HR Tech Interview with Chris Havrilla, Vice President, Product Strategy,Talent at Oracle

Journey into Tech

Please tell us a little bit about your role and responsibilities at Oracle.

I lead product strategy for talent for Oracle Cloud HCM. Within my role, I drive investment strategies and lead customer advocacy, which includes gauging what organizations want and need to harmonize their work, workforce, and workplace. Given the role technology and data play there, I also act as an advisor in considering how Oracle solutions could be applied to meet customer strategies and priorities.

How has the global market for HCM software evolved in the last 5 years?

With the massive movement toward the cloud in the last 5 years — and the promises of digital transformation and its impact — it has certainly been a very hot and well-invested in market. It truly has been the trends around work, workforce, and workplace that have inspired the lion’s share of innovation and evolution.

Work and how work is done has changed dramatically, as has where work is done and by what part of the workforce ecosystem – full-time/part-time employees, contractors, gig workers, service providers, and even machines. AND most worker expectations and demands have forever shifted. Despite current economic volatility and resulting headcount and labor cost pressures, the war for talent rages on, fueled by steady skills shortages from the rapid evolution of skills. As a result, I see the evolution in the space heavily weighted around:

  • Remaining competitive with talent access
  • Skills
  • Worker experience
  • Data-driven decision-making
  • The convergence of HR and Fin and Ops and IT

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What is Oracle Grow? How can HR teams use Oracle Grow to close their current talent gaps?

Oracle Grow is a first-of-its-kind, next-generation approach to learning, skills development, and career mobility to amplify employee success and future growth potential. Oracle is uniquely taking all the people data you have, looking at what people and businesses need to be successful, and delivering hyper-personalized insights and actions all in one place. And doing it dynamically, with relevancy, and in real-time. Oracle Grow will continuously recalibrate recommendations and relationships based on the millions of micro-actions across the organization that normally go unobserved. With uncertainty and change being the new normal, this is critical for workforce and organizational agility and adaptability.

HR teams can deploy Oracle Grow to enable workers to easily discover what skills they need to be successful in their current role, what gaps they might have against their role and their manager’s expectations, and discover learning opportunities that will help them continuously grow and develop. Oracle Grow also does the same for workers’ career paths and mobility, as it delivers guidance for future opportunities and career growth within the organization. Oracle Grow recommends learnings from internal and external sources to help workers close skill gaps and grow in the most effective ways.

 Managers get dashboards and insights into their team’s skills, skill gaps for employees, the ability to assign core skills to their teams based on job roles, and tracking progress and achievement towards closing those gaps. Thus, ensuring that their teams have the right set of skills to meet their team and business goals.

What inspired the “personalized development playlists” for Oracle Grow? Can you highlight how this could transform employee coaching and training models?

Every employee has their own preference towards how they like to learn, how to track their progress, and so on. So, we wanted to go beyond just recommending the right set of development opportunities for an employee. Giving employees the power and flexibility to act on those recommendations and make them part of their personal development playlists helps them craft a development journey that is unique to their learning style and needs and ensures that they will keep making progress toward their career goals. The ability to share these personal playlists can help workers influence their peers and build their brand. This also allows for collaboration with mentors or managers to ensure that employees are crafting their journey in an optimal way. These personal development journeys can become a critical component of employee-manager or employee-coach conversations to drive employee development.

What are the biggest challenges that a Cloud HCM should be able to solve for organizations?

With so many factors constantly changing in the world of work, there are many challenges that organizations are facing today, but the primary ones that we are working with our customers to solve include:

  • Accessing talent/skills/capabilities
  • Future-proofing their workforce and understanding the skills gaps and howto addressthem
  • Putting talent intelligence to work – this includes leveraging data-driven decision-making and viewing people data asbusiness data
  • Creating hyper-personalized employee experiences at scale
  • Cultivating “human” leadership for a people-first, growth-minded culture

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What are the top five features that a great HCM software should have to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace for talent?

  • Full suite of talent solutions – In order for HCM software to have the biggest impact onan organization, it needs to be able to solve and address every area within the talent department, including talent acquisition, management, learning, development, performance, mobility, onboarding/offboarding, compensation, succession, etc.
  • Full suite of HR solutions – Likewise, there are multiple areas of HR with point solutions available. But the best HCM software will have capabilities that address every one in a single platform, including benefits, workforce planning, work/life, time, labor, absence, and workforce health & safety
  • Full suite of employee experience solutions – As employee experience continues to become more and more critical for organizations across every industry, it’s vital that the HCM software provides the capability for organizations to truly personalize and adapt their employee experience by offering solutions for communication, employee listening, rewards &recognition, career growth, connections/community, workflows, help desk, and virtual assistants
  • payroll
  • AI/ML and analytics &reporting – One of the most critical things to look for in HCM software is the technology behind it. With emerging technologies like AI, machine learning, and analytics behind every solution and constantly working to improve outcomes, software like Oracle Cloud HCM will allow organizations to always stay ahead of the curve and use the most innovative approach to their HR strategy

We get this a lot from our readers: Howcan we distinguish HR technologies for talent management and talent retention? How are these two categories different from each other?

Generally, our customer organizations consider talent retention as a critical outcome – and indicative of the talent management strategies that the technology in this category supports. If organizations provide their employees with clear work goals, ongoing coaching feedback, and recognition, if they give them learning and development opportunities and support their career mobility, if they give them chances to network with others and gain experience ongoing to grow, these will all play an important role in talent retention.  From an HR technology perspective, we feel that these processes are all connected, but we provide the intelligence and analysis tools that will provide organizations with insight into the state of their retention to enable them to make better decisions for managing and engaging, and retaining talent.

What are the major benefits of investing in AI for employee experience management? 

AI gives candidates, employees, learners, recruiters, managers, executives, and administrators automated and intelligent recommendations to support their work. These recommendations not only support the simplification of transactions and ease of administrative maintenance burden but encourage additional exploration and insights for the users.

AI technologies can go beyond the transactional substitution of tasks and activities. They can help discovery through enormous amounts of data (at speeds/capacity beyond humans) to provide patterns, trends, insights, and even possible “answers,” depending on the AI. But more importantly, AI technology can help support and provoke curiosity, critical or adaptive thinking, additional questions, and analysis, in a contextualized manner to help make decisions and act (where we humans excel).

Importantly then, AI-driven recommendations can be personalized to each user and use case and provide a further layer of guidance, support, and coaching, all of which are key components of employee experience management. This is the optimal benefit of bringing AI “onto the team” – as a collaborator – to allow us to do what we can do beyond ourselves!

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What is your take on the future of AI-powered apps for employee management across industries?

I love this question because we talk about AI’s role so much with respect to the future of work – but I believe there is an important role in the future of management also. From the need for many organizations to support remote and hybrid work to empowering workers, dynamic teams, and projects – AI can play an important role in the shift of traditional command and control work models to those more focused on commitment and collaboration.

AI-powered applications have become the norm for consumer applications from our phones to our t.v.s and will increasingly be considered a natural and expected part of how we support employees, as in my previous answer, but also in support of employee management across industries. AI will be embedded and part of regular transactions while providing more personalized insights, guidance, and coaching in support of employee management and managers themselves. I believe it will play a huge role in manager and leadership coaching and development but also in support of unlocking the performance and potential of their people, teams, and organization. As the AI absorbs organizational data and learns over time, it will increasingly produce more and more relevant recommendations that can help support employee (and team) management in multiple ways.

We see that the use cases for AI-powered apps will proliferate, and organizations will also adapt them for their own work cultures and practices to constantly improve their strategies, results, and usage.

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

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Chris is a seasoned HCM leader with experience helping business, HR, and IT Leaders spanning internal IT and HR roles to talent strategy, technology, and leadership. She was recently named one of HR Executive’s Top 100 HR Tech Influencers, peopleHum’s Top 30 Women in HR Tech, 8X8’s Top 16 Hybrid Work Influencers, and recognized in Onalytica’s Who’s Who in Future of Work Report.

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