Hey there, Karunjit. Welcome to Marketing In Asia. Karunjit, can you share a little about yourself and your role in the company.
First of all, thank you for having me, Geogy. I come from a very humble family back in India. After graduating in computer applications about 20 years ago, I went on to pursue my Master’s in Planning and Entrepreneurship Management. That is where I discovered my passion to pursue a full-time career in “learning to build brands and scaling businesses” globally. I spent close to the last 2 decades working on the business side in the technology consulting domain helping fortune clients from multiple industries and geographies before I moved my base to Malaysia in early 2014; where I am a resident now. I have travelled extensively across India, the UK, Malaysia, SEA and Australia, which has helped me with immense learning and exposure about multiple new markets and different people and cultures.
In my current role, I was invited by the board of SRKay, which is the private equity arm of the multi-billion-dollar SRK Exports in 2018 as a Co-Founder to define the business strategy and lead the business for one of their portfolio ventures, SCIKEY that was under development stage at that time. My role was to contribute in the shaping of the product and business strategy to what it is today and spearhead the launch and growth of the product portfolio in multiple global markets in-line with the expectations of the board and investor stakeholders.
Karunjit, we know you as the Head of Global Business Operations but more so as the Co-Founder of SCIKEY. For those of us still not familiar with SCIKEY, walk us through more on the journey of how SCIKEY came about.
SCIKEY’s vision is to create happier and more productive organisations by enabling them with best matched talent and making the journey of talent identification to onboarding, alignment and engagement a great experience. Its mission is to be one of the most trusted Talent Lifecycle Management brands globally.
SCIKEY emerged from the passion of our founders and the board to create happy and productive organisations who wanted to counter billions of dollars of losses in failing companies, startups and productivity loss by understanding and putting forth the power of “human only” factors to the jobs, teams and companies.
When I was invited to join the team, I was highly impressed with SCIKEY’s research work that was going on in the human psychology and behaviour prediction space; with human psychology and its impact on the jobs people undertake with a mindset that they build over time. The founders realised that covering the lifecycle of the employee in the company right from their selection for a job role would help in achieving their goal of happy and productive employees. We divided this quest into three segments, that have emerged as three different products now. The first ‘TCP – Talent Commerce Platform’ is all about finding and hiring the best fit employee, be it a full-time role or a project or gig-based contractual project assignment.
The second one being ‘TAP – Talent Alignment Platform’, is about harnessing the power of an individual’s mind-set data towards understanding and fine tuning the alignment of the employee in the company not only in terms of the job role but also in-line with his/her peers, line managers and the company culture itself to address business critical aspects like (but not limited to) employee productivity and turnover management, succession-planning, change management and organisation restructuring, mergers and acquisitions etc.
The third one, ‘TEP – Talent Engagement Platform’, is about using the same mind-set data to constantly and meaningfully engage the employees thereafter to get the best out of them in terms of productivity, harmony and longevity for the organisation.
What you see today, the Talent Commerce Platform is already up and working as the most automated Global Talent Marketplace powered with AI, MindMatch and a crowd ecosystem. It currently operates in India, Malaysia and Finland; with plans of further expansion in the rest of Europe and the UK in the cards for 2020.
Talent Alignment Platform is being extensively tested and tried out in Europe and India and will be launched soon in the market, whilst for Talent Engagement Platform, we plan to launch by the end of 2020.
As a venture of SRKay Consulting Group, SCIKEY is an AI & MindMatch powered Talent Commerce Platform that uses cutting edge technology to connect the demand for expertise. Can you share with us more on this, Karunjit.
As we all understand, hiring talent is usually a very manual affair and has become a very mechanical and repetitive process that is losing the human touch, which is critical to hiring the right talent. It has been crying for a meaningful holistic automation, for years now. We therefore studied the hiring process popularly followed by majority of the companies and using the power of modern technology reduced about 40-70% of the manual and mundane efforts through automation (RPA).
However, we also realised that the time and effort saved can now be focused on better candidate engagement and creating the human touch that is largely missing in the process otherwise. We have therefore created a platform that automates what should be automated, integrated the power of crowdsourcing and created the template for better candidate engagement through our AI and MindMatch powered Talent Commerce Platform, called SCIKEY TCP.
With SCIKEY being the world’s first end to end talent acquisition platform that takes care of everything from sourcing to onboarding powered by technology such as AI and automation, what can we expect from it and how is it different compared to digital recruitment, for instance?
The way the world moved from offline to online banking, offline retail to e-commerce, offline taxis to e-hailing etc, SCIKEY Talent Commerce Platform is about taking the entire currently offline Talent Acquisition experience online, where the entire hiring transaction right from creating a job to actually offering and onboarding the talent happens online, on our platform. When you choose SCIKEY Talent Commerce Platform to manage all your talent hiring needs, you do not even need to use your mailbox to manually do and track any hiring related transactions; as the end to end transaction takes place online in a real-time basis on the go and it is mobile-friendly too.
It is primarily automating most of the mechanical things but going big on human touch. It’s about helping the generally overloaded HR and Recruitment teams, with a solution that eases their life and helps them add real value to the business by being a “HR business partner” in its true sense. It is about streamlining the hiring process end-to-end (that is otherwise largely fragmented) not only to achieve exceptional business outcomes but also offering a great candidate experience, that is missing generally. Right Talent Attraction, Alignment and Engagement is the new “marketing” and we believe it is high time the businesses realise that and take necessary action.
Today we live in a generation where technology is always evolving. How do you ensure you continuously stay creative and innovative, Karunjit?
We have a strong R&D team that is based in India and Finland; both places where a lot of innovation and future thinking is taking place. We are also doing a lot of research work that becomes the basis of our product/ platform development and helps us regularly come out with our research reports. While it may be early to say, but we are striving to be one of the preferred companies when it comes to utilising human factors to the benefit of individuals, companies and society as a whole.
Personally speaking, as Albert Einstein said – “Creativity is Intelligence having fun”, so I try to constantly challenge myself to solve problems and think up new ideas to make things better, infuse positivity and always try looking at the big picture while not ignoring or missing the nuances or prevalent trends totally.
I also spend a lot of time reading to stay abreast with the latest developments, technology trends, emerging business models and investments in startups and VC space.
Marketing or branding, Karunjit – why?
While marketing plays its own role for any business, product or service, I am a firm believer of getting the branding right. To me creating the right “branding” is vital as it goes a really long way in establishing “who you really are?”, “what you stand for?”, “how would you like the world to know about you?” and hence making your business a lot more “sustainable” and “larger than life”, in that sense.
I am sure you recall the famous marketing campaign for Apple – “Think Different”, by the legendary Steve Jobs where they have tried to convey the core values that Apple as a brand stands for – “people with passion can change the world for the better”, or “the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones that actually do”. That’s what real branding is about, though the “ways and means” to communicate the same brand message to the world could be many and that’s the marketing bit.
I feel “branding” requires a deeper and more thoughtful approach and cannot really be achieved just by spending a lot of dollars or appointing the best agency. Building a brand needs a lot of time, care and clarity on core values, purpose and positioning. I would always look forward to building a brand and marketing follows.
When we talk about the future of brands and branding, personally, how do you think marketing will play its role compared to the past?
Branding is all about making the public clearly understand ‘why we exist’, but for that we ourselves must be clear of the same first. That is why branding is difficult; but once that is in place, marketing that brand message and values is comparatively easy, using multiple channels and means. The best marketing in new world is through social media, user inputs and transparency through most unusual channels and that is all rooted to branding and positioning for any company.
What is also important is for us to appreciate that in today’s highly connected borderless world, the new breed of consumers or target audiences is increasingly aware and hence we cannot just bluff in any of our marketing, as a brand. For any brand to really establish a connection with its audience and win their love and respect, they have to display genuine care and always remember that ‘loyalty is a two-way street’; whether they’re marketing to their customers or employees.
For those who wish to get in touch with you, what is the best way?
You may connect with me on LinkedIn.
Anything you wish to share with our readers, Karunjit?
Increasing workplace stress resulting in unhappy employees has impacted our societies worse than any epidemic. It has resulted in a lot of unnecessary unrest, stress, medical as well as societal issues even amongst the very young generation and billions of dollars towards productivity losses worldwide. It was with that mission that we started finding how companies can have happier employees and discovered that mismatch of jobs with personalities, within teams and with hiring managers and with the organisation culture or DNA is one of the biggest causes of this problem.
We developed our MindMatch algorithm that is now patented and can read human minds and help them find the right careers. Our study was presented at the United Nations and is being used to find the right founders for start-ups. We sincerely hope that SCIKEY as a brand is able to play its role in addressing this growing problem and we are able to provide “right” jobs and happy careers to millions and create happier, more successful and growing companies supported by a happy workforce. Godspeed.