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HRx Radio – Executive Conversations: On Friday mornings, John Sumser interviews key executives from around the industry. The conversation covers what makes the executive tick and what makes their company great.

HRx Radio – Executive Conversations

Guest: Yvette Cameron, co-founder and EVP, Velocity Career Labs
Episode: 367
Air Date: May 29, 2020




Important: Our transcripts at HRExaminer are AI-powered (and fairly accurate) but there are still instances where the robots get confused and make errors. Please expect some inaccuracies as you read through the text of this conversation. Thank you for your understanding.

Full Transcript with timecode

John Sumser 0:13
Good morning and welcome to HR Examiner’s Executive Conversations. I’m your host, John Sumser and today we’re going to be talking with Yvette Cameron, who is a super interesting person running a project called Velocity Career Labs. Yvette, how are you?

Yvette Cameron 0:29
I’m great, John. How are you doing today?

John Sumser 0:32
Oh, you know, we were in the middle of this heatwave, and it’s cooled down. And so I’m happy. So, take a moment and introduce yourself. How’d you get here, what are you doing?

Yvette Cameron 0:41
Yeah, sure. So, I have been in the HCM technology space for over 25 years, mostly working in technology organizations that – many of the name brands that you know, I’ve served in product management and strategy and other roles. I’ve been an industry analyst. I’ve actually been a HR practitioner myself and ultimately over the last five or six years, I’ve been exploring new technologies, new innovations that are possible to solve some of the real critical problems across the global labor market. And so with that, a couple of years ago, I partnered with a gentleman who is, you know, run one of the largest implementation groups for one of the major software vendors out of Europe. And we created Velocity Career Labs to essentially solve the global labor market problem of how we exchange credentials. How do we present ourselves as individuals to the job and education opportunities? So you know, 30 years of work, brought me to where I am today.

John Sumser 1:40
So, give me a little bit better picture of how you got here. You can’t imagine that, you know, at five years old in the sandbox, you said to yourself, I have a vision and I’m going to be running Velocity Career Labs and making something called the Internet of careers. So what’s the what’s the thing that got you here?

Yvette Cameron 2:00
You’re right, John, I wasn’t five I was actually seven when that happened.

John Sumser 2:07
Good answer!

Yvette Cameron 2:08
In reality, ever since I got into software, I have been super concerned about the individual experience. You know, when I was working at PeopleSoft technology, I was running the product team for self service, right, the benefits, the compensation, etc programs. In fact, John, I was so passionate about that self service capability. I even changed the spelling of my name from Yvette which is a y v e t t e to e, little e capital V eVette, right, to go along with all the e-applications that were in the market. There are a lot of I applications too, but I thought that eVette better. I mean, that’s how passionate I am, right. Always focusing on what does it mean for the individual to get information and be supported and whether it’s in you know, our HR systems or in the consumer world, I’ve always been incredibly passionate. about people having the control and ability to manage the data as efficiently as possible and as safe and protected away as possible.

Now, in fact, several years ago, when I was an industry analyst, I spent a tremendous amount of time really complaining and talking in the market and really challenging organizations. Why are we spending 10 times the amount on CRM systems, customer management systems compared to employment management systems, we knew so much more about our customers than we did about the employees who are actually supporting those consumers, those customers. So again, that passion that concern for how do we as individuals have better control and better systems for managing and kind of data has always been a top priority for me and it has just naturally led me to this focus that has evolved in my work in HCM technology to really look at how are we presenting ourselves as individuals for job opportunities? How do we get rid of the redundancy that many times I need to apply for jobs and have the same information again and again and again. And oh my gosh, in today’s technology environment, why isn’t this an easier process? And why do I have to keep validating the same information over and over again? And why? Why am I subject to the whims of different, you know, employers and systems and their access, when I can get access to that information? Why do I have to wait for your business operating hours to get proof of the courses I’ve completed or the license I have or whatever, I’m so incredibly frustrated with the manual processes and the inefficiencies we have in today’s age, John is inexcusable. We need to find better faster ways and that’s what my passion has been about. And that’s how I got to Velocity Career Labs. Was that a better, more deeper explanation of how I got here?

John Sumser 4:52
That’s good. I like the fires getting lit here. This is good. So what is Velocity Career Labs?

Yvette Cameron 4:58
Yeah, Velocity Career Labs is actually a technology organization who is building this new Velocity Network which is intended to be the Internet of careers, the world’s network for self sovereign career identity. Velocity Career Labs is the technology firm that’s driving that.

But what’s even more important than velocity career lab is the nonprofit vendor neutral foundation that we have created, and now have 18 organizations and counting as members of this foundation. So this velocity network Foundation, as I said, is the governing body for Velocity Network. It’s the industry based approach the industry coming together to drive the standards, the governance, the design of the velocity network, again, my organization currently is driving the actual technical development that this foundation is driving this whole internet of careers which is you know, again, it’s about having a, the world’s network for self sovereign career identity,

John Sumser 6:04
Okay, so unpack that for me. The world’s netowkr for self sovereign career identity. That’s a mouthful. And I think that what it means is somehow you’re creating a framework that allows me to be in control of the access and distribution of my credentials. Is that right?

Yvette Cameron 6:27
Exactly, you know, so that the network again, it’s an open source public utility layer that is intended to restore trust to how those credentials are exchanged. Essentially, the network provides all the infrastructure necessary to enable credentials of any type and I’m talking education and degrees, but also, you know, skills, validation and capabilities, that the network is intended to provide the support so that issuing authorities all of those organizations that we interact with and confer those do skills, education etc to us allow that information to be transferred to me, the individual, and from my digital wallet where that information is now curated and stored safely and securely to allow me to share the credentials that information that I choose out to others who need to see in the future employers, it could be financial institutions, etc.

But at its heart, the velocity network is this exchange platform for managing the issuance and the sharing of credentials, but all controlled by the individual. I like to think of it john as we’re the electrical grid, we are putting in the plumbing, the pipes, the protocols, the security, the checkpoints, the validations of you know, who’s interacting with with who and with what data, we’re putting all of that infrastructure in place to support the trusted exchange of credentials. And then on top of this network, this electrical grid will be all sorts of apps services, even new business models that enable individuals and employers and organizations of any type to interact with that data and provide additional services and capabilities that maybe we haven’t even thought of. But we are the Velocity Network Foundation is driving this electrical grid, this core infrastructure to provide all of that support for the exchange and receiving a validated career credential. That’s what we are at our heart.

And this is we call it the Internet of careers because just like the internet is ubiquitous, and it enables the exchange of information of all types, and it created new business models, etc. That’s Velocity’s role. Velocity is the Internet of careers. It supports the exchange of all types of career data. It’s not trying to control the businesses and the services that come on top, but it’s the enabler for everything. It doesn’t disrupt current incumbents. It’s the technology platform and the infrastructure and the governance and the compliance controls that ensure that just like the internet is there as the underlying enabler of all things that we’re doing today, the Internet of careers, too, will be there enabling all things that we do relative to our careers.

Does that make sense?

John Sumser 9:12
Yep. Let me drag you down a deep rabbit hole. So I’ve been busy this last month talking to what I’m gonna guess are about 30 vendors who claim to have the capacity to describe skills and extract skills from databases, which are fundamentally all of the job postings ever, and all of the resumes ever and so they claim to be able to extract it, there are 30 of them, and they come up with different answers. Right? So you’ve got these proliferation of vendors doing skills extraction, and their answers don’t agree. So if you’ve got an exchange, and this is the core data, that’s flowing across and people can’t fundamentally agree on, what skill, how to define a skill, what it means, how they’re related to each other. How do you make the overall exchange work?

Yvette Cameron 10:07
Yeah, it’s a great question. And it is a it is a two prong challenge right? So, on one level, you need to make sure that skills, competencies, certifications, right. What constitutesa certification? What constitutes a credential? And skills are considered a credential and we all know that there are many, many different ontologies and definitions of skills and ways that you know, they are identified, you know, three level, five level, and different amounts of data associated with each skill and how are they validated, it’s super complex area in particular to address. But, even on a broader level credentials, you know, can be everything from a degree from a university or the courses that comprise that degree. It can also be the skills that come with those courses with that degree. It could be your employment history, you know, for a job tech, a credential could be a badge, right? Something that says, hey, kudos, you that was employee of the month. And so there are all of these different levels of information with different amounts of quality, you know, are they valuable, are they not and honestly, value is in the eye of the beholder. I might not think that an employee of the month credential is important, but depending on the kind of job I’m applying for, it might be very important.

Bottom line here is that level of the credentials, including skills is absolutely complex. And there are so many industry consortiums and groups and organizations who are working to try to standardize along that level. And to be honest with you, John, I don’t think we’re going to get to a good solid standard in any one of those areas anytime soon. I mean, we’re converging. There are groups like the W three C who are working on this concept of verifiable credentials that are defining better standards. We’ve got IMS global out there doing their standards around CLR’s, comprehensive learner records and so forth.

So, standards as a level and how you how you come up with a common language across those different types of items in those those credentials is really hard. We are focused on the next level, which is how do we exchange those pieces. So we know another metaphor would be an envelope and the letter right, we’re making sure that whatever is in those credentials, that the letter essentially can be packaged in an envelope and shared across different systems. So we’re going to make sure that those packages are received to the individual and the individual can unpack that package, get into the individual letters, add the details of the letters and share out whatever they want to to other organizations.

But, to get back to your fundamental question, how do we make sure that the letters themselves are all in the same language can be read by one employer to another to another institution that’s part of the industry wide work that’s happening along standards so Velocity is engaged in many, many of those leading standards conversations. We’re not trying to say this is the one standard that everybody will follow and all skills will look like this. And this is the way that all degrees will be defined and the way that all kudos and badges will be defined, we’re saying we’re open to supporting however, the industry chooses to converge on those and it might converge on three or four main types of standards.

Our job is to ensure we’re open and supporting all of them especially engaged in those that are leading and guiding and involved in those conversations. But, at its core, making sure that whatever is comes out as a standard is able to be transferred securely to the individuals wallet, it won’t be able to be modified if it is if modification is attempted is immediately available. If those credentials are revoked, you know that we are able to present that that credential is no longer valid, etc. So, we’re focused on ensuring that the envelope the package as it were, is securely exchanged and we’re keeping our eye on the contents of those envelopes so that we can take advantage of any, you know, changes in direction and technology necessary to add more value. But John, it’s an industry, it’s an area that’s changing wildly. And I’m not surprised you’re getting different answers from 30 different companies because it’s the Wild West, it still is.

John Sumser 14:18
So next question is at the core of credentials, issuance, there are some high risk things starting to happen. I saw a report the other day that said, if there is a second pandemic way, in August or September, it will cause the failure of 60% of the private colleges in the United States. And so, you know, we’re looking at colleges, all in the idea that what we’re going to do is send them to live in a dorm where they watch TV and yell at the TV and don’t go to actual classes. I don’t think we’re probably gonna do that. And as we make that decision, Other people make that decision, these colleges that have month to month economies basically will go under. And so what that means is you’re going to have 60% of the private education system for higher education not able to validate and verify credentials.

And so as we go through this disruption in learning, and and they’ll be a concurrent, I think, emergence of new kinds of credentials and new credential offers, how do you navigate that? Yeah, if you’re gonna make interoperability and we go from a concentrated supply of credential makers to everybody who could issue a credential for their desktop as the as the way that it’s going, it’s a very interesting question about how you go from a centralized model to a distributed model.

Yvette Cameron 15:50
Yeah, I mean, that’s essentially why we created Velocity Network Foundation to drive this design and the solution. The bottom line is the way that we are managing information on individuals today is outdated. You brought up the point that you know, many colleges and whatnot will be closing. And so how will I be able to validate credential that I might have received? You know, in previous years from that college if they’re closed? That’s that’s one challenge. And obviously, if you have your credentials with you in a trusted validated way, then you don’t have to worry about closures or people taking, you know, weeks to get answers to you because they’re backlogged and are understaffed, right, that’s one of the values of carrying your credentials with you just like carrying a portfolio.

You know, all your passport and everything in your backpack, you know, you’re now carrying it on your digital wallet, and it’s secure and trust and all of that. But then on the broader picture, the way we’re delivering education and training, the way we’re developing our skills, you know, it’s not just about going to work as an employee. Maybe I’m taking good work as a freelancer, right. There’s so many different ways that we are accumulating knowledge and experience And the challenge I see in the industry today is how do we as individuals curate that experience that education, that training those skills that employment, those project works, and so on? How do we curate a comprehensive profile for ourselves that we can own that we can manage, again in a secure way? So if I with every course that I take online, right, so the concept of online learning has been around for many years, and with each course that I complete, it’s great if I can go on the web and see and you know, show that I’ve done it or get a badge on the web and put it on my social profiles spend more but even better if I can get that information stored onto my onto my mobile device, right. So, that in the future, others can see hey, great, this is something that Yvette did it’s trusted if I want to validate it, it’s been anchored to the blockchain. We haven’t even mentioned blockchain. Another topic. But it enables that instant validation of, yes, this is this is what happened, and it hasn’t been modified. And the same thing goes for anything that we do in our employment work in our freelance work at a small community colleges, maybe I’m set out for a four year degree and I only complete two years, there’s still so much value and information that I should be able to take with me and share as part of who I am as a student as a professional trying to present myself for new opportunities.

Now you ask how are those institutions going to transform from their centralized databases into a way that let them publish that information easily out into my mobile device, it’s not like they can just say, great, we’re going to write it to the HCM or the student information system. And we’ll go ahead and send an API to your mobile device. Not that easy. I mean, in general, it is about API and connectivity. But there are tech vendors who are transforming their systems to enable this interoperability with velocity network foundation. That’s the whole purpose behind this industry based approach as opposed to a single individual vendor. There. developers and and you know it firms who will build services around services and tools around supporting the colleges and the employers who maybe aren’t working with these technology vendors who are part of the the foundation, but who can help give them the tools to convert in provide the API connections and the agents that will let them interact with velocity. So, the point here is it’s not just about how do I, as an individual curate my information, we have to make sure that the labor market the various providers of education and service are also enabled to communicate to me and my mobile device in this new way. And that’s part of the ecosystem that we’re developing as part of the the velocity network Foundation, the technology, the exchange platform, but also the developers in the services who will help those other organizations who need to transform their systems in a way that, you know, helps him support self sovereign identity.

John Sumser 19:58
So, I’m seeing a was a very small operations offering very unique individual credentials. So, there seems to be an explosion of single class providers, single topic providers, as the pandemic takes root, it seems to be growing faster and faster because it’s an interesting way to help with the coming shift in the labor force. I think what you’re suggesting is that the way that those individual providers will have to operate is they’re going to have to align with some larger organization. That’s part of this thing, right? You’re not really thinking about making an eBay for credentials, you’re thinking about something that’s more gated than that , yeah?

Yvette Cameron 20:42
You know, ultimately, we have one internet in the world that drives the delivery of many different apps and services. And ultimately, we envision that we will have one internet of careers but in the meantime, we are seeing a series of different blockchain solutions. arising to solve niche areas, right? We’re in this blockchain, we’re going to address healthcare for the United States in this region or education in this particular segment, and so forth. And so there are many, many different solutions. And to be even more specific, we’re seeing the delivery of these health passes for the COVID-19 pandemic, right, the right to enter the workplace, the right to get back to work. Am I red, yellow, green? Have I passed a COVID test? Or am I you know, not passed? I am ill right now. And so I can’t work.

So, we’d have to look at those individual apps, we have to look at the various blockchains and ask ourselves ultimately, what from an individual perspective what’s going to work right, it’s maybe it’s fine to have an individual app for the COVID-19 is a right to work. But if you think about it, there are a few other elements of your health profile that might be part of your right to work, you know, as a health care worker, have I passed my TB test and so forth, and how many different apps do I want to go to in order to demonstrate that, yes, I can enter the building. Yes, I can work this piece of machinery Yes, I can see this patient and so forth. Not to mention all just the standard background check that usually is required to get you into a job. So, I’m helping and helping to drive I believe and approach so that the industry can converge on a common approach that’s governed by the industry is things need to change the industry is, you know, democratically elected to the board and making decisions around the future direction, but how do we develop the experience that will help individuals get to work in education quicker, there will always be a handful of apps that are there. I mean, on our mobile phone, you know, we probably have 50 to 100 different apps that we’re using on a regular basis, but at its core, we need that digital wallet, that has our identity, our career background that we’re able to curate from all different sources. And that background includes that COVID-19 test now right that health pass component. Am I able to work? All of that needs to be accessible from my mobile device in as common user interface as possible.

But you know, it doesn’t have to necessarily be just one. But that’s the goal here. How do we bring all this information together? Store it on the individual’s device so that it’s trusted. Honestly, John, you know, as I think about the future, I think about my son who’s 16, and he’s in some STEM programs and taking an internship next year, and he’s already worried about how is he going to be able to complete a resume that really articulate all that he’s done, that it’s also trusted, right? How is he going to be able to show that he did this internship and not have to worry about, is that firm still open, because they’re a startup lab, you know, will they be closed a year from now and he won’t be able to verify his background? It’s all about how do I gather information so that my information is there, secure, trusted, and available to me and whoever want to share it with anytime. I hope I answered your question. I think I might have been a little past but that’s the big vision here. Right is self sovereign identity over my career records. There’s a lot of different smaller vendors out there who will be interacting and supporting this industry movement that we’ve created under the Velocity Foundation.

John Sumser 24:12
So last question, and this will run us a little fast. You’ve mentioned skills validation. And I just had the most interesting conversation with a CEO yesterday. And he said, You know, when I interview people, they tell me they can do things. And then when I go to see them work they can’t. Right, and so he wanted to know, how do I tell the difference between somebody who is a good talker, and somebody who can actually do what they’re talking about, right? And this is the essence of skills validation is not, can you pass a test about the skill, but can you actually perform the skill? And so if you’re going to harness skills validation, how do you do it?

Yvette Cameron 24:52
Yeah, I mean, that is a terrific question. And quite honestly, validating the skills is in many ways, more more important than even recording that skill. Recording that skill that I’m you know, an expert in this or that is the first start of the conversation. And to your point being able to demonstrate that is where the rubber hits the road. And there are organizations, there are credential management systems and skill validation systems and companies out there who do that today. That is not our focus or the network, we want to make sure that that information, the recording of the skill is available, if there is a validation of that skill and observable validation, etc, that that’s able to be recorded. And so we’re partnering, we’ve got those types of organizations who do the actual validation coming in to our foundation and adding the additional data to those skill levels to bring that that truthfulness forward but in some cases, it’s really going to depend on application in the job.

It’s one thing to say I can run a cash register at Walmart, but if I go to Target, yes, they’ve got cash registers, but maybe different. systems and things and I can’t just be, you know, put on that Target cash register and start working right away. There may be some additional training that’s required. And you know, those are the kinds of things that can’t be automated, they can’t be managed through the technology. And that’s okay, right. But we’re removing friction from all of the other earlier steps in the process to get that employee behind the target cash register that much faster to get work and to provide value to the company. That’s what we’re about right? Removing friction, getting people to those opportunities faster. There’s always going to be, well, not always, but in many, many cases, you’re always going to need another level of observation, another level of validation because every business is different.

John Sumser 26:41
So, this has been a great conversation. Would you take a moment reintroduce yourself, tell people how to get hold of you and how to find out more about the project?

Yvette Cameron 26:50
You bet. So, I am Yvette Cameron. I’m the Executive Vice President of Velocity Career Labs, driving the ecosystem development for the Velocity Network Foundation. You can reach me at Yvette dot Cameron, that’s y-v-e-t-t-e dot Cameron at And you should check out our website, That is the website of the Velocity Network Foundation. You’ll find all of our founding members and new members, information about our vision, and more importantly, how to join the foundation. If you’re a technology vendor or independent, vendor, independent developer, please reach out and see how you can join the foundation and drive this vision forward.

John Sumser 27:36
Great. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this Yvette. We’ve been speaking with Yvette Cameron who is the Executive Vice President of Velocity Career Labs. Thanks for tuning in today. Thanks again, Yvette, and we will see you back here next week.

Bye Bye now.

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