HR Tech Interview with Bettina Koblick, Chief People Officer at UiPath

Journey into Tech

Hi Bettina, please tell us a little bit about your current role and how you arrived at UiPath.

I am Chief People Officer at UiPath, a leading enterprise automation software provider. Previously, I worked as Chief People Officer at ServiceMax and in the same title at ForeScout. I first started in HR during the 2000s dot-com era, then took a position running HR in EMEA with Symantec. After 10 years at Symantec in which I operationalized the people organization, I returned to the startup world, before joining UiPath in 2021. I was and am really excited and energized by the opportunity at UiPath to help build a generational technology company. UiPath is a place where people can create impact for our customers.

Could you please tell us the core differences between the roles and functions of a Chief People Officer and the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO)? How has HR Technology helped remove the differences between these two roles?

Fundamentally, in a leadership role in people operations, your job is to help figure out how to employees get the best out of each other. In my opinion, you can only do that if you help people unleash their thinking through providing them trust and freedom. You can provide people context and framework within the organization, but you have to unlock their creativity across the business. My view is that a Chief People Officer role is focused on leadership, strategy, and business development. It’s a relatively new C-suite role that I believe acknowledges the fact that any successful business must be a people-first business. Chief Human Resources Officer is still a very critical role in a business, but it is more focused around the operational side, meaning managing HR systems and processes.

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Tell us a little bit about your current HR technology / enterprise employee communication stacks? What tools and solutions do you use for your HR operations?

We have a variety of ways in which we solicit feedback from UiPathers worldwide. Our culture and our core value propositions – be humble, be bold, be immersive, and be fast – are critical to our ability to succeed. We take feedback from our employees seriously as we look to continuously improve.

We not only conduct and annual survey, but encourage feedback through other avenues as well, including a purpose-driven Slack feedback channel and open Q&A sessions during global all-hands calls. Our leadership makes clear that transparency is valued, and we strive to make informed decisions based on employee feedback

As a Chief People Officer, what have been some of the biggest challenges you faced and scaled in the last 3-4 years?

UiPath is unique in that it has scaled globally at a rapid pace. Our global footprint for at company at our stage of growth is impressive, and to attract and retain talent, we’re competing against other generational tech leaders. Growing at the rate we have while maintaining our culture and core values is a challenge, but one that we’re rising to. Most recently, UiPath has been recognized as a best workplace by Inc. Magazine. 

How did the pandemic influence the role of a CPO? How are modern CPOs now impacting business outlooks, particularly in the technology industry?

There is a renewed, and welcome, emphasis on people. Your business is only as good as the employees working for you. How you enable those employees through culture, training, and technology supports the long-term vision of an organization. At UiPath, our mission is to accelerate human achievement. CPOs can lead by being key strategists that maximize employee potential, introduce support and wellness that keep employees motivated and happy, and support the next generation of leaders and enable sustainable growth.

Could you please highlight the role of Automation in reducing employee unhappiness and uncertainty? How do you leverage automation at UiPath for your organization?

To keep their workforces happy and healthy, employers need to focus more on cultivating managers that lead with a people first mindset. People stay at jobs where they feel seen, heard, and are appreciated. The reality is, not every manager inherently understands how to lead with a people first mindset. Consequently, their team members may feel unseen, unheard, and unappreciated and look toward greener pastures. Manager development is therefore an essential component of any organization’s retention strategy so that leaders understand how to better engage with their people and overcome any challenges those individuals might be facing before it’s too late.

To combat burnout, employers must recognize the source and set boundaries that help their employees find a healthy work/life balance. Further, implementing tools that allow employees to do more with less time will be a win-win for both employees and employers. That’s where automation can make a huge difference. At UiPath, we use our technology across our business from HR to finance to IT to automate many thousands of hours of tasks that free people to work on more challenging initiatives.

Moreover, today’s employees enjoy working with automation. A recent Salesforce survey found that 89% of employees are more satisfied with their job (and 84% more satisfied with their workplace) from using automation at work. 

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Talent war, the great resignation and the expanding scope of AI-based automation have largely impacted the workforce distribution within the tech business. Could you please share some relevant insights on the role of enterprise automation and how it could impact the future of workforce management?

Automation technologies in particular have seen a major uptick in adoption the past few years because they create more productive and efficient workplaces, relieving workers of the mundane, repetitive tasks that burden the workday and cause burnout. The majority of workers feel their day is consumed with monotonous tasks that could be automated. By introducing productivity tools like automation, where software robots can do the mundane, employees gain more time back in their workdays for the strategic, creative work that they want to do and what ultimately drives a business forward. Further, automation tools help businesses as a whole become more agile and responsive to customers and employees in new ways.  

Digital transformation is also essential when attracting and retaining talent as people want to work for organizations that see the value in helping them work smarter, not harder. Last year, the tech industry had an expected growth of 6%, making it one of the top five industries in the U.S. Organizations that place a large focus on technology have better success at hiring and retaining employees. 

A case study on enterprise automation’s role in HR management is always top of mind – could you share some insights or analytics from a case study?

We have a customer in Europe that specializes in building large scale renewable energy and urban development projects. In order to conduct its business, the company relies on hiring about 20,000 temporary workers each year. Obviously, that amount of onboarding can lead to errors in processes and paperwork that can cause other issues. Processing a huge amount of personal data and documentation is tedious, mundane work that HR teams don’t want to spend all their time on. That type of work is a perfect candidate for automation. Using software robots from UiPath, the customer was able to automate registering temporary worker contracts, processing sick notes from absent workers, purchasing, procurement, and other back-office workflows. The cost savings from just a few robots is in six figures annually. In addition, the HR team began working on strategic projects and planning. I think this is a great example of how automating even a few processes results in a tremendous return on investment.

Tell us about the three “must-know” findings from UiPath’s Office Worker Survey 2022. What message would you like to give it to your industry peers?

The most significant message for peers in HR leadership is that training and upskilling is critical to attracting and retaining talent. This year’s survey found the majority of global office workers are feeling increased pressure at work due to colleagues resigning in the past year. As a result, 48% say they would consider resigning from their jobs in the next six months. UiPath’s 2022 Office Worker Survey also found that monotonous tasks are amplifying employee unhappiness and uncertainty, and that employees would welcome new processes and technologies such as automation to allow them to focus on work that matters. 

Around the world, alarmingly, 83% of global respondents have had to take on up to six new tasks outside of their job descriptions due to their coworkers resigning—and 77% of Americans and 68% of global respondents reported that they do not know what their responsibilities are anymore.

About 3 in 4 workers reported that incorporating automation—including training on automation—could help their organization attract new and retain existing talent. 

Business leaders are already on board, with 85% of those surveyed in the UiPath 2022 Executive Survey agreeing that incorporating automation and automation training into their organization will help them retain employees and attract new talent. Organizations should take this data to heart, and evaluate how they prioritize their employees, listen to what they want and need to progress their careers, and lastly, leverage the tools and platforms available to make their professional lives more enjoyable and productive.

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Your take on the future of AI/ Automation-driven workforce management – will it result in better employee retention and experience management for organizations?

The proof is already there, from both UiPath research and third-party research from analysts and others. A recent report from Forrester Research found that most US-based HR leaders are not prioritizing AI and other emerging technologies, which I think is shortsighted. Forward-thinking organizations view AI and automation as workforce amplifiers and enablers of productivity. Moreover, we know that employees are eager to use technologies that are cutting edge and allow them to spend more time working on things they enjoy, rather than repetitive, rote tasks that dull creativity.

Thank you, Bettina! That was fun and hope to see you back on HR Tech Series soon.

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Bettina Koblick is the Chief People Officer at UiPath. Additionally, Bettina Koblick has had 5 past jobs including Chief People Officer at ServiceMax.

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UiPath offers an end-to-end platform for automation, combining the leading Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solution with a full suite of capabilities and techs like AI, Process Mining, and Cloud to enable every organization to rapidly scale digital business operations. We encourage the best minds to contribute and create the next leap in RPA. Developers of all ranks are building upon the UiPath Community Edition, and to support this growing pool of talent, we brought UiPath Academy to the world as the first open online training and certification platform dedicated to RPA users.