19 - A Unicorn on Table Stakes

*LIVE* from PERKSCon Boston, we speak to Gabriela McManus, SVP of People Operations at Drizly, about the distinction between People Ops and HR and how to view humans as assets vs liabilities. Having grown Drizly from its early days to its recent billion-dollar acquisition by Uber, Gabriela shares her non-linear trajectory into People Ops, her view on the employee lifecycle, and her beliefs around how to advocate for the profession, and what’s so exciting about the People Ops road ahead.

Release Date: October 26, 2021

[[00:00:00] Recorded Voice: Warning. This podcast is about the realities of working in People Operations. This is not a stuck-up PC compliance-based or employment law podcast about stuffy outdated HR practices. Shit will get real here, and we assume no responsibility.

[00:00:16] Tyson McKenzie: We had a strict no-alcohol policy and everybody was like, "Oh, don't drink HR is here." Meanwhile, I'm mid-crack a beer.

[00:00:24] Alexa Baggio: If they're that disengaged before, they're going to be that disengaged at the office just be sitting at their desk looking on Facebook. Now we're going to find ways to fuck off.

[00:00:31] Tyson: This is the People Problems podcast with Alexa Baggio and Tyson McKenzie.

[00:00:40] Alexa: Hi guys. I'm your host Alexa Baggio flying solo today live at the PERKSCon Boston event. My co-host Tyson is actually on maternity leave, but I am joined by a very successful guest today, Gabriela McManus. Gabriela is the senior VP of People Operations at Drizly, where she oversees the entire employee journey from talent attraction, through development, into retention, with the goal of building Boston's best talent teams and simultaneously creating experience that becomes the pinnacle of one's career.

In her role, she's responsible for driving the design and execution of talent strategies aligned with business goals, and she's deeply rooted in Drizly's DNA and core values because she believes that the culture is a core element of a well-executed strategy. In creating a place where people can and want to do their best work, Gabriela is passionate about developing leaders and teams that are agile and perform with purpose. Prior to Drizly, Gabriela was the executive director at Intelligent.ly, a local leadership development company.

Worked with over 1200 people at more than 150 rapidly scaling tech startups in Boston to help them develop their leadership bench. Gabriela is also an advisory board member to the People Ops Society, as she focuses her career on strategically building scalable programs to develop people and build leadership capacity at all levels. Please welcome, Gabriela.

[00:01:43] Gabriela McManus: Thank you.

[00:01:44] Alexa: How are we doing today?

[00:01:45] Gabriela: We're doing well. I sound much more impressive when you read about me.

[00:01:48] Alexa: Well, when you send me really impressive bios about your really impressive career, it's pretty easy. I didn't make any of that up. It's all true. Do me a favor, Gabriela. For those of you who don't have the pleasure of knowing you, and while I did just read your bio, tell us a little bit about how you got into the People Ops space.

[00:02:02] Gabriela: Thank you again. Welcome, everyone. I hope you're having fun here today. My name is Gabriela. How I got into the space is a much longer story for another time. It's very non-linear. Started off in sales, ended up starting something that was, what I would now call, sales enablement even though I didn't have language for it back then. Really identified the fact that if you can align people, truly align them to what the company is trying to build in an environment that can foster them showing up as their best selves authentically, that magic happens.

Lots of different paths along the way, but I ended up here in the people operations space.

[00:02:37] Alexa: Awesome. Well, thanks for being here. I wish we had all the time in the world to talk because Gabriela is one of these minds in this space where every time I talk her, I need five more hours. Today I want to focus on just two things that I think the world deserves your opinion on. The first thing is the distinction between HR and people ops. That is something that you have always been an advocate of, of distinguishing, and I would love to hear a little bit about your take on why people operations? Why is that the new language, and what is the distinction that you make?

[00:03:04] Gabriela: No, I think that's such a great question because there's so many people I think that believe people operations is just a new title for-

[00:03:11] Alexa: Lipstick on a pig.

[00:03:11] Gabriela: -an old function. Yes. I think there's a lot of humans and companies that believe that people operations is just a new fun name for an older function. I actually believe that the approaches are very, very different. Now, I also want to say, I'm not anti-HR. HR is still a really core function. It's necessary. Under the team that I lead right now, I do have a core HR team. It's very important. Fundamentally to me, the difference is HR's been around for what, 45, 50 years? The sole purpose of HR or the main purpose, I should say, was to really protect companies.

It's about how do we mitigate liability, how do we ensure compliance to really protect this company? Again, those things are very important. Humans, the people that work at a company, are typically seen as liabilities. The way I think people operations or people strategy looks at things is more looking at these humans as a company's greatest assets. If you think about a person as the greatest asset, the question shifts a little bit. It's more of a, how can we best invest in these assets to get the most out of them throughout that life cycle?

Again, it's not that it's touchier-feely. I've heard some people say, "Well, HR was a little bit harsher, a little bit more black and white, a little bit more on the reporting side. People operations really cares about people." I think both functions really have to do a lot when it comes to accountability and making sure people have the right benefits and both functions care about people. To me, it's really more around the way we look at it. One is more about mitigating liability. The other one is more around really investing in these assets.

The thing that I will say is, even in the best people operations spaces, it's about maximizing the lifetime value of that asset to accomplish those company goals. There's still a very, very strategic lens through it, and it's about delivering results.

[00:05:00] Alexa: Yes I'm actually currently working on a book about this but I call it Employee Lifetime Value. Which is like we got to be talking about this investment as if we are the way funds talk about this, the way investors talk about this. I think that's awesome.

[00:05:11] Gabriela: Absolutely.

[00:05:11] Alexa: Another thing I'd love to get your opinion on you touched on it really quickly there is this concept of the employee life cycle. This is one of these buzzwords that-- We hear at People Problems love buzzwords. We do whole episodes on them and we're very cynical. In this particular instance I would love to hear your take on how do you define the life cycle, and why do you think that's important when you're talking about structuring your people teams?

[00:05:30] Gabriela: Yes absolutely. To Alexa's point, one of the things that we really try to focus on is how do we increase the value of someone through that life cycle or increase that lifetime value. Oftentimes when you think of metrics in the HR space it's revenue per employee, or cost per hire. Those things are all really important but similar to any type of consumer acquisition you want to compare the cost of getting that customer with the lifetime value of that customer. It's a similar equation on the employee side.

For when I think of the life cycle, I think traditionally most people would think of it from day one to the last day. I think you have to look a little bit beyond that. For me, I think what's the talent attraction, employer brand. It all starts there, and oftentimes it's hard to measure that. To identify when did someone first hear about the company because oftentimes they might hear it from a consumer brand side. For me, I start whenever someone could potentially hear about the company because that's all part of the talent attraction.

Then I don't like to end it right on someone's last day. I think there's a real opportunity especially now we know there's such mobility, there's such sharing of information just via things like Glassdoor, or LinkedIn, or even just word of mouth. Where it's important to make sure you're thinking about someone in your ecosystem even once they leave. Thinking about as an alumni of the company, how are they talking about your company? Are they still advocates for that company? Are they ambassadors for that organization? Are they detractors?

I expanded beyond day one and last day. Do you want me to go into my key inflection points?

[00:06:56] Alexa: Absolutely.

[00:06:57] Gabriela: I love talking lifetime value and employee life cycle as you can tell. From a people operation space and I've spun on this before. When you think of the culture and when you think about fostering an environment where people can do their best work, how do you even define environment? The pandemic has shown us that it's not just the four walls. Many companies had to very quickly move to remote and many are even, they're deliberating should they go back? What does hybrid look like for them? Could they be completely remote?

Environment is really not just the space but the interactions that make up your entire day. Fostering that environment it's every communication, it's every touchpoint, all of those things create someone's environment. Now from my perspective, it's virtually impossible to think about every single micro-moment in someone's life cycle and try to plan for that at scale, because people respond differently. People are going through different scenarios. Especially with things like space, environment, communications.

How someone interprets that and their perception of how that makes them feel is going to be incredibly individualized tied to that person. I like to think about what are the key moments? What are the key moments these transition moments or points of inflection where you can double down from a people operations perspective? To really make sure that you're almost stacking the deck in a way that you feel like you're investing in the right places so you can yield better results?

When I think of it from that perspective it's hiring. Not just the hiring it's the entire candidate experience, the process of someone going through hiring. In that moment it's a great opportunity for you as a leader regardless if you're in people operations or in a different space. As a leader what you're doing is you're demonstrating for someone what it might be like to work at that company. The way you show up in that candidate experience, for someone they're trying to think of, "Is this how they're going to show up for me if I take this job, if I accept this job?"

You want to make sure that those interactions are really living up to your employee value prop. Then I think onboarding. Onboarding is another really key moment of inflection. How many of you-- Think of myself, like I can be a little bit of an impulse buyer. Sometimes we have that shopper's remorse or that impulse that remorse. Those things can also happen for a customer or an employee. Think about if you just made a large purchase. If something doesn't work well, if that onboarding doesn't work well, it might cause you to question that purchase.

Well taking on a new job, especially in a space that's as competitive as things are now, in this environment it's almost like this big purchase. You're making a huge life decision, so you want to make sure that you are nurturing in whichever way feels like it's most aligned to your company culture. I don't believe there's a one-size-fits-all.

[00:09:36] Alexa: First impressions, very important.

[00:09:37] Gabriela: Exactly. First impressions are huge.

[00:09:40] Alexa: If your first impression is, "Log into Workday and figure it out," that is not a great start.

[00:09:45] Gabriela: Well also you have some people they would-- Like before if someone showed up at the building and you said, "Okay, come in by 9:00 AM," they show up a little bit early. Some people like to be early. Some people come in right on time. They could wander a little bit. They could walk into the café, they might grab a coffee. Now what do you do? Can you imagine if you don't start on time and you just log into your computer and you're just waiting? You're waiting. I know for me, I think, "Am I logged into the right place? Is this where I should be? Oh my goodness. Are they here? What should I be doing? What should I have open?"

[00:10:10] Alexa: Everybody's looking at me funny. Nobody knows who I am.

[00:10:11] Gabriela: Yes. Is there anyone on this line? Did they forget? Do I even have a job here?

[00:10:15] Alexa: Yes, [crosstalk]

[00:10:15] Gabriela: There's all kinds of thoughts.

[00:10:17] Alexa: "They actually hired me, right?" I think these things all sound obvious. What I would love for you to talk about, they sound great. I think everyone would love to spend lots of time on all of these things and these key points of the life cycle. What I hear a lot of teams struggle with is, "Well, I'm in people operations, and to your point, I can't customize this for every team. I can't be at every interaction as much as I wish I would, I could be."

My question for you would be, how do you empower managers and people ops professionals to empower the feet on the street to make sure these touch points are being guarded and looked over?

[00:10:51] Gabriela: I think first off coming up with what are the touch points that are going to be consistent for everyone across the company. Again, if you can an onboarding thinking of promotion times. Even if you don't have promotion cycles, are there moments in time when people get promoted? Where are the things that we can provide some nurturing, some support to make that transition easier? For someone hiring someone for the first time, firing someone for the first time, going through your first review.

There's all these different touch points that may shift depending on your organization. I think first you start off mapping those, and then you encourage leaders in their organizations. Do they have their own unique practices? What are the things that they find that they're doing for a majority of their roles? What are these key moments that people are doing? We have a new CTO at Drizly, and she's done this wonderful job of putting together a quarterly dev fest. This is opportunities for presentation for sharing strategy.

If I was going to have this conversation with our CTO would have her think about like, are there moments that we could prepare people for presentations. Prepare people to share their work. It could be something really, really small like that. I think once you have mapped out your life cycle companywide, then you encourage department heads to look at their own teams. Their own practice to say, are there additional pieces here where we can really double down?

We can partner with you to ensure that you are providing enough support. Fostering an environment that lives up to our values and is delivering on that employee value prop. Hopefully is encouraging people to bring out their best selves. Does that answer what you're looking for?

[00:12:20] Alexa: Yes, I think so. I don't want to bury the lead here. You started at Drizly, how many employees?

[00:12:26] Gabriela: 75 employees.

[00:12:27] Alexa: 75 employees. You have how many now?

[00:12:29] Gabriela: Just under 350.

[00:12:30] Alexa: They've just under 350. They're just acquired by Uber Silicon Valley company. The story that Gabriela is putting the final chapters on is incredible from a growth perspective. Something I think, especially in technology it's much more prevalent in technology, but I think most organizations struggle with this is how do you do this when you're scaling? You're simultaneously building the car while you're driving it. What advice do you have for people or what have you just seen people do well and do badly?

[00:12:57] Gabriela: I would say, as you're growing, it's really, really easy to make very fast decisions based on the information that you have when you're looking at the problem in three months or six-month increments. What I would encourage people to do is wherever you can try to take a step back and say, regardless of our size, try to go out five years and say, what will still be true? What are those constants and start building towards that. I think you can still, first and foremost, I think company vision. Does your company have a really strong vision and do you believe it?

Do you understand it? Do you internalize it? Is it something that you can anchor your talent strategy on? I always start there, what is the company vision, purpose, mission, values. If there's alignment there, then you can make sure that all of your people programs are anchored in that. Then I think you have to prioritize. It's so incredibly difficult in this fast-paced world to really prioritize. What I found with so many amazing people operations leaders is that, especially when there's this really high degree of care for your employees, there's so many things that you could work on at any given moment.

I often see a lot of burnout people trying to do almost too much. I suggest take a step back and really prioritize. There are certain things that are necessary that you're going to have to do whenever they come up, employee relations. If there's big employee pieces. If someone has to go and leave, that's you stop everything and you deal with that in the moment. The other things you can try to prioritize. I love thinking of the Maslow hierarchy. I start looking at, if I was going to prioritize these things, what is actually tied to a certain basic need.

For example, compensation strategy. That's not a lot of people's favorite area to play in, but compensation is a base fundamental need. When people feel that they're being compensated fairly for the work that they're driving, they feel valued. That feeling of value can seep into so many different areas, but there's also just the stability. The stability, the understanding, the knowing how I'm going to get compensated. Once you establish that you communicate that, then you can almost start building on top of that.

Then you can really start thinking about what are the right retention programs to have in place. Let me think about learning and development. That doesn't mean that you can't start one without the other. You can always pilot a little program here or there, start testing things out. I would say really prioritize the big functional pieces that you can know you can anchor other parts of your talent strategy into.

[00:15:10] Alexa: Do you have examples of a time that you've changed your priorities, or you were like, "We can't do all of this. We have to prioritize," and an example of why you chose that priority?

[00:15:19] Gabriela: Yes. I would say when I first started at Drizly, the assumption was 25% HR, 25% talent acquisition 50% leadership development. Prior to this, I'd been running a boutique leadership development company called Intelligent.ly. That was my wheelhouse. I was like, "This is great. I can easily go in, come up with a different leadership development program." That first year, we didn't touch leadership development, at least not in the way someone would have imagined with my background.

That first year when we came in, it really was around what is the Drizly DNA? What is that vision? What is that strategy? That was a huge pivot that happened in the first 60 days. There were two pieces. A, I didn't want to be presumptuous and say, "Oh, I've been here for a total of 30, 45 days. Let me draft this for you." I definitely wasn't approaching it from that perspective. Where I was really struggling was, how can I hire people if I don't really know what our employee value prop is? What are the values that we really have here?

What are we going after? What are the types of humans that we really want to work here? What's aligning us in our vision moving forward? Then on the other side, I couldn't tell if we were delivering on that value prop. Internally, if you don't have high retention, or if you don't have high retention of top talent, which is, more important than just general retention, in my opinion, it might be because you're not delivering on what their expectations were. For me, we had to really defined the vision and really define our employee value prop before I could do anything else.

Then we found these big buckets, like comm strategy. We didn't have performance management. To me, those were higher. It's not they're higher impact, because I think all of these things impact people differently. Leadership development and someone's, their own evolution, their own development is a little bit higher on that Maslow's hierarchy than something like just understanding performance management and compensation. Huge pivots that first year. I feel like we finally started rolling out a lot around leadership development in the last 18 months.

That didn't mean that we couldn't do something on leadership development. We introduced a competency framework to make sure that we didn't exactly teach managers what to do, but they knew how to find the resources. It's kind of here's some tools. Let's put it in your tool belt. If you have questions come to see me but these are my biggest priorities right now. That was a major shift in year one.

[00:17:28] Alexa: When you came to that conclusion you said we had figured out we weren't retaining talent, because of-- maybe we weren't delivering on our values? How do you quantify that? How do you present that? How do you go, "Hey, I think there's a big gap over here." Some of these things they're hard to quantify.

[00:17:43] Gabriela: Oh, absolutely. I think whenever you can, I try to get a mix of data as well as anecdotal feedback. You can have the numbers tell almost any story you want.

[00:17:53] Alexa: Statistics. I was a statistics major. That's true. It's definitely true.

[00:17:57] Gabriela: I think if you don't have a lot of data points first off, ideally, look, historically. When I started my most recent company, we didn't have a really clean HRIS. I guess I couldn't really go back beyond 18 months. Try to gather as much data as I had just to make sure that the systems were clean, that data was clean. We were able to look at just the big metrics, What's our turnover rate? How quickly are we hiring and get some of those bigger pieces. You'll probably have an inkling as to something that you think you should be focusing on.

I think there's also an element of listen to the feedback and trust yourself. You're in this position for a reason. Then beyond that, I try to find other pieces so engagement surveys. You can use an engagement survey to start. If there's any of those historical data, use those pieces, but then I think you want to paint a full picture.

For me, it really was around describing the employee lifecycle to people. To let them know, "Okay, when this thing works, you can yield more results and this is what it looks like." I think it was just getting people aligned on that because a lot of people that aren't in the People Operations space, see these all as disparate programs. Learning and development is in one bucket, core HR is in another bucket, benefits exist over here, TA exists over there. To me, it's all connected. First, I had to start off painting the picture so people could see the connections from A to Z.

Once they saw that-- Another thing I do is I really like to compare to consumer lifetime value. Hey, we're talking about our consumer brand. This is how we're able to bring in the right consumers. Do you notice how when we did this with these consumers? We were able to yield a little bit more value on this side versus this side. Really similar when it comes to the people operation space. Try to figure out whatever the parallels are, and there are so many parallels.

[00:19:30] Alexa: There are so many parallels.

[00:19:31] Gabriela: I think you try to draw those comparisons, because when people can see the journey, then it'll be a little bit easier for them to understand. Then I think from there, it's really more around I love little plug for Duarte. I forget her first name but there's a TED talk it's around compelling presentations and that her methodology is really fascinating. It's basically you do envisioned future, current reality, envisioned future, current reality. You go back and forth and then you end with your big, "and now, ta-da!" Or we end up with blank. Again, there's a Ted talk. I forget what it's called. Powerful presentations, Duarte. It's a good way to you start building suspense if you present it that way. For me, it was crafting the story, making sure I could mirror it into things that I knew others would understand. Aiming to touch for how they think about their own life cycle and how they support consumers or their end-users. Then really thinking about how I could present that in the best way possible. I think the other thing too is shopping it around.

I had to learn that, as I got a little bit more tenured in my career. It's so easy for me to be like, well, this is the work and this makes sense. Let me just bulldoze it. I found out very quickly that people don't really like that. You shop it around? I like to imagine getting something where I feel I could roll it out, but I'm not super married to it. What I mean by that is I feel really strongly about 80% of it. The other 20%, might be my preference, but I'll massage it. I start shopping things around really hearing people's perspectives.

Then you want to make sure that when you do that bigger presentation, that you're able to share a little bit of their ideas. People feel that they're enrolled in this bigger project, this bigger rollout or whatever that initiative is. The other reason I think it's important to do that is that we've had this conversation so many times at my current company, comm strategy, and performers management. Those aren't Gabriela's plans. That's not a Gabriela thing. That's not my people ops thing. That is a company thing because as soon as it becomes your comp strategy, you can become the scapegoat.

It's very easy for people to either shift praise or shift blame. It has to be a leadership team decision. The same way a lot of you I'm sure are going through planning right now for next year. There's that opportunity to disagree, but then you commit, right? I would never thrive in an organization where someone says, "Oh, well that CEO put that goal over there, but I'm not behind it." You can just imagine the dissent that would cause in an organization. I think any people program that you put in place should also have that same level of alignment, especially these big meaty ones.

[00:21:53] Alexa: Well, you mentioned it's actually fascinating. It's something I think, once upon a time worked in tech, worked in SaaS. Our head of product used to say, "The biggest thing I do in my job is I shop ideas around before we roll them out." I think what you touched on right before that is actually a fascinating piece of this whole people conversation that as I work with more and more organizations, it seems glaringly obvious, but it gets missed. That's that everything you're doing for your consumer, you just need to turn around and look inside.

Your marketing team has a customer journey that they've mapped out and probably done an awesome job at it. If you have a great marketing team and a great product, go steal that and then turn it inside and say, well, how do we make this life cycle about our employees. Your employees are consumers. They're consumers of your employer brand. I don't want to say it's not rocket science, because it's not easy. Nothing about dealing with humans is easy as everyone here knows. There are so many examples of your company already doing these things or just doing them externally.

[00:22:46] Gabriela: Absolutely. I would say, marketing, when you look at consumer brand, it's like employment brand. When you look at your TA team, it's similar to a sales team. If you have your sources, that's like your BDRs. Your customer service, that's different aspects of that core HR. You might have business partners because customer service, sometimes it depends on the customer themselves. You might have customers that are your big-ticket customers that have your white-glove service and others that maybe don't.

I would say, think about the different parallels. For us customer service, everyone on the team has to have that high degree of customer service. Sometimes you have to let a consumer go. Your customer might walk away.

[00:23:21] Alexa: Not a fit for the product.

[00:23:21] Gabriela: You have to think about how the products retain them.

[00:23:22] Alexa: Yes, this is not the product for you.

[00:23:23] Gabriela: Or sometimes, you might be the one and as a company saying this doesn't fit. The same thing happens on that back end. Of course, if it's a customer, even if the relationship is ending, you still want to foster a positive environment because their word of mouth is so popular. Every single thing like that you can map back. When I think of a people team, I essentially almost have every team that the organization has except for engineering. We even have an analytics team now.

[00:23:48] Alexa: Think how powerful that is. You walk up to your marketing team and they're like, "Wait, the people team wants us to teach them something." Then you roll that out and they're like, "No, this is great. We love this. This is like how we do things. It's a shared methodology." You're going to make a lot more friends and roll things out I think that are a lot more well-received like that.

[00:24:03] Gabriela: I think the other thing too, that sometimes companies forget is I think it's super important to have a incredibly aligned marketing and people. People done well means that every single person in the organization feels they can be an ambassador for your product or your company. Which means that I take certain things very seriously. If it's an internal deck, adhere to the brand guidelines. Adhere to those things because it creates a certain level of discipline. Then there's also that on the other side when the marketing team is talking externally.

When they start talking about employee brand or any of those natures, they're going to draw you in and bring you into that conversation. If you're working with a PR firm, start thinking about what are the ways that we can leverage that PR also from an employer brand perspective. Just having a couple of conversations can go a really long way. To me, that's so important. Then also the brand promise. If you are a consumer-facing company, that brand promise should also be anchored into your vision. As a company and those values.

[00:24:57] Alexa: Like if you're Equinox, you should see the CEO on the treadmill next to you and they should pay for your gym membership and probably more. That connection's not always made. We laugh, but there's a lot of companies that are like, well, our consumer brand is this? Our employer brand is over way over there in the back closet. I do think that's super important. With our last couple minutes here, I'm going to shift us a little bit to just a little bit of your personal thoughts on some things.

What would you tell yourself, you very storied, you're a total rockstar in this space. What would you tell yourself at the beginning of your career if you could go back and talk to just started in the people space, Gabriela?

[00:25:31] Gabriela: Oh my goodness. I think I would just tell myself just take a breath. [laughs]

[00:25:35] Alexa: Breath.

[00:25:36] Gabriela: Just breathe. No, I think initially, I at my core, am a people pleaser. I think if I just told myself in the beginning, you will not make everyone happy. Internalize it own it. You will not make everybody happy and that's not your job. I think in the beginning, I thought my role was to make sure everyone felt fulfilled and happy. That's a big responsibility and a big lift to try to take on. I think it's--

[00:25:58] Alexa: You also can't control 90% of that.

[00:26:00] Gabriela: Oh, absolutely, but this is--

[00:26:02] Alexa: Noble of you to try, but--


[00:26:04] Gabriela: I think on the other side it's more of a, okay, what can I do that will deliver on this employee value prop and that I can defend and can explain to people why. I've also identified sometimes people might have opinions on things, but if they understand the why and can understand your thought process, it already is half the battle. Yes, definitely that can't please everyone. Don't try.

[00:26:24] Alexa: That's what I always tell people in events. I'm like, "You're going to somebody off." [laughs] We're about to talk about vaccines so we'll get to that topic next. Last question. For those of you who are just hearing from Gabriela for the first time, she is an incredible advocate in this space. She is absolutely a forward thinker. She is president of the new guard, I would argue of this space. My question for you, Gabriela would be, what are you most looking forward to for the people ops space? The future of people ops, what are you most excited about?

[00:26:51] Gabriela: I think that there's this real interesting opportunity to actually shift our industry in a profound way. For example, I hear people talking all the time about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Oftentimes when we look at benefits, people look at something as basic as benefits that almost every company has. I think if the people like right now, I'm sure you all get your benchmarks. This is what most companies in your industry do. There's a lot of direction that comes from people benefits brokers in that industry.

From my perspective, there's certain benefits. Again, especially if I think of it from a DIB lens, that should be table stakes. I think that if enough people in these roles look at it and say, what's truly inclusive, what do we really want to offer, then we continue to raise the bar on what normal is and what typical is. What I'm excited about is those things. Where are those other key areas? There's certain laws and rules that are a little bit more antiquated and don't really align with this remote-first world that we're in.

How can we think about those things thoughtfully and actually start shifting some of the structural pieces that have given HR more of this negative air or an air that doesn't feel like it's human-centric?

[00:28:05] Alexa: I don't know anybody that's in this business that's not here because they want to help people and they like people. It's just so silly that that's the reputation. I love the idea that this is an opportunity to change what table stakes is. Especially because we're here at a PERKS Convention. We're talking about innovative benefits. We're talking about ways you can take care of your team. Healthcare, that's not news anymore. Nobody joins unless there's some preexisting condition or a personal reason.

People just go like, "Yes, there's healthcare. They give me healthcare. They give me retirement," table stakes. It's not differentiating you as an employer anymore. I love the idea of the whole industry thinking now we get a chance to write what's table stakes. It's on us. You're going to make us do all these things. That's the expectation. We get to raise the bar for everybody. I love that. Gabriela, people like what you have to say, where can they find you? Where can they reach out?

[00:28:48] Gabriela: You can find me on-- First, before we even go there, I want to say isn't, Alexa's amazing? She has a way of shifting the words and saying a way that's so much more articulate and concise. I'm like, "Yes, I wish that came out of my mouth." That was great.

[00:29:00] Alexa: I'm pretty sure that's called BS in most cycles, but I'll take it.

[00:29:03] Gabriela: It's fabulous. I love it.

[00:29:04] Alexa: I'll take a spin.

[00:29:06] Gabriela: For me, I would say feel free to reach out on me on LinkedIn. I'm on Twitter and Instagram, but honestly, as I'm saying this, I'm like, I'm never on any of those things.

[00:29:15] Alexa: I was like girl, "Twitter, I wish I was on Twitter." I don't know how to do any of that.

[00:29:18] Gabriela: Reach out to me on LinkedIn. Please don't get upset if I don't respond right away. I check every month or so. Honestly just find me after the fact, Alexa has my e-mail. If anyone you need my e-mail or text. I'm always open to grabbing a coffee, a virtual chat, but really I think so much of this is just coming together. Coming together, supporting each other. One thing that I love with POPS with the People Operations Society is that it's creating a community. It can be a really lonely role.

I encourage you reach out, find your community, find people to talk to because the weight of everything isn't on you. It's easier to go through that when you have other people along the ride with you.

[00:29:58] Alexa: Amen. You can find more information obviously on peopleproblemspod.com, or download the People Problems Podcast where you get your podcasts. Gabriela, thanks for being here.

[00:30:07] Gabriela: Thank you so much. Oh, one other thing too, if you are part of the People Operations Professional Society, I am on there too. That's probably an easy way, and that way you can just reach out and ask questions.

[00:30:16] Alexa: They're doing free manicures over there, big orange booth. They are here. Awesome. Thanks for being here. Give it up for Gabriela, guys.

[00:30:22] Gabriela: Thank you all so much.


[00:30:25] Alexa: This episode was executive produced by me, Alexa Boggio with audio production by Ellie Brigida of Clear Harmonies. Our intro music was also done by the wonderful Ellie Brigida of Clear Harmonies. You can find more information about us and future episodes at peopleproblemspod.com or follow us at People Problems Pod on all things social. Thanks.

[00:30:41] [END OF AUDIO]

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