We talked to Sudhanshu Ahuja of impress.ai about the AI powered recruiting solution, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Sudhanshu Ahuja: I haven’t seen my family for over 12 months now, but I am fortunate to be living with my wife in the beauty and safety of Singapore.
The majority of our team is in India, which has been much worse affected than Singapore. While the Singapore team has the option to come into the office and meet other team members for a few weeks now, our colleagues in India have not been able to do the same. This has been challenging for them, as our culture is built on close collaboration and camaraderie.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded impress.ai.
Sudhanshu Ahuja: I graduated from Nanyang Technological University in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in Microelectronics. After 2 years with the Monetary Authority of Singapore as an Associate, I began my startup journey with Ideatory in 2013.
In my time with Ideatory, we worked with large enterprises such as banks and consulting organizations to create well-rounded job assessments for data science roles. The other co-founders and I realised there were plenty of pain points in the hiring process for our clients – such as a large volume of applications for a limited number of roles, inefficient workflows and unconscious biases behind hiring decisions. We began to ask ourselves: could job applicants be assessed properly at scale? To answer this, we conducted extensive research on I/O psychology to understand how candidates are evaluated in their roles. We began testing new technologies to automate current processes as well. We eventually developed a recruitment automation platform which allows structured interviews to be conducted at scale based on the principles of I/O psychology. In 2017, the other co-founders and I brought the platform to market as impress.ai.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your industry and business?
Sudhanshu Ahuja: Organizations across the world have shifted their focus to going digital with remote working being the norm due to the global pandemic. Consequently, this has placed further strain on Human Resource (HR) departments, with much of traditional HR processes, such as hiring, relying on human interaction. As a result, demand has increased greatly, with organizations looking to invest in HR support functions such as recruitment, onboarding, coaching, performance management, engagement, analytics and workforce management. The current climate has accelerated our growth, and our positioning has transitioned into being an essential service for our clients.
How does impress.ai innovate to meet the changing demands of its clients amidst the coronavirus pandemic?
Sudhanshu Ahuja: The pandemic has led to new demands from our clients. With remote working removing geographical constraints, our customers have begun to source for talent in markets like China and Japan. As such, we have equipped our product with language solutions in order to make it compatible across different regions.
Many of the enterprises that we engage with are in different stages of their digital transformation journey. Therefore, we have built our product in a way that it can integrate seamlessly with other specialized selection tools that are being used by the client, regardless of the level of digitalization the company is currently at. We have also seen our product getting adopted for new use cases such as student admissions.
How can HR practitioners increasingly look towards technology as an aid to support in the interview process, especially as teleworking remains the norm for the foreseeable future?
Sudhanshu Ahuja: The ability to automate manual and repetitive tasks, such as sifting through a large volume of applications, will enable HR practitioners to conduct higher-value activities such as sourcing and meaningful engagement with candidates. These meaningful interactions are aided by the fact that technology is now able to provide highly accurate filtering with regards to candidate selection. Such a selection is made by accurately determining a candidate’s competencies and making data-driven decisions, despite the lack of physical interaction.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Sudhanshu Ahuja: Lack of human interaction has required greater gravitas when it comes to video call interactions, highlighting the similar situation that most HR practitioners encounter, with regards to interviews.
More customers are now happy with virtual calls. This is a very positive change to the culture as commuting hours are minimized and increased connectivity with our colleagues and customers in different time zones. It has probably helped our product team to engage meaningfully with our customers. Meeting in person has become a choice when we need to focus on whiteboarding or relationship building.
However, we do face hurdles when call participants choose to keep their camera off during video calls. This takes away some fidelity of the information we receive from them.
Overall, we think moving to virtual media has made things more efficient. We can check in with clients more often and reduce information asymmetry across the company.
Your final thoughts?
Sudhanshu Ahuja: The demand for HR support technology is increasing rapidly due to the effects of the pandemic, and how it will transform the HR hiring practice once it is over. We are very well positioned to take advantage of this transition and will be working to expand our scope of HR support technology as we release products across the HR value chain.
For 2021, we are looking to drive our revenue growth and international expansion. We have grown our team by 60% (and counting) to accelerate business growth and develop an enhanced value for our customers.
On the personal front, I hope to be able to meet my family before the end of the year.
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