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HRExaminer Radio

Guest: Julie Moreland, Sr. VP, Strategy/People Sciences, PeopleMatter
Episode: 127
Air Date: November 11, 2015

As Senior Vice President of Strategy & People Sciences, Julie leads the team responsible for providing behavioral assessments designed for measuring job fit, attitude and level of engagement of candidates and employees. With more than 20 years of experience, Julie is a nationally respected authority on practical business applications of assessment technologies.

Before joining PeopleMatter, Julie was the CEO of PeopleClues and the co-developer of several employment assessment products used by thousands of companies globally. She led an international team of Psychologists through a 3-year rigorous review and was awarded an industry-coveted certification from the British Psychological Society for the PeopleClues Assessments.

Julie holds a bachelors degree in Finance from the University of West Georgia with a secondary emphasis on Business Information Systems. In her personal time, Julie enjoys riding her Harley through the Sonoma wine country, spending time with great friends and family on both coasts and playing with her four-legged child, Harpo, an Airedale mix.


Audio MP3



Begin transcript

John Sumser:                        Good morning and welcome to HR Examiner Radio. I’m your host John Sumser and we are coming to you again live from beautiful downtown Occidental California. Today we’re going to be spending time with Julie Moreland who is the senior … well it’s either Julie Moreland Senior or Julie Moreland who is the Senior Vice President of Strategy and People Sciences at PeopleMatter.  If you don’t know, PeopleMatter is a delightful company in Charleston, South Carolina at the center of the Charleston Tech hub. What PeopleMatter does is provide an integrated, I’ll say talent management, we’ll let Julie pin that down a little bit more. Talent management, software set for hospitality and retail. Good morning Julie, how are you?

Julie Moreland:                   I’m wonderful John, I know it’s early there for you but I am in Charleston today and it’s a bright beautiful fall day in Charleston. A great day to be here on the east coast.

John Sumser:                        That’s great and you can lift your head up out of the water, the life preservers are on and the flooding is over for the moment yes?

Julie Moreland:                   That is correct, we have a lot of people still, north of here, in Columbia particularly are dealing with all of that horrible flooding that we had. Here in Charleston we’re actually pretty dry and having a few days of sunshine which is very welcomed.

John Sumser:                        Charleston is an amazing place. Charleston seems to me to have become a tech hub from almost out of nowhere and PeopleMatter is a really part of that technology growth in Charleston.

Julie Moreland:                   It is and I think we have our CEO Nate DaPore to thank for that a lot. He has had a vision in this town and he’s a native Charlestonian and knows everybody. We jokingly refer to him as the mayor of Charleston, so he’s worked really hard over the last 8, 9 years to put Charleston on the map from a technology stand point. We actually have him to thank for a lot of that momentum. I think I heard a number the other day that there’s now over 200 technology companies in Charleston and being a small southern town that’s unbelievable. YOu’re right it seems like it’s come up from no where but there are a few folks in this town that have really been working hard to bring the jobs to Charleston. It doesn’t hurt that we keep getting voted number one city in the country and we’re now number two behind Vegas in number of weddings.

That’s an interesting fact to share with you. Yesterday we had our 6th year celebration. We did a scavenger hunt and a food bank community event. The scavenger hunt was interesting because I’ve only been here for 2 years, I moved from right, just where you are near Occidental. I did the scavenger hunt, I learned more about this city in that hour and a half of complete chaos then I’ve seen in a long time just running around to landmarks and looking for things. I’m fresh off of that so I can tell you that Charleston is definitely growing on me.

John Sumser:                        That’s great, That’s great so lets get to the basics. Introduce yourself to the audience.

Julie Moreland:                   Sure, Well I, kind of an interesting past and how I got here and basically started out at the University of West Georgia that really specializes in Psychology. I was talked out of it and talked into going more into finance. I went down that path including taking the CPA exam, passing it, I was going to get my MBA in finance and absolutely hated it. Within of about 2 weeks of classes and knew I was in the wrong place. Ended up working fro IBM where I got my first exposure to mainframes and technology early, early on. Personal computers were just coming out, which is now dating me, for those of who don’t realize my are. Then went to George Pacific and actually implemented all of their early technology around personal computers.

Just totally got the bug with all of that and then somewhere around 89 was introduced to assessment science and was fascinated with it, really started my own business then selling them and supporting businesses in using them. It’s been quite a long journey to go from finance to the big corporate America which I knew was not a good fit for me, to starting my own businesses, I think I’m on number 5. Sold PeopleClues which was the most recent company to PeopleMatter back in early 2013. That’s just a kind of a summary of how I ended up with this combination of business, psychology, and technology, kind of fused together. I feel like that’s definitely my home and so I’m excited to be a part of the PeopleMatter team and helping them grow their business.

John Sumser:                        What is it exactly that you do for PeopleMatter?

Julie Moreland:                   I really started with running the People Sciences division. That’s what when we did the acquisition I brought 2 of my key team members with me to Charleston. We ran what was the PeopleClues division. Very focused on the assessment technology which was already very deeply embedded into the PeopleMatter platform. We are actually in 7 different countries, multiple applicant tracking systems in terms of being integrated with the science in those other HR technologies.

Late last year we started to make a pivot and a shift in the organization, being 5 years old we were just making some shifts in order to change our market strategy a little bit. Nate actually asked me to take on the marketing team and the product team, the analytic side of the business so today I actually have 4 different departments and teams that I am responsible for. This year has been quite the adventure, running marketing and running product, which is really not my background, but what I was asked to do was bring operational leader ship to those teams. I’ve learned a lot this year and we’ve been doing a lot with analytics. In a nutshell I’m, right now my focus is on bringing more analytics to our customers and helping them make better decisions with the data we’re gathering.

Overseeing the product roadmap with our unbelievably awesome Kay Lucas and then still running our behavioral sciences, which is again, multiple countries and we have distributors around the world that we still manage in that area. It’s been a big year John, and learning a lot, but that’s what I do day to day.

John Sumser:                        That’s great so tell me about the strategy part. I always love it when I see people who have strategy in their title. What does that mean, that you’re the Vice President of Strategy?

Julie Moreland:                   Exactly, what it means is really helping to navigate across functions in the business, that we’re in sync. I’ll give you a great example, we are rebuilding our partner strategy right now and we are building out what we’re calling our partner play book. We’re just about finished with that. PeopleMatter has never had what you would call a true reseller of it’s products and services. We’ve had vendor partners like [inaudible 00:08:41] been a great partner, and Sterling and LS Screening and different ones like that, but we are growing up in the sense of strategically being able to build an ecosystem.

My focus right now is from a strategy standpoint building the ecosystem, who should be in it and why should they be in it? How do we then build our marketing resources, our product teams and our customer care teams around those partner strategies so they can build channels for us so that we can actually grow. We’ve been growing pretty rapidly, 65% year over year, between 2013 to 2014. We’ll do another double digit growth this year, but we really want to step on the gas.

Strategy right now means how do we build this partner ecosystem and how do we build that in a way that we cam actually have a linear growth next year. Because we have a lot more feet on the street, a lot more people that are actually representing our products out in the market, in the marketplace and vice a versa. Right now that’s what strategy means.

John Sumser:                        Got it. Got it. We never did this precisely, why don’t you tell the audience what PeopleMatter is and what’s focus is.

Julie Moreland:                   PeopleMatter is really a vision from Nate DaPore and the early founders of PeopleMatter. Back in 08, 09 they looked into the marketplace and said restaurants, hotels, retail outlets, they were under served in the HR technology space. Most of them were still on paper, schedules were on paper. They were using spreadsheets to try and keep track of inventory and any sort of applicants they would have and the applicant pool. Basically they set out on this journey to build a platform that was very specific for the hourly workforce and for multiple unit businesses. That’s going to be your food service, your hospitality, could even be like lawn care companies. It could be physical fitness organizations. If you think about over 50% of our workforce in America is hourly workers and that is under served.

There was this beautiful opportunity to build a platform that would be from beginning to end help you attract your talent, screen your talent, onboard your talent, train them with our learn modules. You can push out all kinds of learning content for them and then schedule is a hugely popular one because it’s all mobile. Enabling these multiple unit managers that with a couple of swipes on their Iphones or their android, move schedules around and allow people to switch schedules with other people. All staying in compliance for example, with ACA and those rules so that somebody can’t actually be scheduled for more than 30 hours a week.

We basically just brought the technology to this sector which is huge, over 50% of the workforce. We brought the technology to them that they really needed. That’s really what our story is all about if you will, we’re focused on the applicant experience, on those managers out in the field that they don’t know how to onboard people and they don’t know how to screen people so let the technology drive those decisions for them. Certainly with the analytics were focused on more of the strategy in the organization to help them understand where they need to put resources.

John Sumser:                        Got it, so you’ve said you’ve been looking hard at analytics this last year. What kind of analytics are you looking at and what are you finding when you go to look?

Julie Moreland:                   A lot of disturbing things that we’re finding frankly, not news to you for sure. We’re looking at all kinds of things like applicant to hire ratios. What’s happening to them, which they’re through the floor right now. Two years ago you had something like 30 plus applicant to hire ratios now we’re down to about 3 or 4. Which means that the labor market is so tight that things have really transitioned to we’ve got to find them. We’ve got to attract these people to our business, so it’s an all out war. To actually find the quality people to bring into these fast food, quick serve, convenience store retail, finding the individual, our analytics are telling us that.

What we’re doing to really help our customers is we’re actually analyzing quality per source. For example in the C store space, were finding, and that convenience store space. We’re finding that Craigslist is providing ironically, the highest quality candidates based on job fit and attitude scores on assessments. Then you turn around and look at other industries like the restaurant, it’s coming from Indeed and CareerBuilder and other more what you’d call classic sources of applicant tracking. What we’re trying to do is look at quality and quantity analytics to help these businesses understand where to put their resources behind their recruiting efforts. That’s mainly what we’re focused on right now.

John Sumser:                        You’ve spent a year looking at the question, what is the PeopleMatter analytics team look like? What kind of people do you have and it’s a crazy world where people are trying to find relevance for analytics, so I’m sure you’ve been down some crazy blind allies in this process. Tell me a story.

Julie Moreland:                   I affectionately call them potholes. We’ve certainly found lots of potholes along this journey. Frankly the discovery that we came back to is that we felt like people were trying to, that term “Boil the ocean.” Just truly, just making this such a big project to try and find meaning in the data, that we went back out to our customer base and said rather than us with our PhD’s and data scientists and all these intellectual types sitting in a room trying to figure out what the data means. Why don’t we actually go to the customer and figure out what problem they’re trying to solve. Then let’s actually have our analytics solve the problem that you’re trying to solve versus us coming up with some brilliant algorithm to tell you something that actually might not help you in your business.

We’ve been on a journey this year on what we call a listening matters tour, where we go out into the field, we interview store managers. We actually interview the workers, the team members, we interview, certainly, their HR team, their CEOs . We just asked them, what are the issues you’re dealing with and what is the kind of information that would help you make better decisions. That’s what we’ve been doing now, we’re launching in our analytics module, every 6 to 8 weeks we’re pushing out new analytics content.

That’s actually based on what the customers telling us what they need. That’s what’s really shifted for us and what we’ve learned is we were falling in the same trap a lot of people were. Which is, let’s let the intellectual types and PhDs all sit in a room and talk about how brilliant all this data is and we’ve got all these millions and millions of pieces of data and that was our Ah-ha moment, very early this year, it was around February. That we said we’re going about this the wrong way. Let’s go figure out the problems they’re trying to solve and then let’s have our analytics provide them what they need.

John Sumser:                        That’s interesting, so what are customers saying about the products that you-

Julie Moreland:                   Two things that have come up this year that have been across the board. One was not a surprise and the other one was. One is they can’t find people, 5% unemployment and we can argue is that real unemployment or not. At the end of the day we’re a very tight labor market and what our analytics is telling us is that the quality that’s left is not very good. The amount of applicants that are in that pool that our customers are fighting for isn’t very good quality. Our assessments tell us that, we say okay you’re only getting 5 people applying for that job when you used to get 20 but of the 5 you might not even have 1 in there that’s going to actually be the quality you need to bring into your organization.

Right now the buzz is talent pools and acquisition and how can we get our brand out there? How can we get our career pages to look better and more enticing. What our customers are telling us is please help us figure out how to make ourselves look better to the applicant pool that’s out in the market. We’re focused on that, that’s what we’re hearing. The second one was a little bit of a surprise and this actually comes from not only our own statistics but looking at other sources like CareerBuilder.

The turn over in the management level for our customers have surpassed entry level team members. I haven’t seen that before, so to me that was a surprise. What we’re discovering is is that, being promoted at a restaurant or retail or convenience store in to management, it sounds nice, but at the end of the day you’ve just been given a little bit more money but a ton more responsibility, a lot more hours and a lot more stress. People are not getting the training they need in those management jobs and the rewards are not offsetting the stress and the lack of balance that they’re having in their lives. The turn over in the management level is well over 100% those are the numbers were accustomed to seeing at the hourly level not the management level.

What we’re doing about that is we’re going to be partnering with a big brand, I can’t announce yet, but we will be announcing after the first of the year. We’re building out leadership content for the service industry like no one has done before to push out though our learn module to help these customers actually give individuals who get tapped on the shoulder. “Hey do you want to be the store manager? We’re going to promote you.” Rather then give them the title and say “Good luck” they’ll actually have very good content to help those individuals understand how to train other people, how to hold a meeting, how to deal with a disciplinary issue. The types of things that they really need to understand from a skill set and they’ve never been taught how to do that. Those are the 2 things that we’re getting from the customers and how we’re going about addressing them.

John Sumser:                        That sounds like you’re having a lot of fun. Sounds like you’re having a lot of fun.

Julie Moreland:                   I am.

John Sumser:                        Where does PeopleMatter head in the future? What does the future hold for PeopleMatter?

Julie Moreland:                   We are actually in about the 14th or 15th month of moving upstream. Meaning that we’ve built a really good business around small, medium, and a few large enterprise accounts that we’ve just had great customers in that larger enterprise. There’s probably 3,000 to 10,000 employee ranges so about 14 months ago we said we’re going to go further upstream and actually and go and attract those business that are up there around the 10,000 employee mark. You can imagine that adjusts your product road map, it adjusts the type of people you’re bringing on to your customer care teams. The types of people you’re bringing into your sales organization, the kind of marketing strategy you have.

Where we’re headed right now is we’re building out more value to those organizations that actually want to use this product beyond the store level. That they want to use it at their corporate facilities, they want to use it for corporate type recruiting. If you think about it, for 6 years our customers looked at us and said you can run the heck out of our stores, that’s the store levels where they needed the help. These larger organizations are saying we’d love to utilize your products and services even at our corporate locations.

That’s where we’re headed, we’re building out more value at that corporate side, which in the assessment world means that they’ll be consuming more of our assessments for post-hire purposes. Leadership development, onboarding, succession planing, things of that nature, that just kind of gives you an idea. I mentioned earlier another major initiative in our future is this ecosystem. Building out this world class ecosystem in the market so we can grow much more rapidly.

John Sumser:                        Tell me a little bit about the ecosystem. Who’s … what sorts of companies are in it and what’s the vision for the future of the ecosystem?

Julie Moreland:                   We are looking at a couple of organizations that ere going to build cooperation with. They are organizations, and again I’ll be able to announce some of the names of them a little bit later. We’re basically meeting with them and saying, Here’s an area of the market that you guys really own and do really, really well in and here’s an area of the market that we own and do really, really well. How can we carve out areas that we can actually cooperate with each other and build each other’s businesses more rapidly. Those are some of the things that we’re looking at and that’s really kind of direct competitors and some of our vertical markets, so we’re looking at that.

The other thing that we’re doing, is we are not an HRIS so we are not payroll and benefits and system of record, so were also, we’ve got 3 partner, that we’re looking at right now that basically we would have tight integrations with and would be our preferred avenues. When our customers are saying we want payroll benefits and all of that, we know where our 2 or 3 key partners are in those area, we’re tightly integrated and would sit well with them in the market. Their sales-force would sell our product and vice a versa. Those are a couple of examples of building that out.

The third one is really more around content. We’re looking at couple of partners right now, one really big one we’re getting ready to sign on. We’re going to build out content and value into the service industry market by cooperating with other entities, people would not think we would be interacting with. I challenged the marketing team earlier this year to think outside the box literally and say “I know who’s usually at our collaborative conference, I know who’s usually sponsoring, I know who’s usually our vendor partners, but lets go find something that’s different that no one’s thinking about.” We’ve landed a really large brand who’s going to partner with us and build out value and content into our particular service industry, around leadership development content and things of that nature. That’s kind of giving you a broad brush of the 3 different ways we’re building out the ecosystem.

John Sumser:                        That sounds pretty exciting, it’s amazing that there’s a vibrant technology company operating at the state of the art, sounds just like Silicons Valley in Charleston, South Carolina for the hourly, public facing hourly workforce. That’s I think a surprise to the people who hear about it so congratulations on nursing PeopleMatter into the lime light. What’s your next act?

Julie Moreland:                   My next act personally? I am just really excited to continue to bring just a unique background to PeopleMatter. I am personally getting much more involved in the tech sector here locally. I’m holding a mentoring workshop at the first of, I think it’s the second of December here, where there’s about 10 local start up, females that are starting up technologies companies. I’m going to be doing a workshop and mentoring them on the pitfalls, right? “Here’s all the potholes that I’ve run into, let’s kind of navigate around those.” Giving them some tips on how to build the right partnership structure to begin with, because as we all know, it’s usually people pitch the wrong business partners. The first couple of times around, and you got to learn the hard way sometimes.

I’m going to try to help these young women here locally that have a vision and a dream, just mentor them. For me, professionally that’s just kind of my direction now is to try to give back more. Because I feel like I’ve had just a lot of good fortune in my career and I’ve worked with some amazing people and I’d love to be able to help them get a better start than me. It’ took a good 10 years to figure out a lot of those things on my own, so that’s what’s up for me next.

John Sumser:                        Cool, so we’ve whipped through our schedule, what didn’t we talk about that we should have talked about?

Julie Moreland:                   I think maybe just I’ve learned a couple of things at HR Tech that I was really kind of fascinated by. I think part of it was because it was maybe me having my head down to such an extent this year in Charleston building out our business here. I think it’s interesting to share with those that are listening to this, that maybe weren’t able to go to HR tech, or maybe got something different then maybe what I noticed. One I heard a lot of people talking about machine learning. Just getting to another level, beyond big data, beyond analytics, but machine learning to where we’re embedding in our technology it’s ability to learn from the user and continue to get smarter at serving up a better experience for them.

I think if I had a kind of a couple of take aways for people, is to really, really watch this and to be thinking about if you’re building technology. It is build that infrastructure and that architecture in early, don’t do it after the fact. Build it in early in the process and we’re sort of fortunate we’ve got a gentleman here, Jay Bradenburg, who’s just a brilliant data architect that’s been really paying attention to that with our platform. That was a big take away for me that finally people were not saying big data anymore and they’re actually moving beyond analytics.

They were talking about how to get our technology to start learning from itself. I was pretty excited to not be bored. That was one take away I had and then the other one was just literally hearing that there is this kind of upsurge in ecosystem. I heard a lot of people talking about ecosystems and make sure you’re building those out because with the cloud the switching costs for organizations to change their payroll provider or to change their applicant tracking system or to change their HRIS is becoming much easier.

Our replacement cycles that we’ve seen over the years, which could be 7, 8 years of a replacement cycle for these large companies. Is shrinking down to 3 and 4. Your ability to retain a customer, those teams that are retaining customers are going to become incredibly valuable. Not that they weren’t before, but people were really focused on growth and I think we need to be really thinking about retention. Because it’s gotten really easy for people to pitch another provider. Those are a couple of things I think would just be interesting take aways for folks.

John Sumser:                        That’s great, so we’ve exhausted our half hour, would you please reintroduce yourself and let people know how they can get a hold of you.

Julie Moreland:                   Sure, so Julie Moreland, I’m the Senior Vice President of Strategy and People Sciences at PeopleMatter, in lovely Charleston, South Carolina. You can reach me on Twitter @julieamoreland. You can reach me here at PeopleMatter at

John Sumser:                        Thanks so much Julie it was great catching up with you and thanks everybody for tuning in today. I hope you have a great weekend, you’ve been listening to HR Examiner Radio and we’ve been speaking with Julie Moreland who is the Senior Vice President of Strategy and People Sciences at PeopleMatter in Charleston, South Carolina. Thanks for listening and thanks again Julie have a great day.

End transcript

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