Vive La Différence

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What does the vice president of talent and culture do every day?

I normally get here around 7:30, walk around a bit, and then I start thinking about what things we need to do to ensure we’re heading in the right direction, strategy and business-wise, and what that means for the talent and culture. Here’s an example—last week we had our first ever leadership development course entitled, “Managing and Leading Through Times of Change.” Because we are going through so many changes right now, not only within the company, but also in terms of our global expansion. These changes are for growth and for increasing our visibility in the business and being more aware of what’s going on in our market space, industry and in Silicon Valley.

Where is the fiercest competition for talent in the Bay Area?

Electrical engineers. We need the true electrical engineers, who are always easy to find. And in general, from the company’s perspective, there’s the desire to seek out talent. But from the individual’s perspective, there’s the desire to seek out companies that let them innovate and see their innovations getting adopted. The engineer that sees his or her product in use every day is never happier.

How much was the selection of the new Milpitas headquarters location a function of your employee-recruitment efforts?

We are going to be in the hub of some really great companies. We are moving there for several reasons, including the fact that we have cool technology, so we are moving to a cool building. But this is a very diverse Silicon Valley culture. Look at the schools we have around here—Stanford, Berkeley, San Jose State, Santa Clara. We have access to students from all over the world. In that section of Milpitas, for example, you’re just a stone’s throw from Stanford. We are a part of that Silicon Valley culture, so we will have global talent available.

How does this workforce diversity benefit your company?

Take a look at engineering interns and students who are coming from countries outside the United States. In regards to something specific we work on, like TouchTones, they might have a better real-time feel for the right software applications or content libraries that can be enabled to touch on the hardware platform.

Are these other countries tapping into the same global talent pool as the rest of Silicon Valley?

Yes. Countries like Japan, for instance, are bringing in more and more diverse talent into their country because they have an aging problem. The population is either retired, or about to retire, and they’re not having as many children as they have in the past. But what makes Silicon Valley unique is that, unlike any other country in the world, there’s not going to be any restrictions put in place on your innovation engine that you might see artificially imposed in other regions around the world.

And that’s the reason that talent and culture is more important than human resources. HR was a discipline founded to manage productivity in a traditional industrial revolution production oriented environment. But if you look at what’s growing the economy these days, it’s the knowledge worker, and if you have to manage knowledge as the productivity driver, it really means that you have got to have the right kind of knowledge, and the right kind of culture. And that’s where the country, the area, and the city comes in to let the innovation brain produce without restrictions.

Does the global and ethnic diversity available in the area give Silicon Valley a leg up over other cities?

Definitely. This is still seen as the center of innovation around the world, and those other cities want to duplicate what is here in Silicon Valley. We have the knowledge workers here, those that do thinking for a living. Companies are finding out they have to open an office in Silicon Valley if they want to compete because this is the heart of the ‘geek world.’ And I don’t mean that in a demeaning way—very, very complimentary.

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