Storytelling About Neobrain With Paul Courtaud
Imagine if you could harness the power of AI to map out your career trajectory and close your skills gap. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Join us as we sit down with Paul Courtaud, the co-founder and CEO of NEOBRAIN. who has done precisely that with their game changing AI-powered talent management solution. We scrutinize the dynamics of the talent marketplace, the concept of internal mobility, and the ever evolving landscape of skills. We also delve into the issue of the skills gap, providing insights on how to identify, understand, and address it.
Paul also takes us on a deep dive into how NEOBRAIN supercharges job rotation within organizations. He elaborates on how the platform empowers employees to identify their skills, design the most fulfilling career paths, and find opportunities that align with their career goals. Furthermore, we touch on how NEOBRAIN’s Generative AI helps managers spot the best candidates for job openings, despite not perfectly fitting the job title requirements. NEOBRAIN’s platform can effortlessly integrate with HRIS systems, and the mobile-first approach levels the playing field for individuals with varying qualifications. Grab a seat and buckle up as we navigate the fascinating complexities of the modern talent marketplace with Paul Courtaud.
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Show length: 25 minutes
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Storytelling About Neobrain With Paul Courtaud
William Tincup: [00:00:00] This is William Tinkup, and you are listening to the Use Case Podcast. So we have Paul on from NeoBrain and we’ll be learning about the business case, the cost benefit analysis, the ROI, or what I call the use case for wise prospects and customers use and choose NeoBrain. So why don’t we do introductions and learn a little bit about Paul and NeoBrain.
Paul. Would you introduce yourself and Neobrain?
Paul Courtaud: Sure. So nice to meet you, William. So I’m Paul Poteau, I’m the co founder and CEO of Neobrain. And I founded Neobrain five years and a half ago based on one simple discovery. I was trying to understand how the largest companies adapt to accelerated market changes.
And I took the Fortune 500 companies from the year 2000. And I found out that in the last. let’s say a little bit less than 20 years, half of them have either disappeared or left this ranking. [00:01:00] So that’s the moment when I tried to understand what made the difference between the successful half and the other one.
And I discovered that they had the capacity to allocate the right skill in the right place. At the right time, and that’s how we basically defined in your brain’s mission the right skill in the right place at the right time. And we then developed an AI powered talent management solution that helps the employee to we, we empower the employee and we want to I wanted to help the employee take the ownership of his career and understand where he can contribute the most.
We provide the managers the right Tools to develop their teams. And then we provide the HR team. We give the HR team the right solution to align the available resources with the company strategy.
William Tincup: Oh, I hate software categories despise them. However, a lot of HR budgets, if not all [00:02:00] HR budgets built in Excel or, Google sheets.
So where do people tend to put Neo brain?
Paul Courtaud: If we look at the HR tech landscape we’re part of the talent marketplace space. So under the, let’s like the tenant management space we’re really focused on the talent marketplace where we basically have to meet internal supply and demand of skills basically.
Yeah, that’s our space. Yeah. Do
William Tincup: some people think of that as internal mobility?
Paul Courtaud: Yes. One, one use case we’re covering is to, is need to link skills with internal mobility. Or career path. Yeah.
William Tincup: So I wanna get your take on skills and how, at least historically and how we look. I should look at ’em at least historically, you went to college.
You got a degree in chemistry, you had the skills of chemistry, whatever those might be, and you might have those forever. So if you graduated 30 years ago and you had those [00:03:00] skills, then you, it was perceived that you still had those skills. And I think pretty much that’s been debunked, through, through the last couple of years where skills are more fluid in a sense of, you, you gain and lose skills all the time, your depth and breadth in the way that we look at tangential or can, contiguous or transferable skills.
So why don’t you just take a moment and just give us your take and Neil Brain’s take on just skills.
Paul Courtaud: Skills it’s not because it has been here for quite a while. If you take the HR books from 30 or 40 years ago, skills was already part of those books, but what really happened, I think is that technology helped to scale.
basically skills management, meaning that for the largest companies, they were basically building skills framework on a spreadsheet trying to define the 10 most critical skills for each job and always starting from a blank page, describing those [00:04:00] skills. But as soon as they finished basically this work, they have everything is outdated and they have to rebuild everything again.
That’s what we see on the market and it’s very frustrating for HR team. And now with technology and especially with with all the AI advancements, we have the capacity to screen the market. And help the HR to always maintain an up to date skills ontology. And with this skills ontology, they can then focus on where they want to apply skills.
And indeed the first use case is definitely using skills to increase and enhance internal mobility, because when you describe your skills. The system can understand what’s the potential next job that might suit your skills and aspirations. Yeah, that’s basically how we see how skills are working right now.
And indeed, skills are being challenged every day. New skills are appearing many new innovations. When we talk with our clients, [00:05:00] they have New things on their plates every every quarter you’ll have. Oh, there is this major innovation or there is this new big strategy when we want person to be to have zero carbon emission by it’s like in the next 20 years.
How do we what’s the greens? What are the green skills? Okay. Or General TVI is the big, the hot topic of today was the impact of General TVI on our skills? Yes, that’s the kind of question they’re asking and they need a software that helps to basically answer these questions at scale.
William Tincup: And there, and then one of the things I would assume that they care about is the skills gap, right?
So inventory, what they have versus forecasting what they need and then seeing what the gap in those are and whether or not they have to go outside the firm or whether or not they need to train within the firm or promote within the firm. Once they have the insider, once they have some visibility into what the gap is, then they can create a plan on, filling the [00:06:00] gap.
Paul Courtaud: Yes, that’s totally right. And I think what I mean, another few major events that really put skills back on their desk, basically and make this space very hot. It’s basically we’re leaving. At the same time, a big talent shortage, and we’ve been leaving the great rick is in the resignation.
Or the quite quitting in Europe. We’re more talking about quite quitting than great resignation, but we’re, we’ve been leaving those two events at the same time. When companies then was strong. Basically, they were before that they were trying to hire as much people as possible. And then they found out that.
Perhaps the skills they’re looking for are just basically not available on the market or not enough. So they started to think of, okay, how can we basically build those skills internally? So when they think of their, build, buy and borrow plan, they start putting more focus on the build than [00:07:00] buy trying to identify how they can basically build those skills internally.
And they found out that. Building those opportunities internally was also one way to federalize their talents retain their talent because based on when we trust have had Luke on the main, most important reason why people just leave their job. There is the manager, of course, we all know that we basically we mostly leave a manager, but there’s also another second topic, which is very present.
It’s the lack of visibility on current advancement. So did I, okay. If we build skills internally, we provide new opportunities for our internal workforce, and perhaps it’s better to retain our people than just try to find other people on the market. And
William Tincup: it’s also what candidates are asking. On the front end and recruiting, they’re asking, how are you going to develop me?
So if you’re not harvesting talent, like if you’re not growing talent, you don’t have [00:08:00] plans to do grow talent. It’s also going to be, it’s also gonna make recruiting problematic with the millennials engine Z because that’s table stakes questions for them that, how you’re going to develop me is literally one of the first things that they ask.
And if you don’t have great. Answers examples of how that happens. Then you’re pretty, but they’re gonna move on to the next gig.
Paul Courtaud: That’s right. That’s 100% right. And the second major yeah, second major item. And we see is that the new generation, especially when you, we’re talking about Gen Z.
So basically what we see that People tend to change job or change assignment or more frequently than, even than ever before. So we need to rethink totally the way people acquire the skills because they need to acquire them in very short time notice because they need to.
So they cannot acquire the skills for six, seven months when people will change job every year. So that’s the first element. Second is, I think we’re at a moment when. A lot of companies are [00:09:00] fractionizing like the work, they’re just splitting the work in many sub, one job in many sub gigs, basically just, building jobs with different short term assignments.
And that’s where skills are very interesting because if you shift, you switch from one assignment to another. It’s also a way if you link that with if you connect it with all the upskilling programs, the learning programs, then you create opportunities for people to apply the skills. On real projects, so that’s why that’s also major shifts, and we have a lot of clients that are very interesting in front of our gigs module, allowing to give people more time to work on different assignments that are perhaps not written in there in the core of their job description.
William Tincup: because they get to test things. And that’s one thing I would love. I came up to the agency world where advertising PR web, interactive, et cetera. And we got to work on a lot of projects.[00:10:00] You could jump in and do, media relations for one firm. And then the next thing you were, designing ads, like you, you got to test all kinds of different things to see what you were good at, what you weren’t good at what really what you started to I love this, I want to do this.
So I love, first of all, I just love that. That companies are thinking about talent in that way and leveraging talent in that way and giving them opportunities to see other things. So I love that. You mentioned that something at the beginning I wanted to get back to because you, you said at the intersection of time, of timing and skills.
We’ve talked a whole bunch about skills, which is super important but I did want to get back to the timing part. So I’m assuming this is machine learning or AI in terms of understanding what the skills are, and then where do those skills need to be applied in terms of timing. But, I don’t know.
So why don’t you take us into that part?
Paul Courtaud: Yes. So first, the first step is to help people basically where we actually apply AI. [00:11:00] First is we help people describe their skills because it’s, I think it’s quite a complex exercise. If you had Williams described 15 most important skills you have, it’s actually quite complex.
It’s much easier for people to describe what they do than the skills. They acquired and they’re mobilizing to achieve their daily tasks. So skills are sometimes a little complex to describe. So that’s the first thing we help and we accelerate the skills identification among the different employees profile within the company.
So that’s the first step. Second is we help we help the employees to find the best career path possible matching three main criterias. Their skills, their motivation and the business priorities of their company. So when we link those three elements we basically, our AI will, we basically train our AI to help each employee draw.
[00:12:00] The best and the most let’s say, like rewarding and motivating carry path within their organization. And finally, we’ll push relevant opportunities, whether it’s trainings to have purchased the skills gap or, indeed, like internal open positions or gigs that might be relevant that you apply to skills or diversify your daily assignment, basically.
That’s where we bring value. But we know that when we want to accelerate. The job rotation time, we want people to move into evolve. We need the organization. It’s not we always start with the employees because we want to empower the employees. We are very employee centric. But then we also need to focus on.
What’s the role of the manager? What’s the role of the HR? And that’s why we provided an interface to the hiring manager. That said, I’m Louis, I’m looking for someone that I know, like an accountant that has I don’t know, an expert in carve out auditing, for instance, I don’t know, I’m taking this example.
[00:13:00] I’m just putting the information in, in, in the system and REI will come up with a list of the six most relevant people profiles to match your need. And one very interesting thing is that we find out that as an average we, we struggle to help manager see, have at least an interest on people that might not fit exactly the job that is requested that perhaps haven’t already experienced or don’t have the exact job title that is that is from the the expectation of the manager.
So we have basically 2%.
Of like of of non typical profiles that said like that weren’t people that had the doing the exact same job mobilizing the exact same skills, etc. So people managers was were basically taking 2% of non typical people. And we introduced thanks to generative AI, for this six. For [00:14:00] this short list of six relevant profile degenerative AI explained with four or five bullet points, why those people were matching with the opportunities.
So not so shifting from just a matching percentage to a written explanation of why this person might be a good candidate. And we jumped from 2% of non typical profile to 15%. Because then managers better understand why someone might be the best candidate, even though the current job title of the person doesn’t match the job description one.
William Tincup: that. I, one of the things that I love is for line managers and department managers, et cetera, is that, that they don’t get a lot of training. And to give them something that’s really intuitive that they can then plug into and go, yeah, this will help me. And I love that. I love it.
It just, it’s a wayfinding system. They can just say, I need this skill. Okay. There’s the [00:15:00] short list of five. Great. Here’s the, here’s where they are. Now I can go talk to them, et cetera. It’s just really smart. Let me ask you a couple of by side questions real quick. One is. What’s when you do, or your team does a demo of NeoBrain, to a prospect, what do they fall in love with?
What’s that kind of the aha moment? I’d
Paul Courtaud: say one very important added value we bring compared to other solutions on the market is our capacity to take motivation into account, which seems to be quite easy when we say that, because we all know that if you’re not motivated to mobilize the skills of, expected in a certain position.
You might only want to move towards this direction. So that’s quite simple and pragmatic, but we’re the only software that really takes into account the motivation you have to develop each of your skills. Which is one, one for, which is the first element. The second element I’d say that we are and we try to be as fully integrated in the flow of work as [00:16:00] possible.
Meaning that. What we’re doing at Nearbrain is we’re fully integrated in all major HRES systems, such as SAP, SuccessFactors, Workday Oracle, et cetera. And we basically, we embed our software into those systems so that you don’t have. An additional tool to use. And we even right now we’re going even further because we want to be fully integrated into Microsoft teams as an example, to make sure that people.
Don’t have an extra, an additional tool, but you can write into Microsoft Teams. Hey, I’m looking for a, an accountant that has a strong mastery of Carvel’s auditing. And the system will provide you the shortlist within Microsoft Teams. So you’d never have to leave the current, the tools you’re using every day.
And that’s, I’d say like the second biggest set. And the third one is the fact that we provide a mobile first experience, allowing people that might don’t have [00:17:00] a desktop in their daily job, for instance in certain industries, such as retail or in certain low qualified, low qualification jobs some, for instance, like blue cars, they might not have a laptop in their daily job and, or in logistics, for instance, and we think that if People like white collar might not have the same, they have more chances because they can access their carrier management software when other people that have less qualification, those people won’t have access to the same tool.
We might actually create two shows in the job market. And that’s what we want to prevent by making sure that with one unique tool, you can access 100% of your place.
William Tincup: Okay. So questions that buyers should ask of neobrain and talent markets, let’s just say talent marketplaces. What are the questions if they’ve never purchased or never even considered purchasing, what should they be asking of you?[00:18:00]
Paul Courtaud: To have a demonstration. Yeah,
William Tincup: no. When they’re yeah, they’re prospects. And so they’ve done the demo. They’re thinking about, okay, like what. When, people buy ATSs all the time, it’s a 50 year old software category. So recruiters in HR know what to ask of ATSs, generally speaking, but talent marketplaces are a little bit newer.
They might not have a great set of questions, buying questions to ask. What do you, what would you like to hear more from prospects? I think
Paul Courtaud: one very important question is how ethic the AI is actually, because you can make, you can, based on the way you train your AI, you can actually reproduce some bias or you can prevent.
Those buyers and try to increase, for instance, diversity in the profiles that are really seductive. So I think the, how is actually trendy, how does really work and the vendors should, I think, be able to provide a very simple [00:19:00] answer and try to bring some pedagogy and have at least thought about this question.
So I think that’s one, one element. I think the second question is how automatized is the maintenance of the skills ontology. Because if it implies some manual modifications by the HR team, then I think okay, it will be great starts. You have six months to get ready. But then two years later, the whole ontology will be completely outdated.
So that’s, I think, a very I think a second question to be asking to. To vendor. And I think that the third question is perhaps not a question you should ask to the vendor but real question that you should ask yourself before considering purchasing a marketplace is simply why because it’s a very booming space.
So sometimes people are like, yeah, I want a talent marketplace. I’m like, okay, what’s the real impact you want to have? Yeah, we want more internal mobility. Okay. But why? And asking like several times, just [00:20:00] why, then you make sure that you really link the talent marketplace to real business needs.
Otherwise manager will push back those systems. If it isn’t deeply linked. to a pain they already have and a business bottleneck they’re facing.
William Tincup: Okay. So let’s now pivot to, first of all, great questions. But let’s pivot to some success stories that NeoBrainz had without brand names, without getting into the weeds of who it was for, but just, where y’all came into a situation and they didn’t have a talent, marketplace that didn’t have a, this kind of this vision for skills, et cetera.
And some of the outcomes that you’ve seen.
Paul Courtaud: Okay. So few examples. I’ll provide you an example of very well known brand which is the group of image. It’s like we’ve written Christian, Tiffany, et cetera. So it’s this group. So we basically work with 150, 000 employees. So we work at scale with the group of image.
And we, so it’s a big. They basically gather 75 [00:21:00] of the biggest luxury brand in the world. It’s a most valuated European company. So it’s a pretty big company. What we’ve seen is that when we started working with them we started on part of the whole scope of Neobrain. But when we started working with them they basically had few, I think it was close to 20, 000 people that.
We’re basically accessing any HR software because they’re, they just didn’t have a laptop. So the first step was to make sure that all employees have the same accessibility to care opportunities, the capacity to describe, to define their career paths, the career aspirations to make sure that they also have accessibility to their performance management software.
So we basically work with the image, make sure that all their employees. They were able to individualize and have an individualized connection with each of their employees. So that’s. That’s the, that was the first big challenge they had. So that’s one example. I’m providing you in second one which is closer, which is for [00:22:00] big big banks at this school, actually it’s called NETXIS.
They actually have 15, 000 employees. And they were struggling because when we started working with them, they had one job out of eight. That was filled by an internal candidate 12 months after deployment, they went from one job out of eight to one job out of two filled by an internal candidate. The outcome is the reduced.
They basically reduced. The turnover of the company, because the first reason as mentioned, as I mentioned earlier, the first reason why people were leaving the company when they were doing the exit interviews was the lack of visibility on the internal opportunities on their next step.
So by, having more people feeling into open or internal open positions that you reduced the overall turnover and retaining their employees.
William Tincup: So first of all, wonderful story, and I’m sure you got a litany of those. Last thing I just wanted to get into with you is just what’s [00:23:00] NeoBrainz what’s good, what’s success for y’all for the rest of the year?
What do you’re obviously, Pushing and it’s a hot category, both skills and AI. So you’re in a, you’re in a great place, but how are you, what’s go to market for you? What’s, what are you trying to accomplish by the end of the year?
Paul Courtaud: I’d say if I’ll give you some more context on where we are and where we’re heading in 2023, for instance, like at the end of June, we have done basically more in six months.
than in the last five years. So we’re really growing super fast right now. We’re 140 people working at Neobrain. I think we’ll be close to 1000 in the next three years. So we’re living in very strong growth. We’re we’ll be breakeven by the end of the year, which is also very important in my stand.
So we want a sustainable growth, which is also very important because we work with large companies that want to work with startups that will also, that will still be here.
William Tincup: Stability is, yeah, I’ve seen. I’ve seen startups get ruled [00:24:00] the better technology, just get ruled out because they don’t have the stability.
So I think that your point about being, profitable is going to help land even more business in the future because you can, at points when you need to be audited, it’s yeah, I don’t, we don’t need to raise another 30 million or 50 million or whatever it is. We don’t need to do that.
Paul Courtaud: Yes. So that’s and we want to, so that’s the first step. So that’s the first thing is we want to be broken by the end of the, by the end of the year while tripling our revenue, because that’s what we’re doing this year. We’re basically tripling our recurring revenue. This year we’ve done several, we’ve done two acquisitions in the last eight months.
So we basically acquired two, two companies from the industry in the last eight months. We have other we have plans for other acquisitions. Our goal is to be at least reaching 60 million euro AR in the next three years. So that’s the path we’re following right now.
Yeah, so that’s the next step. And right now we’re investing a lot in the U S market. So that’s why we opened [00:25:00] an office in San Francisco, one New York. And we are building local team to accelerate our U S prints.
William Tincup: Awesome. I love what you’ve built. I love just everything that you’ve talked about today.
So thank you for your time and thanks for coming on the podcast. Thank you very much, William. Absolutely. And thanks for everybody listening until next time.
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.