HR Tech Interview with Sharifa Parker, VP of People at Moogsoft

Journey into Tech

Hi Sharifa, please tell us about your journey in the Human Resources industry. How did you arrive at Moogsoft?

When I graduated with my MA in Business Administration two decades ago, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next. The world seemed incredibly open. Eventually, I settled into a temp HR role at Citigroup, where I learned the basics and gained amazing experience and knowledge from industry leaders.

Fortuitously, my “temp job” at Citicorp lasted five years, after which I spent several years in the tech gaming space. This is where I became a true HR generalist (as so many great leaders in HR and Tech have had to).

I met Phil Tee, co-founder and CEO of Moogsoft, a little more than a decade into my career. Phil explained Moogsoft’s premise — an AIOps software company that enables maximum system uptime — and requested I help with HR and recruitment. I told Phil I would help on a temporary, part-time basis, and the rest, as they say, is history; I’m still here ten years later! I often tell family, friends, and prospective employees that Moogsoft’s people and culture are so unique I couldn’t help but be sucked in.

What are the biggest challenges in people management? How do you use HR Technology tools to navigate past these challenges?

People management is a fast-paced career. Employees request documents, announce departures and otherwise interact with HR daily. These interactions must be stored, categorized and analyzed appropriately. And yet people managers and HR leaders must always have access to accurate, up-to-date information. Complicated, right?

At Moogsoft, our HRIS is a single source of truth for all employee data. Creating a comprehensive database for employee information is vital because it makes for easier reporting and ensures all stakeholders can access the same information (creating fewer silos in the process). Additionally, when people managers have access to a comprehensive dashboard of employee data, it’s easier to set people up for success. CHROs can also use this information to create a better onboarding experience.

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Could you please tell us about your HR Technology stack? What kind of tools and applications do you use in your HR department?

At Moogsoft, our HR tech stack is remarkably lean. We rely on ADP Workforce Now for our employee-facing HR tasks because — similar to our discussion on HRIS — all-in-one solutions typically facilitate a better employee experience. For our ATS, we use Lever. Together, these applications host and satisfy our daily HR needs.

For employee engagement and enrichment, we use two applications: Bonusly and Calm. Bonusly is excellent because Moogsoft is a remote-first company, and visibility into individual wins could get lost in the weeds if we weren’t careful. And we’re big proponents of regular rewards for employees who go above and beyond. Calm is also great because it cohesively and regularly supports all employees on their mental health journey.

What kind of employee branding exercises do you organize at Moogsoft?

During my tenure, we’ve entirely revamped the careers page to better highlight our employee programs and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). We’ve also worked to eradicate pre-interview nerves by listing our four-step hiring process. We want to be 100% transparent about what applicants should and should not expect. For that reason, we’ve drummed up more conversations about our values internally and during the recruitment process.

We’ve also expanded our Employees of the Quarter program through profiles and highlights on all internal Moogsoft platforms. This visibility has helped us host continuous conversations about career progression.

How have these initiatives impacted your organizational development strategy?

Our north star is to celebrate the success of our colleagues. Through the aforementioned updates and programs, we’ve helped our employees feel valued and seen — using perks and more traditional forms of recognition like promotions and cross-department moves. We’ve also received excellent feedback regarding the recruitment process.

What is the role of having a unified employee communication and collaboration platform in a modern workplace? Could you highlight some important benefits of using such platforms?

Communication is the most crucial element of people management. Understandably, employees want to know the direction of the company. They want to be made aware of important logistical changes like team restructuring, but they also want to know when we update organizational strategy and values. A unified employee communication platform facilitates these conversations by creating a simple interface to provide significant and small updates. It helps keep our team aligned on the “why” of coming to work daily.

And these benefits are even more powerful as a remote workforce. We don’t have a water cooler to rally around, but we have channels to talk about everything from critical software updates to the latest cow puns.

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How do you use AI and automation in your company for People Management?

Our greatest use case for AI in people management remains our self-service HRIS, which allows employees to change personal details and start their onboarding process quickly. The system also automates reporting — a big lift for any people department.

Any candid HR topic that you feel should be discussed more openly in the boardroom:

There are many areas for improvement in HR, especially at the top level.

We should involve more directors in the manager accountability process. Individuals fail, yes; but teams are more common failure points. When a team underperforms habitually, there should be a rote process for examining managerial accountability. Without executive buy-in, this process is doomed.

Similarly, we need executives to understand the value of difficult conversations. Unfortunately, the people management process involves many such discussions. Consequently, people managers must be trained on the importance of difficult conversations (and how to make them as painless as possible). Once this training is accomplished, it’s far easier to implement early remediation for underperforming individuals.

Your advice to CHROs and the Head of People on how to manage yearly performance management systems:

First, set expectations for internal stakeholders, including executives. Communicate the expected timeline and updates. And, as a rule of thumb, give yourself more time than you think you will need. You never know what fork(s) in the road you’ll meet. That being said, forewarned is forearmed — so make sure you audit all your information before beginning the exercise to ensure accuracy.

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Your prediction on the future of CHROs and how technology would influence this role:

Technology will influence how CHROs and HR generalists conduct their daily operations. Specifically, I foresee that automation will eradicate the need for by-hand reports and statistics requested by executives. This is great because it frees time for CHROs to get to know individual employees and the business. However, I’m not a believer in tech fully automating HR processes. For now, employees and executives alike still crave a personal, face-to-face experience. This is especially true when dealing with difficult workplace situations or communicating personnel changes. So I predict technology will drive down numbers-based tasks, but most HR responsibilities will remain human-led.

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

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Sharifa Parker is the Vice President of People at AIOps pioneer Moogsoft, where she has spent the last decade driving the company’s people and culture initiatives. She has been instrumental in growing Moogsoft’s employee population in the U.S., Canada and Europe. Sharifa works closely with Moogsoft’s founders and executives to drive engagement that aligns with Moogsoft’s overall mission and objectives. Previously, Sharifa worked as HR operations manager for Betfair, an online betting company, where she discovered a passion for technology. Sharifa started her career at Citigroup, learning all aspects of the HR industry. She has a Master of Business Administration from Kingston University, a Bachelor or Arts in Social Science from Southampton Institute and earned her CIPD from Thames Valley University.

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Moogsoft is the AI-driven observability leader that provides intelligent monitoring solutions for smart DevOps. Moogsoft delivers the most advanced cloud-native, self-service platform for software engineers, developers, and operators to instantly see everything, know what’s wrong and fix things faster. Founded in 2012, Moogsoft has more than 140 customers worldwide including American Airlines, Fannie Mae, Fiserv, HCL Technologies, SAP SuccessFactors, and Verizon Media. It has established strategic partnerships with leading managed service providers and outsourcing organizations including AWS, Cisco, HCL Technologies, TCS and Wipro.