HRExaminer Radio

HRExaminer Radio is a weekly show devoted to Recruiting and Recruiting Technology airing live on Friday’s at 11AM Pacific

HRExaminer Radio

Guest: Rayanne Thorn VP of Marketing, Dovetail Software
Episode: 119
Air Date: September 30, 2015


Rayanne Thorn is a Digital Content Creator with experience in Marketing, Social Branding, User Experience, HR Processes and Hiring Strategies. She is an experienced talk radio host, podcaster, and blogger with over 2 million words published online. She is the Vice President of Marketing for Dovetail Software, HR Case Management and Help Desk solutions for increased employee engagement. Additional executive experience includes interim advisor and Chief Strategy Officer for TalentBrowser, an innovative search technology start-up based in Long Island, Vice President – Product Marketing & Strategy at Technomedia and with Broadbean Technology (Evenbase) as Director of Marketing and VP of Communications.In 2014, she participated in the documentary “HR Tech: Today into Tomorrow” as well as wrote content and moderated an open forum discussion with 20 successful recruiters in the documentary “Art of Recruiting.”Rayanne Thorn’s professional experience covers business processes which include digital content development, personal branding, product and employment branding, hiring and employee retention, developing and supporting the technologies which ease these processes, as well as innovative marketing & sales strategies. She has spent the last twelve years surveying the social media landscape and learning everything she can about social technologies and the changes they bring to how we communicate and, thus, how we do business. An avid writer, Ms. Thorn is a featured writer at InterpidNOW – a national business + lifestyle media platform where she contributes a featured column called #TheGist and was just appointed editor for intrepidHR, a new channel for the iNOW family. Additionally, Ms. Thorn is a talk radio host for HR Latte and an integral part of the family.

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Begin transcript

John Sumser:                        Good morning and welcome to HR Examiner Radio, I’m your host John Sumser. We’re coming to you live from beautiful downtown Occidental California, it’s a little village in the mountains northwest of San Francisco and it’s the place where Leland Stanford began his railroad engineering that allowed him to take the train up to the mountains to the north of the state. We think that innovation got its start in downtown Occidental. Today we’re going to be talking Rayanne Thorn who is the vice president of marketing at Dovetail software. Rayanne how are you this morning?

Rayanne Thorn:                   I am doing very well John, thanks for having me on the show. I guess I need to come and visit Occidental, it sounds very exciting.

John Sumser:                        It’s amazing, it’s like a late 19th century tiny little village in the Redwood forest, it’s two blocks from front to back, there are two Italian restaurant, a Mexican place, a pub, and a five star Michelin joint and a hardware store and a fire department. No banks, no gas stations.

Rayanne Thorn:                   What more do you need? What more do you need? That sounds like heaven.

John Sumser:                        Well, it’s got a library, it’s got a chorus, it’s got an orchestra, it’s got a theater, it’s got a center for the arts, it’s got an ancient, meaning 50 year old institution-

Rayanne Thorn:                   For California that is ancient.

John Sumser:                        Well yes, it is. There isn’t anything here over a hundred years old. The cool place is the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center which is a 50 year old commune that has three generations of people who’ve been living on the commune. It’s probably a hundred people and they do nursery things and they do an annual Chautauqua which we picked up [inaudible 00:02:27] of our get-togethers [inaudible 00:02:30]. It’s a very interesting place to be and if you go up to the top of the hill, we’re in a little valley if you go up to the top of the hill you’re on a mountain and you can see out to the Pacific ocean through the Redwoods, beautiful.

Rayanne Thorn:                   Sounds like a perfect hamlet. I’m a big fan of coastal California.

John Sumser:                        Yeah. It’s 20 minutes in any direction on winding mountain roads to get into town. There’s no government here, it’s a very interesting place.

Rayanne Thorn:                   I’m guessing everybody is either really good or there’s complete lawlessness.

John Sumser:                        The town’s central business is weddings. The weekends are crazy, there’s a couple of big [calls 00:03:28] I can’t believe we’re talking about Occidental today. Anyhow, the hill, it’s an ancient mountain that has always been a spiritual mecca. As you go down the hill there are maybe a dozen really big spiritual retreats for a thousand or two people in each one of these camps they call them. All different spiritual denominations. It’s been used for this purpose for hundreds and hundreds of years. The native Americans who lived here first saw it as a spiritual retreat and the various [inaudible 00:04:15] factions of California which have moved in since see it as a spiritual retreat. I have a friend who’s a programmer in Shanghai who just moved here with her family and the Chinese Christian church that she belongs to comes out here every summer for two weeks to have their get together. It’s very interesting.

Rayanne Thorn:                   Sounds delightful.

John Sumser:                        We didn’t get here to talk about Occidental we’re got here to talk about Rayanne Thorn and Dovetail software. Why don’t you take a moment and introduce yourself to the audience, [inaudible 00:04:55]

Rayanne Thorn:                   Sure. I’ve had a couple of people ask about my name, Thorn is my maiden name and I proudly wear it, I am married. I was named after my grandfather and uncle, on either side of the family there was a Ray so I proudly wear that name as well. It wasn’t until I was about 38 or 39 that I started working in a corporate type setting and the boss that I had at that time shortened everybody’s name to one syllable, no matter what your name was. It didn’t matter if you wanted him to or not, he did. For the first time in my life somebody started calling me Ray and it has kind of stuck since then.

One my favorite things is when I pop into a Starbucks and they ask me for my name, I just say Ray and they look at me funny. That is with Y I always remind them, it’s with a Y and I proudly wear my Y. I’ve probably have 19 different career. I have been a coach for softball, volleyball, soccer, track. I enjoy my history as a dental assistant, that’s nicely dovetailed into my work as a healthcare recruiter because I really understant-

John Sumser:                        Dovetail, very good, nicely done.

Rayanne Thorn:                   Thank you. Thank you.

John Sumser:                        That’s killing me. The commercial ..

Rayanne Thorn:                   Thank you very much.

John Sumser:                        That’s called product placement.

Rayanne Thorn:                   That’s right. More to come, more to come. Fell in love with recruiting and with the process of bringing new people to an organization, implement branding, learning a little bit more about HR processes. At the time I started recruiting I had gone back to school to get my degree in education, I wanted to teach junior high. Along the way I fell in love with business and shifted my major to business and completed my degree later in life when I was a single mom of four kids and working three jobs, and kind of just hated … Not kind of just, I did, I hated any of my marketing classes when I was completing my business degree.

I think one of the reasons I didn’t enjoy them is because most of the instructors were not actively working in marketing. They failed to understand the power of the internet at the time. I had kind of leaned into social technologies and really understanding, if you remember, Six Degrees, do you remember a social platform called Six Degrees? Very early on, and I had brought my family and friends that we vacationed with and I created two different groups where I was showing pictures from vacations with both family and with the friends that we often vacationed with. We were sharing pictures back and forth online, that was my first inception into social media and really thought “There’s something here.”

I had several people in my business life that told I was nuts to spend so much time in … We weren’t even calling it social media back then, I don’t remember what they were calling it, it was just a way to communicate online, it was the world wide web. That’s how I came to a place in marketing, I saw that there was a need for the use of social media and different types of technology as opposed to consistently research and case studies and all these boring aspects of strategic marketing that I just didn’t think was interesting at all. When you’re creating the facing part of the company, those outward facing parts of the company [inaudible 00:09:07] into the trenches of the workforce as well.

That was my foray into the world of marketing. I started using social as a recruiter. Not in a way to be discriminatory, I was checking Myspace pages when I was recruiting way back in 2006, 2007 but I wasn’t using it as a way to discriminate or to eliminate. I was looking at it as a way to see if they were suitable fits for the organization. I was looking for culture, at the time I worked for an organization that was very culture driven. My role was as manager of retention as well as recruitment, so I had this singular focus in my head that whoever I hired had to stay. They needed to be a integral part of this organization and be a contributing member of our team. We really looked at it as a team and the folks that I worked with at the organization, that was a small tech company in Newport Beach, I’m still friends with today.

We ended up having a horrible experience, a wicked if you will CEO who [frittered 00:10:32] money and lied to us and didn’t pay our state taxes and it turned into a … Some people are still battling this mess from the mid to late 2000s. It became one of the greatest experiences of my life because of how I recruited and the relationships that I created as a result of that new type of recruiting process, really understanding the culture of the organization and whether or not a person was a fit.

I have an interesting story from my very first interview, when I was being interviewed to work for the very first search firm that I worked for. It was a healthcare specific search firm. I was on my way to school and answered an ad that was on the board at school. They called my and said to come in do an interview as I was making my [track 00:11:25] to college and sat down and went through the whole interview process. I’m one of those type of people that very quickly I reveal personal things in an interview, whether I’m interviewing somebody or I’m the interviewee.

My boss had an understanding at the time, he wasn’t my boss at the time but had an understanding that I was sort of a proper person and he was concerned because he used some colorful language in the office often when a client would fall through or when a candidate wouldn’t get a placement or become a placement he would often, I remember this like it was yesterday, take his headset off and throw it down [inaudible 00:12:12] desk or across the room, I think we were consistently replacing his headset, and use a few colorful words. He shared this with me as I was in my first sit down interview with him, and he said “Would that bother you?” This is internet radio, right? The FCC is not going to come after us, I responded with “F no.”, but I said the word straight out and his jaw dropped and he said “When can you start?” I learned early on that you have to read the culture of an organization [inaudible 00:12:51]

John Sumser:                        Tell me about Dovetail.

Rayanne Thorn:                   Dovetail is sweet little piece of software [inaudible 00:13:08] folks might not be aware of that’s a clarify Amdocs solution that is still [inaudible 00:13:17] have some on features to it, but the HR side, HR case management, and I’m not sure if anybody really understand the virtue of value of case management but it’s an opportunity to record every single employee interaction with human resources and it sits in one place where it’s easily accessible, where it can be monitored and checked. We talked about this before the show John, the reporting and the analytics side of it allows HR to really understand that they can be something other than a cost center to the organization. The value that is there is that they can turn around and really present themselves as an integral business part of the organization and how important talent management is and understanding the issues that, maybe there’s a consistent issue that employees are facing, and you can track that and figure out how can we solve this, how can we fix it.

It’s also a part of the solution that is knowledge management. One thing that I think is really cool is there’s an employee self service portal. Something that we’ve developed even further is a live chat function which I just love and many of our current clients are implementing that, and that’s a growing area as we understand how communication has shifted because of the social technology and because of texting, people want information. Not just information but they want to know they’ve been heard, that their complaint if you will or their issue have been seen. With the chat they can quickly get back to them, “Hey we’ve received your query and we’re tracking it and touching in on it and figuring out how to solve the issue and how to help you.”

There’s the reporting and analytics side of it as well as workflow and asset management. It’s your, if you will, full employee engagement suite. One of the key hot phrases, buzz words, buzz phrase for the last two years has been employee engagement. Dovetail is right there as a help desk solution, as an HR case management solution.

John Sumser:                        What is your job at Dovetail? What do you do?

Rayanne Thorn:                   I have the best job. I get to tell the world about Dovetail and what we do. Anybody who knows me knows that whenever I join an organization I also become the kind of the [bear 00:16:13] there’s a lot of things that are wrapped up in that. I’m very concerned with employees, and that comes from years of working in HR and my years of working in talent management, talent acquisition, retention. I like to meet and build that affinity with my colleagues and really understand that we are all in this together and working hard to do the same thing, which is get the product in front of the people who need it, and then understand that maybe if there’s a part of the product we can improve to work toward that.

While my title is VP of marketing, my CEO Stephen Lynn has a very cool philosophy which is that we are all in this together. One of the things that attracted me immediately to the organization after my preliminary conversation with him was the idea that we can do this and do it right and do it well and also do it ethically. I’ve had past experiences, I mentioned working for that small tech company early where there was a big lie about ethics and they were a very ethical company and it was not true. Over the years I’ve had other experiences where senior leadership did not prove to really have that ethical ground to stand on.

I really admire that about Stephen. He’s always speaking with sales and with me and my marketing team and with the tech teams and those that work on the implementation team and the engineer side of the business, that we need to build a company that solves problems, and while we’re doing that we don’t need to lie about what we’re doing or what we can do. That’s really admirable and it’s not something that you hear a lot of conversations about to begin with. It’s not something that is shared immediately, the sales people have a tendency to oversell and as I have spoken with practitioners over the years on, I have my own show called HR Latte, and one of the issues that everybody talks about is sales professionals on the vendor side, or the dark side as I like to call it, oversell the capabilities of their organization and of their software.

We just are not going to do that at Dovetail. We will say we can do that and tell us more what you want and let’s develop that, let’s talk about that being a new feature or an updated feature for the future. One of the things that sets us apart I think from our competitors is the fact that each one of us at the organization is involved in this process from beginning to end. When you talk with a sales professional from Dovetail, they’re still going to be around talking to you during implementation. They’re going to be your friend through this, they’re going to listen to you, they’re going to communicate with you and there is not a drop off point where sales says “Hey, implementation team here’s Company 234 and I’m dusting my hands off that now.” We are all very involved in it. There is a hand off so to speak but that doesn’t mean that there’s a let go of hands in the process. It sounds kind of [kumbaya 00:19:52] but it’s not really that way [crosstalk 00:19:55]

John Sumser:                        Let me ask you a question, let me interrupt you and ask you a question about [inaudible 00:20:01] What you said was other sales people promise what they can’t deliver, we don’t do that but what we do do is tell you that we’ll talk about it and maybe put it in the roadmap. Isn’t that really what everybody does? That [inaudible 00:20:20] promise thing is really just another version of that, isn’t it?

Rayanne Thorn:                   Maybe. Maybe, I don’t know. It just feels different here. I’ve had an opportunity to work with five, six different technology companies and it just feels different here. I feel like it’s [crosstalk 00:20:38]

John Sumser:                        Let’s explore that. Let’s explore that, what’s different about it? What do you think is the real difference? That’s a great [crosstalk 00:20:46]

Rayanne Thorn:                   I think communication is one of the key differences here. I don’t believe there’s a day that goes by that I don’t have a meaningful conversation with my CEO, or I [inaudible 00:21:00] message to our head of implementation or our VP of customer experience. Anybody who knows Dovetail at all knows that that’s Dwane Lay, and he’s a big proponent of the power that HR holds within an organization, how valuable human resources is to a company, talent management is to a company. He’s a powerful voice in the space as well and to have him as our head of customer experience implementations says a lot about where we sit in this whole equation of HR technology.

I think communication is key. We use a couple of different tools that allow me to talk to my tech team, to learn a little bit more about what they’re doing. I’m still drinking from the fire hose, I’m only just started my fourth month I believe, I started on June 2nd was my official start date with Dovetail but I was already sending and receiving emails a week before that and learning as much as I could about the product and about the company. I love this industry so any company that I work for, and this has come from years of working for tech companies and gaining the wisdom that comes from having good experiences and having bad experiences and figuring out, really being able to discern what did I learn from those experiences and how can I bring them to my next place of employment, to my next [crosstalk 00:22:46]

John Sumser:                        Okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay. Really …

Rayanne Thorn:                   I don’t have a problem talking [inaudible 00:22:53]

John Sumser:                        Yeah. Yeah, let’s have short answers now so that people can follow them.

Rayanne Thorn:                   Okay.

John Sumser:                        What is case management? 25 words or less.

Rayanne Thorn:                   Let’s see, it’s the ability to track the life of an employee. That means from the time that they begin the interview process, respond to a job posting or employer referral and track them through that hiring process until they’re sitting in a sit and have their own email address within the organization and then tracking everything that happens to them as an employee until they leave the organization [crosstalk 00:23:52]

John Sumser:                        Okay. Okay, good. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you. Now what happens when you put case management into an organization? 25 words or less please.

Rayanne Thorn:                   There will be an effective change in how they do business. HR and recruiting are based on humanity and the employee, they are the voices and the faces of the organization. There are mundane parts of that, that includes writing and distributing job posting, noting the administrative parts of every little bit of managing people. HR is ultimately about the needs of the employee and what case management does, it allows the HR practitioner to quickly manage those mundane parts and get back to focusing on the needs of the people.

John Sumser:                        Okay. Why would I buy one of those? I get that it tracks stuff, why should I buy it? Why should I install case management for HR in my company?

Rayanne Thorn:                   There needs to be a reason to change the way we operate and engage with employees because of the onset and the ability of the employee to talk about their experience. I believe that case management is just another way to effectively communicate with employees and eliminate the potential for disaster.

John Sumser:                        That’s interesting, so what you’re saying is that case management gives you more opportunities to interact with employees and if you take more opportunities to interact with employees you can improve their overall experience in the company. Is that what you’re saying?

Rayanne Thorn:                   Absolutely. Absolutely.

John Sumser:                        That’s fantastic. You’re going to be going to HR Tech, and at HR Tech you are … We’re trying to get that interview done in 30 minutes, right?

Rayanne Thorn:                   That never happens, come on.

John Sumser:                        Well, no it does actually. What [crosstalk 00:26:38] HR Tech?

Rayanne Thorn:                   I’ve had that [crosstalk 00:26:38] We’re doing something really exciting, Dovetail is sponsoring the launch or Intrepid HR. is a media platform and they have channels that include lifestyle, business, healthcare, technology. I’ve been writing for intrepidNOW for about a year now and through my writing we’ve come to a place at Intrepid that we think there is potential to really bust open the communication and talking about human resources. That comes from the technology side as well as the practitioner side and the thought leaders or as I like to call them notables. I think it’s important to talk to individuals that have a voice in human resources. They may not be a vendor, they may not be a practitioner but they may be in marketing, they may be an analyst, they may be somebody who has been writing about the space for a long time.

Intrepid HR will launch at HR Tech in the Dovetail booth. We’ll be live streaming 30 interviews over the course of the exposition hall being open. We’re very excited to have this opportunity to live stream and record and make available within 10 minutes these interviews. Anybody who is not able to come to the conference or wants to catch an interview will be able to do it on demand rather quickly as well as listening to it on the live stream. The other part of that obviously is bringing our team together. Dovetail about 50% of the team works virtually, so it’s nice for us to have these opportunities to get together and continue our own in-house employee engagement. We’ll be working that booth as a team and sharing what Dovetail does but also talking to practitioners and experts and notables. It’s really exciting, we’re looking forward to that. If anybody wants to check that out you can go to and you can also follow them on Twitter @intrepid_now.

John Sumser:                        What should have I asked you in this conversation? What should I have asked you?

Rayanne Thorn:                   I’m sorry my dogs are having a morning fest out there if you can hear them barking. I guess probably what you should have asked is maybe what have I learned individually from the past year. I would say that the wisdom that I have gained has allowed me to really understand the inner workings of a business. Sometimes it doesn’t always go the way an employee wants to and at that moment it might not be the best thing for you. I had a really good [inaudible 00:29:52] experience in 2014 where I had some personal losses as well as losses in my business life and in my work life.

It really changed how I see my job, how I look at the people that I see daily and the people that I communicate with daily and my family. I really came to 2015 with a greater understanding of how much work impacts me personally and how I have to figure out a better way. That’s been my motto for the last 10 to 15 years is “There is a better way to do everything.”, in my life and in my work. I’m always fighting that balance battle as I know that most people are that value their job. It’s really easy to be answering emails at midnight or at 4:00am, which I’m often doing, but at some point it’s important to turn that email function off and look at the people that are sitting next to you and appreciate them, because any moment [crosstalk 00:31:10] changes.

John Sumser:                        Cool. That’s great. What should the audience take away from our conversation this morning?

Rayanne Thorn:                   I think just what I shared, that there’s a better way to do everything. I feel like Dovetail embraces that. I certainly do in my daily communications with the individuals that report to me or work for me or answer to my bidding. I have a couple of designers that I speak with [outside 00:31:41] and in-house marketing specialists that I highly value and I want her to know that every day, I need her to know that she’s appreciated and there’s always a better way for me to live my life and a better way to do my job.

John Sumser:                        Cool. Why don’t you reintroduce yourself, give some contact info and we will carry on.

Rayanne Thorn:                   Absolute. Rayanne Thorn, I work Dovetail software. You can find us at You can follow me on Twitter @Ray_Anne and you can certainly connect with me on LinkedIn just look for Rayanne Thorn, the E is on the end of Rayanne not on the end of Thorn. My email address is that rayannethorn@yahoo if you want to connect on LinkedIn.

John Sumser:                        Thanks very much Rayanne. We’ve been speaking with Rayanne Thorn who is the vice president of marketing at Dovetail software, long term industry player. She has her own show, I believe it’s called HR Latte, right Rayanne?

Rayanne Thorn:                   That’s correct, yes.

John Sumser:                        HR Latte. Check out HR Latte and thank you for listening this morning. This is John Sumser and you have been with you on HR Examiner radio. Have a great afternoon, it’s been good to be with you.

End transcript

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