When it comes to talent, people management and corporate culture, one of Silicon Valley's most recognized personalities is Steve Cadigan. From 2009 to 2012 he was vice president of Talent at Linkedin, the social community oriented to offer professional profiles, and the work he did as executive manager is still an example even now, as the University of Standford well acknowledges. His reputation as a talent advisor at the firm Cadigan Talent Ventures gives him the nickname of Talent Hacker, since “it helps to imagine a unique and creative approach to inspire the success of individuals, teams and organizations,” thus describes his work.
Taking advantage of his short time in Barcelona, on the occasion of the Annual Alumni meeting of the EAE Business School, where he was the keynote speaker, the renowned advisor answered the questions of the Economist about these intangible values so recurrent in the labor market.
Everywhere you hear about the maintenance of talent, the loss of talent … but what is talent?
When we talk about hiring talent or talent, we are really referring to people, to hiring people.
“I don't think anyone is prepared for the speed of the current changes”
You argue that the greatest skill today is the predisposition to learn, who teaches it?
I think that, in reality, everything has to do with evolving and learning. We are curious by nature and therefore we can learn from anyone. It does not have as much to teach as to know how to build skills and learn. So anyone can teach whenever they have something to offer.
Everything evolves very fast. Do you think that educational institutions and their academic programs are prepared for these continuous changes?
I don't think anyone is prepared for the speed of the current changes. All institutions are trying to adapt. In the last five years there has been an explosion of new schools that teach differently and where nanogrades, micrograds and specific courses can be taken through new channels. Some traditional schools do not keep up with this pace, however, this traditional way of teaching also still has its space. I don't think all institutions should change.
“Social networks have created more transparency in organizations, but they put pressure on human resources departments”
Barcelona attracts more technology companies than workers in the technology sector in the city. Is importing workers the best solution?
Is that so? I did not know, I did not know it. In that case, I think a long-term strategy should be developed to cultivate this talent here. For this, I think it would be appropriate to bring a small group of people capable of teaching others.
How have social networks changed the rules of 'head-hunting' (personnel selection method) and human resources?
I think that social networks have created more transparency in organizations because they have been forced to give explanations about certain decisions and issues. It is a great opportunity to communicate better. However, this places increasing pressure on human resources departments.
“For a specialized worker, with an intellectual work, it is essential to take care of the fingerprint”
Could you tell me something that was significant a few years ago for the selection of personnel and that is now obsolete?
A few years ago people with long experience were sought. Today this is not possible because practically everything is new and nobody has a very long experience in a position. The companies are looking for people with a diversity of different experiences. Other things are valued as quickly to understand, having learned different things in different companies, new skills they have acquired … Depth is no longer valued as much as before. It is a generality, but it is the trend that I am appreciating.
What is the importance of a person's fingerprint?
This is an impossible question to answer. It depends on the interest that each person has in having a fingerprint. If you work in the digital area, having this footprint will be necessary, but it is not necessary for everyone. My parents use digital tools to communicate, view photos, etc., but they have no interest in having a fingerprint. By this I mean that for a specialized worker, with an intellectual job, it is essential if you want to be found. Even so, it is not as important as having a profile on a network like Linkedin. In this case, having a digital presence is very important.
“The business map is going to transform to become many small businesses”
What advice would you give to students?
I suggest that students give less importance to the company or sector in which they work. The important thing is to forge its value, because today nobody can predict which companies will succeed or fail in the future. The important thing is to work on the skills I commented before, because they will be very valuable in the future. They must be prepared and, instead of specializing in one thing, prepare themselves in different skills.
And the workers?
To the workers tell them that I do not think that the big companies continue for a long time. I think the business map is going to transform to become many small businesses. Therefore, today we must look to the future as an experiment.