TecHR Interview with Karen Cygal, Senior Vice President at Worldwide ERC

Talent mobility expert and SVP of Worldwide ERC ® – Karen Cygal joins us in the TecHRseries interview to share her recruitment and talent acquisition tips and key HR tech takeaways.

Her hiring mantra – don’t be afraid to hire someone that may be smarter than you!

Hi, Karen! Please tell us about yourself, and your professional journey so far.

I have been in the Talent Mobility space for 20 years.  My roles within the industry have evolved as the industry has evolved. I started doing economic and tax research to support the industry from a data perspective and managing these respective teams.  This quickly evolved into creating and analyzing data to help clients solve compensation problems other than just international talent mobility. I became a consultant to help corporate HR professionals solve many challenges they were having, such as the changing demographics of the traditional expatriate, the continued expansion of the number of people being moved all over the world and how to manage the volume and cost through unique HR policies and programs.  Most of my career I have held roles where I was afforded the ability to work in both a product/technology environment as well as directly working with senior HR professionals. That continues to be my passion as the industry and opportunities are always evolving. Being on the front-line, hearing issues and challenges and having the ability to build and source to solve them is exciting.

Given your vast experience in the talent mobility industry, could you share some of your top takeaways when it comes to retaining/acquiring new talent in the B2B/Tech Marketing and Sales sphere?

The skills needed are continuing to change over time.  Being able to assess the skills you need now and in the near future are critical.  These skills may not be as clear as in the past, but being able to adapt and upskill in a short time frame may be more critical than the mastery of one specific skill.  

New generations in the workforce also have a lot of ideas. Being able to balance idea generation with product development/program, changes/cost and containment/new technology is critical.  Engagement and inclusion in larger business strategies have been keys to the retention of new talent. The ability to balance diverse teams that are also multi-generational is critical. There are a lot of advantages to having many perspectives to drive growth and change.

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Could you share some insights and best practices for teams who are putting their talent mobility program structures, policies, and practices in place?

Understanding your company’s broader business objectives is critical, and deciphering how talent mobility can serve to support those objectives is essential. Many Talent Mobility professionals are continuing to evolve policies and programs to respond to and shape future labor trends. The process to evaluate and change these policies can be very extensive, but it doesn’t have to be as arduous as one thinks. Having useful data around where the market is at can help shape ideas and inform decisions as you begin to re-shape your program. One size does not fit all, so taking into consideration the types of employees you will be looking to onboard and retain should help drive the decision-making. Partnering with Talent Management and Talent Acquisition and even compensation and benefits to align Talent Mobility to evolving compensation and benefits will help to develop a comprehensive picture of where the program should be.

You don’t have to evaluate your whole program at one time either.  After you have evaluated and partnered as noted above, you can identify key areas of change, and focus on those first.  

According to you, how do you see the role of the typical CHRO/HR Head change given the new innovations in HRTech?

Most HR roles are going to be in an evolutionary state for years to come.  As new technologies continue to emerge, HR leaders will be challenged to make sure they are staying on top of new market entries and incorporating the right tech into their company.  This in and of itself is a challenge. They will need to make sure they consider a variety of different things to make it successful. For example:

  • Employee experience: will this technology upgrade the employee experience with our company?
  • Integration: will this technology work with the other platforms used, will it replace something or be something else to manage?  Making sure that platforms work together or have the ability to layover a tool or another tech to join them will be critical. Technology needs to help efficiency and adding too many databases and tools doesn’t necessarily help achieve that goal.

HR leaders will also need to master how different talent functions can help drive business success. Talent Mobility used to be for the few, but organizations today will need to pull from global labor pools, moving people to jobs and jobs to peoples.  Seasoned Talent Mobility professionals are in a great position to help HR continue to align with larger business objectives.

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What according to you will be some of the biggest in-demand features of HR Tech products in the years to come?

Standardization of industry data and connections.  HR professionals need a better-aligned ecosystem of tech that doesn’t really exist today. That is efficient and cost-effective.

What are some of the top capabilities of HR Technology that you often wish teams would optimize more or extract more value from?

We talk a lot about analytics and how HR tech should be able to drive this.  This doesn’t always happen though. There needs to be a more holistic conversation on what data makes sense for your own organization and then begin to define what data and KPIs will drive that.  Standard reporting data may not be the answer, but it is a start.

What is the best recruitment/leadership/sales advice you have ever received?

When you are hiring people to your team, you can’t be afraid to hire someone that may be smarter than you. 

What are your top hiring tips for Sales/Marketing roles within the Tech/B2B domain?

    • Make sure they have a broad-based set of skills on tech
    • Willing to keep learning as well as stay abreast of the market
    • Be able to think outside of the box to solve problems; the answer isn’t always clear what we are selling or marketing.

Tag (or mention/write about) one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read. 

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Worldwide ERC connects mobility professionals across the globe. The firm is reimagining itself to strengthen its position as the voice, the marketplace, and the source for talent management and global mobility knowledge, worldwide.

Karen Cygal is the SVP of Product Strategy and Development at Worldwide ERC. Cygal is a 20-year mobility leader whose expertise includes consulting, product and business development, data, and analytics. Cygal comes to Worldwide ERC ® from Mercer, where she held the position as Global Product Leader for Talent Mobility, where she led all mobility data, product groups. Earlier positions in the company grew her experience in tax and economic research and mobility consulting. Prior to joining Mercer, Karen held positions with ORC Worldwide as Senior Consultant and Director of Economic Research.