Employer Branding T.I.P S03Ep.06 | How honesty and transparency help create a culture of openness with Steven Brand, Global Employer Brand Manager @Mambu


The holiday season is just around the corner, so we thought it would be nice to end the year with a special podcast episode. In Ep.6 of Employer Branding: The Inside Podcast we’ve had the pleasure of speaking with Steven Brand, Global Employer Brand Manager at Mambu. We talked about EVP & TVP, creating a culture of openness through honesty and transparency, delivering consistently impressive people experiences, and a lot more. Tune in on Spotify & enjoy! 

What you’ll learn by listening 

  • Learning the difference between employee value proposition & targeted value proposition 
  • The importance of delivering a consistently impressive people experience
  • Honesty & transparency in employer branding: creating a culture of openness 
  • The role of data in employer branding 
  • Building internal relationships & networks in employer branding  
  • A personal approach of a trend in employer branding for 2022

About the company 

Mambu is the only true SaaS cloud banking platform. Our unique and sustainable composable approach means that independent engines, systems and connectors can be assembled and re-assembled in any configuration to meet business requirements and the ever-changing demands of your customers.

Speaking of connectors, our marketplace ecosystem includes integrations across credit decisioning, payment processing, AML, KYC, regulatory, CRM, accounting, customer experience and more. This extensive ecosystem gives you unrivalled vendor flexibility. Not only that, we work with all major consultancies and SIs. 

There are 800 Mambu employees​ supporting 200 customers in over 65 countries, including N26, OakNorth, Tandem, ABN AMRO, Orange, Zest Money and League Data. Every month we’re adding 3.5 million new end user accounts to our platform, with a total of 50 million to date. In December 2021 we received our latest round of funding, taking our valuation to nearly €5B.

Podcast on Spotify – Enjoy listening to S03Ep.06 of The Inside Podcast!

Podcast transcription 

Georgiana: Hi everyone! This is Georgiana and you’re listening to another episode of Employer Branding: The Inside Podcast. And today I’m talking to someone from Mambu. Mambu is one of the companies that are really, really dear to me. We’ve had Sofia Nunes, one of the co-founders in a previous episode, actually, last year, I think it was. But today we’re talking to Steven Brand, who is now telling the world about life at Mambu. Hi, Steven, good to have you here today. What is your role involving with Mambu? 

Steven Brand: Hi Georgiana! Nice to be here. Thank you for having me. So my role? Yeah, I mean, kind of as it says, the role is described principally is to make sure that in its simplest terms  everyone possible in the world knows about Mambu, and knows about what it will be like to work here; and that we’re able to give all of those people enough information to say either that sounds like exactly the kind of place I want to work, how do I sign up; or in most cases, that’s not really right for me. It’s not the right sector, it’s not the right culture, I’m going to go and look somewhere else, and that’s fine as well. So that’s really the job is just to try and make sure every potential candidate in the market knows who we are, knows what we like, and can make a proper, informed, sensible decision about whether or not we’re the right place for them.

employer branding general

Georgiana: And, actually, I have to confess that you’re one of the few people in employer branding that I’ve met so far, who has an extensive resume in employer branding. It was really, really impressive for me to see that you’ve worked in employer branding for quite a while for HSBC, as I’m looking at your LinkedIn profile for AIA Worldwide, Randstad Sourceright, Deloitte, a lot of companies. What made you choose Mambu in the end?

Steven Brand: It’s very different. So my profile, for the most part is quite corporate, so the Deloitte and HSBC, which are interesting. I guess those organizations would have had a focus on employer brand for slightly longer than some smaller organizations. So you’re more likely to find people doing what I do in those big organizations. And actually, the appeal of Mambu was was kind of the opposite. It was a chance to go into something that wasn’t established, didn’t exist, and properly build it from from the ground up.

And I think if you kind of have a theory, an idea about how employer branding can be done, should be done, the impact you can have, being able to go in and just build, rather than spend a lot of your energy, dismantling things that aren’t quite right; that are already in place. Actually, there’s a sort of freedom to that, which was really appealing. And in all honesty, and I know everybody says this about organizations they work for, but in the recruitment process, I met some incredibly impressive people. There’s a really flexible process around my timelines, and there’s some great people, real energy about the business. And that, you know, as a candidate who doesn’t know anything, hadn’t heard of Mambu before sort of talking about this role. But those people in their energy, their enthusiasm, their certainty about the future, you know, was really impressive, and helped persuade me that it would be a good place to go. So yeah, a couple of reasons.

Georgiana: Well, Steven, I’ve already told you what, what I’d like for this podcast for us today is basically touch on two main themes. One of them revolves around employee value proposition and targeted value proposition, which I have to confess I didn’t know anything about until I spoke to you; and then delivering a consistently impressive people experience. And I’d like to start by asking what is exactly the difference between EVP and targeted value proposition? This looks to me like, just another term in the employer branding jargon, which I’m sure it isn’t.

Steven Brand: There is quite a lot of jargon out there. And look, in all honesty, there isn’t really a right or a wrong way to do things; to set yourself up, to build an employer brand strategy, to build an approach that I don’t think anybody could tell you there is a right way and then there’s a wrong way of doing things. I think what there is, is a series of different structures and approaches that are based on different beliefs about what an employer brand can and should be responsible for. So in its simplest, most basic form, I think a lot of organizations use employer brand just to say, ‘How do I attract candidates?’ That’s what I want this to do.

It’s just about how can we better attract candidates. So help me with that external focus. And that’s all I’m really interested in. So what’s my message, my creative, what are we doing externally. And so that obviously has a sort of a fairly limited set of metrics and things it’s responsible for. But I’ve always thought it’s a bit broader, it should be a bit broader than that. And the employer brand, so your reputation as a place to work, should influence and can influence much more than just your ability to bring candidates into a pipeline.

So it should be able to influence their performance and their enjoyment of their role while they’re with you. And also, if they’re then off-boarded, and they go out, and they’re successful elsewhere, then the reputation still has a role to play with those x staff as well; those x people and the relationship you can continue to have with them. So that’s a much broader field, maybe that employer branding should potentially cover. But again, neither one is right or wrong, different philosophies, different approaches.

The EVP/TVP thing, I think, kind of comes up or grows up, particularly for organizations where there are multiple geographies, multiple departments, multiple skill sets that an organization is recruiting for; and where an employer value proposition, so something that sits, and is true, and is honest, if the whole organization sort of inevitably becomes a bit imprecise, a bit non targeted for those different skill sets. So I think it’s difficult, even for us, for 800 people. It’s difficult to create a proposition, that’s genuinely meaningful on a personal level, to a new engineer versus a finance or sales person. The things that they’re looking for, the things that they’re motivated and driven by, the things they want from an employer will be different.

That’s not to say that the proposition can’t encompass them. But more that it because it’s talking to such a potentially broad term, it isn’t talking very directly to a senior salesperson, or to a junior developer. So it’s talking in quite broad terms. And I think where the development of more targeted value propositions comes in, is to be able to say when you’re needing to talk to that more precise audience, to that more precise market; what elements of that global proposition, of that holistic proposition do you most focus on. So if I’m talking to a junior developer, there are elements of my proposition I feel will be or I know will be more meaningful to that individual.

And so when I’m thinking about then how I articulate the proposition to that market. I’m going to change it. It won’t talk about different things, but it will focus on a different element of the proposition which will resonate more strongly with that audience. And then I take a different approach, potentially, for this other skills audience over here. And I think organizations have looked at it. And you can look at it from skill, location, culture, point of view, just to take that thing that tries to be everything and tries to describe the organization from an employer point of view to everyone. And that, again, it can be tens to hundreds of thousands of different people around the world. You’re trying to find something that’s true of everything. But then naturally it’s not going to be incredibly precise for anyone. So the targeted value proposition, I think, is the attempted response to that; to say that you can still make it meaningful and make it really targeted to specific segments or audiences.

Georgiana: I completely agree with what you’re saying, Steven, especially as I come from marketing, where we usually start by analyzing personas whenever we tackle a project. So I totally agree. The more condensed and the more well-targeted the messages, the better chance for success in the end. I’m just wondering how easy or how difficult is it to separate between these concepts in a large versus small organization, in a startup versus the corporate world?

Steven Brand: I think even in relatively small organizations – and again, we currently are very small, though growing ludicrously, but yet currently quite small. But even there, there’s distinct I think they called Tribes, there’ll be different departments, different teams, different personalities that exist across an organization, even though there’s only several hundred people. So again, their expectations, their motivations for coming to work will be very different. It’s very broad to talk in generational terms, but you’ll see lots of reports that say, different generations, younger generations motivated more by certain things that a company stands for.

And therefore the ability to talk to that element of the organization’s commitment may be more important than for those at later stages in their career where their focus is on is maybe on different areas. So I think even in smaller organizations, there’s still the potential need for it. I think that the challenge becomes first for me, and for anyone doing a role like mine is where you ask the business to stop. Because you can’t just keep on slicing and say, well, I need a value proposition for people with this skill set, but in Eastern Europe, as opposed to USA, as opposed to Asia Pacific, because they’re different cultures.

And I think the problem becomes, the more you, you slice, the smaller the audience, the harder it becomes to get anything actually done. You spend sort of too much time creating the groups and the little micro audiences; and relatively little time actually activating and deploying these things. So I think there’s a balance to be found where the organization, your stakeholders, the people you’re working on behalf of, are convinced and comfortable that you’re working with them to localize and to target a more global proposition. But a point at which you have to stop slicing and say this is the value proposition, this is how we will categorize and group our propositions in our organization, because it works. And now we want to get into activation deployment.

Georgiana: I was wondering, as we continue with our next topic, which is people experience. It’s already a very broad topic, right? And I’ve read a lot and heard a lot about delivering a good people experience, and then delivering it consistently, and then delivering it in Corona times. And like I said, it’s super broad. But if we were to just narrow it down a little bit to a set of, I don’t know, tips, or things that you consider are important when delivering good people experiences, what would they be?

Steven Brand: I mean, probably the the main one, maybe be the principal one to worry about over the last 18 months to two years, has been that we’ve all been living very separately from each other, even though we’re connected as we are today. There’s a great separation that exists and it concerns honesty and transparency. In terms of employer branding, transparency and honestly come up time and time again. But I think from a communications point of view, that’s what people in organizations are looking for from the business, from the leadership is that transparency, and that frequency of communications, that sense that they’ll understand what’s happening with the organization, they’re kept up to date with the sort of developments in the organization because there isn’t that physical collective anymore, where you would overhear these things, where these kinds of developments in an organization are easier to come by.

And you feel much more physically connected to your colleagues and what’s happening in the organization, because there’s a physical place where you would gather, and you would hear these things. Because we’re all now sitting in our living rooms, or our bedrooms working and there’s that separation. I think it necessarily makes people a little bit more nervous and anxious about what’s happening with the organization. Because again, it’s very easy when you’re sitting alone, trying to do your work, to hear news stories about the economic impact of COVID and the lockdown, and various things.

And what it’s doing to the labor market and all of those kinds of things. So I think principally, a good people experience is people don’t expect an organization to dress up and pretend that things are all great and rosy, and that it’s all fine. People have grown up. They understand the challenges businesses are working through; what makes them nervous, what makes them uncomfortable, and what makes them start to distrust their employers. This sense that things are being sort of held back from them, that there are things happening that are not being communicated to them. There’s sort of psychological contract where you trust your employer to do right by you and they trust you to do your work to the best of your ability.

Once that contract is broken, once you don’t trust necessarily the organization, I think it’s very difficult to continue to work for them, certainly to continue to work at the level that you would want to and that the business needs you to. I’ve worked somewhere before where that is exactly what happened. That sort of undercurrent, of I don’t know what’s happening, I feel there are things happening, there’s quiet whispered conversations, then once you start to get to that place where you just don’t trust that the organization has your best interests at heart, I think even if employees stay, then that discretionary effort, that real commitment to the cause, and to the mission is lost. And that’s where I think businesses can start to really struggle.

Because you’re maybe holding on to somebody that’s there just because there’s nowhere else to go. And as soon as they’ll leave, is obviously damaging for the organization. So I think principally, it’s that I know that that’s easy to say and less easy to do. And part of the role as a leader you probably feel is a degree of shielding and protection of staff. But I think in these times it’s kind of difficult to keep stuff genuinely quiet. And often you’re better off sharing where the organization is at, what it’s having to do, what that impact that may have on employees, the steps you’re taking to offset it, just to be very, very clear and transparent. If regrettably, there is any downsizing or restructuring, those that come through with you come through kind of unscathed, believing in understanding that you did, that you were clear about what you’re doing, why you were doing; you did what you said you were going to do. You communicate with frequency that you said you were going to do and so those people still have that engagement with you. And even maybe those that left appreciate that.

They understand the rationale and the reasons and the process that went into that. So I think in terms of people experience through these crazy times, let’s hope  they’re not this way forever, but probably just the number one thing is to be honest and to be open with people, and to then empower those because obviously there’s leadership or they might be 10-15 runs up the ladder from people on the ground. So lower down leaders, managers have to be empowered to be able to have those conversations as well and not feel like they can’t talk openly about what’s happening with the business. So it’s that sort of culture of openness. Those organizations that have got that right, will be the ones to have sort of sailed through, and will be the ones that continue to do well, I think.

Georgiana: Absolutely! I agree. Where do you think data comes into place in employer branding?

Steven Brand: I think that employer branding and data is that employer branding can lay claim to supporting and helping the achievement of a number of important metrics for an organization; everything from engagement rates, through social and external marketing activity, through conversion ratios in a funnel. So getting better and better people into interviews, getting more people to qualifying that apply, getting to interview because they’re better quality, getting more people to accept offers, because they know more about the organization. So they want to join it.

Fewer people leaving within three months, because they knew what it was going to be like when they signed up for it. They’re better people that are coming in; more equipped to do the job. So they should also be productive quicker, they should each make money for the organization more quickly, they should be high performers and be more likely, therefore to get promoted in the first year that your average. And there’s all of these things. So then going through two, three years out the organization, you should be able to do some programming. If I’ve done all of those things. So if we’re more visible, but that doesn’t translate into just a load of crap going in the pipeline, we’re more visible. And that’s because better people are making applications because they know more about us.

They’re more inspired by what we’re doing. And they understand what it takes to work. So we’re getting better quality of candidates through. And therefore when they join, they’re not leaving because they know what it’s going to be like; and they’re good people, so they’re performing well, is what I should be able to see is our profits are up, share prices up. We’ve got more clients, those kinds of things that are proper business performance metrics. So again, you can say I expect if I’m doing my job where I’m contributing to that? But obviously, I can’t turn around to the CEO and go, the reason the share price is going up is because I’m doing a good job. There are a hundreds other factors that come into that as well.

And it’s even the same with the social activity. So there’s obviously what we’re doing the clarity of message, and the creative, the quality of the story. We’re telling all of those things that are in my control that should help with engagement share levels, comment levels; but there’ll be other factors as well, like the technologies, the algorithms and on the social platforms, what the audience is particularly interested in, all of these other things that will affect that as well. So data plays a huge part, undoubtedly, and we’re in a position now that we haven’t previously been where we can measure pretty much everything we do, and report to the business on the outcomes of that; and demonstrate to a degree the value of it. But there’s always that limitation where you say, but that’s not probably just what we’re doing here. There are other factors. So we are contributing towards this positive metric, but we’re probably not the sole reason for it.

And I think that’s where again, challenge around the value of the employer brand. What budget it should have, what resources it should have becomes challenging because there are relatively few metrics that you can say that’s exclusively because the employer brand is high functioning and high performing, including the conversion metrics through the funnel. Me and my team doing what we do, well should improve that. But equally, as the sources and our recruiters get more confident, then there’ll be helping with that. As word of mouth seeps out, hopefully into the candidate marketplace, that should also help. So there’ll be other contributing factors, which is yeah, why won’t you stand up in front of C suite, and everything’s a little bit feels like a bit of a hedge bet, where you’re saying we’re contributing to it. And I can show you some data points that shows we are having a positive impact, but we’re not the sole reason for these things to be happening.

So I think it’s really important, but it’s still highlights, you know, there’s still a lot of gaps. So where I’ve worked before is what is one example. There’s still challenges and a lot of organizations have been tracking before the journey. So a candidate that experiences you or consume some of your content on social but then doesn’t apply for a month, two months, three months. And they apply, because they remember seeing that thing three months ago. Now I want to find out about jobs, I’m just going to Google and search Mambu jobs. And then all of the reporting says, well, Google just delivered it to you. No, they didn’t at all. But because they switch devices, or certain time lapse, I can’t get the credit for the storytelling.

And the real connection that happened at the beginning of the journey isn’t possible. At this point it’s difficult to make that connection. So now over here, I’ve got that content, and it’s generating connections and likes and shares, and I can’t, then I don’t have a firm black line through two candidates applying a month, six weeks, two months, or even the next day, if it’s on a different device, all of these things sort of break some of that solidness of that reporting. So then it gets into a little bit of assumptive reporting, I guess, so where you make judgments based on look, if we’re getting all of this engagement over here, and the quality of applications is going up, then it seems a fair assumption to me to or fair hypothesis to say that the quality of information we’re providing to a targeted market is resulting in part in these better applications. But I don’t have that line that says this person here saw that and applied as a result, because candidate recall isn’t trustworthy; the data can’t quite join up the journey.

So it’s better than it’s ever been. But it’s not quite perfect yet. So still, as an employer brand person, you justify your existence and your impacts like a patchwork quilt of data points, where you’re trying to tell your own story. But it’s from a series of data points you try to sew together, rather than it being a very seamless and easy thing to report on. So yes, so it’s very important, but not quite perfect.

Georgiana: We’re getting there, I think.

Steven Brand: It’s better than it’s ever been, you know. It’s many miles away from an ad in the paper where it costs you a few weeks to see what happens. So it’s a lot better than it’s been. I think there’s also a resource element in all honesty, so again, employer branding and teams, a lot of focus is likely to be on that outward from that activation on what are we going to do. What’s the content strategy? Where should we be? What should the content be? And not so much on having somebody that’s just focused on the data and the reporting, and really challenging and questioning everything that we do.

And learning from it all the time, I think still, that’s sort of the relatively poor cousin of the end to end work that we do. And there’s more focus and more interest on that front end and less on the looking at the numbers and what that tells us. So I think again, the more time we, as people in the industry, focus on bringing some proper data scientists in as part of the team, or just teaching ourselves better how to interrogate all of these data sources and tell stories from them. And that’s where probably consumer marketing is, again, ahead in terms of recognizing the power of that bit of the storytelling journey. And I think we’re getting there, but probably aren’t there yet.

Georgiana: What’s been the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do as an employer branding manager?

Steven Brand: I think the biggest challenges often are when you’re working on behalf of organizations that have always done things a certain way. And that’s no longer necessarily what you think is the best way or the right way. But then this was sort of what I was talking about a little earlier with the appeal of Mambu. You’re not going into a company that has done things a certain way for 15 to 20 years; and having to try and make sense of and then dismantle parts of that in order to modernize or to change the focus. I think it’s much easier to go into a company with an empty field and build something than trying to dismantle something.

Because I think also – particularly in big organizations, but even in smaller organizations – there’s quite a lot of explanation and justification that an employer brand professional would need to give to stakeholders across the organization about what it is exactly where it starts and stops; what benefits it yields to the organization that don’t kind of happen anyway. That wouldn’t happen if you weren’t doing it. And I think that becomes so much more challenging when you’re also asking for resources or you’re asking to change something that’s been done a certain way for a long time. And some of those conversations can be very challenging, because, again, to go back to the data point, you’re talking particularly up front, you’re talking almost in abstract about what you will do, rather than providing any guarantees for what will happen.

I think all of the logic and the experience in other organizations will tell you what you’re able to achieve. But it’s difficult and probably a bit foolish to put specific numbers, metrics, savings, or anything against work in advance of really getting into it and doing it. And so again, for individuals in an organization that have done things a certain way, and it’s always delivered a result. The idea of dismantling that on the promise that it might make things better, but you can’t quantify exactly how is quite a challenging thing. It’s quite a challenging message to sell convincingly. It’s quite a challenging thing for people to buy.

I think it’s much safer in established organizations to continue doing what they were doing. So as an example, and it’s not massively just focused on employer branding, but I’ve worked with organizations where in early careers, you would have a suite of events that you would go to, a suite of universities that you would visit and do their careers fairs. And every year you do the same thing. And then so the question was ‘Okay, what sort of return on that investment are we seeing?’ And nobody knows because at the end of the season, they filled all of the graduate roles. You’re almost duty bound to go and do everything you did last year because that worked.

But you don’t know which bits of it. So you kind of know probably that around 50% of the stuff you’re doing is utter waste; that you’re paralyzed, you can’t change anything, just in case, that’s one of the bits that is delivering people because you’ve got an idea of what is. So it’s that sort of thing that it works, so why do I want to mess with it? And it’s like, well, because there are bits in there that aren’t working. There’s money you’re spending that isn’t worthwhile. There’s things you’re doing that are probably giving candidates a bad experience. And just because at the end to get the right number of hires shouldn’t be the only metric that that you’re looking at. You should be looking at each of these events and thinking ‘Is that the right one for me?’

And if it’s not, then that’s a great investment for me to go and try something else to go and experiment with this, to go and buy that rather than forcing myself year after year to do exactly the same things time and time again, because I just don’t know which bits of it are working, which aren’t. So I think that kind of conversation is quite challenging, is quite a challenging one to have. Because also, as you’ll know, in our world, there’s never a quiet six months where we can say ‘We’re not going to recruit for six months’. So now is the perfect time to just look at everything we’re doing. And really tear it all to pieces and rebuild it. You’re doing all of this stuff, while the recruiting machine is still rumbling along and candidates are still coming through.

So it’s always trying to make some big changes while also helping the business with the day to day, and making sure that none of the wheels fall off the machine that needs to keep bringing people through. For big organizations, and probably even for small ones that have been doing things a certain way, it can be very challenging to persuade them to do something fundamentally different without the guarantee that it will make things better; and just follow the theory and the logic and the common sense that says it will make things better. But I believe it will make things better, although those conversations are probably some of the hardest that I’ve had have. 

Georgiana: I always compare our field of activity or line of work with that of engineers. And I always tell myself that it’s so easy to evaluate what you’ve done when you code or when you’re a technical person, whereas when you’re at the intersection of marketing and HR, and all of these soft, skilled environments, it sometimes can be very difficult.

Steven Brand: Yeah, exactly. I think because again, different organizations interpret employer branding in different ways. They believe it is different things and build a team to deliver a different thing. So there is no uniformity to it. Each organization defines it in a slightly different way and expects it maybe to be responsible for slightly different things. So yes, that it why I always think that my job is to be useful to the business. That’s it really. It’s not what I might want to do. My job is to do what the organization needs me to do; to be useful and valuable to them. So that means where I think there’s a right way to do things, I’ll fight for it, because I think that will be a benefit to the organization. But ultimately, the organization, my clients, my customers say we want to do it this way.

Then it’s my job to do the best version of that way that I possibly can, not refuse or throw my toys out the pram. Ultimately my job is to recommend, persuade, and try and set the right direction, what I believe is the right direction. But ultimately, if my clients and customers want to go in a different direction, then it becomes my job to do that way the best that I can. I’ve never seen a lot of value in being too precious about what we do. I  believe in things and I sort of work with a philosophy in mind. But that’s not to say that I think my way of looking at the world is right, and anybody else who thinks differently are wrong. I think the beauty of what we do is that it’s still relatively new. It’s still forming and deciding what it is. It’s defined in a whole different hundreds probably of different ways. Lots of people can come into it with different ideas and interpretations and approaches to it.

And I don’t think it’s for anyone to say it’s right or wrong. But it’s more just what kind of works for you in that organization. And then thinking ‘If that’s if this is our function, this is my purpose in this organization, then how am I going to show the value? How do I make sure that the business understands where I’m contributing, not owning, again, not solely responsible for anything?’ But how can I show leadership and peers the value that the we’re contributing to the organization, and those things might be very, very different from one role to another. And that’s part of the joy and obviously part of the frustration as well.

Georgiana: But it’s good to know that you’re not the type of person who says it’s my way or the highway.

Steven Brand: I don’t think I’ve ever been in a room where I’m the smartest person in it. That’s really not the aim. It’s just that I’ve got an idea about how I think things work and the way I think things should be approached. But that doesn’t mean that I’m right, doesn’t mean that I know exactly how to execute on that, doesn’t mean that I know the organization. I work for better than other people who might actually say, for us, this will probably work better. So it’s always been about trying to build those relationships, internally build networks, build connections, all of the content, all of the channels, all of the impact really lies within with the people in the organization.

You know, if I put stuff out, and I spend hours agonizing over the language, and I craft it, and I bang it up on the corporate LinkedIn page, hardly anybody sees it. And nobody believes what they read, because the organization’s saying it. So that doesn’t really hold any water. But if I can convince half a dozen, two dozen internal people, to share some of their experience of working in our organization, what it means to them on their own social channels, or just tell the stories, and let us share, let us enable some of their other colleagues to share them, then the reach massively outstrips what I can do myself organically.

And also, it’s believable. And it’s credible, in a way that the corporate sort of stuff isn’t so. So it’s always been about networks and relationships internally, and sitting by myself with my philosophy and my ideas, is I’m just going to be a sad, lonely, dusty old fella who gets nothing done. It only works if you can make yourself useful to other people, if you can explain what you’re trying to do clearly to other people, if you can take them on the journey with you and help show them how they can be a part and the kind of impact of this work. And so I think you can excite people by talking about what good employer brand execution can deliver for their organization, how it can make their lives better, as a result, and excite them and show them how they can contribute and enable them to do it and make it easy for them to do that. Because ultimately, if you don’t have this support, then you can’t get anything done.

You can’t tell any stories, you can’t reach anyone, just it’s the man by himself shouting at no one. So yeah,  that’s always been always been kind of key. You’re just there to be to be useful, and to be valuable, and to be helpful, and to be inquisitive about what the organization is up to and look for ways to turn existing content to things you could use or to take things that you know, and share them with other parts of the organization. So just to create connections and conversations and things because that’s where interesting things happen is where you’re just talking to someone, something comes out, or you find a way that some candidate data might be useful to one of the marketing teams. And that creates a connection that then they will share back with us all of just these, these ways of working and navigating, I think helps make the job a lot a lot easier. If if your colleagues internally don’t understand what it is you do, don’t believe in it, don’t want to be a part of it, then you won’t be able to get anything done, regardless of how smart you might be, or how savvy your strategy might be. 

Georgiana: You know, Steven, as we’re approaching the end of the year, I’m wondering if there’s any trend that you can predict for employer branding in 2022? Or that you can recognize at the moment?

Steven Brand: I would dread to predict anything that will happen even next week, or next year. But I mean, I think sort of casually I would probably observe there seem to be more roles in organizations now. Organizations of all sizes that are focused on this sort of area of work. There is a broader recognition that it’s something that should be done that organizations can and should look at.

There’s a broader understanding of employer branding; you should probably be looking at, be aware of, be interested in. What will be interesting to see in the next year, in the next two years, is if the profile of the role goes up. So still, I think the role is a relatively mid level one even sort of leads and heads off. And it doesn’t necessarily have the strategic weight that I think it should give them what it is potentially responsible for, and what it can be responsible for. So I sort of envisage a future where the head of employer brand sits at that sort of fairly senior level management table, because you’re helping direct and influence the talent acquisition strategy as an example, rather than at the moment where you’re almost a function of it.

So you help determine acquisition strategy, you bring it to life. And so you sit in that function. I think longer term, the profession should aim that we sit above and actually what the employer brand is, and where we want to take the reputation of the organization as an employer influences the TA, the term acquisition strategy, just as it influences reward; it influences how we engage with alumni. So those kinds of things. Have more ambition about how influential, how important employer branding can be to organizations and being a bit more confident about where that role should sit within organizations. So I’ll be interested to see if that, if that starts to happen, as organizations start to join some dots and say, ‘Actually, rather than it just being over here, it can sort of have impacts here and here’. So maybe, you know, the role then starts to expand.

So I think it will be interesting to see if that starts to happen. But it seems like the logical next step after that recognition, that it’s something we should be looking at, then maybe also start to assess the benefits, and if I there’s this benefit, if I gave this portfolio, maybe I start to see that broader benefit, and just start to see if organizations start to broaden out the portfolio of employer brands to be more than just focused on that external piece. I think it will be interesting to observe and see if that happens in the next 12 months. But yeah, I mean, who knows the planet could explode, it’s impossible to predict what’s going to happen.

Fingers crossed. Buckle up, it could be a bit of a crazy year. But yeah, there’s more conversation about it, there’s more profile, people are more interested in trying to work it out. More people are coming into it earlier on in their careers, not just sort of happening into it after 10 years doing something else. And more people are starting careers in this area. So I think it’s all good, and healthy and right. I think that now as we practice it, we need to think about how we can elevate it, and make sure that the leaders, the C-suites understand how profound the impact could be, if you’re really allowed to go to town on it, rather than just be shut away in your little corner.

Georgiana: We’re approaching the end of this podcast. And my last question to you, Steven is what is one resource that has been crucial in your career as an employer branding manager? I say just anything, book, movie, blog, etc.?

Steven Brand: The thing that is kind of the go-to, must read, is Recruiting:BrainFood. Most of it has nothing to do with employer branding at all. So it’s by no means one of the core topics. But what it is, is a couple of bits. So there’s such a range of content and information in there that really broadens your thinking about the markets. A lot of the stuff isn’t directly applicable to what I do. It’s interesting and it makes you think in slightly different ways. And also the community is incredibly active.

There’s lots of questions answered, lots of topics being discussed all the time. So again, in terms of thinking about employer branding, my topic but recruiting and candidate experience more broadly as really big, engaged group for corners the world thinking about how can we be better at what we do? How can we do better? How can we perform better? How can we improve things for our businesses and for our candidates and for ourselves? And I think that’s kind of what will drive us forward is not us all sitting separately and thinking, Well, I can’t talk to other heads of TA, I can’t talk to other employer brand people, because they’re trying to make my candidates. They work for the competition. It only kind of works, I think, where you pull people together that have similar interests, the kind that all work in the same field and look to share ideas and ask questions and, and challenge and discuss.

And that really pushes things on. I think the group that Hung’s sort of created over the years is not just a great place to go and observe and listen to and digest the content, which is helpful. It’s a really engaged and alive community. So it really pushes on, I think, thinking and ideas around sort of what we could do, what we can do what we should aspire to. So I think yeah, I don’t always understand a lot of it. But I make a point on Sunday morning, trying to read through it, pull out some interesting bits, share on those things, I think contacts or people who might be interest. Those kinds of things, I think are really important just to keep the brain fresh. 

Georgiana: I agree. Not necessarily employer branding related. Yeah. Totally.

Steven Brand: James Ellis’s newsletter on employer branding is really good as well. I’ve got a lot of time for James because, you know, he talks about it in a way that is engaging and exciting.

Georgiana: I hope to get him on this podcast one day. Maybe it works out in a few years.

Steven Brand: Yeah. Yeah. But yet again, the energy is what you need. And you know, he’s good because although it’s more employer brand focus, there are also things that pull from broader brand and marketing and learnings and things that I think are helpful. So again, it’s all about kind of something that’s kind of focused on what you do in a day to day, but that really challenges you, that brings things in from outside, from left field that you might not have thought of by itself, and then giving you access to those resources that then further reading maybe deep dive into a topic you pick up in the brain food or something.

And that takes you off into a place you wouldn’t have thought of and you wouldn’t if you just stayed laser focused on what employer brand is, you wouldn’t have ever got there. And I think just for sanity, for interests, for your own sort of intellectual curiosity. You always want to be exploring those things and seeing is there anything I can learn that I can bring in or move across, or that would apply or that somebody in my business would find useful? Because again, that way, I’m valuable, I’m helpful, I’m useful to my organization. And that’s sort of where I always want to be so yeah, yeah, I’d say those are probably the ones.

Georgiana: Okay. Well, yes, we are at the end of our discussion. Thank you so much for talking to me today. Steven, I look forward to catching up with you. Six months from now, one year from now, just to hear how things have been with Mambu. And yeah, good luck with everything you do.

Steven Brand: Thank you very much. Thank you for having me on. Yeah, it’s gonna be a big year next year, I think for everyone. Keep in touch. And yeah, let’s see what 2022 brings us all. Bye. 

This was Employer Branding: The Inside Podcast. You can find our podcasts on Spotify on Apple podcasts and content on employer branding-related things on employerbranding.tech. Until the next time, stay tuned.

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