Lorraine left a great job at Butler University to join FIB, and she credits the move to a remarkable recruiter and a FIB culture that was too wonderful to resist. In our conversation, Lorraine dives deeper into staying comfortable versus trying something new, the power of listening to your gut, what she loves about HR and the recent developments in the industry, and why being future-ready is among her top priorities. We also discuss resilience and how to cultivate it in the workplace, how to create an office culture that facilitates constructive conversations, and what you can do as an employee when someone ranked above you dismisses your views.
Rob Stevenson 0:05
Welcome to Talk talent to me, a podcast featuring the most elite talent leaders on the front lines of modern recruitment.
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Rob Stevenson 0:52
I’m your host, Rob Stevenson. And you’re about to hear the best in the biz. talk down to me. Welcome back, you wonderful rabble of recruiting munchkins, you. It’s me, Rob here with another episode of your favorite HR recruiting people ops podcast, and I have a wonderful guest for you. She is the Chief People Officer over at first Internet bank. Lorraine Ortiz, Lorraine, welcome to the podcast. How the heck are you today?
Lorraine Ortiz 1:15
Thank you. I’m doing well. A little cold. But good.
Rob Stevenson 1:18
Where are you based? Again?
Lorraine Ortiz 1:19
Rob Stevenson 1:21
Okay, so I went to college in Indiana. So I remember those days of checking the weather. It was like, oh, it’s gonna be sub zero today and tomorrow and probably for the next six weeks. So I feel that pain.
Lorraine Ortiz 1:32
Yeah, for sure. Well, tomorrow supposed to be 51. So we’ll just go back and forth between 30, negative 30 and 51.
Rob Stevenson 1:38
It’ll turn around on a dime. I guess that’s not so bad. Well, I’m excited to have you on the rain. We have lots to get into. But let’s get to know you first, shall we? So could you share a little bit about first Internet bank for those who are not familiar, and then we can get into your role and how you came to be there?
Lorraine Ortiz 1:55
Sure. First Internet bank, it was the first in the entire world to have an internet only presence for the banking industry. We started in 1999. And we are celebrating our 25th anniversary starting in February 22 of this year. So we’re very excited about that. I found my way here because of David Becker, who is the CEO and founder and Nicole Lord, who’s the president. I was working at Butler University at the time as a Chief Human Resources Officer not looking for a position and the recruiter reached out. And after speaking with the two of them, I thought there is no better place I want to be than with these two fabulous leaders. And so I found myself over here. And this is the first time I’m in financial services. So I get to learn and work with two great bosses. So I am loving my life right now.
Rob Stevenson 2:43
So it’s not merely a name first Internet bank was in fact, the first Internet bank. Love that when a plan comes together. I also really love that moment where you said you were working at Baylor University, perfectly satisfied in your role, not kind of on the hunt. But then this thing comes across your radar recruiter reaches out and you start to think, okay, maybe it is worth a move or worth looking into. Can we talk about that moment where you kind of started to think about moving, it sounds like what really sold it for you was the leadership. But being in a comfortable, elevated role at Butler, you could have probably just stayed there and been perfectly happy. But what made you really start to think about moving.
Lorraine Ortiz 3:21
So the recruiter was fabulous, and just describing the opportunity. And I actually left the conversation and really struggled because I really enjoyed working at Butler. And so I talked to my husband, my husband’s a firefighter for the city of fishers. And he said you have to go see the location. And I hear very great things about it. So I started doing some research and just thinking, okay, is this something that I want to get into? I really like being a baller. I liked being on a campus, I liked the people that I worked with. And so I just started doing research and saying, is it worth the next conversation? Hold the next conversation as all good recruiters do was with the President and CO large. And it was over zoom. And so when we met, I have not felt that kind of warmth, I guess or the camaraderie. It was as if we were speaking in person, not necessarily over zoom. And it felt so good that I just thought you know what, I would love to meet this person, actually in person to see if it’s the same. And then it just rolled from there. And then after that I struggled with saying, okay, really weighing out what would be here versus what is currently at Butler. And it really came down to leadership. And the leadership team at Butler is awesome. I’m used to more of an entrepreneurial environment, and this is what you get here. So I left one good boss and came to good bosses. So I’ve been lucky in both respects, but this environment and my ability to learn my ability to focus on strategy after being in the business for 25 years, it all fell into place.
Rob Stevenson 4:55
Learning I’ve been in that position where I’m like perfectly happy in the role that I have that I’m doing. But then you get a message from a recruiter right? And you start to think, Oh, well, you know, I’ll talk to them. I’ll gap. I’ll see what you what you have. And is that merely just being smart cultivating lots of options being opportunistic? Or do you think there’s always a sense of like, Yeah, I like my job, but it couldn’t be better.
Lorraine Ortiz 5:20
I don’t know if I would say better, maybe different. I do believe in instinct, and gut, and other recruiters were calling. And it was a no, it was like, No, thank you. Thank you. This one tugged at me in a way that I don’t know that I could articulate for the audience. But I think most of us have felt that says, you know, what, I really should pursue at least another conversation. And then you have great people that you deeply trust around you, that you share that with. And in this case, it was my husband who said, I think you really need to interview and I said, Well, I’m happy at Butler. There’s a lot of work to do there. I love the people I work with, he said, I really think you should have the initial conversation, and then decide. And so when you have that trust, and you have that gut feeling, I think you need to pursue it. And you will know the difference. But I don’t have a formula for it.
Rob Stevenson 6:14
It sounds like the tug was maybe the people it sounds like it was oh, this recruiter is very good at their job. And his first conversation with the President kind of lit you up. It sounds like that experience was what was exciting.
Lorraine Ortiz 6:25
Yeah, the recruiter was phenomenal. I think it was a three step thing, the recruiter was phenomenal enough for me to talk to my husband about it, my husband said, you really should talk to these people. I talked to Nicole, and then Nicole, really, I was like, You know what I want to meet her. And I really thought if I don’t get this job, if they pick somebody else, then it’s okay. I would love to just engage with her on a professional basis to kind of pick her brain see what’s going on? Maybe I could help her on certain projects. So we kind of hit it off in that first Zoom meeting, and then it just kind of went from there. So I would say after those three steps, then definitely it was I really want to work here.
Rob Stevenson 7:04
Do you remember what the recruiter did differently than the other ones? You said, who were reaching out to you that you ignored or said thanks. But no thanks to?
Lorraine Ortiz 7:12
She took a step back. And she just asked me, Why do you do HR? And she really dug into what I found purpose in what was my why before she even talked about the job. And she actually had a couple of positions. And she said, You know, I originally was thinking of you for this other job, which I did have experience in that industry. But she said, I really think you’re going to be a match for this other one. And then how do you feel about switching industries? And then we had that conversation? And that’s really what took it off? Because then it helped me kind of evaluate which you don’t always think about that all the time. You don’t sit down and say, Okay, what’s my purpose in life? And why am I doing what I’m doing? And so she helped me really bring that out. It was enough for me to say, That’s really interesting. And so that’s how the conversation with my husband started said, Oh, I had a really interesting conversation with this recruiter. The next time I need to hire somebody at Butler, I’m gonna call them because I loved how she approached me. And then that’s when he said, sounds like she doesn’t even know you. And it sounds like she knows what you need.
Rob Stevenson 8:13
That’s a fantastic approach. And maybe it resonated. Because if someone reaches out to you, and they’re like, I have a role you’d be perfect for. My first reaction is like, you don’t know me. You think I’d be perfect based on what a few things you read on my LinkedIn page? How could you possibly know? And that recruiter started from like, I don’t know, you can I get to know you. And oh, by the way, maybe it’s something else, you know, like, it sounds like from what I’ve learned about you, you’re on a good fit for this role, which I feel like when a recruiter does that, it’s like, okay, they’re not just shoveling me into a position, they’re being a little more thoughtful about what they do with me. Do you remember when they asked you? Why HR, and you know why you do it? Do you matter what you said,
Lorraine Ortiz 8:52
Yeah, I said, I enjoy helping people. I’m a very faithful person. So I believe we’re all here for a general purpose in life. And for me, I sincerely believe my purpose is helping others realize truly what they are capable of. So I just love helping people, at the end of the day, walk out impressed with themselves, not to the point of vanity, I don’t want anybody walking around with a big head. But at the same time, it is nice to spend so much time at work and leave each day knowing that you feel really accomplished and aligned to your values and your purpose. And then you jump up in the morning because you want to do that, again. It’s hard to leave your family, but you look forward to something because of how you’re going to be fulfilled. And so that’s why I like doing HR
Rob Stevenson 9:38
is that you think the calling of HR is helping people develop become better versions of themselves?
Lorraine Ortiz 9:44
Yes. Yeah. And I think the difference among companies because I’ve been in a lot of industries is just finding, it’s finding your boat while you’re navigating the waters and realizing I’m in this boat with this particular group of people doing this particular thing rowing in this particular direction. because it’s aligned to my values and to my purpose, and when I’m off, or when I need help navigating that. I do believe HR helps with that. I think we still have the compliance section of things. That’s obvious, right? We can’t go without that. But that’s now the mainstay and standard practice. Sometimes we take it for granted. And oftentimes, it’s when we’ve been in a position for a really long time. And we forget why we started here. And so it’s about bringing that back.
Rob Stevenson 10:29
Yes, I like that. You mentioned that the compliance piece of of the role is kind of table stakes. It’s like, Yeah, this isn’t necessary. We do this, but it feels like people like you, people who really, really care about the role and people improving, have begun to think more strategically about it beyond the compliance part, beyond all the administrative stuff, how can I be more strategic value add to the business, and you start doing all the other parts of it, the more advanced strategic things, and perhaps that’s why this role has shifted. That’s why you see more chief people, officers, less Chief Human Resources officers, it’s not merely a rebrand during the franchise around it feels like, oh, human resources, like a resource that you mine on the ground, what versus like what they are, which is just the people who make up your organization. And that it’s not merely semantics. I don’t think I think it reflects this change in how the role is being done. Would you agree?
Lorraine Ortiz 11:23
Absolutely. I think it starts that way, in its infancy stages, right? We were all in compliance. I mean, way back when HR started as a secretarial functions, right? We were personnel. And it was just, I need you to fill out this piece of paper, and I need you to put it in somebody’s file, and make sure it’s all accurate. In case we get audited, then it became human resources. Because the laws changed. People started moving out into different states, and it got complicated. And so you needed a little bit more, but it was still tactical. We want to pay people on time, who aren’t pay them appropriately. We don’t want to overpay, we don’t want to underpay. So, it moved to that. But now, people expect to get paid on time for what they said they expect to walk into somebody’s office and say, I want to know what the salary is for this role. And if it’s worth it to me, and that’s now a constant. And it’s more about what’s next. Because I don’t know what’s around the corner. But I know I want to be prepared for it. And I don’t want to live in fear. So am I going to have a job tomorrow or next year? Or when all this AI stuff comes out? Is there gonna be a place for me? And what does that look like? And it’s not only hrs. job, I think it’s hrs. job to shepherd in an environment and a culture that we all agree upon to say, this is what we do. We’re a learning culture. We’re a forward focused culture where people first culture and so we navigate those waters in that particular way. While we’re meeting and exceeding business objectives.
Rob Stevenson 12:43
Is that a persisting mandate of the people function? Or do you think it’s this helping people be future ready, is because of the context of the times we’re in?
Lorraine Ortiz 12:54
That’s a good question. I think there were spots of being future focused and ready at different moments in time, I think it has sped up since COVID. And now it’s kind of like we all understand that it used to be cliche to say, Change is the only constant. Well, now we’ve all experienced that. And so it’s just what we do. And I think the other side of what we experienced is that we’re not good with it. We love change. And we say we love change, as long as it’s happening to somebody else. But if it’s happening to us, we have all kinds of questions. We rebel in all kinds of ways. And most times, it’s not because we’re trying to be difficult. It’s because we’re trying to process what is happening. And we’re looking for very black and white answers, when we’re starting to realize that it’s all gray. And so trying to navigate those things, and then still manage is what I would say being future focused is about but I think that that’s just part and parcel of what we do now.
Rob Stevenson 13:51
Yeah, I think the answer my question is probably it’s both it’s like it is the mandate of the people department on account of how we’ve seen change precipitate over the last 1520 years, maybe. So what does that mean for you, at first Internet bank, when you look out to the people who make up the company, and you’re trying to help them be resilient, and you know, future-ready.
Lorraine Ortiz 14:12
I would say let me go back a little bit. I would say it’s a mandate for the HR department, but we can’t do that alone. So we are supporting and helping, particularly the leadership. So when we’re talking about being future ready, I think it’s three things. I think it’s your culture. I think it’s your leadership, and then I think it’s us as employees. So we talked a little bit about the employees, right, like we don’t really like change, we got to process it, we got to understand what it means to us. And we got to be curious and ready, knowing that if things stayed exactly the same way, we would be bored anyway. And then we’d be looking for another job and say, I’m dissatisfied with this one. There’s nothing wrong with the job, you’re bored. And that’s okay. Right. So there’s that one part, I think from a culture to be future ready is to acknowledge the world we live in and to have an environment where you can experiment, and you can fall down and then get back up. Resilience is really not about falling down. It’s about what you do when you get back up. And so we should reflect and learn on the things when we fall down. And we should celebrate getting back up. So people learn to continue to do that, and then change and evolve as they’re learning. So your culture has to be a learning one in which you’re able to do that, and you celebrate those things. And then the leadership is pivotal. And a lot of times leadership gets a bad rap. Because the thought is you’re holding me down, you don’t want me to leave, you’re inhibiting my growth. That’s not it. Most times leaders know a good thing when they see it. And when people are worth their weight in gold, it does feel personal to Luiza. So they don’t want to want to do that. I think what it is when you’re in a learning culture is that the leader understands that their role is to help them or help their employees live out their best lives in their work. And sometimes that means staying in the current role and getting really good at it. Others, it’s about expanding your scope. Other times, it’s about going to the next department or leaving the company. And it’s not personal to you. That’s a very hard state to be in, because then you’re in constant flux. But if you could get there, you will be one of the most effective leaders and your team, you will find teams around you that will keep circling. And as opportunities come back, they will come back, because they know you have their best interests in mind.
Rob Stevenson 16:26
Yeah, I think you’re right. Some leaders have trouble viewing their teams as transient or their, you know, their star performers as temporary, they’re probably not going to retire an employee of your company after 30 years on the job. You know, that’s just not really it’s a very rare thing these days. So it sounds like you’re saying their role is more to get them ready for that next thing. So when they leave you, they do it when they inevitably leave you, right? It happens on good terms. And not because I’ve wasted the last year of my life waiting for promotion that was never going to come, you know.
Lorraine Ortiz 16:58
Yep, exactly. I have a great team right now, I don’t want any of them to go, I wish they would retire with me, I’m going to die at this job. So I wish that they would retire with me. It’s not realistic. And so for those that may stay, I’m going to be really happy about and for those that move on. I’m going to cry in my corner, because I’m going to miss them. But then I’m going to come back and say okay, I help them as best I could. And now they’re going to go shine brightly somewhere else. And this is going to help them in their life. But it does feel personal because you get attached.
Rob Stevenson 17:31
Yeah, it stings. And there’s a sense of loss there. But you’ve done right by them. If they their time with you set them up for a promotion or for another job. They really, really want to get paid even more money. You’ve succeeded, right? That is I think the dream. Exactly. Exactly. How are you so sure, you’re going to die at this job? Hopefully not?
Lorraine Ortiz 17:53
Well, yeah, hopefully God willing, not soon. But I’ve always felt comfortable in the jobs. And I have been very blessed to be in jobs that I really found fruitful. And I learned a lot. I feel most at home here. I guess that’s the difference that I can describe, I feel most at home. And I thought I would be long term elsewhere. I would say things like, Oh, I’m gonna retire here. And then things changed. But there’s just a different feeling here. This is a very, very good culture, you’ve got a great set of people, you got wonderful, sincere leadership. And when I’m sitting in senior leadership meetings, I’m not the one that has to say, hey, can we talk about the people? It’s usually the questions are coming at me from the other leadership saying, Okay, we need to do this, how do we address the people first. And that is such a great environment to be in.
Rob Stevenson 18:50
Given their environment, I’m curious what resilience means to you, personally, as the CPA like in your own role, you kind of explain what it means for the rest of the company being able to bounce back being able to perhaps comfortably fail out loud, or what have you, for you for Lorraine. What makes you resilient in your role?
Lorraine Ortiz 19:09
I think personally, for me, I don’t want to let anybody down I want to do right by everybody. And this is a very people focused culture by the individual. So trying to manage individual desires and wants and trying to figure out how you put that into a great culture, but still run a company is hard. Because inevitably, you can always effectively split the fruit so that each gets what they want from it. And personally, I’ve struggled because I don’t want to do wrong by anybody. And I know that that’s going to happen, somebody’s going to be dissatisfied with a decision that I may have to make and that personally would just kill me. So I guess the resilience is me sitting back before I make decisions. I come up with the reasons why I’m doing it and it’s really around guiding principles. I come up with okay, what is the true reason why I’m making this decision. It’s not because it’s easier for me. It’s not because administratively It’s better. It’s not because it’s a compliance issue. How am I making this decision for the benefit of the employee group and this individual person? And that’s what I always start with, it still hurts. I still struggle with that. And quite honestly, I feel like a failure sometimes when I’m not effective at splitting the fruit appropriately. But sometimes those things happen. And then I just kind of reflect on what could have been done, I swirl a little bit. And then I say, Okay, I got to get out of this, because the next question is coming, and then I won’t be my best self for the next person who’s going to need me. And so I need to let it go. Does that answer your question?
Rob Stevenson 20:41
It does. It answers it beautifully. And it sounds like the guiding principles are value based. And is this based on the way the first Internet bank does business? Or is this based on the 10 Lorraine Ortiz commandments.
Lorraine Ortiz 20:54
I would say first Internet does that that’s why there’s such a connection with me and this bank, is that they come at it this way. I don’t know that I could work for a company that didn’t allow for that. So I would say it’s both of us. But I feel very at home, bringing this forward. Sometimes it can appear Pollyannaish, I prefer to view the glass half full, we all know, half the water is missing, we might still be thirsty. But if we’re going to focus on it, we might miss the opportunity to resolve something in a way that’s beneficial to everybody. So So I understand what the reality is. But I prefer to focus on things that allow me to see future focused and productive solutions than to focus on the negative.
Rob Stevenson 21:36
Certainly, when you think about resilience, then cast across the rest of the organization, having them act in a values based manner, but also teaching them thinking of in terms of development. You want people to be able to raise their hand and feel safe, asking to develop asking for more opportunities. How do you ensure that you have that culture?
Lorraine Ortiz 21:56
I would go back to leadership and say that the conversations need to happen regularly, just around how things are going. And it doesn’t need to be very deeply personal. It’s just you know, what, what are you most proud of this week? Or in these two weeks? Or in this month? What do you wish that you would have done differently? How can I help you move some obstacles that you’re working on? What’s something that you thought about doing that you’ve put aside because you just don’t have time for that with your family? Now with your kids, that with your spouse or your partner for you? And then how do you help them? How do you make space for them to get there? I think on the flip side, for the employee, although it’s professionally vulnerable, you really have to be able to have honest, constructive conversations. And you have to realize happiness is homemade. So if you’re my leader, and my view is I go to you and I say, okay, what are you going to do for me lately, and then I don’t like what you did. That’s not your fault. I’ve got to be able to communicate in a way that allows the conversation to be had, and the leader creates the safe space. And then the employee enters it and says, Okay, I have something that I want to talk about. And I don’t know what this looks like, I want development. I don’t know what it looks like, stereotypically, we automatically go to the next position, the next company, the next whatever. Is that true for me? Or do you see something else? And then it allows the leader to breathe in what they see. And they gonna be honest to say, You know what, yeah, this is it for you in this particular role, but here are some other things, or no, here’s all of the things that we could work on. Why don’t you take that back? Think about it. And then let’s meet up again, to decide what we want to do.
Rob Stevenson 23:40
I like how you put it that it’s professionally vulnerable. Because it does feel like you’re showing your cards a little bit. It’s like you’re being open about your dissatisfaction. And a paranoid person might think that that puts a target on your back a little bit, say, if you don’t get moved, or if you don’t get pushed around. Or if you don’t get move, or you don’t get selected for a new job. Is that what you meant by professional vulnerability?
Lorraine Ortiz 24:03
Yes, I think it’s very hard for people to say, and sometimes I don’t know that it’s about dissatisfaction necessarily, there is something happening. And there might be bright lines of I do not like how this is working. And I really like how this is working. Sometimes it’s gray, and most times it’s gray is this is not meeting the need for me, but I don’t know what it is. I’m not dissatisfied with my job. I like the tasks that I’m doing and I do feel accomplished. I have my to do list and I knocked three of five every day out. So I don’t always know why I’m feeling this myth kind of way. And I just need help working it out. On the side I’m a coach and so i What i People often find is this re connecting to their why and realizing the to do list is not necessarily the sense of accomplishment. It’s what’s behind it. And so the leader if they’re effective, and really if they’re not now It’s about learning how to draw that out in questions to say, Okay, I like my job. I just don’t like doing this task over and over and over again. Is there something we can do about it? Yeah, let’s automate it. And then what do you want to do with that? Or yes, I’ve fulfilled the potential of this role. And I don’t know what’s next for me. And then a leader, being professionally vulnerable to say, Man, I really don’t want you to go, and this is going to suck, because you’re gonna be hard replace your awesome. But if this is what you want, here’s what I would think about, find where you’re at. And then please give me the respect as you did in coming to me and giving me enough notice where I can try to find somebody to get half of what, you know, disseminated to this other person before you leave.
Rob Stevenson 25:45
That is the dream response from a manager in that kind of situation. Doesn’t always happen that way. And I’ve definitely been in situations where I felt like I was professionally vulnerable. And I was basically placated and ignored, you know, like, they told me like, okay, yeah, I get it. That’s what you’re like, I hear you. But you know, they’re not going to do anything. Nothing’s gonna change. Right? Yeah. So I realized it’s probably difficult to be prescriptive without specifics. But if you find yourself in that situation, where you are professionally vulnerable, with whomever or in this case, is your manager, and that’s not matched. What do you do?
Lorraine Ortiz 26:21
I think everything about the conversation, and you have to ask yourself a few questions. Number one, were you clear? Did they really understand what you were saying? And was it done in an environment where they could actually hear you? So we’re a publicly traded company? Did you ask to have this conversation half an hour before earnings release? Yeah, so you know, evaluate, was the timing right for you both to be able to have a very substantive conversation. If you go through all of that you weren’t clear, it was the appropriate timing. This person is either not paying attention, a jerk, inexperienced, incompetent, whatever the answer is, then you have a decision to make it say, Okay, I could either find my own way. Because my performance reviews, I keep getting exceeds expectations. So I know that I can find my own way, and realize the limitations of this leader, or I could find something else. And unfortunately, you do have a set of people that are like that, the majority of the time, I don’t think they’re being intentional. I’d like to believe that, right? I think there’s a handful of people that are just jerks to be jerks, they wake up on the wrong side of the bed every day, and they go to bed on the wrong side of the bed every day, they have to work that out. That’s not on you. For the vast majority of people, it’s hard to come to this conversation when you’re not experienced doing it. And so a lot of times leaders just don’t know what to say. And their first thought is, I got to go to mind leader and say, I’m going to have this vacancy with this really high performer. And they’re going to immediately ask me, what did I do wrong? So it goes up the ladder as much as it goes down to say, Okay, how are we managing this, just to simply say, this is not about anything we did wrong? This is about the needs of this individual at this time. And that’s very hard. And so unfortunately, those are tough self conversations that the employee is going to have to have to say, is it worth still staying here? And if there’s a confident that they can go on, if they have a mentor in the company that they can go that they can share a confidential conversation, maybe visit them? And then say, okay, how do I phrase this in a way that people can actually hear me?
Rob Stevenson 28:28
Lorraine, we are here at optimal podcast length, I could stand to hear way more of this. But we have people to lead and podcasts and things to get to. But wow, this was really, really great. You really laid it down for us. And thank you for sharing all of your beliefs about vulnerability and resilience. This was a different kind of conversation that we typically have. But I mean, in the best way, I think this is really, really valuable. So thank you for your candor and for being here and for sharing with me today. I’ve loved chatting with you.
Lorraine Ortiz 28:51
Thank you so much. I really appreciate you and holding steady with me and allowing the conversation to go where it went.
Rob Stevenson 29:00
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