The Talent Economy Podcast


How to Manage What You Cannot See, April 2020

How to Manage What You Cannot SeeWelcome to Toptal’s Rise of Remote podcast series. In just a few short weeks, the shift to remote work catapulted forward 10 years. The pandemic forced companies around the world to suddenly go remote, not out of a desire to experiment with a new way of working, but out of a necessity to keep their businesses afloat.Prior to the pandemic, we sat down for a conversation with Toptal’s VP of People, Michelle Labbe. Michelle is accountable for Toptal’s People and Recruiting teams, creating and maintaining a world-class experience for all Toptal team members through hiring, developing, and retaining top talent. Previously, she served as chief people officer at ICR. Her 20+ year career has included senior talent leadership roles across both the startup and agency worlds, spanning multiple industries.In this episode, Michelle offers key advice on how to adjust to and thrive in a remote work environment. We discuss her experience transitioning to a fully distributed organization, how a remote environment can allow for more personal connections within the team, and we deep dive into Toptal’s culture. Michelle says, “at Toptal, your life and your location fit into your work, and not vice versa - your work doesn’t dictate where you live or how you live your life.”Some questions asked:How do you help people think about trust as they move from a traditional to a remote environment?What advice do you offer to companies that are not remote-first but want to help their business implement remote policies?What are the key tenets of Toptal’s culture and how does the culture root the organization into accomplishing the mission?How, in your experience, is coaching and employee development different in a fully distributed model?In this episode, you will learn:Why Michelle made the choice to work remotely and why Toptal.About the tools that can help organizations structure a successful, collaborative, and productive remote environment.How to identify when things aren’t working.How organizations without robust remote programs can get started.Connect with MichelleLinkedInEmail: [email protected]

How to Manage Change to Remote

Season 1, Ep. 18
How to Manage Change to RemoteThis week, we’re joined by Kerry Brown, VP of workforce adoption at SAP, who is also a speaker, thought leader, and strategist. At SAP, Kerry focuses on the Future of Work: how jobs will change, where we work, how we work, and who we work with. Kerry has a passion for making employees successful at their jobs and helps companies achieve organizational excellence with SAP.A self-proclaimed SAP evangelist, Kerry joined the company 15 years ago and spent 12 years as an SAP customer. She previously worked for Coca-Cola Enterprises, Baker Hughes, and CSR. In addition, Kerry is an international speaker and advisor on the Future of Work, workforce adoption, and change management, interacting with diverse global occupational cultures and industries, including many Fortune 1000 customers.Kerry joins for me a conversation on the Future of Work, education, reskilling, generational trends, and the power shift that’s occurred from organizations to talent.Questions I ask:What are the hardest parts of change management when it comes to humans, our jobs, and the way we work?What is a commonality that you hear from all companies right now as they think about talent?How do organizations help with reskilling talent in place?In this episode, you will learn:About Kerry’s journey (her dream was to run the Olympics).About the generational changes in formal education.About Kerry’s five future-proofing practices.Connect with Kerry:LinkedInEmail: [email protected]

The Future of Work Is Experiences, Not Jobs

Season 1, Ep. 17
The Future of Work is Experiences, Not JobsIn this week’s episode, we’re joined by Corinne Ripoche, president of Pontoon Solutions. A division of The Adecco Group, Pontoon is a global HR outsourcing company that drives the acquisition of permanent talent and manages contingent and project workforce on behalf of organizations in more than 100 countries.Corinne joined Pontoon in 2017, after almost 15 years at The Adecco Group. A staffing industry leader and visionary, Corinne repositioned it from a regionally managed operation to a global delivery model with trusted industry specialization.Corinne and I discuss the importance of having an entrepreneurial spirit, how the concept of work has transformed across generations, the landscape and future of the global workforce, and her innovative approach to leadership - one that has firmly positioned Pontoon as an industry disruptor.Questions I ask:As technology democratizes opportunity, are you seeing broader changes to how the different generations approach their careers?What are the differences and similarities between the people you see in various countries (Corinne travels to 30-40 countries a year)?How is the traditional understanding of a job going to change over the next five years?How should we think of what “total talent” means?Can you elaborate on the fully automated tech recruiting experience and give an example of where you implemented it with a client?In this episode, you will learn:What inspires, motivates, and drives Corinne.About Corinne’s entrepreneurial spirit, as well as diverse work experience while in school.About Corinne’s “river-crossing strategy.”About megatrends for talent acquisition and transformation of the staffing industry over the next five years.Corinne’s views on remote work.Connect with Corinne:Pontoon SolutionsLinkedInStaffing Industry Analysts - View from Boardroom: Mindful Change

Coach, But Don't Forget to Play – How to Compete in the Staffing Industry

Season 1, Ep. 16
Coach, But Don't Forget to Play – How to Compete in the Staffing IndustryThis week’s episode welcomes Marcus Sawyerr, CEO of YOSS - a cloud-based talent platform connecting high-demand skills with flexible global opportunities. YOSS originated from an R&D lab within The Adecco Group. Marcus, a staffing industry veteran, is responsible for creating and leading the digital agenda for one of the largest HR solutions providers in the world.Driven by his passion for making a positive impact in the lives of others and helping people reach their highest potential, Marcus is committed to making YOSS the most trusted destination for the talent economy. He joins us for a conversation about his career journey, the staffing industry’s digital transformation, the impact of AI and automation, plus his thoughts on the convergence of staffing resources.Questions I ask:What key lessons did Marcus learn from being an athlete?What was the market like when Marcus started at Adecco?What was the problem YOSS wanted to solve for the staffing industry?How does Marcus view the convergence of online talent platforms, marketplaces, and software?How does Marcus think about automation and AI as it relates to improving the experience for companies and talent?In this episode, you will learn:About the importance of being a “player-coach.”About YOSS and how it provides value to Adecco Group.About the importance of having Relevant, Interested, and Verified (R.I.V.) talent.The benefits and challenges of remote work in an international organization.The importance of properly ingesting, structuring, and leveraging data in the talent space.Connect with Marcus SawyerrLinkedInTwitter: @MarcussawyerrYOSS

Meaning, Passion, and Purpose – Freelance Success Stories

Season 1, Ep. 15
Meaning, Passion, and Purpose: Freelance Success StoriesIn this week’s episode, we’re exploring the other side of the talent economy - the talent.I sit down with Melissa Morgan, who is a designer, freelancer, and marketing strategist. Melissa is a key contributor in the Toptal network, and we discuss her journey into freelancing. Three years ago, she found herself unhappy at her full-time job. Wanting to be anywhere else, she made the choice to bet on herself and lean into her passions. Melissa always loved solving problems—and before she knew it—she found herself being paid to provide creative solutions.Melissa talks to us about her personal and professional journey—from how she came to be a designer to her transition from a full-time employee to freelancer. She also shares some of her freelance success stories and offers key advice on how to navigate some of the challenges.Questions I ask:Where does Melissa’s entrepreneurial spirit come from?How did Melissa teach herself to be an effective problem solver?What is Melissa’s advice to companies who are just starting to work with freelancers?What is the importance of reskilling?What lessons has Melissa learned from working with clients?How will freelancing evolve in the future?In this episode, you will learn:How to be a successful freelancer.What inspired Melissa to write the article 7 Ideas to Improve the Way You See Yourself & the World.The importance of self-awareness and self-discovery.The importance of your network.How to work with clients: the successes and the challenges.Connect with Melissa Morgan:WebsiteLinkedInResources:7 Ideas to Improve the Way You See Yourself & the WorldInfluence: The Psychology of Persuasion

What Poultry Farmers Taught Me About Hiring The Right Person

Season 1, Ep. 14
AI Recruiting: What Poultry Farmers Taught Me About Hiring the Right PersonWith 10 resumes submitted, what determines if there are five prospective candidates instead of two?That’s right - it’s the recruiter.In this episode, I’m joined by Ken Lazarus, the CEO of Scout Exchange. We discuss the talent economy, AI-powered recruiting - i.e., the role that data and AI play in the process, and how - for every job (and I mean every job) - there is someone out there poised with a very specific skill set to quickly and efficiently find candidates to fill those roles. This is where Scout Exchange comes in.Scout Exchange is an AI-driven online marketplace where organizations are matched with expert recruiters to help them find talent. Scout Exchange lists everything from directors of medicine to chicken pluckers.Ken and I discuss the role of AI in talent acquisition, the dynamics of the recruiter-candidate relationship, and how important it is to foster a sense of trust. We also speak at length about the importance of diversifying the talent pool and how Scout Exchange is working to identify and mitigate decision biases.Some questions I ask:What type of roles are listed on Scout?How does Scout measure the quality of its recruiters and candidates?How do local recruiters compare to larger staffing firms?How does Scout protect against bias?How does Scout improve the candidate experience?In this episode, you will learn:That for every job, there’s someone who specializes in recruiting for that role.The difference between being an average recruiter and being a star.The truth about the “talent pool” in today’s market.Different types of biases that humans have and how they impact data.About the “Black Box Problem” in AI.Connect with Ken Lazarus:LinkedInScout ExchangeResources:Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Putting a Dent in the Universe: Introducing Toptal Chief Economist Erik Stettler

Putting a Dent in the Universe: Introducing Toptal Chief Economist Erik StettlerThis week, we welcome Erik Stettler to both the show and the Toptal team. Erik recently joined Toptal as chief economist. A longtime member of the network and advocate of the talent economy, he discusses his work with Toptal and what he’s most looking forward to in his new role.Erik began his career as an economist and data scientist, tasked with helping the global financial market manage large-scale challenges. Having experienced firsthand the impact and benefits of the global talent economy, Erik is committed to bridging the gap between talent and opportunity.Erik says, “talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not.” It was this thesis that inspired him to co-found his VC fund Firstrock Capital, investing only in companies that have embraced the global talent economy and remote work. We speak at length about the risks and rewards of leveraging global talent, the opportunities it can afford both organizations and individuals, and what the future holds for talent and technology.Some questions I ask:How did Erik learn about Toptal?How can global talent be accessed to innovate and drive change?How did black swan events shape the thesis for his investment fund?What is the most exciting thing Erik is eager to learn about the talent economy in his new role?What is the “power of optionality” and how does it relate to human capital?What key lessons can Erik offer organizations and talent?In this episode, you will learn:How Erik came to join Toptal as chief economist.About some of the challenges faced by startups.About some of the structural changes that will occur in companies over the next five years.How Erik will help people understand the framework and the “why” around on-demand talent.Why embracing the talent economy is no longer an option.About some of the consequences of companies failing to foster work environments that leverage the best talent available (inhouse and globally).Connect with Erik Stettler:LinkedInResources:The Black SwanAntifragile: Things That Gain from DisorderGive Work: Reversing Poverty One Job at a TimeThinking Fast and Slow