Empowering Talent: HR Wisdom from Ashleigh Loughnan

Posted on June 11, 2024 in People

Eager to reshape your company’s culture and encourage employee development? Join us in an engaging and insightful discussion with our hosts Jackson Barnes and Nigel Heyn! Don’t miss the opportunity to learn from Ashleigh Loughnan from Go1 as she shares her expert perspectives on HR challenges, workplace learning, and nurturing talent!

Ashleigh shares the transformative journey of her team as they embraced clear, actionable behaviours, empowering everyone to understand and exceed expectations. She underscores the urgency of addressing negative culture and recounts the inspiring success story of an employee who made a triumphant shift from sales to leading an HR team. Ashleigh also champions the value of continuous learning and development, citing initiatives such as learning days and a learning wallet for employees. Be sure not to pass up the opportunity to acquire valuable knowledge from Ashleigh about nurturing talent and building a positive organisational culture. These practical pieces of advice can truly help in navigating HR challenges in global markets and uplifting workplace learning.

#REDDPodcast #HRSuccess #WorkplaceCulture #TalentDevelopment #LearningAndDevelopment #GlobalHR

00:00 – Opener
00:20 – Intro
00:59 – Ashleigh Loughnan’s Background
06:14 – Go1’s Business and Growth
10:01 – Importance of People in Success
12:39 – Handling Entrepreneurial Challenges
14:48 – Interviewing Techniques for Finding Superstars
16:10 – Challenges in Hiring Salespeople
17:49 – Ideal Interview Process
19:11 – Building Successful Teams
20:04 – Internal vs. External Recruitment
24:17 – Generalist vs. Specialist Roles in HR
26:02 – Building and Sustaining Company Culture
28:10 – Communication and Values
29:07 – Handling Negative Culture Employees
31:49 – Advice on Developing Employees
33:00 – Learning and Development
39:24 – Closing Remarks


If you would like to discuss any of the topics discussed in this episode further with a REDD expert or if you would like to be a guest on the show, please get in touch either via our website, [email protected], or through any of the links below. https://redd.com.au




Hello and welcome to Redd’s Business and Technology Podcast. I’m your host Jackson Barnes and I’m your co-host Nigel Heyn. Today we’re sitting down with Ashleigh Loughnan , who’s the chief people Officer at Go1. Had a massive career building essentially teams of people to build some of the probably most successful Queensland tech kind of startups such as Wotif Tatts Group Superloop, and now at Go1. So looking forward to getting some insights today. Ash, thanks for coming in.


Thank you for having me. Happy to be here.


Do you want to start maybe elaborating on your background? I just gave you the little two second version, but what you’re doing now before that, maybe get back to Wotif Time for example? Yeah,


Sure. So I started at Wotif that was my first role out of university. In fact, it was my uni role. I was in the call centre serving our customers and I had an opportunity to start the HR function at Wotif So didn’t work under anyone, which is a very unique thing to have done and it’s a good thing and it’s also a bit of a limitation as well. But I started the HR function. So since I did that, I’ve always reported to A CEO. I’ve never had a mentor or a guide in terms of what I do, but I’ve had a wonderful time doing that.


How big was what when you started there?


So when I started we were sub a hundred, I think we were getting to around that a hundred person mark. We were still domestic so we didn’t have it, oh sorry. We had small numbers of internationals but mostly in Australia. And then we went on an acquisition journey and by the time I left we were closer to 400 people sitting across Australia, EMEA and a bit into Thailand and Southeast Asia as well. So very cool journey. I think at the time I thought I’m too young to get long service leave. So I left at nine and three quarters of a year and that was immediately prior to Expedia acquiring Wotif.com. So I left just before that, had a wonderful time establishing the function and building to the really successful company that it was and it was so much fun and I think at Wotif we had a beautiful culture and I don’t think we realised at the time how incredible it was and we didn’t have to try too hard at it or we thought we didn’t have to try too hard at it, but in fact I think we were working very hard at it underneath and it was just such a lovely thing to do.


Yeah, awesome.


So I spent some time there. Then the CEO from Wotif.com went to Tatts group, which is the opposite of a startup, it’s quite different and he gave me the opportunity to come and lead the people function there. So I was leading people and property and a procurement function as well. So really big step going from that 400 mark to, at the time Tatts was a bit over 3000 employees. My team was very large and a very different industry as well. Still an industry that people want to engage with for fun. It’s not something they have to engage with like a telco, but it was very, very different. Tatts group operated from a whole bunch of government acquired licences and so a large component of the workforce was pre government. So very, very different team and it’s still a really great opportunity but I think for me really made me feel certain that smaller and growing is really where I want to be.


And also I want to be passionate about the product. I really, really want to love what we do. Wagering isn’t something that I love. Lotteries was a really incredible product and the contributions to good causes that came from that was really amazing and something I could be very proud of, but it still wasn’t a product that I loved to engage with and play. So I left Taps group at the time Tabcorp acquired, and so that was after four or five years and that’s the point at which I said, oh no, I don’t want to go into really large businesses anymore. I want to be very intentional about that. So I shamelessly stalked Bevin’s lat, I reached out to him on LinkedIn and just said, Hey, you do really cool things and I’d love to catch up one day. And he said, great, come and have a chat.


I’ll see you outreach to,


And we were just having a chat and he said, oh, I’ve got a job I think. Yeah. So I ended up leading the people and culture function at Superloop, which was his fifth startup or fifth listed startup at least. And it was in Telco. And so I think a lot of people would say, how do you get passionate about Telco? Like cables in the ground and why above the ground and all of that. But the service that we delivered, the connectivity that we provided to people is something that we can’t live without and we all know from working remotely and now our reliance on tech, when it works well, it’s really, really good. When it doesn’t work it’s a real pain. So that was absolutely something I could be very proud of. And then as we moved into Covid, something I could be Julie proud of because what we were doing to help people access each other and continue to learn and do all of those things throughout that time was really, really meaningful and I loved it so much. So I spent a few years there. I loved it until the day. How big


Was the team, HR team at Superloop when you joined?


Tiny. So we only had a team of three. When I left Superloop, we were at about 450 people, still only a team, three or four. So we were running pretty tight. A lot of our growth was through acquisition. We acquired a couple of bigger companies and it was a really great experience. The thing that got me to leave Superloop was a unique proposition. So invited to interview at Go one and another really great tech startup but also something that I use as the customer. I get to be the customer of Go one and that’s a really rare opportunity to be able to input to the product. I love Telco, I really enjoyed what we did, but I couldn’t make the product really any better. That wasn’t a role that I could play, whereas at Go one I get to do that as well as lead the People team. So that’s what made it a really easy transition for


Me. Awesome. Do you want to get maybe if just the audience a little overview of Go one, which is what you’re doing now as to what they do and we’ll go from there.


So at Go one we aggregate learning content. So if you think about a business like your own, you might have subscriptions to a whole bunch of different learning providers to meet your needs. Or if you think about a hospital, you’ve got a nurse who has to learn a whole bunch about manual handling of patients, administering medication, a whole bunch of other things. Then you’ve got an accountant in the same hospital who needs to know how to use Excel and any sort of financial standards and whatnot. So you think about those two different roles in one business and the content needs for learning are so different. And so typically someone like Go One, you would have an enterprise subscription for all of the Excel learning and have an enterprise subscription for all of the medical stuff and you’d have a lot of enterprise subscriptions that everyone has access to but doesn’t need. So what we do is we aggregate all of those content providers into one licence that we then pass on to our customers. And so we do that either through, they’ve got an LMS or HRIS that they serve the content up through or we provide our platform to them.


Were you doing at your previous roles like learning capability


Learning has never been my key area of focus. It’s always a thing you have to do in hr, absolutely. But it’s never been my highest priority. And moving into Go one, it’s obviously shifting to that right now and has been lovely.


Yeah. So go one before we move on from that. They pretty, one of the biggest, if not the biggest book Brisbane success stories in terms of size and platform and we’ve got international now how biggest go one?


So we’re just shy of 600 people. Again, a lot of inorganic growth. So when I started it was about 2 70, 2 80 I think when I was interviewing, when I actually set foot in the door, we had 150 open requisitions to grow the team even more. And I thought, oh my goodness, I, I’ve signed up for a TA role, not a per CPO role. And since that time we’ve acquired a bunch of businesses. So we acquired a big business in Germany by the name of Blinkist who provides short form book summaries through an app, which is really cool. And a whole bunch of other businesses have been acquired as well. So we’ve grown inorganically to that 600 person mark, which is a good size, but it’s also really complex. We’ve got people in 26 countries, which is lovely, but it’s hard. It’s really, really complex to try and work through all of the different needs.


Probably merging those other teams into your team and way of doing things as well would’ve been a bit of a challenge. It’s


Quite the challenge. Yeah.


How’s Go one grown so much? They have a really unique position in the market or


Yeah, we’ve got a unique position in that the product that we have provided is unique to us. So you think about someone like LinkedIn learning is a good comparison to us and it’s certainly a strong competitor. They create all of their own content. So at some point they are going to be limited in how much they can provide because they are creating everything. We don’t create anything we aggregate. So we bring content partners together and serve it all up as one licence. So we’ve got a little bit more scale opportunity there. In terms of how we’ve grown though, we’ve got both a direct channel and a partner channel and that’s been really key to us. So if you think about all of the big HRS and LMSs that are out there in the world, they’ll acquire customers, those customers will want a content solution for the LMS and they will connect us and then we’ll provide the content solution to them.


Yeah, cool. I’ve got lots of ways I could take this one, but Nija, did you want to kick off and steer us in the direction then we’ll go from there.


Absolutely. Ash look, the success of an organisation always comes down to its people and you’ve been I think instrumental even though you won’t admit it to some of the best companies in Queensland. So look at Wotif and working under Graham Superloop in Bevin and obviously the four founders now with Go one, what are the common trends that you’ve seen with these entrepreneurs that have actually, you’ve created the team and you’ve worked with them, but is there a common thread that you see time and time again that sets apart the great companies from the good companies?


I think being in a founder led business, that person or persons, they’re very, very endlessly passionate about the product and there is no compromising on that front. So I think the way that they see the world and the actions and everything that we do is very different to someone who is A CEO that’s brought to lead a business. And so the way that they think about people and what contribution they can make to the team is very different as well. I’ve found in every one of those businesses they’ve been more inclined to hire for team contribution and team fit as opposed to looking at all of the formal qualifications they’ve got and all of the excellent businesses they’ve worked for. I think those founder led businesses are really willing to understand the person first and think what can they do in the business and also be open to, they’ll come in doing this role and they’ll probably change roles three or four times in the next year and that’s okay. So they’re not as fixed and mindset in terms of what the role will be and what contribution the person will make throughout that journey.


And on the flip side of that, why Queensland? Why Brisbane in particular? Why do you think we attract so much great talent and great startups and great businesses that end up becoming some of the best in the world? Have you


Seen the weather outside? It’s


Very nice my way here.


No, look, I think we still have a lot to do. I think there’s still a lot of space in our market to have more. Why Queensland? I think it’s becoming a more appealing place to live and whilst we can move to a very remote way of working and people can be more distributed, there’s still something about having people together in at least the same region, ideally the same time zone. And I think this is a really nice place to live and Covid did us some favours on that front, maybe not to our property prices. It is getting pretty crazy, but I think it is a nice place for people to gather and come together when I think globally Australia’s still really hard to function from. If you think about having to work with someone in the US or in emir, it is still a really, really tough place. Both from a time zone point of view, but also needing to travel and be with them face to face. It’s a big commit, right? To go to those places. So we need to leverage technology to break down those barriers and bring us closer to the rest of the world. Yeah,


Excellent. You mentioned that entrepreneurs that you’ve worked with, which no doubt they’d be throwing curve balls at you all the time, but you’re trying to get some HR structure, no doubt and capability and organisational development, that kind of stuff. How did you deal with that when you had your entrepreneurs coming in and be like, Nope, this person’s going over here now and so on.


I think the answer needs to be yes and how can we make it work? Saying no to an entrepreneur is not wise, it doesn’t work so well. So I think ultimately we’ve got to work out how we can make it work, but also there’s a reason you’ve been brought into this role, it’s to provide them advice and knowledge that they may not otherwise have. So if it’s moving someone into another role, great, give them that great opportunity, let’s just make sure there’s nothing unlawful or anything else going on in the background that they might not be thinking of. But for the most part they’re trying to create great opportunities for people and I’m all there for it, so it’s fine.


So tech entrepreneurs generally pretty crazy. Have you got any stories from working with say Bevin or one of the four founders of Go one? Interesting, you want to share anything like that?


I’m sure Ash has lots of stories but not a lot that you can share.


They can be shared.


Do you know when I first started at Wotif, and this is not in a HR capacity, as I said, I was working in the call centre and we were taking calls from customers all the time and we had the daughter of one of our founders who was incredible working in the call centre and there were all these processes that we had in place like if this happens, you do this and if that happens you do that. And she didn’t follow a single one, she just didn’t. Didn’t sort of carefree even reading them, but you know what, she got an incredible solution every time and we’d have a really curly situation where a customer would call and say the hotel’s closed and it’s 11:00 PM and I can’t check in and what do I do? And we’d have to work it out. And every time she tackled the most complex without any regard for what we would normally do, she nailed it. And so I think someone who has been that close to the business and knows so intimately is going to have the best solutions and it might not seem the most pragmatical logical solution when you’re writing it on a piece of paper, but you’ve got to back them and learn from that. And I think she did a beautiful job of that.


Awesome. I want to unpack a little bit around over the years you’ve probably interviewed a lot of people and then hired a lot of people to build teams effectively at some big brands in Queensland. What are some of the best interview questions you’ve asked to find superstars?


Do you know? I don’t go into an interview with a page full of questions. I’m pretty atypical on that front and my TA team probably don’t appreciate that, but I’m always one to get the other person talking, just tell me about you, let’s see where the conversation goes. And I think the best measure for me of whether a candidate is a good fit for us is what questions do you ask? What research have you done? How much do you know about the business? And that’s going to drive the questions you’re going to ask of us. If someone throughout an interview has nothing to ask, they’re probably not the right person to come and work with us. If someone’s got heaps of questions and they’ve shown they’ve really done a lot of research and they want to know more and they’re thinking about things a little bit differently, that’s the person we want to work with. So that’s usually my guide, but it’s probably not the right thing to do.


No, that definitely makes sense. Yeah, especially you want someone who’s curious and done a bit of prep and homework and stuff before they come in. So that makes a bit of sense. I wanted to unpack interviewing salespeople that usually come in polished and sometimes promise the world, sometimes deliver, sometimes don’t, but it is quite a hard thing to be honest, to get anyone who comes in trying to cut through their polished first little half an hour impression versus what they actually can deliver. But probably even more so with salespeople to be honest. Have you got any tips and tricks for that kind of process?


Don’t compromise, keep going. So we’ve just been recruiting for enterprise sales reps at the moment actually in the us but a sales rep is very similar across any regions and for us to get to one offer recently we had 22 that got to present back. So that’s stage one, stage two present back, 22 people got to that point and we made one offer. And so you think, gosh, what are you doing? How is it that it takes that long to get to that point? But I think you’ve really got to put people through the motions and really help them understand this is what you’d need to do, show us what you do, help us understand how you would operate in our environment. And I think for us it’s particularly important because we’re still building and for so long we’ve prioritised growth over operationalizing our world.


It means our systems aren’t polished, our processes aren’t quite there. So you’ve got to be willing to come in and be okay with that and not just be okay, but be the person that says, I can really thrive in that environment. So the only way you can test that is to really give them that practical experience. So we will give them a business case and say present back, tell us how you’d run this. And by the way, you only get a customer’s ears for say 20 or 25 minutes. So you’ve got 25 minutes to run that call.


Yeah, I definitely agree with that. Kind of practical, I dunno if you remember this. No, we had a business development representative, which I actually put a part in a few process to cold call our CEO Brad who’s been there before. Love it. And that worked quite well to be honest. What do you think is your ideal interview process? So how many interviews should you do? Is it a first round little call and then a face-to-face or a video? And then what’s an ideal?


So we can’t rely on face-to-face at all because for the most part we’re not interviewing where our people will be based. So we’re online always in terms of ideal. It’s not 8, 9, 10 stages. That’s just wild. And I think if you can’t make a decision on someone by that point, you probably need to re-look at the hiring team. So we would go to a max of three stages, but that’s a large process for us. I think if you can get to one or two stages, not one, two stages would be I think a good outcome. But also being led by the candidate as well, they’re interviewing us. It’s not us ticking all the boxes and saying, yes, you make the cut or you don’t. We need to make sure that they’ve got all the information that they need and they’ve met all the people that they need.


So we will typically have that two stage process, but then say to them, who else do you want to talk to? What do you want to understand? And put them in contact with people on that front. And I think think back to my interview process with Go one, I think I had two interviews plus to present back with our CEOs and I probably had seven or eight other conversations with people. Certainly they were testing me, but I was also finding out more about Go one and the team that I’d be joining as well. And that was super important for me to understand what I’m signing up for.


Yeah, good advice. So what do you think is the key to your success in terms of building teams over the past decade or so? Obviously you’ve done that really successfully. What do you think has been your key skillset over that time? When


You’re building teams, you’ve got to be reliant on the functional leaders. They’re the ones that are making the decisions and building the teams. We’re there to enable them to do that. So we will be an ear to talk to and to challenge and to think through things a little bit differently. But ultimately if you’ve got good leaders, they’ll build good teams. And so you’ve really got to invest and make sure your leaders are top notch so that they can spot good talent and also attract it. As soon as you’ve got an experienced leader and they come in and they have five or six people follow them in as well, that’s a really great outcome. So I think investing and making sure you’ve got great leaders will inevitably help you to build great teams. What’s


Your thoughts on, it might be a little bit controversial, but I guess whether you would build a talent team internally or go through a recruitment agency and just outsource the whole thing, we outsource here, especially with some referrals and people to know people and so on, but mostly outsource from a recruitment perspective. What are your thoughts on that? Should you outsource or internalise and what point would you go, no, we’re going to internalise this,


I can get in trouble here.


I think both have a role to play. Absolutely. I think it depends on the volume, firstly of recruitment that you’re doing. If it’s one role here and there, there’s no need for you to have a TA person internally. If you’ve got a really solid sort of pipeline of work that’s coming through, then yeah, you really want to have that person or persons helping you. What I think is important in the way that we recruit and the role that our TA team plays is that they are helping us to build our culture from the inside out. And no one knows the business better than someone who works inside it always. So you can have a recruiter who can do an incredible job of finding the right talent and telling you who the best people available are, but they don’t work inside your business. And so they don’t have that additional measure of is this person going to be excellent forgo one or for another company? And that’s not something that you can replicate between the two models. So I think that’s absolutely a benefit for us. And then when you think about how we build our employer value proposition and really market ourselves as an employer, there’s no one better place to do that than someone who’s doing it every single day always.


So you could outsource the first part, right? Finding candidates and then have your team through that middle process? You


Could. It’s pretty expensive. Yeah,


Okay. Yeah,


Right. It doesn’t take too many placements to have it commercially stack up that you’d have a team internally. And it’s not to say that you can just replace an external recruiter and have the team internally. Sometimes we will need to use externals as well. We’re not wholly and solely run internally, but a lot of that work comes at the tail end. Now for us, we’re a B2B brand, so we are not well known by consumers. So that does make it a little bit more challenging. That means we’ve got to work really hard. We can’t just put an ad up and have thousands of people say, I know go one. I can apply for that. That’s fine. We’ve really got to reach out and help people understand why and and all of those things. And again, that can’t be better done than by someone who works with and for us every single day. If you have a recruiter who’s doing that, that is going to be more difficult for them because they’re probably doing that for nine or 10 different companies at the same time, which is fine, that’s their job, but it means that they’re probably not going to craft the message as best as we can.


Okay, so you do an ROI on hiring another person for talent and acquisition team versus on how many roles you need versus outsourcing, internalising, yeah,


We’ll know how many roles we’ll forecast that roles for the next year based on what new head count we’re going to have, how much turnover we think we’re going to have, and then work out how much we need to support that movement. It’s never perfect. Of course you can’t be precise, but we’ve got a reasonable guide of where we need to land.


Do you have that rough idea on how many jobs you should be hiring before it justifies getting one full-time talent acquisition employee?


I think it’s more how often are you hiring? Okay. If you’ve got a solid stream of say three or four, always open vacancies, you’re probably there. Any recruiter can work on I think up to five or six unique roles and they can do a really good job of that. So if you’ve got the volume to be doing that and assume sort of a 30, 35 day turnaround from open to close, then you’ve got the volume to have a TA team. But I’d also say, and I say this from a personal point of view as well, when I started at Wotif, and I was building the HR team by myself, I didn’t have someone to turn to and shoot the breeze with and bounce ideas off. And so if you bring in one TA person, it’s a pretty lonely world for them. So I think having a team around you is a really good spot to be in any role. So you’d also consider that and what the threshold there might be is obviously a little bit higher. Yeah, good


Advice. What’s your thoughts on getting a HR generalist to do talent acquisition as well?


Oh absolutely. In smaller business, you absolutely can. Yeah. And I think it’s a really great place to start, right, because it just gives that generalist end-to-end oversight and helps them understand, hey, the decisions we make on the TA side really impact us later on. So it’s really important to get that right for the benefits or otherwise that we see later on. So absolutely HR generalists can do that. Once you get to the volume though, you would then have dedicated people in those roles? Absolutely.


Yeah. Okay. I was just curious. I think HR has really evolved to a pretty mature point now, but there’s still a lot of small businesses who kind of go, no one, two HR generalist and then they’re doing capability people. The acquisition piece and just HR conversations and a lot of things at once can be a little bit tricky. It’s


Full, but I think HR is always full as well. We exist to build relationships with people and make sure they’re really solid relationships and get the best out of everyone’s experience. So while our checklist of things might be done, there’s always that opportunity to keep building those relationships and making them better. So I think that’s what HR people are used to doing. I think certainly smaller businesses tend to wait a little bit too late to bring HR in and then there’s a bit of catch up work to be done. And I just think, gosh, it’d be so amazing if you could make really great decisions from the get get-go have that insight to build out your tech stack well and build out your processes and your policies really well so that you didn’t have to go back in time and fix it all up. But I also understand commercially it doesn’t make sense sometimes. So getting that person in though and having a journalist is a good way to start.


Let’s put it a little bit to more the culture site. You’re in charge of culture as well, go one. What do you think is some of the, maybe let’s start with what have you done culture wise in your career that’s worked really well? Obviously you’ve built teams and part of that is you touched on building a really good culture in those environments and having good managers in places, but what have you done in your past and then what are some tips and tricks around building a good culture environment? It’s


Really hard. It really is. And particularly if you don’t have everyone in the same place, I think that’s something that played really well for us at Wotif most of our people were in the same place and remote working wasn’t a thing and working from home wasn’t a thing. I think we had to flex it in 2011 when the floods came through, we all of a sudden had to work out how to do this work from home thing, but before that we didn’t. And so when you’ve got everyone around you, it’s really easy to build that culture. Having said that, if you’ve got some not great parts of the team, they can be damaging as well pretty quickly, especially when you’re together. So it is hard. I think you’ve got to be really intentional about it. And I think for us at Go one, we’ve got a lovely culture, but we’ve got a culture that got us to where we are right now and we know that’s not the culture that’s going to get us to where we need to be to grow us to be a much, much larger business.


So we’ve actually done a lot of really intentional work lately on changing that culture and just being really clear with people, this is the expectations that you have. And I think what we found is when we make changes to the business, and especially in a startup, when you see someone who’s been there for a long time who is no longer a part of the team, people don’t understand why, they don’t understand what is the measure of success here, what makes someone succeed and be an ongoing part of the team and how do I do that? So we have to be really clear in terms of this is what we expect of you, not just in terms of this is your quota or a bug count or whatever else, but this is what we expect of you in terms of how you behave, how you show up for us with us every single day is super important to us. And if you’re not able to do that, that’s okay. It might not be that go one is the place for you.


What methods have you done to communicate that? I think you said the term like citizen agreement kind of thing. Do you recommend those kinds of things to employees to do? We


Did what everyone did. We threw our values in the bin and we created some new ones, but we actually shifted instead of thinking about values, which can be not as transparent, not as easy to articulate and see and show up in a person, we move to a set of behaviours which are a lot more transparent and really clear and help people to understand, I see what you’re doing and I see how that’s in alignment with our behaviours and I get it. So really helping people to call out when things look good and when they don’t and helping people to understand when they’re behaving in accordance with our expectations as well. So we’ve just gone through a really big process of that. It’s still ongoing, it’ll take a long time, but I think really clearly articulating this is what it looks like and this is what it doesn’t look like is really important for people to really understand how best to shop at work.


What advice would you have for dealing with one negative culture employee? Or have you ever had over many years, like an employee who delivers well but is just bad on culture? What advice would you have to try and remediate that situation?


Make the call early, give them an opportunity to succeed. Let them know what is expected of them and why their behaviours don’t align with what your expectations are. And if they can’t get there, make the call. It can be incredibly damaging to have someone in the environment who doesn’t work in the same way as others or who doesn’t work in a way that brings out the best in other people. So you need to make that call super early and in a lot of countries if you don’t, it’s really hard to make it later on. So you’ve got to stay tight to that really closely. And at the end of the day, culture contribution is so much more important than the revenue. They bring in all the lines of code that they can write.


How do you juggle all of the HR legal side for all these different countries? That must be chaotic. I’d imagine


It is pretty chaotic. Yeah, we’ve got primary countries that we’re in, so we’ve got about six, seven of those that we really dig deep and know where we stand and what the requirements are, and then every else we need to do it as required. I’ve got a team that look after that, so our people experience team are spread across a bunch of those countries. So I rely on them to be experts and to have that knowledge, but also if they don’t know the answer, it’s fine. We can get external advice, we can get people to help us on that front, and it’s really important that people know that I don’t want them providing advice and not being confident in doing that and us acting on that and ending up in trouble later. So we’ve also got advisors that we can use to help us


If we need to. Yeah, it must get tricky though.


It’s fun.


On the capability side, have you got maybe a success story on someone that you maybe brought in or across bringing in and developing through a company?


Yeah, I do. So someone approached me at Superloop I think very early on, I think we’re doing a morning tea in the kitchen, and she came up to me and she said, I’m in sales, but I don’t want to be in hr. I’m like, oh, okay, what’s your name? Had a good conversation and an opportunity came up for her to take a role, an entry level role in HR for me at Superlo. She did a great job. That was probably four years ago. She now leads that people experience function that I was just talking about. She’s spending six months in Berlin right now bringing that team together and is incredible at what she does. And so she has been able to transition from sales into HR in the most extraordinary way because she has a passion for what she’s doing. She’s smart, she knows what she’s doing and she’s been able to put that together and yeah, she’s amazing. Yeah. Awesome.


Yeah. What advice would you have for how to develop someone internally through the organisation? Like that example you just


Mentioned? So I think you’ve got to know what they’re capable of. Yeah, there’s no point putting someone in an aspirational role if they’re not capable of delivering to that. It sets them up for failure and it sets you up for failure as well. It’s not fair on anyone. So really getting a good read on what are they capable of, setting the guardrails, making sure they understand what’s the scope within which they operate and then letting them go and always being there to say, if you are unsure, don’t make the call. Let’s have a talk and then make the call. And so I think just being there to support them along the way, but not telling them how to do everything or doing it for them has been super, super helpful. And I think also, look, I’ve been lucky with this person in building a really strong relationship with her in that she can tell me when I’m driving her crazy and she’s comfortable in doing so and I can probably do the same. So I think that’s hard to do and that doesn’t come always, but I think making sure you understand capability and then building a great relationship to let them flourish is what has been successful in this instance. Anyway,


Nigel, any questions do you want to ask?


So you’ve had a lot of experience, Ash. If you were to share the lessons you’ve learned in your life with your children about applying for jobs tech, what would you share with them? Is tech a career to pursue? How do you get involved? What can you share with all of the people you’ve spoken to?


I think of course it’s a career to get involved with. I love it. And I sometimes think, oh gosh, what’s next? I can’t think of doing anything different. So absolutely I’d want them to do that. But I’d also say to them, work is a really big part of your life. And they see that. They see me working pretty hard and they realise that. So if you’re not enjoying it, stop, go and do something else. And it’s never too late to change. I worry that at least when I went through high school and into university, it felt like you were making a decision then for the rest of your life and there was no opportunity to do something different. And we know that’s not the case, and yet it can be a little bit scary and a little bit uncomfortable to go and do something different, but do that. We all spend so much time at work and if we’re unhappy, inevitably we’ll be unhappy in our personal lives as well. So you’ve got to prioritise that and the rest will follow.


Excellent, great advice. Thank you.


Cool. Conscious time. Think we’ve been for half an hour, but what are you working on next Ash at? What are some of the big initiatives you are working on or challenges you’re trying to solve?


What are we trying to solve? I think culture is always front and centre for us. Also learning. We are a learning company and we haven’t necessarily always had that front and centre for us and done an excellent job of that. So we’re really, I’d


Be surprised.


Well, we spend so much time trying to create a product for others to do it well. Doesn’t mean we always do do it.


Like the plumber with leaky taps. Correct.


Yeah. Yeah. So we’ve been focusing on that a lot and really thinking about not only how we can improve learning for us as a business, but then how can we help our customers do it better as well? They look to us for advice, so we need to be better placed to give them that advice. We’ve been doing some interesting stuff there and we’ll continue to do so. But I think when we think about learning and do you have learning and development opportunities for you in your job? So many people think of the formal, did I do that course I wanted to do? Could I go to that conference? And it, it’s about identifying every single opportunity there is for you to learn and for someone else to learn from you in everything you do every day. And that’s what we’re trying to bring out as best we can. So calling out moments where, hey, I messed up. I made this decision and it was the wrong one and this is what I’ve learned from it and this is what I’m going to do differently is an amazing opportunity. And we just need to encourage people to have the safety to do that and to really look for those opportunities to share, particularly learning by yourself. Sure, that’s great, but sharing with another is just so impactful and we are really trying hard to bring that out in our team.


What forums are you using to share?


Varied. So we actually just did a day of learning. So we’ve introduced learning days for everyone. So we do a number throughout the year and we did our first last month. And so that was one day. And so for the first half of the day we did programme learning. So we did go 1 1 0 1. We’ve acquired so many people and a lot of them don’t necessarily understand our business model very well. And a lot of people that came in direct to Go one don’t understand our business model very well because we don’t. It’s one of those details that we may rush over and then we don’t come back and do it well. So we brought everyone on the journey and went through, this is our commercial model, here’s how we work with partners, this is what the product is in and out. And we actually ran the whole session on our product, including having an outage at the start of one of our first sessions because we had an issue that had to be sorted.


So it was a true experience. So we went through that. We put a huge amount of effort into the production of that material because we’re now going to use that for all of our onboarding. Great. And then for the second half of the day, we said Right over to you, you learn what you want to do. So we had people doing courses on ai. I had someone in my TA team doing a course on sales commissions so that she could speak better to salespeople when they were coming in and help them understand our world better. So we had everyone choose whatever they wanted to do. Now at Go one, we have a learning wallet that is assigned to everyone. So it’s a product that we are working on at the moment. And so everyone has access to a budget and they can spend that on anything they want to spend it on as long as it somehow relates to learning. And so we had heaps of people buying all sorts of courses or books or whatever else and spending their day learning. And then we said Share it back. And of course the incentive for people to share it back at a tech company is hoodies. And we gave away plenty of hoodies. So it


Comes out of their learning wallet. Yeah,


Well the hoodie doesn’t, we funded that. But what they did for the learning yet, for some of them, they funded it out of their learning wallet. Some things didn’t need funding. There’s so much free stuff out there that you can learn. And so we really encourage people to tell us what they were doing and what they learned from it and how they were going to apply that. And then hoodie galore. So it was really cool and it was an amazing day and we’ve now kind of set the bar and we’re working out what we’re doing for the next day. I think for us, putting a spotlight on learning, actively saying to everyone, take the time to learn. Often what people will say, right, I didn’t have time to do that. My day’s already full. I just don’t have the capacity. So when we say as a business, we’re stopping and we’re learning for a day, it’s a lot easier for people to find that time. But I think taking the opportunity also to provide that programmed content is super, super helpful.


Yeah, it is quite hard to find time for learning stuff. I don’t know about you nij, but in here there’s just so much to do and it’s pulling a day out for learning would be very


Hard, mate. The day you stop learning is the day you die. That’s my philosophy


For as long


And it feels so intimidating to say, how on earth can I pull a day out to do this? We did it. It was okay, we got through it,


We’re still


Here. Everyone found a way and probably people are doing their job better now for it. We had so many people playing with ai, everything with a focus on how can I do my job better because of this little piece of technology, little piece of technology. And there were some amazing outcomes from that. So the time is worth it.


Great. Great sharing that story.


Yeah. Alright. Thanks Ashleigh. Better wrap up con a little bit of time. Thanks for coming in. You’ve shared some good insights around the whole HR function to be honest with you. It was good to hear your background and how you progressed as well and appreciate your time. Thank


You. I like to say Ash, look, you’re very understated, but you don’t appreciate how integral your influence has been building teams in such great organisations. So I’ve always been a Raven fan of all the work you’ve done. So thank you so much and thank you for coming in and sharing your story. I really appreciate


It. Thank you. I appreciate that. Good to talk to you.



Posted By
Nigel Heyn
Nigel Heyn
Founder & Executive Director
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Nigel Heyn is a passionate, business and technology centric entrepreneur. With a natural instinct drawn towards technology, Nigel, under the guidance of his father, successfully built his first desktop computer at the age of 8. This started a journey of research, innovation and technology exploration that continues today. Nigel has successfully built several companies, all underpinned by the desire to leverage technology smarts in order to positively influence business models and realise stakeholder dreams. Leveraging a vast network of global contacts established over many years, Nigel thrives on learning what best practices exist in order to provide digital excellence for his clients'​ successes. In order to achieve true success, Nigel understands the importance of building a team of the best talent available and thus welcomes the opportunity for those sharing similar dreams to reach out and be a part of the vision. In the words of Walt Disney, “If you can dream it, you can do it”!
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