Today, we are joined by the Founder and Managing Director of Quintrix, Krishna Kumar. Investing in early talent is beginning to become more popular in the industry and we discuss whether it’s better to groom in-house talent or source externally, why businesses need to think more about early talent in the long term, why many candidates are falling short of the mark, and how companies can better support their new recruits.
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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. Here with me for another installment of talk towans me from the floor of the expo hall at ta week is the founder of Quintrex solutions. Krishna Kumar, Krishna, welcome to the podcast. How are you?
Krishna Kumar 1:09
Good, good. How are you?
Rob Stevenson 1:10
Really, really great. Having fun here on on day two? It’s been an exciting show. How has it been for you so far? It’s been
Krishna Kumar 1:15
amazing. The weather is finally looking up. And it’s a great day here in San Diego area.
Rob Stevenson 1:20
What do you make of the content and the presentations you’ve seen so far?
Krishna Kumar 1:22
I think it’s really exciting, especially seeing a lot more attention to diversity and early talent. You’ve never seen this level of interest and emphasis on these topics, at least in the past. So super pumped about that.
Rob Stevenson 1:39
Yeah, that’s great to hear. I feel like diversity comes up a lot. But do you think it’s the early talent piece specifically, you’re hearing more about,
Krishna Kumar 1:45
I think early talent has not been leveraged as much in the past, both from diversity as well as from incubation perspective. And it’s starting to gain traction simply because we only have finite experience talent. So someone’s going to have to incubate and invest in early talent. And that’s really a great alternative for us to build a future pipeline for the industry.
Rob Stevenson 2:15
Yeah, absolutely. And comes up on this podcast periodically, this notion that companies want to invest in DNI, but they say, oh, there’s just less of these individuals out there to be hired. You know, that’s why they get this classification as a minority population. Right. Okay. Fair enough. But if that’s true, if we assume that that’s correct, what are you doing company to increase that amount of people, right to build pipelines so that these individuals are there to be hired in greater numbers in the future? And then, you know, crickets? Like probably nothing. And that’s why I was really excited to speak with you, Christina, because that is sort of the aim of your company, right? Correct. Would you mind just giving the logline to the folks at home in case I just kind of bundled it right there.
Krishna Kumar 2:53
We are a company that’s driven by a mission of creating 10,000 diverse and job ready candidates tuition free, that’s really the mission that we wake up every day and go to work and get excited about. What I have noticed is, enterprises. And agencies are trying to solve for this sourcing problem all the time, but not necessarily thinking about the investment and creation piece. And rightly so, for example, a large enterprise like a bank, their core functionality is banking, right to deliver the best services and products to their customers, and not necessarily be experts in HR and talent development and training.
Rob Stevenson 3:39
Yeah, and it seems like these companies would be incentivized to develop talent that they could be hiring the future. But as you say, they’re often not actioned to do it. So the alternative would be okay, can they bring all those folks in house? Can they have some sort of like education, piece of their business, or probably what maybe would make more sense would be to work with a partner like you rather than bringing that in house to outsource that to its own organization,
Krishna Kumar 4:04
different enterprises, organizations do this at different scale, some are obviously further ahead than the others. But what I noticed, especially when times are tougher, and the macro economics don’t work out, these are the programs that get negatively affected, the first. In fact, I was on a call this morning with a very large retailer. And they’re going through this exact same situation, they hired a new head of early talent development, but the budgets just don’t support the type of investments that are required to be able to hire the right talent to be able to train them to provide all the mentorship that’s needed, because it’s not just technical training, right? It’s a lot of what I call the power skills, a lot of soft skills and professional development, honestly. And all of that takes resources and time and there’s an aren’t always a business incentive for large enterprises to do that.
Rob Stevenson 5:04
Not in the short term, surely, these companies can be short sighted, or the individuals of them can be short sighted because they have monthly quarterly yearly goals to hit. And you know, they’re like, well, I’ll worry about our talent pipeline in 2025. You know, in 2025, I get these hires right in front of me. But you have an interesting background, because you were not in like the talent space really, prior to this company. Could you share a little bit about your background, and what made you decide, look, this is a unique problem I need to focus on.
Krishna Kumar 5:29
I spent the first 10 years of my career in banking technology, really working with large banks to be able to create software’s and applications to solve really automation problems, right to convert these large Excel sheets and multiple application workbooks into cohesive, seamless, enterprise wide applications. And as part of doing that, you know, I was working with both tech teams and business teams. And I very quickly came to realize that talent shortage is significantly stifling business growth, hiring managers are not able to hire talent as quickly as they want to. And the business impact is almost instant, right? If you don’t have the resources to complete a project, then that’s a project you can do. And that results in fewer customers, less revenue, and truly has an impact on the bottom line. So that’s why this conference is so exciting, because people are now truly starting to think about talent from a long term pipeline building perspective, versus just in time, instant gratification mindset. And truly, it has to come from the top leadership, right? Because you can’t blame the line managers, they just want to have the project stuck, right, they need to have tasks completed, they need to have deadlines met. So putting that burden on your line managers to be able to attract and retain talent is in some ways unfair?
Rob Stevenson 7:14
Yeah, of course, when you think about the talent you’re developing, is it mostly technical skills, hard skills, where they’re deficient? Or why are these people not being qualified or not viewed as qualified for some of these roles?
Krishna Kumar 7:27
I think there is a significant gap between academic knowledge and real world, I think we all we all know this. What we truly experienced is, as we’ve trained hundreds of candidates that go through our training program, and it’s not just technical, right college is really great for giving you an overall life experience, teaching you varied skills, but not necessarily job specific skills. And that’s why I think apprenticeship programs have gained traction that they truly deserve. And our model is a twist on apprenticeship program, just making it less burdensome for enterprises to adopt. But at the core, that’s what it is right is to upskill candidates for jobs, specific skills.
Rob Stevenson 8:17
Yeah. And it seems like there’s a deficiency on both sides of the hiring on the part of the organization. So on the one side is like, Okay, you’re not developing the talent. And then on the other side, say you actually do manage to make hires from underrepresented groups? Are they going to succeed at your company? Like, has the training been put in place? Are they going to, like, be able to succeed? Or are they going to walk into some fresh professional trauma? It’s a very narrow scope I see with regards to DNI which is just find the existing individuals who have the existing skills and hire them and then done like, wipe your hands of it, we did it we like, hit our DNI goals. Could I ask you about the other side of it? So like the talent development part makes a lot of sense. I’m also curious the support for individuals like this once they get into an organization that historically has not had folks in it that look like that?
Krishna Kumar 9:07
It’s such a great question. And I’m glad you asked the first few years of as developing this model that we call recruit, train deploy, we realized that we were solving for the first two pieces of the puzzle, right, which is the recruitment piece and the training piece. For when these candidates actually were placed on the job. We realized that not all supervisors or managers were equipped or necessarily trained to develop early talent. That’s not their core skill set. That’s not what they’ve been doing in their career, for example, and it’s very ad hoc, right. And the most common feedback we would get is, hey, the candidates not scaling up fast enough or the candidate is not being proactive. And then when we look at some of the feedback virial Instead, it’s more of a communication and expectation gap. And we took this as a problem that we could totally solve for because we had this firsthand data. And our lnd team created what we call a post deployment framework. And essentially, it is both personal goals and work goals that each associate would have to develop in conjunction with his manager. Just to give you an example, we work with a fortune 500 company that was having a attrition issue with early talent, we implemented this post deployment framework, which by the way, also includes a peer mentoring program. And within 90 days, attrition dropped to zero. And that’s something we haven’t experienced in the past. And I think the numbers speak for themselves. Can we sustain that attrition rate forever, I don’t know. But just a be testing, this seems to be working. And we’re going ahead and deploying this post deployment support framework, literally, across all our employer partners as a default, it’s not something they have to necessarily pay additional fees for it just something we do as part of our career development. And Rob, you and I know that career development is the number one reason or lack of it, for people to really leave their jobs and explore other opportunities, right? So you want to make sure these candidates are constantly receiving the support feedback, and the career development to be successful.
Rob Stevenson 11:39
You gave the example that hiring managers were reporting folks weren’t proactive enough. Now, is that a deficiency on the part of the talent like, oh, they ought to know to go try and find other projects? Or is it on the hiring manager to be like, This is what I mean, when I say, I want you to be proactive, I guess it’s both right.
Krishna Kumar 11:56
It’s both. And that’s why I think it’s important to create a framework where hiring managers can report their feedback in a quantifiable way, rather than something generic, like, hey, they’re not proactive, or they’re not scaling up, because that could mean a million different things. It goes without saying that not all associates that make it to our employer partners are 100% successful, right? There will be situations where things don’t work out. But as long as we keep that minimum, acceptable level, I think we’re doing our job. And I think this post deployment framework, which I think is very unique to this industry, is going to be a game changer.
Rob Stevenson 12:35
Yeah, it’s definitely sorely needed an overdue, I would say, I keep going back to this example of just the expectations of talent in a role and something like being proactive, something like trying to find ways to make your boss’s life easier. These are things that you kind of know to do, having had lots of experience in the workplace, right? But no one’s trains you on that. It’s just like, in my case, you kind of put that together or you receive that advice from a VP or something a few years into your career. But we ought to look at that as like a skill, like just navigating a workspace and putting yourself in the best position to make your boss look good. And for you to succeed. Those are skills to write that is a professional skill that if someone doesn’t have for not having the experience of it, well, how would they know to do it? So are you offering that kind of support to is that like a soft skill we ought to be training for?
Krishna Kumar 13:24
You’re spot on? Yeah, it’s part of our framework to make sure that starting week one, everything is defined everything from communication cadence to what we call work velocity. So how long should someone sit on a task before asking for help? It’s another very common problem that you and I probably take for granted because we have this innate sense having worked in the industry for years to ask help at the appropriate time. But someone who just started their career may not necessarily know where to draw the line. So just having that open, transparent conversation with your hiring manager makes a huge impact. And just look at it from the candidates perspective that if you show up for the first week of work, and you walk into the door with a 3060 90 day plan, and share that with your manager, set up weekly calls, and get buy in from him on what the expectations are, you’re going to look so good in the organization. Your boss is going to be like, Wow, who is this guy? Where did we find him? Kind of a thing. But it’s so basic, and it’s so important that it’s often overlooked?
Rob Stevenson 14:41
Absolutely. Krishna before I let you go, I would love to know from you. What is the best career advice you have ever received?
Krishna Kumar 14:48
I would say more than advice. This is something I’ve read. This is a quote from Bill Gates, where he says that people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in 10 So just having a more long term vision is critical.
Rob Stevenson 15:05
Yep. I love that advice to Krishna. This has been fantastic. I think your company is so needed and I’m thrilled to hear that you’re taking this on. So thank you for being here with me today and chatting about it. I’ve loved meeting you.
Krishna Kumar 15:15
I appreciate your time here. Thanks.
Rob Stevenson 15:19
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