah. It’s absolutely something, it’s critical. It is something that we have to be  doing now. I would say most organizations do a good job at the executive level, but they often  stop by the time they get down to AVP. You’re looking at director level and below, they don’t  usually do good succession planning. It’s going to be critically important that they do so,  because you may be able to backfill those executives, but now you have a huge gap in talent  availability, in that mid management level. If you don’t know where it’s going to come from,  you’re going to be behind the eight ball that’s going to take you that much longer to be able to  backfill source talent than on an average cycle of eight weeks to recruit, that’s going to double  or triple your timeframe. That’s lost productivity to your organization. 

Absolutely, organizations need to be thinking about that today. If they’re not already doing so  about what is their succession plan below that AVP level, all the way through their organization  and be mindful, is that talent going to come internally? Or is it going to come externally, or is  going to be a mix of both? The best practices, of course, a mix of both where you’re bringing in  and promoting talent that’s available internally that have the capability and of course, looking for  fresh new talent that you can bring in externally and to complement that. 

[00:24:25] RS: Do you have to be as frank as to go to your senior most folks, since it’s a top  down thing. There’s a domino effect of people progressing through an organization. Do you  have to go to those most senior folks and be like, “Hey, how many sets you got left on the bench  for us?” Right? “How much longer are you going to be at this? What’s your personal plan?  Because we can’t just get your announcement and then six months later, have your backfill, it’s  too hard to find someone at that high level.” How do you approach those conversations? 

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[00:24:53] DS: Yeah. I think it’s twofold. I think one there’s data. I think most organizations have  a robust data analysis or data plan that they can look at and say, well, what’s the demographic?  How many people do we have in that 60, 65-plus year span. Well, they’re going to want to be  retiring. They may not have come and put their hand up, but we know, traditionally in that space  and that age group and that demographic, that people are going to retire soon. You can start by  looking at the data, but there’s nothing wrong with having that pulse survey that you’re sending  out on probably an annual or by annual basis to include questions like, do you plan on leaving  the organization in the next year? Are you open to new opportunities in the market, if someone  came a calling, right? 

There’s nothing wrong with getting you that additional data point to be able to understand what’s  going on in your organization. I would say, it’s critical for you to be thinking about those  conversations. Now are you going to pick up the phone and call one of your EVPs and say,  “Hey, what’s your plan for the next five years? Are you planning on leaving us over the next five  years?” Probably not, but if you have a good strong development organization, where you’re  having ongoing one-on-ones, and you’re having good ongoing development conversations with  people, leadership should have a sense of what their population is going to be doing, right? If  someone is checked out, or someone is just not engaged, or someone is looking for that next  development opportunity, and you can offer that in your organization, well, then you should be  flagging that person as a risk. That risk could be okay, could it be an acceptable risk or it could  be, “You know what, we need to be thinking about who do we backfill this person with over the  next six to 12 months?”  

[00:26:23] RS: Yeah. It would be clunky to, as you say, right? Just phone up an EVP and be  like, when are you retiring? But you need to know, right? Sure you have the data, but there’s  outliers that doesn’t — that’s not a one to one match with what someone’s plan might be. You  might be able to have a sense of okay, they could be thinking about it, but some people work  well into their 70s, maybe they have no desire to retire, maybe their identity is wrapped up in  

their work, and they really love doing it. They wouldn’t know what to do if they retired all these  human experiences exist out there. So is it up to you to interface with the bosses above them to  be like, “Hey, CEO, I need you to figure out what these people’s plan is over the next few years.”  Because they report into you and you’re the person who can ask that, in a way that’s not out of  left field or could be read as disrespectful so that we can plan for the future? 

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[00:27:13] DS: That should be part of the talent review cycle of any organization. If you think  about most organizations have a year-end review of some kind. That should ultimately roll up  into HR to create that succession planning strategy, where you’re talking about each of your  leaders, each of your roles. Do we see this person performing? Do we see this person being  hyper prudential? What is the roadmap for that person? What’s the opportunity for that person?  Then thinking about the talent that you’re bringing in, do they have transferable skills that can go  across multi platforms from a disciplinary perspective, right? Especially when you’re thinking of  the executive level. 

You’re maybe hiring for the current role that they’re in, but can they move to other areas to  backfill or have a succession plan for more than one person? There’s no magic bullet for  succession planning, but there are different pieces and different activities that you should be  doing to plan forward and be prepared for it. That year end conversation absolutely is critical to  level set, what is your talent look like? How many roles are we at risk for? Do we have anyone  in mind already or is that a gap? If you have a gap, what’s your strategy to fill that gap in the  long run?  

[00:28:15] RS: On the topic of succession planning, can we talk about the Dax Sardinha  succession planning? I’d love to know for you, what’s your – tell me about your next job Dax?  What’s your mission right now? How are you – How do you conceive of your current place in  your perceived career trajectory? 

[00:28:30] DS: Yeah, great question. I’ve never been a title chaser. For me, it’s about the work  itself. I love the ability to come in and I said this before is to be able to impact and influence an  organization in a positive way. That’s what I look for. Canada Life, I came to Canada Life, from a  company called Quadreal. It was fantastic organization, it was a growth organization. We really  built that organization from the ground up, and it was a lot of fun doing so. I came to Canada  Life to have the opportunity to do that again in a different way to be able to grow and to be able  to help shape and change and transform the organization, modernize some of the practices  from a talent landscape. That’s what I love doing. 

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For me long term, whether it’s staying in this role, and just having more responsibility at a AVP  level and doing more and driving strategy or continuing to look at other opportunities within  talent. I love the organization that I’m in. I’m not itching to go anywhere, anytime soon. It’s just  wanting to be able to add value and to continue to grow that strategic opportunities within an  organization. Long term succession plan for me is still talent. I love talent, whether it’s workforce  planning, whether it’s talent acquisition, talent management. I love every aspect of it. I just want  to continue doing that and have the ability to shape the strategy and bring forth the strategy in  our organization to continue to modernize and improve. That’s not too convoluted.  

[00:29:48] RS: Is there perhaps an area that you want to add to your tool belt, a new  tangentially related skill set you maybe haven’t gotten to work on a lot yet that you think would  helped fill you out as a pro? 

[00:30:00] DS: Yeah. For me, organization development is probably the next piece for me that’s  that missing bucket in my tool chest, being able to create or design or development. That’s  probably that’s probably where I like to see some additional development and growth over time. 

[00:30:15] RS: I’m surprised if you say that, because it’s sounds you’ve put a lot of thought into  it with based on everything you told me about succession planning. 

[00:30:21] DS: Yeah. I mean, there’s aspects of talent that just tie into talent acquisition selfishly  and succession planning is one of them. But true or design really taking that look from that top down structure. How many layers of leadership should there be? What’s the optimum team  size? Those types of conversations, I really haven’t sunk my teeth into and on a large scale, and  I love the opportunity to do that, at some point in my career. 

[00:30:44] RS: You strike me as someone who is prioritizing values versus outcomes, which I  think is a really smart way to view personal development. What I mean by that is, you’re less  interested in being CHRO, than you are personally enjoying the work you do. Achieving  mastery, growing as an individual, because the argument goes something if you focus on the  values, then the outcomes will come and probably in ways you hadn’t expected. Say, when you  move on from Canada Life, whatever that is, you get another role. It’s same title, but it’s at a  way more, the company aligns with more with what you’re working on. There’s huge upside, it’s  

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a better fit for you for all these reasons, but if you don’t have the VP title, like have you failed,  no, surely not. This notion of not being a title chaser of instead focusing on personal  development seems to me a more thoughtful way to go about it. Is that a fair characterization?  Do you think of it in terms of ways you can personally develop as opposed to how do I just level  up in the org? 

[00:31:42] DS: Yeah, absolutely. You get to a certain point where you realize that title itself is  meaningless. If you think about even the job itself there’s the old quote of that the job you’re  looking forward five years doesn’t exist yet. As long as you’re focusing on those values, on that  development, you’re going to find the job title, in the in the role in the organization that fits you  ultimately the end of the day. That’s where, you got to follow your passion, because if you’re  only chasing title, it’s going to get to a point where you’re not as excited about the job anymore,  right? You’ve got the title that you’re looking for, but you’re not getting the job that you’re looking  for. You’re not getting the excitement of the work that you want to do day in, day out. That’s got  to be your key at the end of the day, because if you’re not happy, if you’re not passionate about  the work that you’re doing, you’re never going to exceed, you’re never going to excel, you’ll just  get bored and burn out and go somewhere else. 

[00:32:28] RS: Dax, I don’t think we’re going to find a better bookend than that. That was really,  really well said, and I think encouraging, freeing even, to the job you want five years from  doesn’t exist. It’s like, well, great. If you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up that’s  okay. It’s because it’s not there for you to know. At this point, I would just say thank you so much  for being here, for sharing all of your thoughtfulness, and for sharing all of your experience, and  your thoughtful approach. I’ve loved learning from you. This has been a great episode. Thanks  so much, Dax. 

[00:32:53] DS: Rob, It’s been a pleasure. Thanks so much again for having me.  [OUTRO]  

[00:32:58] RS: Talk Talent To Me is brought to you by Hired. Hired empowers connections by  matching the world’s most innovative companies with ambitious tech and sales candidates. With  Hired candidates and companies have visibility into salary offers, competing opportunities, and  

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job details. Hired’s unique offering includes customized assessments, and salary bias alerts to  help remove unconscious bias when hiring. By combining technology and human touch, our  goal is to provide transparency in the recruiting process and empower each of our partners to  employ their potential and keep their talent pipeline full.  

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