Recruiting Toolbox Leadership Panel – Part 2

As we get ready for the 2016 Recruiting Leadership Lab in a few days, I wanted to revisit the 2015 Recruiting Leadership Lab featured panel discussion from November 2015. This panel included senior Talent Acquisition leaders from GoDaddy, Informatica, and Netflix, who shared their insights about what it is like to lead talent acquisition in the real world today.

In Part 1, I shared highlights of the discussion around building and documenting a strategy, as well as keys to influencing executives and avoiding surprises. In this post, I’ll share some of the highlights of how these senior leaders told us they prioritize for their organizations as well as critical leadership lessons they’ve learned during their careers.

As a reminder, our panelists were:

  • Andrew Carges, Vice President of Global Talent Acquisition for GoDaddy
  • Brad Cook, Global Vice President Talent Acquisition at Informatica
  • Nellie Peshkov, Vice President of Talent Acquisition at Netflix
  • John Vlastelica, Managing Director of Recruiting Toolbox and host of the panel


John: How do you prioritize what needs to be accomplished and keep your organization on track?


I always build a list of 100 things that we in Talent Acquisition should do for the business. We’ve started to adopt more of the agile philosophy and we prioritize the list in an agile way. When I get a request from the business, I pull up the list and ask if this request is more important than the 3 things we have planned to do this week. If it isn’t, then we look at when we can realistically work that request into the list.

I don’t say no to our executives. When we get asked to do something, I recommend the 5 things that we need in order to do it effectively and I attach clear numbers to it (resources, dollars, etc.). The business has to decide what they’re going to fund and I’ve found they’ll pull back on big ticket items themselves if they don’t think it is worth the time, energy, and cost.


We have our roadmap, which I stick to religiously and use as my guide. What is on the roadmap are our “big rocks” - big picture initiatives – things like a new applicant tracking system, branding, and our global scope. Business leaders and I have all agreed that everything else the business wants is not as important as these big initiative priorities, unless they tell me that the business is going to suffer or die without it.

I continually communicate these “big rock” items to the business and they always know the status of those key projects. With this approach, I find they rarely ask for anything that would be a surprise because they know exactly what we’re doing and what’s keeping our plates full. The business leaders and I stay aligned and engaged all the time.

Brad sees his role as key to helping his team prioritize effectively:

To prioritize well, you have to realize that each role on the team has a different time horizon that they are focused on, just by the nature of their work. A recruiter’s horizon is around 30 days – they’re focused on closing reqs, talking to candidates, and making things happen within that timeframe.

A recruiting manager’s horizon is more like 60-90 days, so they are looking ahead of the recruiters, but are still very focused on the near term.

A recruiting director’s timeframe needs to be more like 90-180 days. They need to be planning ahead of the recruiting managers and making sure that they are aligned with the business for that window of time.

As the leader, my horizon has to be more like 180-365 days. I need to have a plan for the longer term and be sure that my directors, managers, and recruiters all know where what to do in their own horizons. Even if someone wants to look past these times, they are naturally going to go back to that horizon to get their work done. Part of the challenge for me is helping everyone to be focused on their own horizons so as an organization we are constantly planning for the long term and delivering results in the short term.

Lessons Learned

John: As you look at your career, is there a lesson you learned the hard way that you could share with us and help other leaders avoid?


The mistake I made early on as a leader was spending too much time on operations. I was the Ops queen. What I should have been doing was spending that time with the business and establishing relationships with them.

What I spend 90% of my time on now is directly with the business. Our recruiters all meet with hiring managers and do a great job. As a leader, I don’t want to duplicate those meetings, I need to have my own conversations with the business leaders and hiring managers focused on bigger initiatives. It is critical that I as a leader have relationships established with the business and we know each other. This is critical to every leader’s success.


Before Informatica, I was at a Center of Excellence. We measured a bunch of stuff, but I missed out on a bigger perspective because I hadn’t run the whole thing before. When I did start to lead the entire organization, I burned a lot of people out because I tried to fix everything at once and that was horrible. What I learned out of that was how to go deep in one thing and drip feed some other things so my team could pace themselves and focus on the most important priority. You have to live in the here and now, but you still have to move the ball forward and pace everyone too.


There has to be a clear leadership vision about talent, and that needs to come from the CEO. I’ve been lucky that in every corporate leadership role I’ve had, I met with the CEO and talked about their vision and priorities both before I was hired and regularly once on board.

I would like to thank these amazing leaders for sharing their perspectives with our attendees. I hope you find it helpful in your own work and encourage you to learn more about our Recruiting Leadership Lab if you’d like to attend or have other recruiting leaders in your organization attend.
If you have other challenges that you’re trying to solve, has a variety of free resources for you as well as more information about how we help our clients recruit better.

Written by Matt Grove, Principal Consultant, Recruiting Toolbox