The Hyper Growth CHRO

Photo credit: iStockphoto/uzenzen

When Lisa McGill joined global SD-WAN player Silver Peak as its chief human resources officer, she had one mission: support hyper growth.

After raising USD 90 million from TCV in 2018, the company focused on growing fast. Its message of simplifying the WAN edge with a single device resonated — especially in today’s pandemic times where networks are under extreme stress.  

McGill joined on April 29, 2020, to make sure the company had the right talent pipeline to support its ambitions. 

“It is very important for us to focus on continuing to be as agile as possible on the people side because we are a market leader,” says McGill. 

Expanding the talent pipelines

Hailing from another fast grower, CrowdStrike, where she grew the company to 2,000 employees and completed a successful IPO, McGill understands hyper growth.  

“Generally speaking, hyper growth means high volumes of new hires as new opportunities are created in the organization. It creates a lot of development leadership opportunities and you need to continuously look at expanding the talent pool,” she says.

Expanding the talent pool was never easy in a tech market where good hires came at a premium — if you can find them. McGill’s mission is to go beyond the normal hiring routes and work with universities and explore their employees’ personal networks. 

McGill also believes it is equally important to focus on developing future leaders during fast growth. “You need the talent to help new and older [employees] to succeed, accomplish innovation and accelerate.”

COVID-19 creates an unusual situation. The associated disruptions add uncertainty to hiring pipelines that originate with universities. “But there is going to be a lot of talent to choose from already in the market,” observes McGill, pointing to the rising number of laid off tech employees. 

She believes fresh graduates will now compete with those who lost their jobs because of the pandemic, making it an employer’s market. “Those who have at least a year under their belts will become very attractive.” 

McGill is looking to recalibrate her hiring strategy by working closely with her HR business partners. “So it is going to be very interesting.”  

New job opportunities

One area where McGill is looking to shore up the talent pool is behavioral scientists. “I believe there is a growing need or has been for 5 years or so, around behavioral scientists. Especially when you are looking at all the AI in the recruitment process and overall talent assessment process,” she says. 

Companies like LinkedIn already have HR analytics experts “that are basically PHDs in behavioral science.” “I certainly look forward to growing my team with skills like that,” she adds. 

One gripe that employees often have with a fast-growing company is the loss of the original culture. So, how is McGill looking to keep her company’s culture intact while scaling? 

“The important thing is not to lose sight on the differentiators that make us successful,” which for Silver Peak is the focus on products and the customers. 

So, she is doubling down on her voice of the customer and the voice of employees. “They will be at the forefront of what we are doing and our fundamental guiding principle.” 

Optimizing hiring quality

McGill is paying close attention to the quality of hire. When you hire fast, there will always be “misalignment of the expectations and someone is mis-hired because there were no clear criteria.” It creates inefficiencies and impacts operating costs. 

So, she is using a combination of metrics based on her current ADP Workforce tool and high-touch surveys that involve employees, hiring managers and the recruitment team. 

In the future, McGill sees an HCM solution that is a “one-stop shop that offers a single source of truth that all business leaders can access and assess our talent,” addressing these needs. 

“But my personal preference is to maintain a balance. I like automation for nitty-gritty details. But I think there is always great value with a white glove high touch approach.”

Photo credit: iStockphoto/uzenzen