Div Manickam

Portfolio Marketing Leader | ex-Dell

Strategy reimagined. experience sans limits

21 Minutes

In her presentation, Div Manickam addresses how she scaled the process of hiring talent. She sets the rules for a great hiring experience for both, the candidate and the business, and how this process involves a hiring process, as well as a great onboarding experience and a clear career growth path. Div also shares the importance of getting to know the candidate's values and beliefs, and not just their skill sets as the cultural fit will ultimately affect the product/service, and therefore the final customer

More about
Div Manickam

Div Manickam is passionate to empower a mindful team and foster a vulnerable culture where everyone feels their voice is heard and can truly be themselves in a safe environment. 


She has led product marketing efforts in startups and Fortune 500 technology companies. 

Div was recognized as one of the top 50 Product Marketing Influencers in 2019 and 2020 and Positioning Maestro of the Year 2020 by Product Marketing Alliance for redefining standards, helping shape the evolution of PMM, and elevating awareness among the C-suite.


Div enjoys sharing her experiences on leadership and product marketing on Medium



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Video Transcript

Let's talk about strategy today.
Strategy reimagine experience sans limits. Especially as you're thinking through what the year has been. What we have gone through. We live in a world where rules and policies define who we are, what we do, what we cannot do. Now imagine a world where there are no boundaries.
We could be true to ourselves and trust everyone to be understanding and empathetic. What would strategy look like in those scenarios? Our daily experiences, that shaped boundaries. So let's talk about a few examples and I'll give you one example that I have gone through in the past couple of months around candidate experience.
So let's dive in and join me for a ride of a lifetime. And we can together reimagine our experiences and how we engage with our audience. So let's go right in. But before we start a little bit about me, I have three values inspire, influence, and the impact that holds me true to who I am and how I work, how I function on a day-to-day basis.
There are a few topics that are top of mind for me, mindfulness, essentialism, diversity, and belonging. And around, you'll see things that are associated with organizations that I'm part of and my love for travel and food and some of the books that I highly recommend. So let's talk about the values and beliefs because I think that grounds any strategy, any executive leadership team.

For me, it's threefold inspire, influence and impact. The first one around inspire is about trust and credibility. We trust and respect each other irrespective of level. The second is about. It's all about extreme ownership. We own what we do, the good, the bad and the ugly, and we're accountable to each other.
The third is about impact. This is about the results and relationships. And here we strive for team recognition, not individual recognition and we win or lose together. And this is all these three things coming together, help you as an organization, as a team to set the values and beliefs that will help you make the decisions that you need at those difficult times and make sure that you can sleep at night after you make those choices.

So there's one more principle that I hold very near and dear to my heart, which is about simplicity. Right? Making sure that what we work on, how we work on, if anybody can explain it to anybody else, then that's awesome. That means our strategy is simple enough and it's easy for everyone to feel like they're a part of it and feel like they own it themselves.

So I'll walk you today through an example of a strategy of how things have gone over the past five years when I think about candidate experience, how I have combined that into three components. So hiring and interview onboarding and career growth, because the reality is, think about it. When you are bringing on new team members, it's not just about bringing folks on so that they can do the job today.

It's about bringing folks that can adapt and change into the strategy and the decisions that you will make six months, nine months down the line, and you don't have a crystal ball today to predict them. So let's talk a little bit about those.

I'm going to share some learning, some mistakes things that over the past five years that I have crafted to make sure that I'm thinking about the candidate experience end to end.
So let's talk about that end to end experience. Let's talk about what worked, what didn't work. Let's talk about the future of work, how strategies today are more nimble, more adaptive than we ever have seen in the past. And when I think about a candidate experience, you can easily extrapolate it to a customer experience.

Anything that ties into an end to end scenario. So the first and foremost, which probably was my biggest learning was hiring and interviewing at first about four years ago, I thought, great. I'm the manager. As long as I interview how one senior team member interviews, and my manager interviews, and we all give a thumbs up, that's all that I need.
But then I quickly learned that that strategy was good probably for the first one, but as you're building a scalable team, it's not as intuitive or simple enough. So I started working through the process, understanding what the hiring process needs to look like, how to think of it and shared some of my best practices.

First and foremost is your prescreening. Your HR interview recruiter should be hand in hand with everything that you're doing. So I had a weekly check-in with them once we did the pre-screen and we were like, okay, these are a few good candidates we want to talk to, then I would have one of my product marketing folks actually interviewed them or the product management folks interviewed them. And that gave a good sense of, can they do the job that's necessary and do they have the skills to do it. Then they will come to talk to me if they clear that from, and this is where I looked at it and said, I want to make sure I'm bringing the right folks and that they have similar values and beliefs.

So what I showed you before in the previous slides of inspire, influence, and impact, that's something that I share with every candidate. And then it gives me a good pulse of does it resonate with them? Do they have examples that they can share and actually open up? And then the other thing that I also do is a picture portrait introduction.

So I give them an opportunity to get to know me what you saw on the first slide, and then have a chance to get to know them because that's important because, at the end of the day, we are all about building relationships. No strategy is successful. If we don't have those relationships built from the ground up.

And then if we clear that ground then we go into a panel presentation because this is where I bring the extended team because it's not just about me, my manager and the one senior PMM. It's about bringing everybody together. So making sure that folks that this individual is working with from day one from week one, can go anywhere from five people to seven people, and this is intended so that everybody has a voice in the decision-making process and that we are not hiring somebody that not asking the right questions.
So this brings diverse perspectives coming in and it has always worked well very well for me. So once that is done and we know this candidate is a rockstar, we move it to the executive alignment. This is where your leader would actually interview them.

And once that's done, we get a full thumbs up. All clear great. We extend an offer and we take the next steps from there. For all of these processes, one thing that I've learned is hiring an interview is not just one team's responsibility. It's about making sure we're bringing the right folks in for the organization, because the reality is, the next step, as you think about onboarding, how are you bringing them on board?

Are you helping them guide through what their week one should look like? Are you talking to them about the values, your objectives and what key results are as a team? What are some of the interlocks, the processes that exist?

Where can they find information? How do you kind of distil all of that information? And then I also add a little bit about mindfulness and Friday pulse, and I'll talk about that in a few seconds. But the idea was to give them something so that on day one, they knew what they were getting into for the first week.

And then also making sure that you are onboarding and giving your best because you want that seamless candidate experience. It shouldn't feel like, Hey, my interview process, everything was great. And then on day one, I don't know where I ended up. Right. And then the third piece is probably the one that is very near and dear to me because it's all about career growth.

We have performance evaluation processes, things that are there as part of systems and processes. But when you think about career growth, if you're having those conversations on that year-end performance review. Then it's already too late. This is where, when the first year I had my opportunity to do performance evaluations, I knew something wasn't right.
And so I put together a framework to bring GROW, which is goal reality options and what's next and personal OKR together. Now bringing these two methodologies helped me answer too. When somebody joins the team, what does their career path look like? So I put together a process of career journey for product marketing or product management.
And then I also tried to help them with having quarterly checkpoints or monthly checkpoints to say, what is it that you want to achieve in your career? And how can I help you get there? Okay. That opens up a different conversation for me. That was the first time I actually told my manager in my previous company that I would like to do some speaking opportunities within Boomi.

And the opportunity came when we were working on the product keynote. And my leader said, Hey, do you want to do that part of the presentation with me? And it opened up doors with opportunities across, and it also helped me build my own confidence. So that's where I think about career growth. Ask those questions, where do they want to be?
What are some things that we typically don't talk about? And I always go to this Ted talk whenever I need that little boost of motivation because it gives me the next step from there. And then the third piece is around making sure that everyone's career is where they need to be. Because trust me, when somebody joins your team probably a year or two years down the line, they are looking for what's next for them.

And you want to be there to help them get to their next career path. Even if that means it may not be within your own team. So let me share some of our success metrics because we had three. The first was we had an opportunity, a challenge, if you will, in two months, two and a half, three months, we had to hire about five roles.
And we thought, well, that's a lot to take in, but as a team because we had a process, we knew exactly what we were doing. We had as well or a machine. And that. The initial strategy of this is how we're going to approach it. How does work through the mechanics and the execution flawlessly? We also had three people on board in June and you have to actually onboarding in July.

And that gives us all the confidence to say yes. Now some of our team members are part of the GROW and personal OKR process. It helps us have those conversations outside of our one-on-one. Why am I talking about the candidate experience? When it's all about strategy it's because of the future of work people today are not here just to do the job that they're in.

They're here to shape their career. They're here to make sure that they are working towards what's next. Making sure we know what are the right ingredients to build that strategy and making sure that we're taking care of our employees are all critical. So I'm going to talk about two things, which I think are very caramel.

The fourth is about mindfulness because as individuals and everybody knows this, if you have a happy employee, then you have a happy customer. And I came across mindfulness about a year and a half ago. And it came at a time when I needed it the most. And this is where I always leveraged Sharon's quote, mindfulness is difficult.

It's just that we need to remember to do it. So what have you asked the question? What's our company wellbeing. What are our employee goals and where do we benchmark ourselves? So why is it work actually does a phenomenal job of helping you answer those questions collectively as a team, as a company, and making sure that you are measuring towards those wellbeing indexes, whether it's about calm and balance, focusing productivity, connection, and teamwork, because that's all central to who we are?

The second aspect that I came across was Friday Pulse, the same concept, happy employee calls. We're happy customer Friday Pulse actually has a happiness ROI that they're measuring. And it's a weekly check-in every Friday you get an email and you check how you're doing this week. It asks you a question, how are you doing?

And it goes all the way from a happy face to a sad face. And it asks questions about what are your celebrations? What are you? Thank you. Are there any frustrations you would like to share collectively as a team? Are there any ideas or brainstorming that you want to do? It helps kind of bring the team together, especially when your team is around the globe. So these are all great ideas to think about. What is the next strategy that you're going to take when you think about the future of work? The other one that I've also piloted in my career is no meeting Wednesdays. We all. I'm not a big fan of meetings, but we know they do it. So how can we have a focused and productive day and no meeting Wednesdays have helped me.

There have been days when I haven't really been successful with it, but if he's the exact intention that I want to make it work. And so setting up your strategies could look something like that. Now I always love to ask this question and I've taken some inspiration from great story writing philosophies.

So what's your favourite Strategy? Now a good strategy could have a compelling vision that hooks your interests, the right amount of motivation in the middle to keep you going. And then an end that you'll always remember. Now there's an art and science to mastering the skills of a good strategy and leading that process with impactful, truthful conversations.

Now, is there a strategy that comes to mind when you hear this? Let me maybe dive a little further. Now, what makes a memorable strategy? There is a start, a middle and an end, just like in a good story. Make the start worth their time to care. Get them excited about the purpose. A strategy is only as good as once it's executed. Right? So get them excited. Tell them why they need to explore this path with you and have those conversations. The middle is all about gaining trust and credibility. I cannot trade this, again and again, we need to rethink what and how we communicate and how we want to tell the world.

And are we being true to ourselves and our customers and what really matters? Honestly, customers and our partners offer to know more about us than we think. And customers are also looking for those companies that can be a trusted advisor versus somebody that's trying to sell a product. So how do you kind of define that strategy where you are the company that can be trusted?

You're transparent, you know, your core, strengths and weaknesses and are self-aware about it. And you are here to help your customers see those real-world possibilities and achieve the vision together. And then at the end, find your true advocates. It's always easy for us to find supporting data, to make our actions meet the data.

And with our own confirmation bias, our customers are our best advocates. So whether it's your employees, right in the candidate experience scenario, whether it's your customers, your partners, give them a voice, give them the opportunity to be the heroes, and you'll see that customers appreciate your honesty.

That you're looking out for them, not just for revenue, but also for the long way. And that's true customer lifetime value. And I encourage everybody to think about what does that look like for an employee lifetime value? Or is there anything like an employee lifetime value? Because it's an employee and employer relationship at will, anybody can leave.
But when I think back to the organizations and companies and teams that I've been part of. It's all about the relationships that I built and making sure that our strategy holds our employees, customers, and partners together. We'll be the ones that will be for the long term.

So measure the right metrics, focus on your customer needs.

That's what your strategy reimagined could be. Oftentimes our strategies have been very defined structure. We have a mission vision, and there are different components that fit objectives and goals. And our strategies often cascaded from the top. And structured depending on your department, but the reality is there is no cohesive experience for the customer or the prospect outside of the employee for that matter.

So how can you kind of take that methodology and break it apart, put it as pieces of a puzzle and create that seamless customer experience? That's what I encourage everybody to do. Break the current limits in our strategy framework, be thoughtful, what you want to share and make sure that you're giving your prospects, your customers, your employees, the tools that they need to navigate through that and be that one trusted voice, and that's how the strategy will be uniting all of us with the single voice and same focus.

Now, what's the right time. To have a strategy discussion. Does it in the middle of a transformation journey at the beginning of it, is there a right place for doing that? These are all good questions to ask ourselves.

I encourage each of us to truly inspire and make an impact without the boundaries and limitations that we have set ourselves within the framework called strategy. Sometimes I even take back when I see somebody's title that says strategy in it. Not because of the word, but because of the annotation that it has.

So open your door to a new world of possibilities, challenge the norm, ask why we do what we do and why is it done that way? Amazing sparks of creativity and innovation will unfold. And I'm excited to join that journey with you. The truth is you can't really go back and change the beginning. If you're already on your strategy path or the plans that you have for the year.

I do realize we're in the middle of the year. So most of you already have your fiscal year, kicked off. But you can start where you are and change the ending. It's a really beautiful quote by CS Lewis. And I highly encourage everybody to take a leap of faith and spark those ideas and innovation going forward into your strategies, whether it's about a go-to-market, penetrating into an organization, creating a new organization, or even if it is, how can I do what's right for my team.

So, I wish you all the very best. And thank you so much for listening today.

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