Talent Leaders – Virginia Tirado

November 16, 2023

Virginia Tirado is a People leader with experience in HR, Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, Inclusion, Equity, Diversity, and belonging, Mobility, Rewards, and Benefits.

Currently, on sabbatical, she previously served as Director of Talent Acquisition at Zalando, reporting to the Chief People Officer. Prior to that, she held key roles at AWS and Amazon, leading Tech Recruitment and Executive Recruitment across EMEA.

She is on the Industry Advisory Board for Manara, a tech DEI sourcing company, also a member of the RL100. She is an accomplished speaker and podcaster on all things talent.


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

Finding the right balance to keep your team engaged and motivated while supporting your business stakeholders and still look after yourself is no easy task but never more necessary than today.  The market continues to stay quite unchanged, inflation is still at an all-time high, there is a new conflict that can potentially expand into a wider war, and we are entering into a year-end Season, where everyone remains cautious and bootstrapped, so stay close to your stakeholders and business partners, to ensure you are informed of what is coming your way, look at ways to continue to support with the ever-changing business needs in the current climate, and look after yourself so you can look after others.

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

Communicate, communicate, communicate…especially in times of uncertainty and change, default to transparency, make sure your teams have safe spaces to ask questions, understand what is expected of them, and use their times wisely, even if you are not hiring as much.  Treat people like responsible adults, make yourself available so they can come to you with questions or concerns, and even if you don’t have all the answers, actively listen so you can give them peace of mind and provide clear messages to them when possible and as often as possible.

How has the role of a recruiter changed and what new skills do you think they need to possess and develop?

The role of a recruiter has evolved significantly in recent years, tech is a big player in the changes, just as changes in the job market, and shifts in employer and candidate expectations, have made us reassess how our roles should adapt to these changes, becoming more and more consultative and partnering with not only our hiring managers but our HR business partners and our Finance colleagues to be truly aligned with our business/customer’s needs and challenges.

In today’s recruiting game, it’s like we’ve entered a whole new playing field. Tech is a big player on our team, with tools to effectively engage with our candidates and allow them to apply to roles with ease, and AI making sure we’re on top of our game in managing candidates efficiently. Social media is our secret weapon; we need to be all over LinkedIn, X,  TikTok, IG, you name it, to find and connect with potential hires.

Numbers and trends? If you are not into data as part of your daily life… you will be left behind.  We analyze recruitment metrics to make sure we’re making the smartest moves. And let’s not forget about being the architects of our company’s image. We need to be out there building and promoting our employer brand, creating a buzz to attract the best folks in the market.

But it’s not all about the tech savviness. Soft skills are our superpowers. We’re weaving through diverse cultures, keeping our finger on the pulse of what makes people tick. And if we have learned something over the past three years is boy do we adapt! Our playbook is always evolving, and we need to be committed to keeping it fresh.

So if you want to succeed in the space the modern recruiter will not only need to be a talent scout but also a tech-savvy, data-driven, and socially adept professional. Developing a diverse skill set that encompasses both traditional and emerging aspects of recruitment is key to success in this evolving role.

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

The rapid pace of technological advancements and evolving job requirements have created a widening skills gap. Finding candidates with the right skill set and cultural fit is becoming increasingly challenging. It is crucial for talent acquisition teams to constantly assess their strategies to attract, assess, and retain top talent, becoming more strategic and consultative to the businesses we support.  Ensuring that we look at Talent holistically and adopt a more sustainable approach around the Talent agenda.

The biggest opportunity lies in educating ourselves to embrace technology to streamline and enhance the recruitment process and to understand how the skills gap and talent shortage will affect our own ability to deliver great talent. With AI and data analytics, we now have powerful tools to automate routine tasks, analyze large datasets, and make data-driven decisions. Leveraging these technologies not only accelerates the hiring process but also allows us to identify hidden talent pools and make more informed decisions about candidates.  And ensuring we do not lose focus on employer branding and creating a positive candidate experience which can give you a competitive advantage in the market.

What is the next stage of transformation for Talent functions?

You don’t need a crystal ball to guess that if as a Talent Function you do not proactively engage in understanding the challenges your business will face in the near future to attract the talent they will need (and many businesses don’t even know which talent that is), and help design a holistic Talent Strategy, you will scramble to remain competitive and attractive in the market.  Talent Functions cannot continue to react, they need to strategically engage in transitioning today’s workforce to the workforce of the future, we know that AI, the Green Transition and the Macroeconomic Climate will not slow down and we need to be prepared.

Would you like to share any other opinions or thoughts about Talent acquisition and recruitment or the wider business world?

Talent Acquisition needs to move out from the attract and hire space to become the Talent function full stop – we need to stop thinking of our function as the one that acquires Talent, we acquire, transform, retain, plan succession, and build future talent pipelines.  The era of working in Silos is gone, if we want to be ready for the next technological evolution, our work needs to be holistic.  We need to understand the problem, educate and create awareness around the problem, and ensure that we are also part of the solution.’s Talent Leader Series seeks to share the view of leaders in the Talent space.

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