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Talent & Growth presented by The Animo Group

Dissecting Rivalry and Unity in People and Talent Functions

Tue Jul 25 2023
PodcastTalentWorkplace DynamicsPeople FunctionTalent AcquisitionSalary Transparency


The episode features an interview with Michael Nielsen, VP of People, and David Field, Director of Talent at Speechmatics. They discuss the dynamics between people and talent in the workplace, the challenges and successes of creating a talent function from scratch, and strategies for building a people and talent team. The hosts also delve into topics such as salary transparency, improving talent acquisition, and working together harmoniously.


Diverse perspectives and the Tom and Jerry dynamic

Having diverse perspectives in the workplace is important for innovation, but it's also beneficial to have a dynamic like Tom and Jerry where individuals push each other's boundaries.

Building a people-centric function

Using design thinking principles, co-creating with employees, and blurring lines between roles can lead to a more collaborative and effective people and talent team.

Navigating salary transparency

Companies should clearly define their reasons for implementing salary transparency and consider the trade-offs involved, such as potentially missing out on candidates who don't fit within specific salary bands.

Improving talent acquisition

Talent acquisition is undergoing rapid change, and companies should use candidate data, studies, and market feedback to improve their hiring processes. Inclusion, equity, and diversity should remain a focus.

Working together harmoniously

Approaching relationships with curiosity, understanding different perspectives, and building strong relationships based on empathy are crucial for success in working together.


  1. Introduction
  2. Dynamics between People and Talent
  3. Creating a Talent Function at Speechmatics
  4. Building a People and Talent Function
  5. Salary Transparency and Progression Paths
  6. Improving Talent Acquisition
  7. Working Together Harmoniously


00:02 - 06:11

  • This is the 150th episode of the Talent and Growth podcast.
  • The hosts express their gratitude to everyone who has been a part of the podcast's journey.
  • They encourage listeners to subscribe, follow, and share on social media.

Dynamics between People and Talent

05:54 - 12:39

  • The hosts interview Michael Nielsen, VP of People, and David Field, Director of Talent at Speechmatics.
  • They describe their relationship as having a Tom and Jerry energy, where they push each other to outsmart one another.
  • Diverse perspectives in the workplace are important for innovation, but the Tom and Jerry dynamic allows for annoyance and pushing each other's boundaries.
  • David focuses on designing hiring processes while Michael focuses on design thinking and co-creation.
  • Their different approaches created friction but ultimately led to delivering results faster and better than expected.

Creating a Talent Function at Speechmatics

12:12 - 18:41

  • David's goal was to create a talent function from scratch at Speechmatics.
  • They needed to migrate from relying on agencies to building an in-house talent team.
  • David's agency background influenced his solutions-driven approach, while Michael's sector-agnostic background shaped his thinking in terms of selling a mission and valuing design thinking and creativity.
  • Michael prioritized taking inspiration from other disciplines like design thinking and co-creating with employees when setting up the people function.

Building a People and Talent Function

18:21 - 24:52

  • Use design thinking principles to build people-centric solutions.
  • Co-create with people for buy-in and fast iteration cycles.
  • Spend time with product and marketing teams to understand genuine needs, behavior change, and impactful communications.
  • Invite guest speakers from different areas of the business to gain understanding outside of the people team.
  • Blur lines between roles in the people and talent team for better collaboration and learning.
  • Prioritize setting up a scalable people and talent function with a clear operating model and strategy.
  • Build a high-performing leadership team with a strong operating model.
  • Hire people from agency backgrounds for speed, drive, innovation, and autonomy.
  • Value authenticity, openness, honesty, connection, motivation, and engagement in the team.
  • Provide clear responsibility and structures while giving autonomy to the team.
  • Navigate disagreements on making offers by considering bigger picture issues and stakeholders' priorities.
  • Work with parties involved to find viable solutions while being mindful of candidate progress.

Salary Transparency and Progression Paths

24:27 - 30:49

  • The hosts discuss the importance of being selective in how they present themselves to stakeholders and teams, even if they are experiencing friction behind closed doors.
  • They emphasize the need for companies to clearly define why they want salary transparency before implementing it, as there are trade-offs involved.
  • They mention a company that released a PDF outlining different levels of salary transparency and the associated trade-offs.
  • One trade-off is potentially missing out on candidates who do not fit within specific salary bands.
  • At Speechmatics, they first focused on explaining what progression looks like within the company before implementing salary bands and benchmarking.
  • They are considering what salary transparency means for their organization after establishing a solid progression framework.
  • The conversation also touches on the importance of having conversations about sacrifices when pursuing certain goals, such as increasing diversity in hiring pipelines.

Improving Talent Acquisition

30:29 - 36:42

  • Diversity and speedy time to hire are trade-offs that need to be considered in job specifications.
  • Company values should be transparent about their downsides and trade-offs.
  • Talent acquisition is undergoing rapid change, prompting a review of interview processes.
  • Candidate data, studies, and market feedback are being used to improve the hiring process.
  • A new marketing team is working on developing an updated employer brand.
  • Inclusion, equity, and diversity remain a focus for Speechmatics' hiring process.
  • Building strong relationships with the people function through empathy and understanding is emphasized.
  • Being curious and understanding different perspectives can help navigate challenges in talent acquisition.

Working Together Harmoniously

36:12 - 39:31

  • When starting a new role, it's important to be curious and understand different points of view and objectives.
  • Being your authentic self at work can make you more effective.
  • Approach relationships with unlimited positive regard and try to understand the other person's perspective.
  • Building a strong relationship based on understanding is crucial for success in working together.
  • The hosts highlight how two functions can work harmoniously.