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This is a series of Transform speaker spotlights ahead of Transform Virtual on June 21, 2018.


Shahbaz at a Glance

Title: Senior Director, Head of Global HR Operations, HRIS and Analytics, Esterline Technologies

Cat or dog person? Dog

Favorite way to spend a Saturday? Hiking

Favorite Quote? “Vision without traction is hallucination.” – Gino Wickman

Define yourself in 5 words: Humbly confident, growth mindset, live in state of permanent beta, work life integration

Last book you read? Traction by Gino Wickman


Can you tell me a little about your background and how you got into HR Operations?

It’s been a long journey – I spent most of my career within different businesses at GE, mostly in HR, where I was able to introduce HR and talent acquisition technologies like video interviewing, SEO and CRM. One of the things I loved about working there was that it’s a global business, and if you do well you get promoted and given bigger business challenges to solve. While I was there, I got involved with talent acquisition, human resources, acquisitions and transformation. I’ve always been passionate about bringing technology, people and processes together to solve business problems.


What would you say the biggest challenge is for teams looking to become more data driven?

Data is a big priority for lots of talent acquisition teams these days. A couple of years ago, “big data” was the biggest buzzword in the industry. The problem I see in HR at many companies is that there are natural siloes in workstreams – talent acquisition does things one way, benefits another, and so on. So the challenge with data in HR becomes pulling it all together.

Keeping HR data organized is a major part of my role at Esterline. All HR data falls under my team, which means it’s all centralized. My team had to create a data warehouse that pulled from different systems used across HR to harmonize it all into a central system of record. This ensures that everyone in HR is on the same page with the most accurate, up-to-date data available. When each vertical is responsible for its own analytics, things get messy and fake news becomes norm.


Tell me more about your experience with Esterline.

Like many companies, Esterline is a global company that grows through acquisitions. When most global companies acquire other companies, they quickly assimilate and integrate culture, systems, processes – everything. Historically, that wasn’t the way Esterline grew. They would make these acquisitions but then operate similarly to a holding company. This enabled them to grow really fast, but when new leadership came in, they decided to change the model to one, unified Esterline Technologies company.

That change is how my role came about. Esterline’s CHRO began creating centers of excellence, which enabled us to harmonize the way things were done all over the world. The first area I sought to improve was performance reviews, which were done entirely differently from business to business. We created one, digitized process that was executed globally at the same time on the same scale. After improving performance reviews, we saw a domino effect. We kept going, and over time, we standardized other HR functions: pay structure, talent review and more.

This new focus really changed peoples’ minds and made them eager to move towards more centralized processes. They saw the value. By taking a process everyone uses and standardizing it, we fixed a lot of things. We got more reliable data, increased accuracy, and two and a half years later, we have centralized Esterline’s HR all around the world. My recipe is simple and is called 3S – Simplify everything, Standardize if possible and Systemize to reduce manual inefficiencies.


What is the most important thing to keep in mind when hiring people who fit?

Showcasing your culture in an open and honest way is critical to hiring top talent. So many times, I see talent acquisition professionals distracted by the latest new thing, whether it’s social recruiting or funny email subject lines or whatever it may be. These things can be an impactful part of your strategy if leveraged correctly, but they aren’t talent acquisition.

Talent acquisition is much more strategic, it’s about having the right people in the right seats. It shapes the culture of an organization, so the most important thing you can do is figure out how you define your culture. Once you’ve clarified your purpose and values, you can focus on finding the people who fit.


Is there a way to guarantee good hires?

You can do all kinds of things to predict whether or not someone will be a good fit, whether it’s data analysis or behavioral interviews, but it all comes down to basics in the end. If you do not have an awareness and an honest understanding of your culture, you will keep hiring the wrong people.

I’ve measured quality of hire at GE and we are working towards it at Esterline, and I consistently see lack of culture fit as a reason a hire is not successful. If you don’t consider culture in your recruiting efforts, you’re hurting your company and the person you hire who ends up leaving when they discover your real culture for themself.


What’s one piece of advice you want to share with recruitment marketers?

Don’t check your brains at the door. Don’t get too hung up on, “this is the latest and greatest.” Have your toolkit and strategically determine what you use for what. The best recruiters are those who understand that one size doesn’t fit all. Try things, be innovative, be disruptive. Live in a constant state of beta. If you are always a student with a growth mindset, you’re more likely to try new things and find success.

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