A Special Conversation with Pat Wadors, Senior Vice President of Global Talent Organization at LinkedIn

A SPECIAL CONVERSATION WITH PAT WADORS, Senior Vice President of Global Talent Organization at LinkedIn “How LinkedIn Is Creating The HR Organization of the Future … What Does It Mean?”

Pat Wadors is Senior Vice President of Global Talent Organization at LinkedIn. LinkedIn is one of the most successful and fastest growing companies in Silicon Valley and the world. Pat joined LinkedIn in January 2013 “to lead its world-class talent (HR) team. In addition to hiring, retaining and inspiring top talent, Pat is also responsible for all employee related HR programs at LinkedIn, including compensation and benefits and performance management”. Since her arrival, the company has nearly tripled in size. All this, and more, is why she is one of the most respected voices in business. In this brief conversation, enjoy what is some of her vision and philosophies, as we indeed have …

Q: How do you see HR evolving – from what it was to where it is and your vision of where you see it heading?
PW: HR is evolving from a function that is often viewed as process oriented to more of an innovative role. Typically, HR folks are not the first to deviate from the norm, but successful companies will have HR teams that are not only subject matter experts but they innovate at the same time. They are the ones in the industry that are making Human Resources hip and progressive. This is what we aspire to at LinkedIn. For instance, I am always looking to move the needle and to gain a fresh perspective. What better way to do this, and tap into the collective brainpower, than by bringing together the best and the brightest interns from around the Bay Area? We did just that this past summer when we hosted our first ever HR Hackathon event. Teams comprised of technical and non-technical interns competed against each other to come up with the coolest, most creative, out-of-the box solutions to today’s toughest HR problems. Over 150 interns from companies across the Bay Area participated, and the energy level and breadth of ideas generated from each team was inspiring.

The future of HR is not about avoiding policies and processes, it is more about innovation and knowing what should be global vs. local, and creating unique experiences that differentiate your company. These leaders help evolve/create an amazing talent brand for their organizations and influence HR practices in their community. They are willing to experiment and compete for talent in new ways.

I meet with my peers and other HR and Talent Acquisition leaders every single week. What I am discovering, are more leaders are in that third bucket or are leaders who aspire to be in that space. It means taking more intelligent risks. They have the ability to inspire leaders and influence company culture. Typically, these are individuals who think beyond their own boarders and think of talent issues that affect the world. They become game changers.

Q: Regarding talent – What are some of the key elements looked for – How important are data analytics and what can aspiring employees learn to improve?
PW: When it comes to talent I hire for humility and intellectual curiosity. The candidate needs to have a decent amount of the skills required for the role, but as long as they have humility and curiosity, then the rest can almost always be learned.

I am also a strong believer in treating people beautifully. At LinkedIn we are in hyper growth and in order to maintain our wonderful culture we need to continue to hire people who believe in this sentiment. We also need to constantly reinforce our culture through our behaviors and decisions we make every day. Pulsing our employees twice a year on an employee voice survey is one way in which we gauge our culture and engagement. To help drive talent strategies that truly enable our businesses success – we need data. Talent Analytics is the new oil. At LinkedIn we have built a talent analytics team to help us find, engage, hire and retain the right people. The data helps us understand things like where the candidates are, what skillsets they have, and who our competition is. This data also helps me keep an eye on our organizational health. What is our hiring pattern? Where do we have the most effective leaders? What do they do different that we can leverage in other teams? What are the key drivers to engagement? Data helps us solve problems and improve as a company.

Regarding aspiring employees they need to learn to build out their network; connect with people who they went to school with, or worked with. Add your friends and family. Then learn about the companies and cultures you aspire to work for. Connect with those employees and see how they navigate the company. Remember – a company’s best hire is a referral from someone else at the company. If you really want to work somewhere try to find alumni from your alma mater that already works there, grab coffee with a current employee, follow the company, etc. Leverage your network to help you get your next job.

Q: HR is the catalyst - What makes a good employee, manager, leader desirable and great for the company and also for the employee, himself/herself?
PW: I believe that a good employee is always learning, has a strong work ethic and is a brand ambassador for their organization.
Managers and leaders need to lead the way. They create the vision that others aspire to achieve. They need to be authentic and treat people beautifully. They should ensure their teams are working on a good mix of projects that both stretches them in their skills and contributes to the success of the company. They encourage the team to come to the table with solutions, not problems. They realize that mistakes are just part of the necessary learning curve and should not be hidden. They believe in transparency to build trust. They strive to be both empowering while holding themselves and their teams accountable.


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