S5 E19 | CXR Podcast: Barb Hyman Talks About The Humanity (Needed) In A.I.

Barb Hyman, founder and CEO of Sapia.ai, talks with host Chris Hoyt about her different approach to using “AI for good.”

S5 E19 | CXR Podcast: Barb Hyman Talks About The Humanity (Needed) In A.I.

Barb Hyman, founder and CEO of Sapia.ai, talks with host Chris Hoyt about her different approach to using “AI for good.”

Chris Hoyt, CXR 
Alright, so I’ve actually had, you’re gonna laugh at me. I’ve actually had some travel where I have fallen asleep at dinner. Like, I’m embarrassed to admit this. The jetlag is so bad. I sleep at dinner.

Barb Hyman, Sapia.ai 0:12
Well, maybe that’s the wine, Chris. Do you think?

Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:17
No, it can’t be the wine. There was a gentleman. I forget his name. It was a gentleman years ago, and I think we were we were in London. And he I forget where he had come in from but he just started babbling, like, nonsensical.

Barb Hyman, Sapia.ai 0:36
Well, you need some of what he has to take to maintain that energy when you’re traveling. I respect that. Yeah, maybe so

Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:44
So hopefully the jetlag is not too bad. Now that now that you’re back in, back in Melbourne?

Barb Hyman, Sapia.ai 0:48
No, look, it’s great to be back. It was a pretty phenomenal experience thing over in the US. You know, the highlight was for sure being at SIOP. Oh, we

Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:58
Oh we have got to talk about that.

Barb Hyman, Sapia.ai 0:59
Have you ever been?

Chris Hoyt, CXR 1:01
I have not been? And I kind of want to go and then I feel like maybe

Barb Hyman, Sapia.ai 1:06
Go next year? Sure. Yeah, it’s, um, you know, compared to HR tech conferences. There is an endless array of deep thinking, research. And, you know, just very impressive, smart people thinking about people. So, you know, highly recommended.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 1:29
All right. Well, you know, we’ve got Matt Charney coming on the show in a couple of weeks, and he was there, so I’m sure it’s gonna come up.

Barb Hyman, Sapia.ai 1:35
He was totally intimidated.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 1:38
I think they were intimidated by him. All right, you ready to go?

Barb Hyman, Sapia.ai 1:42
Yeah, yeah,

Chris Hoyt, CXR 1:43
Alright, let’s do it.

Announcer 1:46
Welcome to the CXR channel, our premier podcasts for Talent Acquisition and Talent Management. listen in as the CXR community discusses a wide range of topics focused on attracting, engaging and retaining the best talent, we’re glad you’re here.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 2:15
All right, welcome back, loyal listeners of the CXR Podcast. I’m Chris Hoyt president of CareerXroads, and your host for the next 20 minutes or so. If you’re new to the show, we connect you with the recruiting industry leader, a practitioner to provide a little insight into what they’re working on, or what they’re thinking in regards to the hot topics that most of us are working through. Now. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to the show. From wherever you’re listening via YouTube, or Spotify, and any other broadcast service that you may be on there. If you’re if you’re catching us on LinkedIn, or Facebook or Twitter or other social platform, you can certainly find the full show and all of the previous episodes out at CXR.works/podcast now. Today, I’m excited to introduce a new guest to the show. We’ve got a first timer. Say hello to everybody, Barb.

Barb Hyman, Sapia.ai 2:58
Hello, everybody. Great to be here. Gooday

Chris Cleary, Verizon 3:02
Well, welcome to the show.

Barb Hyman, Sapia.ai 3:04
Thank you so much for having me. I’m really delighted to be part of this.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 3:07
Oh, well, we’re excited. We have a little fun. You’ve now seen the extent of the technical part of the show. So that’s about it. That’s as good as it gets. Barb, for those who may not know who you are, can you give us an escalator pitch about yourself kind of, uh, where you work, what you do, maybe even how long you’ve been in the space.

Barb Hyman, Sapia.ai 3:25
Okay, for sure. So, Bob Hyman mother of three, CEO and founder of Sapia.ai, formerly known as Predictive Hire, we’ve just rebranded. My background is a lot of things. So I’m a bit of a career mongrel. I started out as a lawyer, I think you call them attorneys over in the US, and then post MBA moved into strategy consulting. So I worked at BCG for many years, and then found myself in HR. So a lot of my career has actually been in the HRD role. First, for BCG, and then for a large digital company in Australia. And from there, I started Sapia. So I’m not a technologist. I’m someone that comes from the experience of living the pain of what I think many of you experience day to day. And, you know, I I’ve been privileged to be in a role like this really solving your problems.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 4:19
Right, hopefully, like, well, let’s talk about you mentioned, there’s been a bit of a little, a little bit of a rebranding going on, what’s what’s behind that? What’s that about?

Barb Hyman, Sapia.ai 4:26
Yeah. So, you know, the, the aspect of HR and everything to do with people that I feel is missing is the human side. How do you actually really connect with people and meet them where there are and, you know, I was one of the first in Australia to bring in culture and to bring in Workday, but at the end of the day, didn’t really change the way that people felt about the connection with the organization and engagement in their understanding of themselves. And so what I wanted to do was really bring technology chat, in a way that empowered people that dignified experiences Like recruitment that help people learn about themselves. And that’s the journey that we’ve been on. So we’ve really invented something quite brilliant, which is the ability to understand you as a human being deeply through a conversation. It’s only five questions, and we help you get smarter. From that experience, we obviously also helped the organization get smarter, you know, that’s where we make our money. But I’ve fundamentally believed that we’re now moving into a world where you can’t just deliver technology that helps the organization, you’ve got to deliver technology that helps the individual.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 5:35
Yeah, I love that. And like I, you know, we don’t want to do like a product show, but I do, the approach that you have taken is different. And I think it’s really interesting, because you’re talking about five questions that are not solve a puzzle, that are not some sort of crazy equation, or from that element, it’s a little, it’s a little bit different. It’s more open ended, isn’t it?

Barb Hyman, Sapia.ai 5:58
Well, we’ve really scaled the science of a structured interview. And, you know, that’s for anyone who’s in the IO space, seen as the gold standard for how do you predict performance in a role? And we’re trying to create what feels like a very normal experience like this, you know, we’re asking questions that you would ask, and the candidate is responding to those in their own voice in their own time. So we’re trying to remove all the fear, and the anxiety that comes with applying for a job like when you think about it, it’s far scarier for the individual than it is for the organization. Because you’re making a move, you’re choosing your next partner, right? Like you spend more time at work than you do at home. And so how do you make that really safe? And something people trust, which is really important, we’ll get to that I’m sure on the AI side, and something which is humanizing. So everyone gets personalized insights, and coaching. And that is a phenomenal way for you to help everyone, even those that don’t get the job.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 6:55
Yeah, I love that. And I love the different approach. I mean, but so let’s go to the AI piece, because we you know, these are little snackable podcasts, they’re pretty quick. How, how do you see a sort of in the same vein, sort of advancing the field of using AI within that world of recruiting? I mean, why why why aren’t we just there yet? What Why do you feel like it’s just not? It’s not perfect, yet? What’s missing?

Barb Hyman, Sapia.ai 7:21
Well, so fundamentally, AI is something that, unfortunately, in the media, and in our lives has been, you know, a lot of scare mongering around that, in some cases fairly. So, you know, I call it fear and loathing of AI. And there’s a lot of misunderstanding, but there’s also been some really big issues that have really impacted on fairness. So it is, in some respects, legitimate for people to worry about it. But like all technology evolves and improves over time, and, you know, the obligation is on you as the as the person considering solving for your problems. How do I trust these? Like, what are the key questions I need to ask? So you know, there’s, there’s, there’s absolutely AI that can interrupt bias in a way that humans can’t. And there is AI that can amplify bias. And so part of what you know, I spend a lot of my time doing is trying to help organizations navigate that.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 8:16
Yeah, I think well, I think that’s a big call out too. Because originally, I remember in the space when we started talking about AI for recruiting, the fun thing to say in the headlines, and the clickbait was the, you know, robots, were going to take the recruiters job. And I think what we have come to understand, by and large within the industry is that it’s not so much about taking the job as as simplifying or assisting, right, that sort of thing. So

Barb Hyman, Sapia.ai 8:41
Look, it’s it’s copilot, that’s the way we talk about it is why wouldn’t you want something in your job that takes all the crappy work that you don’t really enjoy doing, which is fine screens asking the same question again and again, and reviewing CVs, you know, no one’s time has served well, by screening CVs. And give that to technology that, frankly, can do it fairer, and better and faster than you and see more than what you might see because of our own unconscious biases. So that you can free up time to actually be more of a I call it a talent concierge, a talent business partner, and get away from the desk, you know, and get into the business like it when I was a chro. I was saying to her tell our business partners, the best thing you can do is be a sounding board and an advisor to the HR managers help them figure out what it is that they really need, and be a sounding board for how they made the right decision. Because the process of screening and assessment really technology can do it better on every front, both from a candidate perspective and from a you know, a depth of insight. So it’s a reimagination of the recruiter role. And a big part of what I think any head of TA needs to think about when they’re bringing in AI is that you’re really bringing in change, but it can be incredibly empowering, but it does require thought around you know, how do you land this in a way that people see the opportunity. Not not confronted by fear.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 10:05
Yeah. All right. So I love the call out, Barb. And I wonder, there are some very forward thinking organizations that are that are going all in on AI, right, and your product and some of the products that use AI in the selection process. So I guess I would ask speaking not not on behalf of Sapia on behalf of the product, but as an expert in this field, right, as somebody who’s doing their best to push this, this field forward and raise awareness. What would you tell a TA leader who may be this seems like a scary job, this feels super risky. Can I really trust you know, this type of methodology, this approach to help with my selections? To free up my recruiters? What would you tell me?

Barb Hyman, Sapia.ai 10:44
Well, look, I think it’s like any decision that you make in life, how do you de risk it, and you de risk it by firstly, getting people in the business who can be alongside with you, as you bring this change in, you know, don’t do it solo, like, I think anyone in TA knows that if you’re bringing in change, you need to engage the business, you need to make it something that is required by the business, not something that’s preferred by TA. So make it a, you know, a collective effort team of people across the business, get sponsors within the business, TA and HR should not be sponsoring any new technology, it should always come from the business, I fundamentally believe that. The second thing is talk to other customers who were using this and ask them like you’re doing a reference check, very probing, confronted questions around, you know, the value, like what has been the value delivered, what hasn’t worked, asked the same thing of the vendor? Like, what do we need to do in order to make this work? You know, what every vendor wants to do is be a partner with the client, and help them navigate this, a huge part of this is, how do we make you successful? How do we de risk it for you personally, so that, you know, you don’t fear that you’re gonna be fired for bringing in change? So I think it’s to, you know, I’d say to to is don’t hold back so much, if you really have a hypothesis that this change is going to help and lean in and trust and start to build a partnership. So what would you apart from all the due diligence on the technology and tech manuals, and so on, but, you know, I think sometimes it’s a bit like a, you know, an m&a deal, you know, you’re on other sides of the table. But you’ve really got to get on the same side of the table, if you’re going to make this work for the client.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 12:23
Yeah, well, I love to call out if like there are other there are other businesses within the business right within the organization that should be involved in that. I mean, we have a lot of, and I have been one of them, we have a lot of TA leaders who just kind of run a little bit rogue, right, implementing new tech or solutions, because they want to get that in there. But it’s not always easy to get that kind of partnership internally. And I also will say, Barb, I appreciate the go talk to people who have done this before, who are on sort of the cutting edge, right, or that bleeding edge of the tech and taking those risks upfront, to help mitigate your own risk a little bit?

Barb Hyman, Sapia.ai 12:56
Yeah, I mean, I think there are fast followers out there, you know, we target fast followers, you know, you know, technology, marketing, and, you know, understand who they are, I’m sure that you know who they are, and learn from them. Because there’s a lot of risk in bringing in technology that fails on many fronts. And, you know, I come back to that point about everything is about how do you de risk a big decision like that? Yeah, I think the other thing, you know, I just want to provide a different lens, which is, so as a chro, which I used to be, you have to involve that person in this journey. You know, I think too much TA is a bit of a bubble. And how do you connect the dots between what it is that you’re doing and wanting to do with technology or with change? And how does that ladder up to the people’s strategy? So you always want to tell a story around change against the lens of what is the CHR o telling the board and the CEO about the people, you know, strategy that she or he is working towards? And how does this accelerate that? Because if you get you get that person talking about it, and then you you’ve kind of, you know, won half the battle. And, you know, also, you know, really understand that if this isn’t one of their top three priorities, which I’d find it very hard to believe if it’s not because every single CEO is obsessed and worried and paranoid about talent, then, you know, that’s your seat at the table. Right? You have to get what you’re doing on that agenda. And frankly, if it’s not on their agenda right now, then, you know, jump ship to another organization.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 14:32
Yeah, well, well, that’s a whole that’s a whole nother conversation right hold of the conversation. Barb let me ask you normally I like to ask a guest who comes in as an expert or a subject matter passionate person? What what’s really evolved in the last five years and then kind of ask them where they think something’s going in the last five years and we’ve had to cut that down when we get to tech to like, two years, three years, but I feel like AI moves so fast, and so much is happening. to ask you three years ago, five years ago, where we were versus where we are now, it’s kind of a silly question, because it was still just landing on everybody’s radar and, and all these solutions were popping up. So I’m gonna skip the where were we story, right, the part of that question, and I want to ask you, what do you anticipate? We should see your experience in this space in the next two, three or five years? Like, what what is right around the corner for us or that we should be watching for?

Barb Hyman, Sapia.ai 15:28
So firstly, I’ll be contrarian and say, I don’t think much has changed, you know, if my really cynical hat is that the last great innovation in HR was the Netflix culture deck. You know, when you think about, are we really delivering talent, exponentially faster? We fundamentally transforming the experience that people are having through that, are we getting deeper insight into how people are feeling day to day, you know, there’s a lot of technology. But if you look at the measures, you know, I’m not sure that actually you can see the results, I think what’s changed is bigger picture, which is that the, in the context of AI and in general, in HR, particularly with, you know, 67% of people now working virtually, and the movement around AI, that gives me my agency control over my data rights over my data. I think that’s the huge change. And that was obviously started with GDPR. And it’s being accelerated with all the other changes that are coming in. And so again, I put my CHRO hat on and say that how do you create a culture of trust, because I think a culture of trust is what endears people to want to be with you to work, you know, harder and putting that discretionary effort to stick around. And I think the technology choices you make, play into that big time, and the way in which you respect and dignify the individual at the heart of that first candidate, then the employee. So the balance between the organization calling the shots, and all of this technology top down, I think is going to massively invert, to be what can we do to really build trust with that human being from the very first, you know, moment of interaction? What do we need to do differently in our technology? What technology do we not use? How transparent can we be? How do we give them the power to make decisions for them, not just us to make decisions for us. So I think there’s more of a global macro movement about respecting the individual and AI that can be used for good but gives them a huge voice in that process.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 17:29
Barb do you know why I like talking to you? Look, you’re in the tech space, but maybe it’s the CHRO and you sort of shining through but you’re using words like heart and feel at you know, and people it’s like your talent before your tech, right. And it’s important that you’re tying all of that piece together. And I just absolutely love that because you’re not forsaking the whole reason we’re doing this, you’re doing this for for the reason of the people in the beginning, right, bringing in the talent, making sure the right talent is there, and building the relationships using the tech as a What did you would you call you didn’t say companion? What did you say?

Barb Hyman, Sapia.ai 18:02
As a co-pilot? Copilot Yeah. Look, I find a fundamental principle as human first technology second in the business. And, you know, there’s a wonderful podcast I just listened to with Eric Schmidt and Sam Harris, where he talks about, you know, AI and the threat and the opportunity. And, you know, he talks about AI is really about making everyone smarter. And why would you hold back on that? You know, so, if you’re gonna go in and think about using AI and your business and HR is, think about it with that lens, because that’s motivating, that’s empowering. And, you know, that’s, that’s what I’d love people to, to really embrace is that, you know, it can be fair, it can be fairer than humans. The other thing I want to challenge is this notion that you need to have a human to have a human experience. We’ve shown that you don’t.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 18:54
Okay. Well, so if I’m just getting started, if I want to learn more, if I’m a TA leader, and I’ve not done this before, and it just seems a little scary BB where would you tell me? Where would you tell me to start?

Barb Hyman, Sapia.ai 19:07
Well, for our product, you can try it on the website and see what it’s like yourself. You know, in terms of just connecting with me, I’d love you to follow me on Twitter, Bob Hyman1, I’m posting more now it seems like in the US people really love Twitter. And, you know, just feel free to reach out to have a conversation. But, you know, I think there’s obviously experts like you, and what CareerXroads are doing in terms of helping organizations navigate, change and understand what’s out there in the landscape. There’s no cheat sheet, to figuring it out. You know, it’s it’s heavy lifting, but I mean, why wouldn’t you want to be in HR or TA at this time because there is a lot of exciting things happening. So and I’d also put a plug in for SIOP. I just came back from the US Representative sale. You know, really HR also in TA go beyond Your world, like go beyond your Bible, go to a conference that isn’t at a conference and see what you can learn. You know, I think that ability to understand innovation in other sectors, like I’m always thinking about, what’s the analogy here from another, you know, part of our business, you know, what if marketing doing, go to a marketing conference, because marketing is about 10 years ahead of HR.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 20:23
Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. And that’s such a, you know, we’re, we get so busy. And we get so stuck heads down that I think we forget that there are other lanes that we could be swimming in, at least putting our feet in for a little bit. And sort of leech some of that expertise into our own.

Barb Hyman, Sapia.ai 20:39
Yeah. And hire, different people into your team. I mean, I’m, I’m not a technologist, right. And, you know, I have a kind of curious background, but I haven’t been able to build the product and my partner, my co founders, booty, who’s a PhD and NLP, and like, we would not have the technology we have without both of us. So think about the power of difference. You know, I believe that innovation comes from the intersection of difference. And every TA team right now is innovating. So hire people that are really lateral into your team. It will just give you more confidence, I think, as a team de risks decision making, because you’ll have just contrarian views. And you’ll create much more team engagement.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 21:19
Oh, my God, it’s fantastic. Barb, thank you so much. Thank you so much for joining us. I know you’re super busy on the other side of the world. So I appreciate you making time for us.

Barb Hyman, Sapia.ai 21:27
Thanks so much, Chris. Have a great day.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 21:29
Thank you don’t go anywhere. Don’t go anywhere just yet. All right. All right. So I do want to take us out really quickly. I want to remind everybody on May 17. Our members are invited to join us for another one of our monthly CXR Lecture Series, these sessions. For those who don’t know, we actually bring in a professional speaker and presenter to discuss top areas of interest that were actually selected by our membership leaders are talent and heads of talent, talent leaders, the coming up topic or the top we’ve got right up next, I’m trying to think Oh, remote work 3.0. So it’s going to be good when you can get all of that more information, CXR.works/lecture, you can see the past sessions as well as what’s coming up next. Also may 19. You’re not going to want to miss it’s our next member and alumni meeting. And we’re open to those are literally open to any current or former CXR Members, we’re issuing a call to action for transparency around minimally acceptable and unacceptable practices that are often inaccessible to each of us both the stakeholders responsible for the hiring and of course, the managing of that talent. Be sure to join us for that it does come on the back end of a series of posts, you’ll find on CXR.works. Gerry Crispin has published some of those in there and there’s some research that we’re doing around what elements of transparency are most important. So check those out, take part in that and cast your vote. With that. I want to thank everybody for being here and we’ll see you next time.

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