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Talent Leaders – Kathrin Holzfurtner

June 25, 2024

Kathrin is an international talent executive with a proven track record of scaling global teams and talent transformation projects in tech organisations including Apple, Google, Microsoft, and iDeals. As the Global Director of Talent, she is pushing the potential of TA to support business transformation and growth in new markets. She is leading a high-powered team hiring in over 20 countries and creating scalable and equitable practices. In her +15 years career, she has lived and worked in 5 countries across EMEA and Asia. Her key motivator is the evolution of TA into a more business-centric function. A believer in lifelong learning, she actively participates in the global talent leadership community, fostering peer learning with some of the industry’s brightest minds.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathrinholzfurtner/

What do you think is key to being successful as a Talent leader in the current business environment?

Adaptability.

In the post-pandemic world, the TA landscape has undergone a period of rapid transformation. These shifts have taught us one thing: the ability to constantly evolve the way we work is crucial to staying relevant. Adaptability and learning agility are two crucial ingredients for any leader in today’s environment. It starts with understanding the macro trends impacting recruiting practices in the era of generative AI. Adaptability as a leader means embracing a willingness to pivot, refocus, and transition as needed in the context of emerging technology. A few examples of how my own practices have evolved in an effort to build confidence around AI technology are below:

  • Learn to master prompt engineering by getting new inspiration from LinkedIn influencers (example from Johannes Sundlo here)
  • Conduct regular health checks of the tech stack: compare and test new tools. The current speed of innovation in TA tech is intense
  • Don’t lose sight of the potential bias embedded within AI recruiting tools: engage with this topic, ethical implications and misuse risks.

The AI tools we’re using in 2024 are still in their infant shoes, but the technology of our not-so-distant future will enhance the TA industry immensely. It’s on TA leaders to question, learn, and leverage this technology to amplify our work.

As a Talent leader, what is your key advice for leading teams and people?

Embrace change and don’t be afraid to experiment. Future-proofing means preparing yourself and your team to thrive in a constantly changing environment.

The key to leading through change lies in effective communication. Helping people understand why change is happening by regularly portraying the bigger picture is essential. I’m a fan of fostering a ‘No BS communication culture’ through transparent passdowns from upper leadership and early heads-up about what’s changing and how it will impact everyone.

I also believe that experimentation is a great way to test and involve teams and stakeholders in the change management. One of my lessons learned is that a series of small experiments can generate energy and steady progress throughout uncertainty or transitions. Little experiments better allow people to shape the new way of working and adjust one step at a time.

How has the role of a recruiting leader changed and what skills do you think they need to develop?

The demands on TA leaders have never been greater than today.

At the same time, TA as a business function needs a ‘new look’ that reflects its strategic importance as a corporate function. As TA leaders we need to wear the hat of a CEO every day. We need to show up as business enablers and prioritise according to business impact with a clear focus on outcomes.

Business acumen is a critical skill. Commercial awareness alone is not enough, it’s about leveraging business insights to shape future-looking workforce planning conversations. Layering commercial awareness with forecasting capabilities for more data-led conversations is the sweet spot in my point of view.

What do you think is the biggest challenge and biggest opportunity facing Talent and Recruitment?

The economic climate and rise of AI tools are both, a challenge & opportunity. Talent departments across all sectors are dealing with the shift caused by the appearance of GenAI.

At the same time, they need to look at cost of hire, cost of learning and productivity whilst closing skills shortages at speed. All of these dynamics are forcing TA to become 10x more efficient. There is a paradigm shift towards greater productivity and data fluency in talent teams – this presents a unique time window to level up our professionalism.

What is the next stage of transformation for Talent functions?

In a world where talent density (a concept pioneered by Netflix) is critical for business success, there is a renewed focus on looking at talent acquisition and development much more holistically.

Traditional org structures with TA as an isolated function are not serving any longer. Forward-thinking organisations will reshape the traditional corporate role of TA into a strategic one.

We will see real integration between all talent disciplines (L&D, employee experience, recruiting, people analytics). This evolution has enormous potential to elevate the recruiter role to a talent partner. In such environments, recruiters will be empowered to deliver integrated solutions by linking mobility, external hiring, talent intelligence, and talent development. It enables a future where employers can link hiring competencies with learning objectives and performance management at scale. That is an exciting future to envision and work towards!

TA.guru’s Talent Leader Series seeks to share the view of leaders in the Talent space.

By sharing the thoughts and insights of these leaders will hopefully help the Talent industry as a whole as it explores new opportunities and faces new challenges.

If you are interested in participating please contact sean@ta.guru for more information.

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