Otto is currently CEO at HireRoad, a leading provider of talent management software solutions for government and regulated industries.
An Xbox co-founder, he had an 18 year career at Microsoft where he drove groundbreaking hardware and software innovation in computer graphics, home entertainment, mobile devices, and cloud services.Follow Follow
Storytelling About HireRoad With Otto Berkes
Welcome to the Use Case Podcast! Today we have Otto Berkes, the CEO of HireRoad, We’ll be talking about the use case or business case for why their customers use HireRoad.
HireRoad is platform that helps mid-sized organizations address their hiring and talent management challenges. Berkes is not just the CEO, he has a deep technology background. He explains that the company’s solution was built with the future of work in mind. He emphasizes that talent management encompasses more than just talent acquisition and hiring, but also includes retention, development, and performance management.
Berkes notes that his team felt that mid-sized organizations lacked solutions that could help them address their unique hiring and talent management challenges. Therefore, HireRoad offers a unique approach that leverages technology and data to enable organizations to identify, attract, retain, and develop top talent.
The platform provides a suite of tools that includes applicant tracking, onboarding, performance management, and succession planning. By focusing on talent management, HireRoad empowers organizations to build high-performing teams and thrive in an ever-changing work environment.
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Show length: 18 minutes
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Storytelling About HireRoad With Otto Berkes
William Tincup: [00:00:00] This is William Tincup and you are listening to the Use Case podcast. Today we have Otto on from Higher Road and we’ll be learning about the use case or the business case, why his customers and prospects choose Higher Road. So Otto, would you do us a favor and introduce both yourself and Higher Road?
Otto Berkes: Absolutely. So first of all absolutely my pleasure to be here with you, William, and really I’ve been looking forward to this conversation. Little bit about me. I have a deep technology background. I spent about half my career writing code as a software developer. 20 years on the West [00:01:00] Coast a couple of years in the Bay Area and.
About 18 at Microsoft wearing about a dozen different hats there. During my journey there moved back to the East Coast in 2010 to take on the challenge of building out HBO’s video streaming service, which was Oh my God. Okay. Was, it was a fun gig.
And did that for about four years and grew that service into, one of the top streaming services and in North America. And then joined Ca Technologies as their cto to drive digital transformation and innovation in, in that company it. 4 billion enterprise enterprise software company.
And that after that where was Joy?
William Tincup: Where were they based?
Otto Berkes: Did they they were actually based in New York. Okay. Okay. Headquarters in,
William Tincup: there’s big thing here in Dallas or there used to be a big office in
Otto Berkes: Dallas. That’s right. Yeah, you are correct. Global organization of offices all over.
But that [00:02:00] after that journey I joined actually this company. Not as c e o but as one of the first independent directors for the company, and did that for about a year and got to know the company and its mission and, folks at the company. And when the founding c e o, wanted to step down I was asked to, consider joining a ceo, which, it was very hard to say no to.
Cause I loved what the company was doing. A bunch of the people and it was very easy to say yes. And, it’s been a, it’s been a journey since one of the things that’s relevant to the story yeah. Which obviously impacted all of us, but certainly impacted the whole landscape of of hiring and talent management.
Less than three months into the CEO role. The pandemic hit. Full force, the, all the lockdowns, like I was literally doing my, meet everyone, a tour. And, that came to a screeching halt. But so we, we lived, through those times as an [00:03:00] organization, just as everyone else did.
But it was it was certainly, all of those vans certainly informed, how I, and we as a company think about. Think about talent and hiring and talent management. And really started the ball rolling in, in terms of what we announced just very recently.
So the past really the past three years have been, all about building. A solution that I and my team felt would. Really help organizations in particular mid-sized organizations be able to address their hiring and talent management challenges in a unique way and in a way that certainly was, shaped by, our experiences with.
Remote work and the pandemic. But also on a, in a broader way, just reflect the [00:04:00] direction that the future of work was headed anyway. And, the pandemic really just accelerated some of, some of the things that were already very much in flight.
William Tincup: So when we, when you used the word talent management, Oh my goodness. 10 different people will have probably 10 different definitions of what talent management is today as opposed to maybe 10 years ago. What are you? Cuz you’ve got talent acquisition that you hiring that you can split off from that.
Which some people include in two talent management, it is what it is. Like what? You can redefine it any way you want to. Yeah. That’s what do you consider talent management today?
Otto Berkes: Yeah, so I think it’s got a two two key components and I’ll just, remark on, on what you just said about, what we thought it was or what it looked like, 10 years ago or 20 years ago.
And the way I think about kind. The way talent management was defined let’s say a decade ago was much more transactional. There was a [00:05:00] role and it had a bunch of check boxes a spec requirements. And the, organizations would then look for individuals to, to fit that role.
But I think of that, the, that process, 10 years ago as being quite transactional, meaning that organizations were looking for, a specific, specific checklist and either a candidate fit or didn’t. It was, frankly, not much focus on what a mutual fit meant or would look like.
And fast forward to today. I think especially with a younger generation of people en entering the workforce or in, in the workforce it’s much more important now for that fit and alignment to be, to me, to be mutual. If people increasingly want to be part of something that’s, yeah, you got salary benefits, you’ve got the, the nuts and bolts of[00:06:00] you know what, a job entails.
But the, there’s much more focus on fit and not just from the organization side from the individual side. And, when you look at. A typical job description. I’ll take technology because it’s my background, so it’s easy for me to talk about.
But we need a, this level developer who knows, X language and, wise set of frameworks and. Those in a real sense, those job descriptions the classic job descriptions, they could be anywhere, right? People are looking, increasingly, Beneath that and say, no, who am I going to be working with?
What is the culture that I will be joining? What is the purpose and mission of the organization? And those things are becoming much higher priorities and ultimately correctly. So because if you don’t have mutual [00:07:00] fit, An alignment between, individuals in our organization and the organization itself.
You’re not gonna have a high functioning workforce. You’re not gonna have a high functioning organization. We we very much focus focus talent management on fit and specifically on outcomes. There are two, two key pillars in behind that in terms of how we think of talent management.
So one is the hiring platform that we built. So we don’t, we believe strongly that, you can’t really take a piecemeal approach. To to the hiring journey. So we’ve integrated an applicant tracking system and an onboarding system, and a learning management system together as one one, integrated integral offering, right?
That. So it’s not, talent management isn’t just as the expression goes, putting butts in seats rights. It’s actually, yes, you need to find people, but ultimately what matters [00:08:00] is, how well did they fit into the organization, how well they were supported and actually being successful.
From the individual’s perspective, but also from the organization’s perspective. We do think of, and as the higher road brand applies, we do think of hiring as a journey that that is continuous. It’s not just a, a one event type of thing.
On the flip side and back to outcomes we also feel strongly that. You need to focus on, on, what actually happens as part of as part of the employee journey. And that’s why we’re so excited to have an integrated analytics offering that we also provide. That works with our hiring platform, but also works across a much, a much broader set of HR systems.
But, the goal there is to really provide insights into what’s working well. Where the gaps are where there are areas of opportunity. [00:09:00] In in talent management. Then obviously with, the hiring journey is a huge piece of that, but, let’s say, you hire a bunch of folks like what, I wanna know, that they, were they successfully, onboard and engaged in their, in, in their jobs, after, let’s say, three months or six months.
That’s great. But I also wanna know how do the, you know, how does a cohort or a, a certain population do over the course of multiple years, what are the trends that, that are taking place? So really providing a deeper understanding into.
Into what’s happening with with people inside an organization, rather than just the, the transactional pieces of that journey. Right?
William Tincup: A few questions that I’m sure the audience is going to ask is, okay, do we have a specific industry or vertical market or geography or anything like that we’re targeting?
Otto Berkes: We believe that our solution is particularly [00:10:00] attractive to verticals or industries where there’s high turnover. It, it specifically because we’ve got onboarding and the learning management system, integrated into the solution.
That can really accelerate the and shorten the amount of time required for, somebody coming into a new role to get up to speed, get engaged be given the tools to learn the skills that they need. If there are new skills that, that are required or certifications that are required for a particular for a particular role.
That said, our solution is certainly can be applied to to any industry. So yes, we’ve gotta focus on, on, manufacturing and retail for example. But we’re not. We’re not vertical specific in that sense. It just happens, that, we’re a particularly good fit for high turnover.
William Tincup: Which is contiguous to hospitality, retail. Correct. Convenience [00:11:00] or even healthcare, hourly healthcare.
Otto Berkes: That is correct. And on the analytics platform solutions side of the equation, they’re. It’s all comers. It’s a great solution for literally any vertical, any any organization that is struggling to understand and get a big picture view of their HR data.
And, for that matter, we can also integrate into business systems. So you can start connecting the dots between, what, how your people processes are working and and business outcomes, which is ultimately, what what organizations are trying to achieve is, how are we as an organization performing, right?
William Tincup: I hate, first of all, Just tell you, I hate categories of software cuz I think that it’s just kinda stupid, kinda a system. However, HR and recruiting budgets are built in Excel, generally speaking. So there’s a row and a column and all that stuff. So where do, where did folks put you?
Right [00:12:00] now, like where do they, cuz you know you’ve, obviously with the ATS onboarding, LMS and analytics, calling that something, but any of those they could take budget out of any of those places. Employee experience talent management, I could see being classified or misclassified about 90 different ways.
So what’s. How do they do, how do they categorize you now? And if you could, how would you like to
Otto Berkes: be categorized? Yeah, that’s a great question and, categories as you say it’s definitely a dual-edged, dual-edged sword. And it’s actually one of the things that we’ve been challenged with frankly, is we don’t, fall neatly into.
The ATS category, the onboarding category, or the LMS category, because we’ve, we’ve created an offering that, that spans those things. The way that we, we think about it. Is in terms of the customer adoption cycle and many of our conversations and engagements start [00:13:00] with start with the ats, the applicant tracking system.
It’s Hey, I’ve gone through the. The growth journey and I’ve put in, an H R I S system, but now I’m at a scale where, you know I need to really operationalize our hiring processes. And the first thing that tends to pop up is I need an applicant tracking system.
And that’s great. It’s a, it’s an opening it’s a starting point for, for a solution. But that gives us the opportunity to have a. A broader conversation with a customer that, that, at least on paper was was looking for an ats. We could say, that’s great, but let’s rights talk about what you’re really trying to achieve, which is a hiring program a talent acquisition program that that yields high success and.
It’s partially a, an education process for us to, have customers start thinking about, what successful hiring, looks like and requires with a bigger lens, but, at the end of the day we’re, we’re. [00:14:00] Happy to, to start that conversation, around the ATS we’re, happy to talk about onboarding if a customer already has an at s but I like that they have a gap with onboarding or and, we’re happy to provide an LMS if that’s what they need.
But, all of these are potential starting points for conversation around conversations around, looking at, looking at that. Challenge more broadly.
William Tincup: You know what I love about that is you meet ’em where they are, whatever problem that they’re having at that particular moment, it’s let’s just start there.
Get to know each other work, do some work together, see how everything goes, and and then we can fix other things if need be. Two things. One one is your favorite part of the demo or, your team’s favorite part of the demo. When you get to this point, you show ’em something and it’s just they’re gonna love it.
Otto Berkes: there, there are two things that jump immediately to mind. We’ve got video interviewing slash questionnaire capabilities in our ats, which is still quite relatively rare.[00:15:00] In, in the, at s market, usually it’s a, it’s yet another add-on tool that you have to add and integrate into, in, into an at t s.
Absolutely, standard, a part of our at t s because we believe that it should be, completely integrated with with the applicant tracking system and the hiring process not not be an add-on. So it’s a better user experience. It’s more natural. It’s certainly forward looking in terms of, how people are going to be looking at and applying to, to jobs.
And it’s incredibly cost effective. So that, that, that piece of the demo is super fun. Cause it’s, it’s a, great capability. The user experience is fantastic and always lights up people’s eyes. The other that, that comes to mind immediately is demoing our analytics capabilities.
Yeah. And there’s so much. Power around being able to visualize [00:16:00] data that you know is almost meaningless when you’re looking at the same data through a bunch of disconnected. Disconnected spreadsheets from different systems, and all of a sudden you can actually start connecting the dots.
And the data’s, the data itself is, visualized, clearly cleanly in a, easy to understand and compelling way. And, there are many aha moments when we do the analytics demo as well. Love
William Tincup: that. Okay. Last question is questions that you would love practitioners to
Otto Berkes: ask you.
The one, and we’ve touched on it, but the one is, are we thinking about what successful hiring inte looks like? The right way, and that’s the conversation that, I’m always happy to have. And to, to the point of your question, I think there’s just so much focus on tools.
And look, I, I’m a, software, technologists through and [00:17:00] through. But tools, we can over focus on tools, right? And miss the forest for the trees, the right tool, can absolutely be transformative, but don’t focus so much on the tool that you lose sight of what you’re trying to actually accomplish and, are other Kind, cultural norm, that the company is really just keeping the focus on outcomes.
Cause ultimately that’s the thing that matters.
William Tincup: Love it. This has been absolutely wonderful and I love what you’ve built, your teams built, and I can see why you went from the board to running it. It’s just a wonderful place. Otto, thank you so much for your time, William. Absolutely.
My pleasure. And thanks for everyone listening to the podcast. Until next time. [00:18:00]
The Use Case Podcast
William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.
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