Hi Lavonne, welcome to our Interview Series for HR business leaders. Please tell us about your journey in the HR industry and how you actually started at HPE.
I’ve been with Hewlett-Packard Enterprise for about three years. I lead TA globally, so attracting and retaining people comes under my remit. We hire almost 12,000 people a year, and we have about 60,000 employees across 52 countries, so it’s a constant challenge to find talent but an incredibly edifying challenge at the same time.
I actually got into leadership when I was 21 years old and managing 15 telemarketers. I got thrown into leadership at a young age, and it was those early days that helped me navigate the people aspect of leadership and everything that goes with it, like trust and transparency.
I fell into recruiting during the dot com era and took on a junior recruiter role with an audio conferencing tech company. I built my foundation in agency recruiting and went corporate after that.
I’ve led global TA teams in the Services, Technology, Healthcare, and Oil and Gas Fields.
Hear it from the HR pro: What is talent acquisition in the current era of generative AI and personalized experiences?
There’s more speed, efficiency, and accuracy. The ability to send targeted campaigns for in-demand jobs is one example of something I wish I had had back when I started out in recruiting. HR can now see real-time data around the campaigns to see which ones are hitting their mark, which ones aren’t, and why. Talent doesn’t stay on the market for long, especially in tech. You’ve got to move fast. Our time to fill is down sharply from just a year ago in a very competitive labor market.
There was a time when HPE’s technologists would say that HR doesn’t speak their language.
Now it does.
That means if someone is a cloud engineer, the job vacancy content is in a language that they speak.
You have led global talent acquisition efforts for some of the most recognized and trusted organizations in the world.
Could you tell us how you have managed to differentiate talent acquisition needs and objectives at each of your current and previous organizations?
I have long believed throughout my career of upending some of the traditional ways of bringing in talent by confronting unconscious and conscious bias inside organizations based on watching the data and seeing how people are being hired. Technology can do that, but we also have to change attitudes and behaviors and manage that as well.
At the end of the day, any HR organization can take their team members and do an analysis of their backgrounds. You can look at the success and the talent. You can look at the backgrounds of different people in regard to your talent.
Our CEO at HPE started with us over 17 years ago in customer service. He didn’t speak English at the time, and you would never think that he would be the CEO one day, but that’s another big, diverse background.
So my unique ability to assess the vulnerabilities and successes of an organization and turn that into an overall Talent strategy is my superpower. The power of data is critical to my application of solutions for each organization.
Could you take us through your experience in using HR Technology?
What does your HR Tech for talent management (and other HR functions) look like?
Innovation, so often thrown around like a buzzword, is actually a deeply ingrained philosophy at HPE. Pushing the realm of the possible for customers is similar to the approach that is taken to hire and promote innovators within the company.
We knew we had fallen behind regarding our candidate, hiring manager, and recruiter experience with technology. There were challenges to overcome such as a lack of functionality on our careers site. It left job seekers without dynamic ways to learn more about our jobs, culture and ways of working at HPE. So one of the first projects to tackle was making sure our careers site functioned in the same user-friendly way as websites we all use daily as consumers.
I gathered my team together to figure out what could be done innovation-wise to complement what the rest of the business was doing. It became clear that the same AI that was going to be a game-changer in hybrid cloud technology in the broader, company-wide strategy, could deliver similar benefits on the HR side.
Since implementing AI into our TA in May of 2022, going all-in has produced results that, quite frankly, I wouldn’t have believed if I hadn’t seen them for myself.
Which tools in HR Technology do you absolutely love working with—which ones would you like to work with in the future?
HPE is looking at enhancing our internal mobility process. There are a number of proposals on the table right now on how to do that. I’m excited by the positive results we’re seeing so far, with a 36% increase in internal moves at HPE. Those are just the ones who are going through the requisitioning process. That effort is currently being managed through Phenom’s application process and career site.
One of the goals is to minimize the application process for internal talent. It could be something as easy and efficient as hosted apply, where candidates stay on our career site while they fill out the application—no need for more clicks or scrambling for login information.
I personally love the chatbot. The essence of 24/7 concierge service gives us access to our potential job seekers no matter where they are at, what time zone they are in, and what time they are actively interacting with our career site. I know their initial questions will be answered.
With the evolution of HR automation and AI-powered capabilities, how have HR job functions changed?
How do you use HR automation SaaS tools for your talent acquisition pipeline?
The biggest change I’m seeing in terms of HR job functions is with my recruiters. I have a team of over 200 people globally, and chatbots improve their job satisfaction by freeing them up to do that all-important face-to-face work. Instead of emailing candidates back and forth to arrange interviews, it’s all done for them.
My TA team saves 20 hours a month thanks to time-saving automation tools like this one and others. Chatbots are always on the job. So if people are looking for a role at 2 a.m. (not unheard of in tech) a chatbot is there to greet them, walk them through the application process, and schedule an interview.
Chatbots also give HPE the ability to provide instant gratification for job seekers. They get answers now, and that has greatly impacted hiring as well.
Another plus is the ability to have exploratory conversations with candidates before they even know they want to come work here. That helps build soft talent pipelines. We are all phenomenal workforce planners, right?
But, the dirty little secret in the recruiting world is that we’re typically very reactive to requisitions.
Well, no longer.
At HPE we don’t want to be reactive to job vacancies.
We want to establish the critical positions that we need to hire. We have history and data, so let’s go find the talent now. We’re challenging our business. Our mindset is “We have this top person right now who’s available, talk to them now. Not a month from now when the requisition opens.”
That’s been a game-changer in establishing a proactive talent pipeline that’s readily qualified, interested, and available. Decreasing the time for someone to accept an offer has impacted us for the better.
Chatbots are disrupting candidate and employee experiences at various stages of HR conversations.
Could you please highlight some unique use cases at HPE that have helped you create unique personalized experiences with your talent pools?
The ROI is there.
Between January and March of this year, HPE had more than 950,000 visitors to our career site. Before we moved to an AI platform, there was little visibility into who was checking us out for a job. Pre-AI, half of those who landed on HPE’s career page looking for jobs would leave without ever applying.
Knowing where traffic is coming from is one of the biggest guessing games in my world. Now there’s no more guessing.
In just those few months since launching the chatbot on our career site, 26 percent of new hires used it to apply for a role. Think about that percentage. Traffic to the site literally doubled industry standards once we activated the chatbot. Those are interactions that would have probably been missed.
It was mentioned that HPE managed to convert 26% of casual applicants into actual hires.
What really influenced this change?
I’ll tweak the question slightly and talk about who led the change. Really, it was my team. I give them all the credit. Amanda Jordan, Rachel Duran, Michael Luisi, Shalini Dutta, and Mary-Helen Giles deserve the spotlight for making this happen. They are the reason HPE is seeing success at such scale. Tech is not plug-and-play. There has to be intent, data analysis, process, reporting, retooling, standardization, adoption, training, and then rinse and repeat to ensure that technology is successful.
What kind of training does an organization need to provide to their talent acquisition teams to succeed with their hiring and recruitment goals in 2023?
Get familiar with the technology. The more you use it and play with it, the better it becomes. Large language models get their smarts from us humans, so, as I’m fond of saying to my teams, go break things. I can’t learn from something if I don’t try to break it.
Through that process of reengineering something or trying something new, whether we go live with the tech or not, we’re going to learn something.
Is AI upskilling the need of the hour for HR leaders?
If this upskilling doesn’t happen, what would be the consequences for the employees and the industry?
It’s time to put skills in a new context.
One of the key lessons the tech industry has come to grips with is that there are a lot of different paths of learning, where people can become subject matter experts in what they do without having to go the traditional four-year college path. There’s a two-year path. There’s vocational tech.
There’s what I call no-tech.
In the era of PlayStation and drones, what kids are doing in terms of coding is absolutely amazing. They come out of high school, become a coder, and make great money.
HPE has an amazing apprenticeship in cybersecurity, and one of the qualifications is absolutely no experience in cybersecurity. That’s the minimum qualification, no experience because we want to bring you in and teach you.
We want to take people who are returning to the workforce or coming off of maternity/paternity leave and give them a chance to flourish.
The demand for talent outweighs the number in the marketplace, and organizations are still competing for the same people. So why are we still fishing in the same ocean?
Organizations should look hard at alternative recruiting avenues versus the standard traditional ones.
Any tips that you would like to share with the Talent acquisition managers and CHROs?
HPE is seeing impressive momentum on the front end of talent acquisition.
Yet, one of the biggest struggles with TA organizations, in general, is getting their HRIS partners on board with new technology. I don’t have that problem. I’m fortunate to have an HRIS team that gets what we’re trying to do in HR and works with us to make it happen.
That partnership is key to the success of the rollout of anything new, especially when you go live with technology that’s outside of your core system. I would encourage HR leaders to start forming those crucial relationships now or continue nurturing existing bonds with HRIS.
Thank you, Lavonne! That was fun and I hope to see you back on HRTech Series soon.
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Lavonne Monroe is the Vice President of Global Talent Acquisition and Onboarding at Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
She is a recruiting leader with a demonstrated history of building agile Talent Acquisition departments that are aligned with overall company strategies. Proven track record in custom solution development encompassing recruiting technology, quality metrics, performance management, vendor management, and continuous process improvement while creating innovative business solutions resulting in revenue growth and cost savings.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE: HPE) is the global edge-to-cloud company that helps organizations accelerate outcomes by unlocking value from all of their data, everywhere. Built on decades of reimagining the future and innovating to advance the way people live and work, HPE delivers unique, open and intelligent technology solutions as a service. With offerings spanning Cloud Services, Compute, High Performance Computing & AI, Intelligent Edge, Software, and Storage, HPE provides a consistent experience across all clouds and edges, helping customers develop new business models, engage in new ways, and increase operational performance.