TecHRSeries Interview with Susan Marshall, CEO & Founder at Torchlite

Businesses need to be agile and more flexible during a downtime and given the need for the global workforce to adjust to a new normal that in itself is evolving, how can companies capitalize on non-permanent staff during this time to reduce HR overheads and hiring or retention challenges? Catch this interview where Susan Marshall, CEO & Founder at Torchlite shares some thoughts.


Tell us a little about yourself Susan…we’d love to hear about some of the biggest learnings from your time in the industry so far and also, we’d love to know the idea/inspiration behind Torchlite!

I’ve been working in tech for over 25 years and have seen quite a lot of change, having worked at Adobe, Apple and most recently Salesforce. Over the last decade, we’ve seen an incredible rise in the number of people choosing freelancing as a full-time career and many of them are highly skilled, great with people, and love what they do.

While at Salesforce, I was overwhelmed by the number of customers who couldn’t get the help they needed to unlock the value of their technology, but I knew there were experts out there ready to fill the gaps. I thought, “let’s organize these experts in a way that makes it super easy for customers to find and hire them– even create pre-packaged services so customers know exactly what they are getting and for what price.” At Torchlite, we call them playbooks, and they have been extremely popular.

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The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic induced remote work and hiring challenges have also led to a rise in gig placements and temporary / freelance projects in some ways, we’d love your thoughts on how technology and new innovations in this space can come to the rescue during this downturn?

Hiring freelancers is an excellent way to get the help businesses need without having to sign long term contracts or hire full-time employees. These freelancers are super busy, charge top dollar and work on the projects they love, but it’s worth it when you are matched with an ideal expert. Torchlite makes it easy for everyone to collaborate, share documents, and give feedback with complete transparency. We were prepared and set up for this situation even before the pandemic.

What are your thoughts on the near-term impact of the pandemic on jobs in tech and within the gig economy?

The rise of the gig economy and professional freelance economy actually began shortly after the 2008 downturn because people had no choice but to find freelance work. But now, the most talented of the group love the flexibility and freedom, as well as the pay. And according to this study, 51% of freelancers say no amount of money would entice them to take a traditional job. (CNBC)

While the ongoing pandemic has led to considerable job losses across sectors, businesses are hoping to bounce back over the next few months: what top thoughts / tips would you share with the workforce though in general during this time, how can working professionals try to insulate themselves better during future downturns?

Businesses need to be flexible and agile. Freelancers are a great way to fill in the gaps and expand your team without the long-term commitment or overhead. And, if you are professional looking to expand your career opportunities, freelancing is an excellent way to continue cash flow, particularly if you have a special skill that’s hard to come by — like a certified Salesforce Developer or Marketing Cloud Strategist.

Can you share the biggest highlights on how your platform is helping fuel the needs of small businesses and freelancers?

Torchlite just launched a marketplace for small and medium-sized business and it’s been inspiring to see how Salesforce helps skill-up employees to find work through the marketplace. Each project is slightly unique, but they are collaborating, getting work done, and seeing results! I love it when we can connect people and it works out! Our matching algorithm is getting smarter and our goal is to make sure customers get matched with personalized experts, so their project goes smoothly.

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How would you advise businesses and teams, especially HR and other business leaders to stay a step ahead of the game as the global economy tides through these uncertain times caused by the Covid-19 pandemic?

Stay open to new ideas. Stay nimble and agile. Don’t make long term commitments– but strategize. Now is a good time to work on your overall people and talent strategy and determine what the mix of contractors vs. full-time employees makes sense. Coach managers to treat freelancers like they are part of the team.

A few general thoughts / tips for businesses worldwide dealing with the current world pandemic?

This isn’t going away and the way we work has forever changed. Businesses need to trust their employees to work from home and manage their time well. Managers should set goals, check-in frequently and use tools like Slack to stay in touch. Encourage employees to share family photos and continue to connect on a personal and professional level to keep everyone rowing in the same direction. Again — TRUST is so important. It’s ok if an employee needs to take an hour in the afternoon to attend swim lessons with their 7-year-old. Let employees mix family and work. When you do so you’ll get better output and much happier employees and freelancers.

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Torchlite helps businesses access, engage, and manage vetted freelance digital marketing experts to fill critical marketing gaps and drive results. The platform enables marketers to approve a hand-selected bench of freelance talent; manage freelance engagement terms, hours, and payment from a single platform; and maximize resources to get more done.

Susan is the CEO and founder of Torchlite

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