Interview with Mahe Bayireddi, CEO and co-founder of Phenom
When people find the right job for them, this not only improves their individual quality of life, but also the work of companies and thus the products and services they offer. From a strategic point of view, it is therefore crucial for companies to make recruiting as focused and people-centered as possible and at the same time to pick up on the interests and wishes of potential candidates. A good “experience” is important in all areas of the company, especially at a time when many people are asking themselves which companies they want to make their skills and time available to in the future.
- What are the key factors for a good talent experience?
- How can smart technology create a positive connection between companies and candidates right from the start?
- What is the importance of a holistic employee experience and how is the market developing in this area?
In the interview, Mahe Bayireddi, CEO and co-founder of Phenom, outlines the challenges that companies worldwide are currently facing and what is important for companies that want to attract and retain the best talent.
Your vision with Phenom is to help a billion people find the right job. What makes a job the “right one” — and how do you help to find it?
I think people are scrutinizing jobs more than ever to ensure they’re choosing (or staying at) the right one. They’re looking for alignment between what they need, and what the employer is going to give them — and this is a positive trend for everyone. There are still traditional factors that people consider in a job, like a competitive salary, standard benefits, room for career growth, etc. But they’re also looking for things like learning and development opportunities that will further their career goals, as well as expanded benefits — such as childcare flexibility for working parents and mental health support. In today’s talent landscape, employers need to go beyond checking the usual boxes, and prove to their employees that they’re valued and truly belong. Companies must cultivate a talent experience that feels deeply personal to each employee. And this is where our talent experience platform, AI, and automation can help — by highlighting talent’s role in helping their organization achieve a mission or a purpose. This could be through comprehensive career pathing, personalized job recommendations, or mentoring and gig opportunities. With AI, our platform provides insights that help recruiters discover the potential in candidates, and managers guide employees toward individual and organizational success.
Jobs are a big piece of the puzzle. We invest so much of our time in them that they inexorably shape who we are and how we interact with other aspects of our lives, from relationships and hobbies to spirituality, health, and so much more.
Especially in times of crisis like the current one, we’re finding that people no longer view their job as the “right” one. Why do you think that is? Is it the work itself, or do other things play a role? How can companies have a positive impact here?
In general, I think a crisis like the pandemic makes people reevaluate what’s important — and what is and isn’t working for them. Jobs are a big piece of the puzzle. We invest so much of our time in them that they inexorably shape who we are and how we interact with other aspects of our lives, from relationships and hobbies to spirituality, health, and so much more. If you’re unhappy at your job, the rest of your life can fall out of balance. Companies are starting to realize that this imbalance can quickly spiral into poor performance and turnover, and leaders are taking steps to remedy this. They’ve gotten a glimpse of their employees’ lives through a webcam over the last year, and are now seeking to understand — in a sensitive, empathetic way — what’s happening beyond the camera’s viewframe. With enough sincerity and flexibility, organizations can empower talent to fulfill their professional and personal goals at the same time.
Phenom provides enterprises with a Talent Experience Management platform. What does it mean, and why is „experience“ such an essential part of it?
Talent Experience Management (TXM) is a holistic approach and platform that connects every interaction throughout the talent lifecycle by delivering phenomenal experiences. It unifies technology and experience design to enhance the talent journey by helping candidates find the right job, employees grow and evolve, recruiters discover best-fit talent, and managers build their teams faster.
The Phenom TXM platform channels this methodology by leveraging AI, which drives personalization and accuracy for candidates, recruiters, employees, and managers. While the platform’s many unique features are effective on their own, users reap the greatest benefits when they’re all connected into a remarkable experience.
People remember experiences. A candidate who visits a career site, and can immediately find the jobs most suitable for them, is more likely to submit an application. An employee who understands exactly how they can advance their career is more likely to stay at their company. A recruiter who’s freed from performing tedious administrative tasks can focus on having meaningful interactions with talent. A manager equipped with actionable AI-powered insights can unlock the true potential of their team. These are experiential outcomes that drive measurable enterprise-wide growth. Organizations that stick to fragmented, impersonal processes are already losing the race to hire, retain and develop their talent.
You started Phenom in the US 11 years ago — today, it is a global company that’s also expanding in Europe. Where do you see the biggest differences in challenges organizations are facing?
The most daunting challenges of a pandemic-altered workplace are shared by organizations around the world. The solutions should be tailored according to each unique region and culture, which varies from company to company and country to country. With that said, the companies that have thrived in this new era of work have been most successful at retaining and developing their internal talent through an impactful employee experience. This is especially true in Europe, where governments’ pandemic assistance incentivized employers to keep talent. As a result, job seekers have incredible leverage in today’s European labor market, so companies must pull out all the stops to keep their teams intact. An AI-powered talent experience platform can help personalize the employee experience at scale, so even organizations with tens of thousands of employees can help individual talent evolve.
When you started Phenom, your focus was very much on fostering the perfect candidate and recruiter experiences. From your point of view, what is most crucial when it comes to delivering a meaningful and valuable solution to talent acquisition — and how does Phenom’s solution help?
There are four key stakeholders across the talent experience — candidates, recruiters, employees, and managers. Each one’s success is directly correlated to the others thriving, but the candidate and recruiter are particularly close-knit. A recruiter is already having a bad experience if they lack time or the insight to truly understand a candidate and their qualifications. A candidate who interacts with an ill-prepared recruiter will immediately doubt their future with the company. These risks loom even larger as organizations’ headcount climbs amid the challenges of the Great Resignation.
This is where the AI, automation, and machine learning that’s integrated into our talent experience platform can really help TA thrive. AI can screen candidates and provide fit scores informed by their experience, education, location, and other criteria relative to the needs for the position. By automating candidate FAQs and time-consuming tasks like interview scheduling and screening, recruiters at high-volume employers recover tens of thousands of hours. This is time they can put toward identifying the best possible candidates from deep talent pools. As a result, both companies and candidates find the right fit quickly and cost-effectively.
What are your plans for Employee Experience? Where do you see the market going?
Our platform already supports some of the world’s top employers with internal mobility, employee retention, upskill and reskilling, career pathing, gigs, and mentoring. We plan on strengthening our employee experience capabilities even further as we better connect jobs and people. We acquired Tandemploy because they have a single purpose and passion for building amazing moments that matter within the employee experience. Their extensive influence, remarkable technology, and renowned company culture position Phenom to innovate the employee experience for years to come, especially in EMEA.
As the market evolves, companies with the most refined employee experiences will go a step further — employee evangelism. Happy, fulfilled employees can be organizations’ most influential ambassadors to candidates. From a job seeker’s perspective, employees offer more credibility than a recruiter, hiring manager or any stakeholder in the talent acquisition process. Employees aren’t being assessed by the success or failure of a hire; recruiters and hiring managers are. While organizations should not require employees to be evangelists (this would undermine the message), they should incentivize, facilitate and promote it as much as possible.
Acquiring Tandemploy expanded Phenom’s global presence with another office in Germany. What are Phenom’s plans for Europe?
Europe is a crucial market for Phenom. In the last 18 months, we’ve acquired three companies in Europe and opened two new offices in Germany. Our customers include some of Europe’s top employers, and the demand for AI-powered talent experiences is surging across EMEA. As for our future plans, we’re going to continue expanding the implementation and adoption of our TXM platform, while also monitoring strategic M&A opportunities as they arise.
Now to jump back to a more individual, personal level: What makes a working day a “good” day for you? And how do you personally know that you have “the right job”?
Growing up in India, my father always told me that I would help people find jobs. I co-founded a company around that belief, made it my purpose, and put a number on it — a very large number. For me, a good working day is knowing Phenom has made progress toward achieving that purpose — helping a billion people find the right job. This is the only reason Phenom exists, and I believe every employee here shares the same relentless passion and drive needed to make that goal a reality.