HR Tech Interview with Katie Obi, Chief People Officer at Beamery

Journey into Tech

Hi Katie, and welcome to HRTech Interview Series.Please tell us about your opinion, what are some of the biggest challenges facing HR or people leaders today?

There are a number of challenges HR leaders face today, but the leading challenge is navigating the talent landscape in the face of the current macroeconomic situation – and how this is impacting organizations. We are in the midst of an economic headwind, and especially with a looming recession, talent is becoming increasingly scarce and competitive. Roles that were previously hard to fill remain that way and employers are  seeking ways to do more with less. For instance, the cost of living is keeping candidate and employee expectations around compensation high, while contracting budgets make it increasingly hard for HR leaders to meet these expectations. HR leaders are also being tasked with making the most out of the resources and tools they have available to grow employee skills and fill gaps within their workforce.

The rise of AI is both another challenge – and opportunity – for leaders across industries. AI offerings like ChatGPT, for example, are becoming increasingly accessible. However, the usage and overall governance of AI still has yet to be thoroughly assessed by companies. The challenges leaders subsequently are coming up against include establishing protocols and creating the proper blueprints on how to assess and implement AI in a way that is ethical, compliant, confidential, and secure. This includes instituting the best course of action to educate employees on acceptable AI use, define exactly what AI is being used to solve, and identify any potential areas of caution or bias.

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How have emerging technologies impacted the role of HR lately, especially in addressing some of these challenges?

Emerging technologies, like AI, can both excite and stir apprehension among leaders. Incorporating AI in daily work presents many possibilities, however, leaders need to first consider the ethical and compliance use cases within their organizations. Employees are already testing out AI tools, like ChatGPT, and businesses need to get ahead of the curve when it comes to AI adoption and governance. Leaders should consciously think about how to embrace AI, assess how the model is trained, set up working groups on how to use it responsibly and effectively, and have delegated experts who oversee these processes to check for biases and ensure proper governance. Outlining the proper roadmap and establishing the necessary guardrails to ensure the unbiased and safe use of AI will enable companies to move alongside this technology shift with ease. In doing so, they can begin to roll out AI implementation in a way that prioritizes transparency and explainability.

Can you tell us more about Beamery’s TalentGPT? How can HR teams use the technology to close talent gaps within their organizations?

TalentGPT is Beamery’s new generative AI for HR that creates more personalized experiences in talent acquisition and management for candidates, recruiters, managers, and employees. As the world’s first generative AI for HR technology, TalentGPT is the springboard helping employers reach new heights and achieve next-level precision in matching the right skills to the right roles. With TalentGPT, HR teams can gain personalized insights and recommendations as well as create content that acclimates with changing requirements and customer information; allowing them a deeper understanding of the unique characteristics that change among each candidate.

Another key feature is that it can generate email templates in a way that is tailored to reach a specific, targeted candidate audience. TalentGPT generates new job descriptions, specifically making them relevant to the skills that the organization needs to fill any voids. The technology also delivers career recommendations to employees and insights into the skills they currently have, and the areas that need to be developed to move to the next level. With this personalized information provided to employees, HR teams can better position their workforce for success and professional growth.

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Beamery has talked about the importance of personalizing a candidate’s lifecycle – from the interviewing phase to hiring and beyond. What else is Beamery doing to help businesses personalize the candidate experience?

All steps of the talent lifecycle influence a candidate’s experience, from the infant stages of identifying job opportunities and recruiting, to hiring and onboarding. But the talent lifecycle doesn’t stop once an employee has joined an organization. Processes like upskilling and talent mobility to other roles within an organization are also a critical piece. With the complex, individual strengths, skills and needs of each candidate and employees, leveraging technology that delivers a personalized experience and a high-level of precision throughout this process is a pivotal point for organizations.

To achieve optimized experiences for candidates, HR leaders should look towards AI and other technologies, like Beamery’s offerings, that streamline the recruiting and hiring process. For example, we recently launched a new Chatbot and Messaging tools to create more personalized experiences for candidates. Scheduling interviews and screening are among the processes that Beamery’s Chatbot can automate, while Beamery Messaging enables teams to create a multi-channel approach to engagement and better reach candidates. With access to these types of tools and features, business leaders in HR and talent management can redefine what it means to provide and create personalized experiences in the overarching talent lifecycle.

Where else do you see the future of AI or other tech headed in HR and talent management?

AI has the potential to radically transform the way we work. Having an open minded and positive outlook on this technology will enable HR and talent management leaders to transition with ease, rather than falling behind. As the world heads down this path, they should consider what new skills and jobs will arise from AI, which jobs will change because of it, and what the unintended consequences will be resulting from this. It’s less likely that emerging tech like generative AI will completely eliminate or replace large volumes of jobs, but rather, it will eliminate parts of roles and create new skills for workers to learn and open new doors to other jobs. AI will ultimately unlock endless possibilities and create new skills and talent areas that I expect we will see come to fruition this year and beyond.

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What should HR and business leaders be aware of when implementing AI within their organizations when it comes to talent?

When it comes to implementing AI, it’s imperative that both HR and business leaders take caution to ensure they are not putting data privacy or confidentiality at risk. This also brings up an important discussion around AI regulation and compliance.

New legislation and laws surrounding AI are rising to the forefront of conversations amongst law makers, stakeholders, experts, and business leaders. The New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP), for example, has plans to begin enforcement of the NYC bias audit AI law in July 2023. This will ensure that for employment decisions made in NYC, automated decision tools must meet certain requirements regarding bias auditing, notice and reporting. As AI becomes increasingly used and incorporated into workplace structures, it is crucial that HR and business leaders stay up-to-date on the latest regulations, understand what governance to put in place and skills to develop, and evaluate their own AI practices and get ahead of any other future legislation. In fact, Beamery was the first HR tech company to undergo an independent audit on its AI models, and the only company to allow candidates to set preferences around the use of AI on their data by organizations.

It’s a positive sign to see regulations and enforcement cementing the importance of transparency and mitigating bias when it comes to AI deployment in HR. This will help us guarantee visibility into the algorithms used and the recommendations made by the AI, and ensure all talent-related decisions are explainable, unbiased and ethical.

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

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Katie Obi is Beamery’s Chief People Officer. She loves helping companies solve complex business challenges by aligning commercial and people agendas, and is passionate about HR technology, transformation, and the future of work. She has over 20 years of experience in Human Capital Management and Business Transformation as an executive, consultant, partner and advisor.

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Beamery’s Talent Lifecycle Management platform empowers companies to understand the skills and capabilities they have, build more agile workforce plans, and attract, retain, upskill and redeploy their workforce. With Beamery, organizations are able to navigate change at speed, retain critical skill sets, foster DE&I and build the workforce of the future.