The Talent Economy Podcast
How Building Remote Leadership Skills Supports Business Resiliency
When did you first realize the benefits of remote work? Were you hearing requests from your employees for more flexibility around their work?
Was it talent-driven? Did you realize that requiring employees to be on-site was limiting your ability to attract top talent?
For those of you who are still on the fence about remote work, what’s still giving you pause?
Iwo Szapar is a remote work advocate and the CEO of Remote-how. Remote-how is a platform powered by and for the community of leaders of distributed teams from 128 countries. Described as an online campus where you get to meet and grow with top remote managers from all around the world, Remote-how is at the forefront of the remote work revolution as the ultimate solution for remote education, recruitment, and international employment. Iwo is also a sought-after speaker and the founder of The Remote Future Summit, the largest virtual event focused on remote work featured in Forbes and BBC.
Iwo and Paul discuss his journey into remote work and how he’s worked with C-suite executives and HR leaders to broach the topic, turning their “I don’t know about this…” into a “Maybe it could work, how can it be done?” While getting top-level buy-in is key, the real challenges with remote work tend to occur with front-line management, ensuring that these leaders are properly equipped to manage and support a team they cannot see.
Once US states begin to reopen, organizations will be faced with how to properly re-integrate their teams back into a fully on-site or hybrid work structure. Iwo speaks to the importance of educating the market and providing leaders with examples and resources. He also offers his expertise on how managers and HR leaders can prepare for team inquiries about fully or partially maintaining their remote work status.
Questions I ask:
- You just launched a training program for managers. What is the training designed to do and how do you prepare managers to support this new way of work?
- Give me an example of a coworker who was on location with a traditional setup and is managing a blended team.
- What would you advise newly remote people on how to create a work-life balance?
- For managers who lean in and work to build their (remote work) muscle, does the process eventually become easier, or do they still struggle?
In this episode, you will learn about:
- Iwo’s journey into getting excited about remote work and launching Remote-how.
- How to structure your operation for remote work, no matter how big or small your remote team is.
- How to manage the angst around the “need” to be visible when working remotely.
- Best practices that managers can implement to provide a remote framework for their teams.
- The Remote Future Summit 2020 and what attendees can expect this year.
Connect with Iwo:
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LVMH: Preserving Heritage, Inspiring Innovation36:01Gena Smith, Chief Human Resources Officer of LVMH North America, joined Michelle Labbe, Chief People Officer of Toptal, on the latest episode of The Talent Economy podcast.LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, is a renowned luxury goods conglomerate headquartered in Paris. The company’s diverse portfolio of brands includes household names such as Moët & Chandon, Hennessy, Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Fendi, Givenchy, Dom Pérignon, and TAG Heuer. LVMH operates as an ecosystem where each brand maintains its unique DNA and heritage while benefiting from synergies within the group.Smith plays a key role in fostering LVMH’s signature culture of creative excellence among the company’s 40,000 North American employees. Prior to joining LVMH in 2011, she spent more than a decade working closely with leading retail and luxury brands through notable industry consultancies. Based in New York City, Smith also serves on the board of the Fashion Scholarship Fund, a nonprofit association that supports young talent as they seek to realize their career ambitions in the fashion industry.Some Questions Asked:How is LVMH leaning into internal mobility?How do you make employees feel safe enough to take creative risks and contribute their ideas?How do you ensure that LVMH’s heritage brands remain relevant and inspire people today, while still honoring their history?In This Episode You Will Learn:The core values of LVMH and how they are honored.How LVMH manages talent and creativity by engaging the next generation of craftsmen in the luxury industry via programs like Métiers d’Excellence, DARE, internal mobility and much more.How LVMH maintains its dedication toward diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I).Links:Gena Smith - LinkedInMichelle Labbe - LinkedInToptal - LinkedInThe Talent Economy podcast
VMware: Unlocking Human Potential With AI16:36Laura Heisman, VMware’s Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer , and Michelle Labbe, Toptal’s Chief People Officer, met at Collision 2023 in Toronto to discuss VMware’s core principles and the latest developments in AI and the tech industry.VMware is a leading software company that specializes in virtualization and cloud computing solutions. With a keen eye on innovation, VMware has established itself as a trusted partner for organizations worldwide.As one of its leading lights, Laura Heisman has played a pivotal role in shaping VMware’s marketing vision and driving impactful initiatives. Heisman is a highly accomplished technology executive with more than three decades of experience in marketing and communications. Her leadership philosophy revolves around communicating effectively, unlocking human potential through generative AI, and fostering community. Heisman’s dynamism and commitment to innovation continue to shape VMware and drive its success in the tech landscape.Some Questions Asked: Should humans fear AI replacing jobs? How do Heisman’s three core principles of communication, human potential, and community tie into VMware's overall strategy?How does VMware create and foster a sense of community?In this Episode You Will Learn: How AI is an accelerant of human potential.Why companies such as VMware should focus on building communities rather than just marketing to developers. How job roles will adapt as AI continues its rapid progression.Links: Laura Heisman - LinkedInMichelle Labbe - LinkedInToptal - LinkedInThe Talent Economy podcast
Standard AI: Amplifying the Retail Experience16:43Jordan Fisher, founder and CEO of Standard AI, joined Michelle Labbe, Toptal’s Chief People Officer, at Collision in Toronto on The Talent Economy podcast. Fisher discussed the company’s groundbreaking “checkout-free” shopping solution and other achievements of Standard AI. With a diverse background spanning computational fluid dynamics, securities regulations, video games, machine learning, and retail, Fisher has dedicated his career to product research and development. Standard AI has reached many significant milestones under his leadership as the field of artificial intelligence becomes increasingly competitive. With Standard AI, customers no longer need to scan their items or pay at a kiosk. Instead, they simply scan their phones at the exit and a series of AI-powered cameras generate a receipt based on the items that customers picked up.Utilizing its next-generation technology, Standard AI aims to continue augmenting human interactions within physical spaces while providing tailored product experiences. Its approach has the potential to revolutionize retail and expand to other industries.Some Questions Asked: Why is it important for entrepreneurs and early-stage startups to attend tech conferences?How does Standard AI define its vision, and what are the company’s next goals?What does the future of retail look like from Standard AI’s perspective?In This Episode You Will Learn: How society has shifted from “humans adapting to technology” to “technology adapting to humans.”Why “data is dead.”How AI opens up possibilities for new experiences in brick-and-mortar stores. Links: Jordan Fisher - LinkedInMichelle Labbe - LinkedInToptal - LinkedInThe Talent Economy podcast
Life is Good: Do What You Love. Love What You Do.™26:47Life is Good is the original positive lifestyle brand, dedicated to spreading the power of optimism through art and messaging. Co-founders and brothers Bert and John Jacobs originally set out to design T-shirts that inspired people to celebrate simple pleasures, and focus on what’s right in the world and our lives instead of what’s wrong. In 1994, after five years of disappointing sales and with just $78 to their names, Bert and John designed their first Life is Good tee and discovered how those three simple words could help people to focus on the good. For almost 30 years, Life is Good has been building a “culture of optimism” through its online shop and 4,500 retail stores. Life is Good’s mission “to spread the power of optimism” isn’t just a marketing angle—it influences every part of the brand, from company culture to philanthropy.Tom Hassell, president of Life is Good, joined Toptal’s Chief People Officer Michelle Labbe on The Talent Economy podcast. For the past three years, Hassell has overseen the Life is Good e-commerce business as it has grown from $30 million in annual revenue in 2017 to over $86 million in 2020. Outside of his role at Life is Good, Hassell has served in leadership roles at a diverse group of companies, including Lord & Taylor, Perry Ellis, Ann Taylor, and Eastern Mountain Sports. He is thrilled to have the opportunity to serve as the President of Life is Good, where spreading the power of optimism is both the company mission and his personal passion. In this episode, Hassell discusses his journey in the apparel industry, his work at Life is Good, the power of optimism, Life is Good’s social work through the Life is Good Playmaker Project, and more.Some Questions Asked:How does Life is Good maintain its optimistic culture throughout all levels of the company? (8:26)Who develops Life is Good’s creative designs? (17:57) Among the positive letters the company often receives from its customers, is there a particular story that moved you? (21:24) In This Episode, You Will Learn:How Life is Good believes in rational optimism. About Life is Good’s social work, the Life is Good Playmaker Project. How founders Bert and John Jacobs continue to lead the company. Links:Tom Hassell - LinkedInMichelle Labbe - LinkedInToptal - LinkedInThe Talent Economy podcast
New York Life: A Creative Approach to DE&I42:16As the largest mutual life insurance company in the US, New York Life has been advising policyholders on investment decisions for more than 178 years.Toptal’s Chief People Officer Michelle Labbe spoke with Kathleen Navarro, New York Life Insurance’s Senior Vice President and Head of Human Resources Business Enablement on The Talent Economy Podcast.Kathleen Navarro leads New York Life Insurance’s integrated diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, and manages the HR business partners, strategy and analytics teams. During Navarro's tenure, the company has received broad recognition for its inclusion efforts, including being named one of the Best-of-the-Best Corporations by the National Business Inclusion Consortium in 2022.Navarro has held a range of roles in finance, strategy, and operations since joining New York Life Insurance in 1994. She has been recognized as a Top 10 Champion of Global Diversity by DiversityGlobal and was included on the Top 50 Chief Diversity Officers list issued by the National Diversity Council.Some Questions Asked:New York Life Insurance is a mutual company owned by policyholders without outside investors. How does this ownership model affect your talent strategy and company culture? 11:30Employees are increasingly looking for flexibility and balance in their jobs. With three days in the office and two at home, what sort of impact has your hybrid model had on hiring and employee happiness? 19:29New York Life Insurance was one of Seramount’s (formerly Working Mother Media) “100 Best Companies” for 2022 and listed as one of its “Best Companies for Dads.” How has New York Life Insurance created such a supportive culture for working parents? 29:50In This Episode, You Will Learn:What has made Kathleen Navarro want to stay at New York Life Insurance for nearly 30 years. Why The Dave Thomas Foundation recently listed New York Life Insurance as a 2022 Adoption Advocate.How New York Life Insurance maintains consistency across a distributed and independent workforce.Links:Kathleen Navarro - LinkedInMichelle Labbe - LinkedInToptal - LinkedInThe Talent Economy podcast
40. Vimeo: Leading With Intention28:54Vimeo, a video-sharing website that allows members to view, upload, and share videos, was a top competitor to YouTube when it launched in 2004. But in 2017, Vimeo saw an opening to pivot to a software as a service company, offering tools for independent creators to produce, upload, and share their own content. In May of 2021, Vimeo went public and soon afterwards, Crystal Boysen joined the company as Chief People Officer. In her role, Boysen has led various initiatives aimed at cultivating an engaged, diverse, and inclusive culture at Vimeo. In addition to sharing her career story, Crystal Boysen offered her HR philosophy, as well as her perspective on leading in a hybrid environment, crafting meaningful benefit packages, and more. Some Questions Asked:Why does the quote “you don’t build a business, you build people and the people build the business” resonate with you? 5:37What is Vimeo doing to assure DE&I? 12:35What trends do you see emerging amid the current economic slowdown? 16:20In This Episode, You Will Learn:About Vimeo’s employee donation matching program How Vimeo builds talent from within Why Vimeo gives equity stakes to their employees Links:Crystal Boysen - LinkedInMichelle Labbe - LinkedInToptal - LinkedInThe Talent Economy podcast
Web Summit: Katie Bolger, Community Manager, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion41:40With past speakers such as the CEOs of Dell and Wikipedia, and the COO of Reddit, the Web Summit annual conference, founded in 2009, has become a critical meeting place for the tech community. At the 2022 event in Lisbon, Portugal, Katie Bolger, Community Manager, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Web Summit, joined Toptal’s Chief People Officer, Michelle Labbe. They discussed the conference, Web Summit’s Women in Tech program, and equity in representation among attendees and speakers.Some Questions Asked:What is Web Summit’s mission? How has your role in the event-planning field evolved since the COVID-19 pandemic? What are the most effective ways that leaders can advocate for more women to enter the tech workforce?In This Episode, You Will Learn:What led to Web Summit’s involvement with Women in Tech.What accessibility features were available at this Web Summit.How Web Summit ensures that the conference adheres to organizers’ priorities and culture.Links:Katie Bolger - LinkedInMichelle Labbe - LinkedInToptal - LinkedInThe Talent Economy podcast
Web Summit: Branch Co-Founder, Mada Seghete27:51Branch is a deep-linking and mobile-attribution platform that helps companies build and measure user journeys. In 2014, Mada Seghete co-founded Branch on the fundamental principle that breaking down silos on the internet is critical to a brand’s ability to build engaging and relevant end-user experiences. Branch initially focused on delivering a deep-linking solution to navigate the complex mobile ecosystem and get users to the right destination. Its platform now also powers mobile attribution for 50,000+ of the world’s most advanced apps, helping companies like Airbnb, Pinterest, Slack, Ticketmaster, Tinder, Starbucks, and Yelp measure their users’ journeys. While attending Web Summit in Lisbon, Seghete, Branch’s current Managing Director and VP of Marketing, joined Toptal’s Chief People Officer Michelle Labbe to discuss creating Branch, women in tech, the future of work, and her Web Summit experience. Some Questions Asked:How does Branch differentiate itself from its competitors?Why do you think so many people who left their jobs during the Great Resignation are deciding to return? How do you see the future of work evolving in the next few years? In This Episode, You Will Learn:What inspired the founding of Branch. What the culture is like at Branch and how the company upholds its mantra of “Build, Grow, Win.”Advice for women who want to launch their own tech startup.Links:Mada Seghete - LinkedInMichelle Labbe - LinkedInToptal - LinkedInThe Talent Economy podcast
Web Summit: Toptal CEO, Taso Du Val: The Evolution of the Talent Economy13:55Toptal is a network of the world’s top talent in business, design, and technology that enables companies to scale their teams on demand. Founded in 2010 and now the world’s largest fully remote company, Toptal has served more than 21,000 clients and has a global network of talent in 140+ countries.Kimberly Hall, Toptal’s VP of Revenue Operations, sat down with Toptal’s CEO Taso Du Val at Toptal’s Women in Tech Lounge at Web Summit 2022 in Lisbon. Du Val shares insights into the future of work, Web3, the financial benefits of implementing a remote workforce, and more.Some Questions Asked:Why was this a key year for Toptal to take part in the Web Summit conference?What was the inspiration behind the creation of Toptal’s Women in Tech Lounge? Will Toptal continue to lean into the Web3 space? In This Episode, You Will Learn:What companies should be thinking about as the workplace evolves.What the future of the talent economy looks like.The financial benefits of implementing a remote workforce.Links:Taso Du Val - LinkedInKimberly Hall - LinkedInToptal - LinkedInThe Talent Economy podcast