First of all, how are you and your Family doing in these COVID-19 Times?
Ashutosh Garg: I am going through a series of mixed emotions. I feel blessed for everything that is going on in my personal and professional life. Everyone is healthy at home, and I am getting to spend more time with kids, and my parents are doing well in India. At work, we have an amazing team. Smart, passionate, hardworking, and driven by mission. At the same time, how can we be fully happy when there is so much suffering around us?
Tell us about you, your Career, how you Founded or Joined Eightfold.ai
Ashutosh Garg: I’m from a small town. My parents felt that I should have the best education I can. They instilled a big work ethic in me. I got a great education in India, and in the U.S., I managed Search and Personalization at Google. Then I started a company called Bloomreach. But I’m really proud of Eightfold.ai where we took the lessons of AI we’d learned through the years and applied it to people and talent. We’re trying to provide the best career in the world for everyone.
We have a team here at Eightfold who all care about solving the problem of people not using their skills to the best of their abilities. We want everyone’s career to flourish regardless of where they went to school or who they know.
How does Eightfold.ai Innovate?
Ashutosh Garg: We’re taking an approach to an employee’s whole life cycle that has not been done before. We focus on skills: what capabilities do job candidates have, and what capabilities are needed to do a job? Then we apply that approach throughout the talent-management process. This starts with a career website and goes all the way to the “screening” process, then interviewing, then helping people grow their careers and moving internally.
So on a career website, for example, a job candidate uploads a resume, and the AI matches their capabilities with the capabilities needed for jobs open at the company. Then, the recruiter gets a ranked list of candidates by matching their capabilities to each job.
Similarly, internally, companies use our AI to show employees how to grow their careers and move internally, matching their capabilities to open jobs. We even help employees take projects internally that would have gone to a temp agency. The AI shows people their capabilities and how they match up to the skills needed to do a project.
This is so different from the way HR has been handled for so on. It’s who you know, where you worked, what school you went to, and are you doing the job now that we need you to do? We don’t see it that way at all. The way we see it, let’s say you’re working at our company right now as a customer service representative. You have the potential to take another job in another department, based on your skills. It may be in another department, but it’s your customer service that will make you successful.
We’re not working off of a simple list of skills or a skills library. We are doing a complex mapping of capabilities to see the potential. Take a blockchain job, for example. There aren’t many people with years of blockchain experience. We have studied so many millions of skills, though, that we can see who has the potential and capability to do the blockchain job.
How the Coronavirus Pandemic affects your Business, and how are you coping?
Ashutosh Garg: First, I will tell you that I do miss seeing people in person. Having said that, we used the pandemic and recession as a rallying point to improve the job market, the economy, and, ultimately, the world. When the pandemic hit, we launched the “Eightfold Talent Exchange,” a marketplace for matching people who were laid off and furloughed during the pandemic with companies hiring. We realized that some companies and industries were quickly shrinking dramatically, and others were quickly growing. In response, the Eightfold Talent Exchange uses artificial intelligence to determine the capabilities someone has and then match them with the capabilities needed in an available job, even if the other job is in a different industry.
So imagine a restaurant manager out of work, thinking that all they know is food and restaurants. In reality, they likely know payroll, team building, inventory, budgeting, customer service, and more, all of which can be applied in another industry.
Unfortunately, you don’t have to imagine those restaurant employees out of work. They are, and they came to the Eightfold Talent Exchange, along with major employers from multiple industries.
The Talent Exchange currently has more than 800,000 available jobs. In North America, and has been made available to more than 400,000 laid off and furloughed workers. At least 3,000 matches have been made.
Our mission is “the right career for everyone in the world.” The Talent Exchange serves this mission altruistically. People put so much effort into building this at Eightfold. It gave us a real purpose in a rough time.
Did you have to make Difficult Choices, and what are the Lessons Learned?
Ashutosh Garg: We started the company focused more on sourcing and hiring. Then we took a risk. We said we’re going to broaden that and create a platform for the entire journey of an employee, from start to finish, and for large enterprises to really transform their entire process of managing people. The platform’s idea was ambitious but it worked.
How do you deal with Stress and Anxiety? How do you Project yourself and Eightfold.ai in the Future?
Ashutosh Garg: I keep my eyes on the mission. The mission is the right career for everyone in the world. For some companies, that means helping to reduce layoffs. We show companies how our AI can help companies redeploy people, using employees’ skills for other roles within the company.
For other companies, our technology helps employers hire top talents, outside the norms they have been working in. It’s a skills-based approach. Right now, people rely on bad job interviews, vague resumes, and worse job descriptions.
I always remember it’s about our mission. And I am so proud of our people. They are working so hard toward that mission. I feel good about what we’re accomplishing. That keeps me going.
Who are your Competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the Game?
Ashutosh Garg: I wouldn’t say there is one that is handling the entire lifecycle of an employee, reimagining how it could be handled well by AI, using data, and not intuition.
Even though no one is doing that whole process, there are literally thousands of little tools trying to do a piece of it, like a succession-planning vendor, chatbots, sourcing tool, or interview-scheduling company. But we have the science, the data, the incredible amount of analytics running in the background of everything a company does related to people.
We help big enterprises make better decisions hiring, on the career website, to when they exit. We also use AI to make sure the employer knows what an ex-employee has been up to. That former employee could be a great future employee!
Your Final Thoughts
Ashutosh Garg: We haven’t discussed a lot about diversity. However, diversity, equity, and inclusion are a part of everything we do. They were part of our company from the beginning and will remain so.
We have had some challenges in the past talking to companies about diversity as it hasn’t always been their priority. Today it is and they’re now approaching us with the question about it. We keep the candidates’ details anonymous to prevent unconscious bias.
We have analytics showing where companies have diversity challenges: was it in the interview stage? Was it at the top of the funnel? When we help companies with internal mobility, it helps them avoid promotions based on politics or who the staff knows but instead on their capabilities or potential.