Not everyone follows a linear career path, and pursuing a non-traditional route can often equip you with useful skills you wouldn’t otherwise have acquired. Our guest today, Wesley Gilbert, Global Head of Talent Acquisition at On, has had a varied and eventful career journey. After becoming disillusioned with the acting industry while running an events company, Wesley Gilbert discovered his enthusiasm for recruitment through pure chance. In our conversation, Wesley shares how a fortuitous encounter facilitated his first recruitment job at Google, what he learned during his time there, and how he realized the inflexibility of a larger organization wasn’t for him. We spend some time discussing his time at Uber, how he landed a job there, and why he finds the early-stage startup environment so stimulating. He goes on to expand on his passion for problem-solving and how working in an entrepreneurial environment has helped him become a well-informed leader. We also discuss the pressure many of us experience to become more specialized (and the benefits of being a generalist) before Wesley shares his advice on how to become a well-informed leader. There’s no correct way to approach your career, and Wesley is living proof of that. Tune in for a refreshing perspective that will inspire you to follow your curiosity and find environments that allow you to thrive!
[0:00:06.1] RS: Welcome to Talk Talent to Me, a podcast featuring the most elite talent leaders on the frontline’s modern recruitment.
[0:00:12.8] FEMALE: We actually want to understand the themes of someone’s life, we want to understand how they make decisions, where are they willing to take risks and what it looks like when they fail.
[0:00:22.7] RS: No holds barred, completely off the cuff interviews with directors of recruitment, VPs of global talent, CHROs, and everyone in between.
[0:00:31.1] FEMALE: Once I went through the classes and the trainings, I got the certifications through diversity and inclusion, I still felt like something was missing.
[0:00:39.7] 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.
[0:00:53.0] RS: I’m your host, Rob Stevenson and you’re about to hear the best in the biz, Talk Talent to Me.
[0:00:59.0] RS: Hello again, all of you wonderful talent acquiring munchkins out there in podcast land. I have a very special guest for you today. Joining me is a man who has had a slew of talent roles across his career. He’s worked at companies like Google and Uber. Now he is the Head of Global talent Acquisition over at on Wesley Gilbert. Welcome to the podcast. How are you today?
[0:01:21.0] WG: Yeah, I’m very well. Thanks for having me. It’s good to be here.
[0:01:25.0] RS: You are broadcasting in from across the pond for me anyway. Is that correct?
[0:01:29.0] WG: I am indeed. I’m normally based in Zurich, but I’m dialing in from Amsterdam today. So part of the European adventures that we had to go on over here.
[0:01:37.0] RS: Quite a globetrotter. So do you kind of move between those two cities or they’re on has offices in both places? What have you bouncing back and forth?
[0:01:45.0] WG: My wife is actually living in Amsterdam. So I have an arrangement where I kind of split some of my time between living here with her and some of the time in Zurich and in the HQ for our office. So it’s yeah, most weeks I’m in Zurich, and then typically I come back here most weekends.
[0:02:02.0] RS: What is that trip like between Zurich and Amsterdam? How long does it take you?
[0:02:05.0] WG: It’s fairly pain free. It’s like an hour and a half on a plane. Not great in terms of my carbon footprint. So I’m also investigating the train option, which is a little lengthy. I think it’s like nine hours. But yeah, basically that’s the reality of it right now.
[0:02:19.0] RS: Nine hours is a bit of a ride, although that is time back. And most of those European railways, there’s really good internet. So you can know, you could schedule that in like a workday and like work from train WFT maybe get some time back there.
[0:02:34.0] WG: Yeah, though, exactly. I have to give it a try at some point. WFT exactly.
[0:02:40.0] RS: Well, bouncing between Zurich and Amsterdam, but from Amsterdam right now. Thank you, Wesley, for taking the time. And I noticed that in your LinkedIn bio, you mentioned you’re on a never ending search, which is funny because I say that too. I say I’m on a never ending mission to capture as much content as fast as I can. Your never ending mission is a search for talented people to talk to and also the perfect pizza. Which one of those neverending searches is going better for you right now?
[0:03:04.0] WG: Wow, what a question. I never seem to find the perfect pizza. And this one is definitely a pain point. But what is really, really helpful is that because it’s there, front and center on my LinkedIn bio by pretty much everyone I talked to gives me some great recommendations. So I’m always checking out new places. So yeah, maybe I’ll grab one from you as well. But the people’s side is probably going better, which is amazing to say in what has been an incredibly complex market. But yeah, we are growing like crazy. So we’ve hired a ton of talented people, and I get to talk to lots of them. And that makes my job very pleasant. So I can’t complain on that side.
[0:03:38.0] RS: It does feel like the perfect candidate might be easier to find in the perfect pizza. Because there’s always like, there’s always a different pizza shop. And there’s always like, Oh, well, the crust is different, or the toppings are better or the starter is better. But when it’s a role that you’re trying to fill, there’s a person who you can tell is going to be a really good fit. And that does make them the perfect candidate, wouldn’t you say?
[0:03:58.0] WG: Well, I think the thing is pizza is so polarizing as well. I won’t even get into the pineapple debate. And you know whether it should be traditional, super thin, kind of neapolitan style, or whether people are like, hey, I want that kind of the thicker crust all the way through to the stuffed crust. So the problem is that when you sit down and say, hey, this is my perfect pizza, the person sitting next to you will be like. That’s literally my worst nightmare. So a lot more polarizing than the perfect candidate. Normally, we can be pretty clear on hey, this is exactly what great looks like. And everybody can probably sit around the table and say, Yeah, we’re in agreement. Let’s go, let’s go find that person. Probably if you’re sitting around a table of four or five people, there is no perfect pizza for that group.
[0:04:38.0] RS: Yeah, fair enough. Better to be a head of Global TA than a pizza blogger, I think because there’s at least some modicum of agreement that can take place. And to it, I would love to hear about how you became the head of Global TA. Would you mind sharing a little bit about your background and how you wound up in this role?
[0:04:53.0] WG: Yeah, I mean, it’s a non traditional route, for sure. And you know, not that I think there’s maybe always the traditional route when it comes to recruitment, I don’t think anybody, you know, spent their time in primary school, pretending to be a recruiter in the playground, right? Like, if you usually discover it, you fall in love with it in a different way. And so for me, it was interesting, I actually graduated acting, and that was kind of what I did to start with. And I was an actor for about six years. And after a little bit of time, despite, you know, things going reasonably well, for me on that front, I had a complete kind of falling out of love with the industry. And I realized that I was not enjoying getting up and going into work every day, whether that was auditioning, or rehearsing or filming, or whatever it was. I was starting to lose the enjoyment of that. And I had been running an events company alongside so I was doing a lot of events for big brands. And this was like experiential marketing. So it’s the type of thing where you create an experience for people, they turn out and they get to know the brand.
So I’d had a bit of a glimpse and an insight into the corporate world through some of that work. And I had also gotten used to having to do interviews and having to basically build the teams that would kind of go and run these events, and manage those teams as well often in the events as well, often in partnership with other managers, because these, these can be really, really huge teams and big events. So I got a little bit of the recruiting piece that I didn’t even notice at the time that I was doing. And actually what was really random about how I got into recruitment is that I actually met somebody outside a bar on a street who said, Hey, like we were talking about falling out of love with things and careers, and the fact that I wanted to make a change. And this person actually worked at Google. And they were like, Hey, we like what you’re talking about, what you do, what you’re interested in, there could be some crossover here.
So effectively, they said, come and interview with us and see what happens. And so I did it. A couple of weeks later, I went and interviewed. And what was, I think interesting about my career is that, because I didn’t really have any view on what recruiting was, and I was really just looking to make a change, I took the most entry level position that I could to come into recruitment. I started as a recruitment coordinator, and I got the job at Google as a recruitment coordinator. And I realized really quickly that this was a great place to learn about recruitment, because you know, they have a lot of best in class processes. And they have a really great team.
And it was working with these recruiters and scientists and seeing how they work and owning pieces of their kind of candidate experience. I started to realize that, hey, this is actually a really interesting career where you get to have a ton of impact on people and you know, really helped to make their dreams come true. And then often, we were supporting just purely for more like the administration. So like, how do we manage your travel? How do we look after you? How do we get you on site? How do we support you through that, but even just building those connections with people, you’re often getting the real connection with someone with it, maybe even sometimes a recruiter doesn’t or hiring manager doesn’t, because they’re kind of showing you that to say like, I’m super nervous, I’m feeling this, I’m feeling that. And so I really enjoyed building those connections with people and talking to people in general. But I realized that very quickly, I didn’t fit in an environment that was quite as big as Google and gave me so much flexibility.
Because whenever you had an idea of, hey, we could change this, or we can tweak this piece and make it a little bit better of an experience for people very quickly, that was shut down. And like, No, this is how we do things. You know, this is a global company, you’re just a recruitment coordinator, you know, it’s difficult to have that influence. And someone I worked with, at the time, had previously left to go to Uber. And they reached out to me and said, hey, look, this company is, at this point, quite small. It’s a pretty small startup. And I’m really enjoying the pace of it. But I’m also really enjoying the impact that we can have in this organization at the moment. And it was interesting, because I knew that was the kind of environment I was looking for. So I thought, Hey, let’s go and speak to them and see what they have to offer. And when I met with someone who was now a very important mentor to me, at the time, who was leading talent acquisition for Amir for Uber. And Uber, by the way, as a product, I lived in London at the time was game changing. For London, you couldn’t go on a night out in London or go out and stay out past anytime the tube closed without basically saying unless you were earning a huge amount of money that you could get home on a black cab. So when it launched, I was like, this service is amazing. And I love the product. And I thought, hey, this is a great company. But when I got there, he was just somebody who was just an incredibly inspirational person. He had come not from a traditional TA background, but he had a passion for wanting to scale out and build this company to be something different.
And when I interviewed with him, straightaway, he was like, hey, I want to bring you into this organization. And if you’re going to do this role, I want you to take a broader view on how you do things. So what can we really influence across all of these different areas that we interact with candidates whether that’s the program we build, the types of support that we give people all the way through to the way we show up in the market. And it was such a unique opportunity at that time, because we came in, there were maybe five or six people in the recruitment team in EMEA at that point. And everything needed to be built, absolutely everything we were building out for the first time. And so we got to come in and really started to find okay, what, what is coordination and candidate experience look like for a company like Uber in a mayor? Like, how can we really start to do something that works specifically for this region?
And very quickly, because of the type of organization it was, they were saying, Okay, we want to invest in employer branding and other initiatives, hey, you’ve worked in that industry? Why don’t you help us in terms of coming up with these concepts and building video creation. So very quickly, I was kind of running an envelope, employer branding topics for the Emir office and building out advertisements and video campaigns. And, and the role was really fluid like that, that we started to realize, hey, we have a problem to solve, who can jump in who’s got the skills who can support and everybody kind of works cross functionally, from whatever part to jump in and do it so it was an amazing learning experience. And very quickly, after coming in and doing the coordination and doing Employer Branding, I moved into kind of end to end recruitment, and was doing a lot of that for the organization, we started to realize we wanted to build outsourcing. So for a while, we worked as a sourcing unit and defined and built out what a sourcing structure should look like and how we segment the different pieces of one’s business to build sourcing.
And we actually built an entirely different model to what they had globally, that was more centralized. So we kind of went through that process. And they brought in a head of sourcing and working under her and kind of doing that piece. And then there was this constant, hey, we need to solve a problem. So then it was talent analytics, little piece of talent operations, starting to then come back to the wider topic of of sourcing as a passion area of mine, that once I realized, okay, I’m not gonna do in term recruitment anymore, then it was kind of, okay, how do we define and build our corporate sourcing for this region. And that’s kind of the team that I started to lead in. So it was a really amazing experience, because we went through about, I think, maybe 3000 people when I joined somewhere around that mark to 25,000 people in four years. So the scale is unprecedented. No company has ever grown that quickly. Phenomenal, to try and keep up with the pace. And having to do that, you know, without using the title analogy of kind of building the plane as it’s flying. That was kind of an element of what it was, it was just okay, we need a new process, we need a new setup, we need to do things differently. And I was working with an incredible team, and incredible leaders who were saying to us, let’s do it, let’s take risks, let’s build new things, let’s kind of step out and test.
So it felt like a phenomenally dynamic environment and a great learning environment. But I had a really unique path because I’d you know, I’d kind of come into it late, I’d had this previous career, I’d run the events company. I was able to bring a lot of that experience into starting in a bigger brand moving into a startup environment. Working through all of those different areas of talent acquisition was kind of unique. When I speak to a lot of my peers, they normally kind of they’ve stayed at as a recruiter and have that one track. But because I’ve built a bit of coordination, a bit of sourcing, a bit of recruitment, a bit of talent analytics, a bit of employer branding. It made me this kind of generalist in many ways in terms of being able to flick around lots of different topics. And I realized once we got to about 25,000 people that as much as I was enjoying my time, we turned into the big company that I left in the first place, and everything was built, and everything was very, very structured. And I was starting to miss that entrepreneurial feeling. And that just coincidentally is when my current boss now, who is another really phenomenal inspirational leader, reached out to me and said, Hey, look, you’ve been through that growth. And we want to be a company that grows and does really interesting things. But we need to build a lot of this stuff from scratch, and reached out to me and I learned about it and I interacted with the people there. And it felt very similar to what their early experience was, for me, at Uber they just have really smart, talented people wanting to try something different, wanting to take some risks. And it just felt like the perfect mix of what I was looking for. And I’ve come on board. And it’s been three years now, building everything out here. And yeah, it was, it has been so far, just a phenomenal experience.
[0:14:12.0] RS: You are a bit of a recruiting swiss army knife appropriate given how much time you spend in Zurich. But was that deliberate? Were you making a point to be like, like, this is a good opportunity for me to add a different recruiting related skill set to my tool belt? Or was that just kind of by necessity?
[0:14:31.0] WG: I think a bit of both. I think what we often see is that people get a little bit bogged down with career development having to be this constant upward like each step up the ladder, I need to get to here I need to get to here. But the most interesting career paths are the ones that zigzag left and right and all over the place. And there was a kind of a combination of both that as you came in, problems needed to be solved and people were just jumping in to fix them and you kind of learn through that experience.
But then there was definitely an element for me of trying to feel out. When my passion was within this space, I knew I enjoyed it. I knew I was interested in the world of talent acquisition, I didn’t really know what I wanted my career to be. Did I want to be a leader in talent acquisition one day? Was I more interested in employer branding? Was I more interested in sourcing was I more interested in kind of what the coordination and candidate experience topics can be and the fact that I was able to, therefore kind of get in, get under the hood of those areas, learn a bit about it and say, Okay, this is interesting to me, this is not so interesting to me, organically took me on that journey. But it was definitely a case of my curiosity of just wanting to be under the hood of these different things and learn about them. But also, to your point, just having to solve problems. We were all just jumping in and trying to do as much as we could.
[0:15:44.0] RS: Throughout that journey, as you were trying out different areas of the career really, did you ever have a boss who said something like, hey, Wesley, at some point, you’re going to need to specialize and decide what it is you want to focus on?
[0:15:57.0] WG: I was lucky, in many ways, I had a good mix of leaders. And some of them were encouraging kind of more of this, this freedom, others were more kind of keen to say, hey, let’s get you into a track or kind of put you in a bit more of a defined box. Like I think the good thing about when you go through different roles, different managers, different companies, you learn a lot from the different people that you work with, you learn a lot from the leaders as well. And I knew that, for me, I hadn’t quite figured out where I wanted to go. So I was kind of more comfortable, to be honest, for the journey. But you learned a little bit from what they do and what they don’t do well, so I, I felt like the leaders that I had around me whether they taught me something like hey, I’m not going to do the way that person did it, or I’m not going to coach and support people in the way they’re doing it. Or this person has a really great attitude and mentality to how they get the best out of the team, you’re always kind of cherry picking these elements, and they help you to, to then go on your own initiative journey, because you start to absorb the best bits and reject the bits that don’t match your, your philosophy or kind of how you want to be. And so that helped me to not kind of stay in a box. But it also taught me a ton. And I think that is yeah, something that I’m very grateful for whether it was a positive or a negative experience for the people that management.
[0:17:10.0] RS: Yeah, I’m glad to hear that you weren’t kind of pushed in that way. Because I’ve received that feedback. And I’ve heard it from other folks, that’s a common piece of advice, or maybe even critique that you would receive having been a generalist, but I don’t think it’s necessarily true. I don’t think you need to specialize unless you really want to if you really want to be an individual contributor, do you agree? Do you think it’s important to specialize? Or do you think that one can have a perfectly fulfilling career as a generalist? I guess, as a generalist, you would say, yes, you can. But is that normal? Is that something that people should aspire to?
[0:17:43.0] WG: Yeah, I mean, obviously, I’m very lucky with the opportunities that I had. And I’m a little bit biased on this front. But what I will say is, whether you want to be a subject matter expert, right, and that’s how you show up. And that’s the value that you bring is that you are so phenomenally experienced and educated and knowledgeable about your space that people turn to you as a leader within that area and rely on you for that. Or whether you want to be someone that can bring multiple pieces of information or experiences to the table, even if you’re maybe never going to reach the level of that person. That’s the kind of true subject matter expert. It’s really kind of down to how you feel and kind of what inspires you and what gets you passionate because, as I said, I don’t think there’s one way that’s better than the other.
What it’s allowed me to do, because I’m a generalist is that now when I work with my leadership team, across all of these different areas, when they come to me with something that is, you know, specifically challenging them or that they’re struggling with, it’s a lot easier for me to say, okay, I can put myself in your shoes, I can support you or I can give you some insight or in some advice on things that I’ve personally experienced, because I’ve been able to do that. But if I just stayed in the recruiting track, and I was, you know, a true individual only subject matter expert in purely the recruiting topic, and maybe not some of these satellite topics, then I would be adding value in different ways. So I don’t want to kind of say that there’s one one way that’s better than the other, but I think you can be either and I think you can be successful in either as long as you’re really absorbing that information and taking the time to appreciate those moments and learn from those moments and not just do it for the sake of okay, I’ll do a little bit of time here a little bit of time here. And I can say that I’m a generalist, but I haven’t actually been exploring those spaces fully in the way that I would like to.
[0:19:23.0] RS: It seems to me that if one aspires to be in leadership, and particularly if they aspire to be a good leader, it’s important not to specialize because as you say, then once you are in management now you have an ability to relate to the folks on their team even if they’re doing like a job that you have an ability to relate to the people on your team no matter what role they have, whereas a lot of people wind up in director of VP of roles having never done x function, right? And so they can gig and give guidance, but like they’ve never really fought that fight. They haven’t been in those trenches. So I feel like their understanding and empathy is kept if you never did the job.
[0:19:59.0] WG: I mean tunics Stan, but I think this is also part of being a good leader is that you build a great team around you, right? So there’s plenty of blind spots that I have, despite having kind of gone through the non-traditional route that I’ve gone through, there’s still a lot of stuff that I would consider myself to be very foundational or basic in terms of my knowledge or understanding within those spaces. And so I think the sign of a good leader is that they surround themselves with people that are better than them that are smarter than them that are, you know, the people that they can develop and support and grow. And that you kind of give them that space to say, Okay, you’re the expert in the room here, and like, what would you recommend to me? And how do I learn from you? And so I think it’s useful to have that generalist skill set. But even if you’re, as you said, like a VP of talent acquisition, and that’s all you’ve ever done, as long as you have the right approach to listening to the people around you, and not that you think you will always know best, then you don’t need to be the expert on every topic, because you’ve got the great people around you that you can lean on.
[0:20:52.0] RS: When you think back to all the various stops you’ve had, you know, we’ve now extolled the virtue in the value of being a generalist and having lots of different kinds of experience. But was there one particular tour of duty that you particularly enjoyed that you would say, yeah, that was my favorite. That was what I was the best at.
[0:21:14.0] WG: I mean, I think I definitely fell in love with sourcing out of Uber, and this was an area that I just feel like doesn’t always get the love and attention that it deserves. And what I mean by that is, there’s a lot of companies that view sourcing as a delivery model, it’s just we need more talent coming into the pipeline. And we just need a group of people that are going out there and pushing more resumes in front of our recruiters or in front of hiring managers. And this kind of simplistic view of what sourcing can be is such a mistake and such a loss in terms of the value that that part of an organization can bring in. I got a lot of passion, and a lot of energy when I was focused on those topics. I’m just looking at, what does it mean to create a holistic view of the channel landscape that exists around a company, and how you can build a team that are individually empowered to own those channels and do really interesting things within them? So you think about whether that’s, you know, how do we create the most meaningful referrals, campaigns or initiatives within the organization? How do we look at how we can show up in a meaningful way in terms of our recruitment, marketing, and drive higher quality applications into our inbound channels? What’s the market intelligence that we can offer in the market? What can we do to really analyze where talent sitting, how its feeling, where it’s flowing, and provide that sort of insights and context and knowledge to the hiring teams that we support.
There is so much that you can do around events, there is so much that you can do around networking. And if you have a sourcing organization that’s continuously thinking holistically around the full picture of what they can bring into an organization. And it’s not just about, I’ve got to hit my target, or I’ve got to hit my quota, or there’s just like a number of CVS that I’ve got to get through today. And they’re not just sitting on LinkedIn all day, but they’re really out there thinking, okay, these are some channels we need to tap into, this is what I want to do for an event strategy and that kind of holistic around what talent we want to find how we can influence diversity, you know, all of these aspects, you end up with a unit and a team, or a function, hopefully, that goes well above and beyond what it delivers.
And it attracts a specific type of talent. Because if it’s just a delivery model, which is what a again, a lot of companies waste with it, you’re ending up with this kind of junior talent coming in spending some time in sourcing moving into a recruiter role, and then that’s their career. But if you can create a world here, where you’re, you’re challenging that group to say, Okay, your scope is bigger here, your impact is bigger, then you’re attracting the type of people that have spent 10 to 15 years in this space, are passionate about it are interested in and bring so much value in in terms of how they lead the organization. And, yeah, again, I think this is just a topic that is getting more and more love and attention now. And I see more and more people are starting to tap into the potential of sourcing, but we were doing this, you know, four or five years ago, and it was something that I felt was really innovative at the time, and I had it and it gave me a huge amount of energy for sure.
[0:23:48.0] RS: I can see why sourcing can be viewed as you say, as a delivery center as sort of like this is just giving us a number of people to speak with. That’s often how they’re incentivized, right? It’s like, oh, we have this many X, X open roles. And we know based on our funnels that if we want this many hires, you need to send this many emails, right. They can often read that formulaic. How do you change a sourcing unit from something that is just delivering based on those numbers to something that thinks bigger picture?
[0:24:17.0] WG: Yeah, I mean, to your point, right, if you build KPIs around something specific, and that’s what you incentivize your team to do, that’s what they’re going to do. So I think you need to think about how you can build a strategy. That is the end goal of this strategy is achieving bigger teams, right. So it might be saying, you know, what, in general, our referrals are dropping at the organization. What is an interesting strategy that we can do to make people really buy into and fall in love with referrals again, or kind of drive interest, or you’re already saying, okay, and therefore you want me to influence that channel, you want to increase that percentage or you say, Okay, what we’re seeing is the conversion rates through the funnel of these business areas is not looking so good. So rather than just like volume, what do we do to map that market?
Identify who the top talent is, and start to think about more of a long term engagement strategy for that group? Like, how do we continue to send them the right information, nurture that talent, keep them abreast of what’s happening at the company, and hopefully get them ready for when they are ready to, to move, that we’re the first company that they’re thinking of, right? So it’s, it’s all these things where you set maybe bigger goals for the group where you say, Okay, these are the this is the problems and the challenges I’m seeing right now in terms of these different channels that we have in the organization, go out and solve it, what can you do to build a strategy that’s going to influence that, and you can find the metrics behind that. Still, it’s not a problem to analyze on a granular level from the data and say, Okay, this is having an impact. This isn’t having an impact at the end of the year. But if you’re just all about, yeah, what was the number of CVS that you delivered? Or what was the number of hires that came from the candidates that you sourced, rather than maybe thinking about the more holistic view of that channel strategy, and maybe how that might have a knock on effect 123 years down the line? That’s where I think you start to incentivize that more long term thinking that long term behavior, versus like, oh, I’m just fighting with my colleagues to try and find the next software engineer that I can get through the company that we’re all looking at the same CV. You know, that is where you end up with people that are not even working as a team, because they’re just fighting each other to hit those metrics. So I think, yeah, it’s a difficult question to answer. But I think the broader you can make it and the more you can give them these high level ambitions of fixing bigger problems in the company, the more you’re elevating what they’re doing.
[0:26:27.0] RS: Yes, I love how you said elevating, because what you’re doing is you’re taking it beyond this kind of one stop along a recruiting career journey, and making it more meaningful, like, as you say, it’s not dissimilar from like the SDR role, the most junior salesperson whose job it is to just send email and cold call and set meetings for the more senior reps, right? No one wants to do that for longer than like a year, right? Like a dead job is taken with the understanding, you will not be doing it for very long, provided you do it well. And I fear that sourcing could fall into the same trap a little bit, where it’s like, this is a stop on the way to somewhere else, as opposed to what you just outlined, which is something that is more strategic and more long term. And as you say, you’d attract better talent, you attract more thoughtful people, if you give them the opportunity to be strategic and think long term, as opposed to, you have this goal to hit by the end of the month.
[0:27:34.0] WG: Exactly, the more junior and the more transactional, you make a position, the worst talent is going to want to work in that role. And I think that’s something that we’ve tried to have as a mentality here at very much. So from the beginning, it doesn’t matter how senior you are, when you come into a company, we’re going to give you some autonomy, we’re going to give you some scope that is important. And we’re going to give you the trust to kind of go and do that. And that means that you just attract a completely different caliber of people, because they’re coming in and they’re saying, Okay, this I can work with, this is what I can run with. And it’s the same issue that I ran into on Google that I thought, hey, I can add a lot of value here, I can add more value. And I kept running into this, hey, no stay within your lane, right stay within this scope. And that’s what attracted me to companies like Uber and onward those guardrails removed and it was like, Okay, let’s trust you to be creative and to do something, and to be a bit of an entrepreneur in your role. And that will have a much broader impact on the company. And again, that creates an environment of people pushing each other to be better and to do better, versus everybody just kind of ticking a box and like you say, maybe wanting to climb that ladder, and just okay, I just need to do six months in this role, and I can go somewhere else, and I can go somewhere else. And it’s yeah, ticking a box. It’s clocking, it’s soulless, I guess.
[0:28:44.0] RS: Yeah. Well, Wesley, we are creeping up on optimal podcast length here. But before I let you go, I would like to ask you to share some advice to the folks out there who, who resonate with your career journey, who maybe aspire to something similar for the people who would like to become the swiss army knife know a little about every kind of angle of the recruiting skill set in hopes that it would make them a more well informed leader someday? What advice would you give them to structure their career that way?
[0:28:57.0] WG: I think curiosity is super key. So even if you’re not going to make a move into an area that is either adjacent to you, or something that you feel will be evaluated in terms of learning it, embed yourself into the topics that are happening around that. So speak to people in that team, most senior people all the way to the most junior people. In fact, often the most junior people will give you the most interesting information in terms of what it looks like. You’re trying to absorb as much as you can through that, I think where you get opportunities to either take on a stretch project into something different or a stretch assignment or if they’re looking for someone to from additional help on a project that’s going on. Sometimes just keeping an eye out to see okay, this team has had this project and I’m just going to reach out and say hey, I would like to learn more about what you’re doing.
So if you have any additional work in that project that I can help with? Let me know I’m raising my hand, this is amazing how many doors that are open for you, and just people seeing that you’re willing and that you’re interested. And people love to share what they do and what they’re passionate about. So you’re tapping into that. And then I think, don’t be afraid to take a sideways move. Don’t always feel like you’re chasing that next promotion, or you’re chasing that next stage in your career. Yeah, there’s absolutely no race to the end, one of my good friends said to me, as he kind of took on a role similar to what I have now, you shared with me another time acquisition has kind of said, well, I can take a role that is totally different to this, I can take a regional roll, like my opportunities right now, in terms of what I’m looking at, are really, really broad. And, and it was kind of surprising, because I said, okay, but the next step for you is, is this role is the kind of global head of a role. And he said, but yeah, I’ve got my whole career to get to that role. So why do I need to rush? And it was such a good point. And I couldn’t agree with him more, because he said, actually, I’m going to learn way more if I jump over and I experienced a new region, or I’m going to learn a hell of a lot more if I go into this completely different space. And I spent some time there.
And I think if you think about where you want to get to in terms of your future career, that’s the end point, right. And we’re all whether we’re 20 years old, or 40 years old, you’ve got so much time together, so there’s no rush. So, you know, take that time, make that journey worthwhile, you’ll end up with a much, much better version of what you can offer and what you feel in yourself at the end if you’ve done that journey and a little bit more of a non traditional way. And depending on whether people want to stay in talent acquisition, their whole careers, whether they want to be ahead of people, or maybe they want to be a CEO of a company one day as well. The more that you’re stepping out of that world, and the more that you’re stepping into unmarked territory and learning about what’s happening and getting that broader business understanding, the easier it is for you to step out of this bubble and not end up caught in one career or in one track. You’ll open so many more doors for you.
[0:31:36.0] RS: Wesley, that is fantastic advice. This has been a great episode. Thank you so much for being here with me and sharing your experience. I’ve loved chatting with you today.
[0:31:42.0] WG: Thanks, Rob. It is an absolute pleasure. Thanks for having me again.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
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