We’ll see you next week for another discussion on the global business environment as we sit down with Eric Jensen to discuss global conventional warfare and cyber warfare.
The large-scale shift to telework brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic is prompting businesses around the world to explore new avenues to engage with clients and friends. Harris Bricken is no exception, and we are proud to announce our new podcast series: Global Law and Business, hosted by international attorneys Fred Rocafort and Jonathan Bench.
In Episode #23, we are joined by Nathan Sheranian, Senior Director of HR at Freshworks. We discuss:
- The differences and similarities in companies and employees from Africa, Asia, and North America.
- Freshworks’ expansion from its roots in India to Silicon Valley and beyond.
- Covid-19’s impact on the work environment and whether multinational companies will fare differently than domestic companies.
- Corporate initiatives to address gender disparities in mid- and upper-level management in technology companies.
- Reading, listening, and watching recommendations from:
- Fred – Cádiz are Finally Back, But Not in the Way That They Dreamed Of (The Guardian)
- Jonathan – The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull
If you have comments on this episode or if you’d like to suggest topics for future episodes, please email globallawbiz [at] harrisbricken [dot] com.
And please follow Fred and Jonathan on social media to stay informed on upcoming guests and topics:
This podcast audio has been transcribed by an automatic transcriber.
Fred Rocafort 0:08
Global law and global business go hand in hand but never seem to keep pace with each other, BRICS and other developing and developed nations wax and wane and their importance on the global stage. While consumption and interconnectedness both increase, laws and regulations change incessantly requiring businesses to stay nimble. How do we make sense of it all? Welcome to global law and business posted by Harris Bricken International Business attorneys. I’m Fred Rockefeller, and I’m Jonathan bench. Every Thursday, we take a bite sized look at legal and economic developments and locales around the world as we try to decipher global trends in law and business with the help of our international guests. We cover continents, countries, regimes, governance, finances, legal developments, and whatever is trending on Twitter.
Jonathan Bench 0:53
We cover the important the seemingly unimportant, the relatively simple and the complex.
Fred Rocafort 0:59
We hope you enjoy today’s podcast. Please connect with us via email and social media to comment and suggest future topics and guests.
Jonathan Bench 1:17
Today we are joined by Nathan Sheranian the Senior Director of HR for fresh works in North America. In this role, Nathan is responsible for the full scope of HR and facilities partnering closely with the go to market customer experience and executive teams based in the region. Prior to Freshworks, Nathan worked at Cisco, where he was the global HR leader for the Internet of Things business. As part of his role. He also led the culture and HR efforts of due diligence and integration of international acquisitions. One of his most significant achievements is the returnship program in partnership with women back to work, which he conceptualized created and executed for Cisco. The program received recognition from HR executive, Korn Ferry and NPR. Previously, Nathan held many HR leadership roles at GE, supporting a variety of businesses and functions, including an international stint in Africa. Nathan has a master’s in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University with a bachelor’s in international relations from Brigham Young University. One of his passions is contributing to society. Nathan’s spent two years volunteering in Hong Kong and he speaks Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese. Nathan loves music. He plays the trumpet and piano. He and his wife Kristen are proud parents of four children, Canon, Abigail, Lydia, and Eleanor. Nathan, thank you for being with us today.
Nathan Sheranian 2:35
I’m happy to be here.
Fred Rocafort 2:36
Let’s start off by talking about your career path and how you got to where you are now. You started with GE and Cisco and now Freshworks. Could you tell us how you decided to make these transitions and what you personally have gained from each of these quite different companies?
Nathan Sheranian 2:53
Yeah, you know, it is a little bit interesting. My what my career journey has been, you know, you said in my bio, that I play the trumpet. And I started college as a music major actually. And so, you know, if you were to tell me 20 years ago that my career would go from, you know, being in the marching band, to working for a global software company there, it’s not a real clear line. Um, so it is a little bit of a journey, but I’ll make it quick. One of the things that I quickly discovered about myself was that I have a real passion and interest for international things, all things International, whether it be businesses or economies, or even politics. And so I had that experience in Hong Kong. And that really opened up my eyes to what the world was and gave me a great exposure to businesses and just different people from around the world. And so that would whet my appetite. And so as I continued on my schooling, I realized that I had a great desire to Continue to work for international organizations. And so, you know, GE is obviously one of the largest companies in the world, when I was there, had upwards of 320,000 employees all around the world and just an incredible machine, obviously taking its lumps recently in the stock market and some of the headwinds it’s facing as a business, but I maintain it’s a great company. And I learned a ton of really amazing things from that role of the many roles that I’ve had in that company. The thing that drew me to GE initially, was its its reputation for developing a really good HR function. It was one of the sort of leaders in the 50s and 60s about modernizing the HR function from the personnel department to a strategic function that is, you know, part of the executive team and leading companies and the way that the model that GE uses still run its business is really kind of like a three part leadership team that constitutes the three key main decision makers of the business, which is the business leader, the HR leader, and the finance leader. And so that was a great model for me to learn the nuts and bolts of HR. In I spent time in many of the different verticals, what from GE appliances, you know, the washers and dryers that you laugh about, from 30 rock to, you know, industrial manufacturing, where I was helping lead a plant where we made components that went into power plants, to mice in Africa, where it was basically, you know, working with governments and local businesses across the whole range of GE portfolio to address really critical infrastructure things and so what really drew me to GE was You know, the opportunity to learn from the best in the function, but also to feel like I can work for something that was really making a tangible difference in society and critical infrastructure certainly does that.
After quite some time at GE, I felt like it was time for me to get a change. And so I went to Cisco and relocated from Maine where I had my last GE job to the Bay Area in California, and worked at Cisco and had great opportunities there, especially standing up the IT business, the Internet of Things business, which is similar in a lot of ways to the businesses that I was involved in with GE, which is that really interesting interface between the hardware and the software and as digitization continues to go industrial to the industrial settings, if you think about jet engines and power plants and things like that, that marriage between software and hardware becomes really, really important. And so I had a great time helping stand up that business and really learned a lot. And really, I would say started to gain my stripes as a like a business unit HR leader. And then you know, sort of out of left field last year, I got the call from this company, small software company in comparison, called freshworks. That started in India, and a software, right, so there’s no hardware component at all to it. But there was something that really appealed to me about this company, which was a, it’s really business software for the masses, right? It’s got a really democratic ethos about how the products are developed. And it gave me a really unique opportunity to be the HR leader in our region of our company, the company started in India, but the headquarters now is technically in the United States. And so I have kind of this unique role of being the HR leader for the region where HQ is, but my boss, the Chief Human Resources officer of the company, actually resides in India. So I have the unique role of being the head of HR for the region where the CEO, CFO, Chief Product officer, they all sit. And so I’m the senior HR person in the region. So it’s been a great ride. I’ve been in this role for about 10 months. And each role that I’ve had kind of successively over my career is giving me a little bits and pieces. But the common thread is I love working in a global context. I love doing things that make a big difference in society. You know, for me, I am drawn to companies that are, you know, empowering and helping entrepreneurs and economies and businesses grow. And so that’s that’s kind of the short answer the long answer to your short question, but I’m kind of drawn to these types of companies and thankfully, I’ve been able to continue to grow in my career as an HR leader.
Jonathan Bench 8:53
So you’ve spent time working with people on three continents. Can you tell us how Africans Asians in North America differ in their approaches to work both from the company perspective and an individual standpoint.
Nathan Sheranian 9:05
Well GE is a quintessential American company. And with it comes a fair amount of hubris, I want to say in the most PC way possible. You know, there’s a little bit of a kind of the American individualism and kind of aggressiveness that comes into an experience that I had at GE. And I learned a tremendous amount, right. One of the things that GE taught me early on in my career, you hear this a lot at GE, which is you have to have a high say do ratio, which is whatever you say you’re going to do you do it right. And that’s just kind of how you’re assessed as an employee of the company. And that’s kind of a very American centric sort of point of view. I got this opportunity to work for GE in Africa. Shortly after, they’d begun making them a big investment in the continent. And they were hiring, like crazy at the time, really investing, opening up new offices, hiring leaders, hiring salespeople, hiring people to serve their products in the field. And, you know, the 10 or so months that I was there, we did a tremendous amount of hiring and I, you know, happened to be an opportunity to, you know, part of my mandate was to help kind of bring them along to the GE way. And one of the things that I quickly realized is the GE way, and the American way kind of felt a little bit synonymous at times, which is the way to get things done. GE kind of felt like the way to get things done in the US context. And one of the things that I learned really quickly was when I was working in Africa, is that, you know, I it first I’d get frustrated, I would send an email, and I would expect a response. And I would get frustrated when I wouldn’t get a response. And I had, you know, some feelings like come on like, like we, you know, we’re a company, we got to get things done, just reply to my email. And I regret to say that it took me a little bit to figure out that to get things done. It’s sometimes just required me to pick up the phone and call someone. Right and just focusing on different ways of getting in touch with people and engaging with people. You have to spend a little bit more time on the relationship building side what I’ve noticed outside of a strictly us context, when I was working at GE in the United States, I could pretty much get things done by virtue of my role, which is, you know, I am this title, you’re this title, I’ll send you a note, I’ll have a meeting and we can make basically come up to some mutual agreement to get something done. And I can rely on that to happen. My experience in Africa was that a lot of it really depended on them knowing who I was. And so I had to spend a lot of time understanding how I can communicate and connect on a personal level. And so, you know, getting frustrated or spinning your wheels a bit, by the fact that someone didn’t respond to an email is you just have to adapt. So instead of, you know, having people adapt, you know, the way they work to fit the American context, it was more about helping GE get comfortable to working in a local context. And that was one of my biggest aha moments. Um, the other story I’ll share too is this is a little bit more recent, when I started at Freshworks. Again, a company that started in Chennai, India, and I started in October of last year, and I was trying to get something done with a counterpart in India. And again, it was like the same thing. I was really not getting very far and obviously forgotten the lesson that I learned in Africa and I had occasion to visit our office in Chennai. And this person that I was talking to trying to get something done, ended up requesting to spend an hour with me when I was there. And so what happened? We sat down and this person kept asking me questions about how are you finding Chennai? How was your flight? What do you think of the food Tell me about your family. And it was really great, just connecting on a personal level. And then the last 10 minutes we addressed whatever I needed to do from a work standpoint, is easy. And from then on, it’s been an absolute pleasure working with this person, and we’ve, you know, really got a great working relationship. And so, again, I think investing in the person Aside of the relationships outside of the US context, at least in Asia, and in Africa have really made a big difference for me, because in the US, you can be pretty transactional. But what I would say is my experiences around the globe is a title is not the currency of transactions and getting things done in business. It’s about the relationships, and to the extent that you can foster no collaborative friendly relations. It sounds a little bit cliche, but for me, that’s been the key to getting things done in a global environment.
Jonathan Bench 14:33
So would you say that India, Africa, do they have the same kind of business hours that we do in the US do we tend we tend to say, okay, you’re in the office by x time you leave at y? And you’re available after hours as well as needed. So how does that compare to what you saw in Africa and with your experience so far, working with Indians?
Nathan Sheranian 14:55
Yeah, it’s a good question. What I would say is Africa is Probably a little bit closer to the United States hours, like, you know, we talked about the eight to five, the nine to five. In the US. What I saw in my time in Africa was there was a little bit later start maybe like, nine to six or something like that. What really surprised me honestly, is when I started working at freshworks is in Chennai, people don’t regularly start working until like, 10am 10:30am 11. And they’ll continue working till you know, later in the evening, you know, 678 9pm. And that was a big shift for me when I visited, right, because I wake up, I wake up my hotel, go to the office, I’d be there, you know, 9am, which is usually plenty of time. In the US context would be a ghost town, no one was there at all and things didn’t really start filling in until 11am. I’m kind of the personal preference. I’d rather get in the office early and leave early. But it’s it’s a different different work mode there. So yeah, the thing that surprised me the most in India was the delayed start times of the day. And then things kind of push more towards the evening. And people typically eat dinner quite a bit later than we typically do in the States, you know, sometimes 9:10pm eating dinner with their families. This is at least specific to Southeast India. So, Africa, I would say was probably a little bit closer to maybe somewhat in between. But the interesting thing too, is, you know, working with these, these global teams, you know, now I’m in the States, I work with people in India A lot of times, you know, we kind of have to mutually flex our schedules. So, this week alone, I’ve probably had eight to 10 hours of calls, you know, between eight and midnight, uh, you know, and what, I have a call starting at nine, eight or 9pm. That’s kind of late ish. For me, that’s actually 8:30am, which is earlyish for India. So we kind of have to give and take And for anyone who knows me, I’m definitely not a night person. So as, as my meetings get later and later my energy goes lower and lower. So that’s something I’ve had to personally work through.
Fred Rocafort 17:13
So can you give us more background on Freshworks? We understand that is based in India has been expanding into the US. What is your role as head of HR in the US? And what is Freshworks trying to do in the US market?
Nathan Sheranian 17:27
Yeah, so I’ll give you a little bit of background on the company. The company at its heart is all about creating moments of wow for customers. And I know that sounds really buzzword II, so I’ll try to make it less and buzzword II, as I explain what it is. If you think about the current landscape that we’re in right now in the world, businesses are strapped with the uncertainty of global economies. layoffs are happening, companies are needed to do more with less And the acceleration to digitize their workforce to create opportunities to support customers at scale, especially given the uncertainty and the financial pressures that so many companies are facing with today, that’s really the core of freshworks business, which is we provide customer support software that basically is the idea that we can have a common platform that will give you a 360 degree view of the full lifecycle of a customer. So I’ll walk you through a little bit about what that would mean, all the way from lead generation, you know, getting people with into the sales pipeline for a company all the way through our, our customer relationship software. Getting the deal done all the way to supporting them as customers all the way through the full lifecycle and so One of the things that we characterize our business as is if you think about what business software is like, it’s almost like what consumer electronics were before the iPhone, before the iPhone, right? You had a GPS, separate GPS, and you would have a separate camera and you would have an iPod and you would have a cell phone. So you’d have all these four devices that you carry around in your pocket to use at any given point in time. freshworks main value proposition right now is that this is the iPhone moment for business software, customer support software, which is we have a common platform that can span that whole cycle of relationship with the customer right from the very beginning all the way through the full lifecycle. So instead of having to have separate software for lead generation, and, you know, sales, support the CRM and customers support, and chat and anything else that you might have from a customer support engine, and having separate, you know, separate tools that don’t talk to each other. And then you have to have other software that makes them stitch together. freshworks main value proposition is that we make it easy to do that all together on one platform. And not only is it easy, it’s accessible. And so one of the things that differentiates us from the Zendesk or the sales forces of the world is that we’re easy to configure, or easy to implement. You don’t need an army of it, people to do it. And one of the things that we’d say, you know, internally about our products is we’re kind of like Salesforce for the rest of us. In other words, Salesforce wants to sell you the multimillion dollar contracts to the Cisco’s and the GE’s of the world. And ultimately, we’ll take them on on up there. But what we’re starting at is we’re starting to small and medium sized businesses that really need to help they really need the support more than ever given the context of the global economy that we’re in. We give them digitized tools to help support their customers and grow their business. So that’s a little bit of the context of what Freshworks does. And so what are we trying to do in North America? So it is a company that started in India, and the vast majority of our employees are in India and will continue to be in India. We have, that’s where our products are developed. That’s where the company started. Well, about a year ago, the executive team, including the CEO, relocated to the United States, the company is on the path to an initial public offering. And not only having that proximity to people in Silicon Valley is important for networking and learning and collaborating, solving some of those problems. The other piece of it is proximity to customers. The segment of area that we really depend on to grow our business is that it was medium sized businesses and That segment in the United States in North America is really critical for our company’s growth. And so to have close proximities, close proximity to company executives in this key region is really important for us to continue to grow rapidly. And, you know, we have ambitions to be a billion dollar company in the not too distant future. And, you know, with, you know, high double digit growth every year, we’re, we’re feeling pretty optimistic about it, even with, you know, headwinds that we had coming into COVID things are starting to rebound for us and the customers. And so we’re in feeling pretty good about where we are. And it’s been a really fascinating journey for me to be a part of some of the internal discussions about getting ready for IPO and what that takes from a internal process and systems standpoint. And so it’s, you know, as much as I love the things that I do for my job, I’m also loving being along for the journey of learning because I’ve never gone through this before myself. So it’s great to learn and be a part of the leadership team getting the company ready to have an event like that.
Jonathan Bench 23:05
So we know you’ve been active on Twitter talking about how COVID-19 is impacting the work environment generally. Can you tell us what you’ve been seeing? And how you expect multinational companies maybe will differ and how they deal with it from purely domestic companies. You know, how, how is the workplace really changing?
Nathan Sheranian 23:23
Yeah, I mean, this is a fascinating topic that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about. And what I will say is that, especially in California, the offices in the Bay Area are not going to be opening up in any significant way anytime soon. We are going on seven months, with our offices closed, and many companies freshworks included prior to the covid 19 pandemic held a really strong belief That office time was important. And there are certain huge advantages to being able to be co located with people. Right? There’s ease of communication and brainstorming and whiteboarding and strategizing. But I think what the pandemic really forced upon companies is to say, how we operate in the past is not going to be the way that we operate in the future. In other words, I feel like this, the this pandemic really accelerated the push towards reliance on asynchronous communication and problem solving. And what that means is, I think, you know, the future of the office is not that it’s dead, right, like companies will still have offices and they’ll still be important places for rituals, and team meetings and collaboration. But what I foresee happening in companies across the world as a couple of a couple of tailwinds here for a couple, few topics. The first one is if you go to any software company in Silicon Valley or Seattle, the first thing that you notice when you walk in the door is how dense they are. From a desk standpoint. Most software companies are jam packed with people right next to each other. In the days of social distancing, that doesn’t work anymore, right. So what had office space had been optimized for density, and you know, getting as many people in the same space all at once. I think that mental model is beginning to break. So what I foresee happening in the future for offices is less about optimizing for density. And you know, individual desks and working you know, in a cubicle in an open environment, what office space I think are going to be optimized for is for Team brainstorming and design thinking. So instead of dedicating, you know, all this real estate to rows and rows and rows of people just doing individual work typing away on their keyboards, what we’ll start to see I believe, is more collaborative spaces, bigger spaces with whiteboards and couches and big monitors and working spaces and tables where when we can get together and in larger numbers we can in groups, but I don’t see us going back to the days of high density cubicle farms. So I think that’s one thing. The other tailwind that I’m starting to pick up on here is I think over the summer and you know, in the springtime when we started to see so much of push for companies to take a stance on inclusion denouncing racism, systemic racism, that it’s important for companies to start thinking what inclusion means for their own business. And I think what this pandemic has opened up our eyes to is that full spectrum diversity doesn’t stop at age, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, on all the other protected classes. Full Spectrum Diversity, and Inclusion actually should include location as well. And so the companies that are going to be the most inclusive are going to be and when in the new world are going to be the companies that kind of blow up the requirements of any specific location for any job. And to the extent that you can find the best talent that sits anywhere, at any time, and be able to rely on asynchronous communication To get things done, and then some really targeted in person sort of brainstorming, problem solving sessions, those are the companies that are going to win in the future. And I think that companies that embrace really the full spectrum of inclusion, to include the becoming more and more location agnostic, those are the going to be the companies that win, not only in the marketplace, but in in the, you know, still use the cliche, the war for talent. So for global companies, it’s going to cause it’s going to create some really interesting dynamics for companies as they start to think about what that implies about how they manage their human resources. You can’t just have someone pick up and move to Mexico, if you don’t have an entity there. Right? Even though you might, you know, there might be no drop off in their day to day work, there are going to be some real significant implications about where people work and where you can support people to work. So there will be some trade offs there. But I really recommend for companies looking at this To be open to the idea that the best talent can come from anywhere. And I think as we’re thinking about a society, how do we move toward a more inclusive society society, we should be excited and interested in opening up opportunities to include people from other areas that, you know, these opportunities may not have been made available to them based simply just based on where they live. And I’m starting to see those headwinds change a little bit to where I think the companies in the future won’t care so much about where you sit.
Jonathan Bench 29:35
And you and I’ve talked about in the past you work with, with getting women back to work. I’d love to hear more about that. Because I think it’s an interesting segue from what you just mentioned, about having that full spectrum diversity. And I think that would also include, as we’re all feeling now the squeeze of trying to work at home with with kids, those of us that are still fortunate enough to be able to work from home and get our work done. So I’d love to hear more about your work in the past and what you’re seeing ahead. In terms of, you know, involving employees in in more creative ways than than we traditionally think about.
Nathan Sheranian 30:07
Yeah, so my story starts at Cisco really, and an aha moment that I had when I was looking at some data. And I’ll speak in broad brushstrokes here. But one of the things that I was looking at in the business that I was in at the time was, we had a real, real shortage of women representation in leadership roles in the company, not only the company, but specific in Cisco in general, but also specifically to the area of the business that I had responsibility for. And what was fascinating for me to see was that our college recruitment engine, so to speak, did a pretty darn good job of bringing in a pretty balanced male To female ratio of students coming out of college, you know, it’s probably about 6040 60%, male 40% female, which for tech environment, I’d say was pretty good. Certainly we’d like to see probably closer to parody, but I wasn’t going to complain about that. What I noticed as I looked at the data was that with each successive level in the company, the ratio of females continued to shrink. And there was a critical drop off inflection point. That happened right around year seven, which is the share of females to males really dropped off dramatically at that point. And so it troubled me. And it troubled others that I had been talking to about this i’d formed in an internal committee that was looking at this community. of business leaders is some other folks who are interested in this area. And we’d, we looked at it and really troubled me that at about seven years in to a career, that’s when the representation really started to drop off. And so, you know, this idea of returnships really started to appeal to me and capture my attention. And my imagination, really, this is important to me, it’s near and dear to my heart, because my wife, Kristen would probably like to go back to the workforce at some point. She’s been out of the workforce for 11 years. And so there’s a little bit of self interest in me, which is like, I’d like to be able to crack this code for my wife so that there would be a pathway for her to get back to the workforce at some point if that’s what she desired to do. So as we were toying around with this topic and wrestling, one of the things that really impressed me about a return ship was that it was really the best of both worlds in terms of getting people back into the workforce who had left for a period of time, that normally wouldn’t have that opportunity. And so I partnered with this organization called Women back to work. And it’s the whole setup was just brilliant, because what they do really changed. For me the whole paradigm of what this looks like. And so their their model is such that they are really involved and connected and working with women who have a desire to get back to work. And so we partnered with them, and we created a program that we’re going to bring 11 people into different aspects of Cisco in different roles and we what we set it up as a return ship and what a returnship is, is we defined it as a 16 week experience. That is similar to a college internship in a few ways, which is it’s a defined period of time. Which means that, you know, it’s pretty low risk for the company. So if something doesn’t work out, but it’s also low risk for the person who wants to return. So they have the opportunity to try this out if they’re not hundred percent sure, it’s kind of low stakes, right? It’s 16 weeks, they can figure anything out for 16 weeks. And so what we did is we set this up, and we said, okay, it’s going to be somewhat like a college internship well defined. But what where we’re going to make it different is that we are going to scope these jobs to be at the mid career level. So maybe seven years, eight years equivalent of experience, we’re not going to have these women just run copies, right and take notes, they’re going to actually take on real meaningful responsibilities. And we set it up like that, and we place them with the best managers that we could find that would, you know, dedicate the time and coaching to help them and so we ended up getting a lot in. And the thing that really, really touched me about this program was that a couple of women were just knocking our socks off in terms of what they were doing. And one woman in particular, she had exited the workforce for 19 years, and could not get in the door to too big of a gap in the resume. How could her? How could her skills still be relevant after such a long time, and it turned out that she was awesome. And she really impacted the business in a really meaningful way. right up front, she had the maturity, she had the poise. She had the presence and the organizational skills to pick up really, really fast. The other person I spoke to, she had exited the workforce for about five, six years. She had a disabled child and she needed to spend the first few years of That, you know, with that child to help get through some of the developmental issues this child was facing, and seven years after she’d wanted to get back in the time was right for her. And she applied for 25 physicians and could not get a single interview until we gave her the opportunity as a return ship participant at Cisco. stories can go on and on. But the cool thing was is it really made a big difference in these women’s lives. Were able to convert eight or nine I don’t exactly remember of the the number as it panned out, but it’s about eight or nine that we converted to actual full time permanent positions and is tremendous. And the thing that worked really well with a partnering with an organization like women back to work is they gave a real concierge experience for those returnees. So, they had you know, regular training And coaching and support. And having that organization at my side to help shape and guide and craft the program really made a tremendous difference. And so it’s something that we’re exploring doing here again at freshworks. Actually, we’re going to look at it in India, and potentially in North America as well. And Cisco, they’re kicking it off, hopefully again soon. But I know they’re working actively with Tesla, and other tech companies in the Bay Area, getting more and more interest as the day goes on. And I think it’s a really fascinating model. And I think organizations like women back to work are making a real big difference that makes a win win for women who need to get back to the workforce, and for companies who need to improve their overall inclusion strategy. So you know, full disclosure, I’m on the board for women back to work, they asked me to join a few months back so I’m an unapologetic evangelist for the organization but they’re not so not the only ones out there who are doing amazing work. And I think this is a critical, untapped area for companies to look at.
Jonathan Bench 38:07
Nathan, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed having you on the podcast today as a guest, you’ve given us a lot to think about and certainly given us a lot of insights, thinking about the working world in the way that we interact with each other. It’s been it’s been great to have you. We always like to end our interviews by asking for recommendations on what our audience should read or listen to or watch. So can you give us some recommendations? Anything you think would be interesting, HR international focused or not? Are you something fluffy in my mind is going to be a fluffy recommendation, but I’ll let you go first.
Nathan Sheranian 38:41
I can’t wait to hear what your recommendation is. So I have three, and they’re not strictly HR related. But I think it all speaks to the, for me, what it takes to be a successful HR person which is to be well informed to understand different things about the world and and about life in general. So there are three books that I’ve recently read or am reading that I would recommend. The first one is actually an audible course, is great courses. A Great Courses series Lecture Series is given by john McWhorter. And the title of it is the story of human language. And it’s a fascinating series of lectures, I think it’s probably about 30 hours long. It’s really long, but very comprehensive. What this what john does in this series of lectures is it really explains not only the differences of language but how language has evolved and shaped over time. And for me languages, how I express myself and it’s how I live my life. And so speaking different languages, English and Chinese. It’s really opened my eyes to some, you know, very fascinating nuances of life. And how we communicate as a society. So I think that ties in really nicely to, you know, my role in understanding cultures and peoples from all different places around the world. My second book is the biography by Ron Chernow of George Washington, a really a fascinating book. George Washington is a little bit of a cliche character I know. But this biography was extremely well done. And it gives me some great insight and leadership lessons into George Washington as a person, as a servant type leader, who was reluctant in almost every phase of leadership. And yet he gave his all to be the best that he could. And to have that type of leader and to learn from that type of leader I think was really a tremendous opportunity for us to found our country having him being our first president. And the final one I’m currently reading right now which is the new bill bright book which is the body a guide for occupants. And I got a well acquainted with Bill Bryson’s book, The short history of nearly everything. Um, several years ago, maybe 1520 years ago, I read it, and it fascinated me. And that talked about the origins of life on Earth, and how the Big Bang may have happened and all that kind of stuff. But this is a very accessible sort of popular science book that I can read. And I can understand in plain human language all about the nuances of the human body, and the brain, and how our bodies work in a miraculous way. So that’s what’s something that I’m chewing through right now that just opens up my eyes. And I guess the common thread of things that I read that interests me is I try to read things from a wide diversity of areas. Because if I only thinking about HR, I find like I get stale. So I like to read different topical areas and hopefully helps broaden my horizon and make me a better in my own role.
Jonathan Bench 42:00
Fred, what about you? What do you have for us?
Fred Rocafort 42:03
Today I’d like to recommend a newspaper article. This is from the Guardian dated September 14, and it’s called how these are finally back, but not in the way that they dreamed up. And Kathy says referring to a football team of soccer team, if you prefer. That is back in the Spanish first division after being out in the wilderness for for about 15 years. Obviously, if you’re interested in the sport, this will have enough interest from that angle. But one of the things that I really like about following the sport is that it allows me to learn about different countries and different cities. And football teams are a really good way of doing this. You’ll learn about their, their their fortunes and their histories and how they are Often inextricably linked to the locations where they are based. So this is a great example of that you get to learn about one particular team about the city where they’re from, and of course about what it’s like to have what it’s like for for a sports league to try to get back to business in the age of COVID.
Jonathan Bench 43:24
My recommendation for this week is a book by Brandon mall called the candy shop war. This is something my kids and I’ve been listening to and my oldest is 12 years old. And this is the kind of book that even my eight year old as has been able to get into so it’s it is like I said, this is all fluffy stuff because sometimes I just need some fluff to chew on. But a very fun book. So it’s, it reminded me of growing up in the 1980s you know where you, at least for me, I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin, had a group of neighborhood kids were hanging out with rode our bikes around town. So that’s kind of the context for this that set in California. And I think this is the first of probably at least a trilogy. I think there are only two books out right now. We’re just starting the second book. And so it’s it’s setting our world, but it’s kind of fantastic because there’s magic involved. So there are these magicians who own candy shops and ice cream parlors, and they imbue their candy with magic. And the magic only works on kids, right? So the adults are able to create these recipes, but it only works powerfully on kids. And so it’s really explores a lot of interesting dynamics. You know, in the magical world. It just turns a lot of things upside down. I think Brandon Mola is very creative writer, and so in, I’ve enjoyed it. And if you happen to have young kids and you’re looking for a series that’s both fun and clean, and something that the adults as well as the kids will enjoy listening to I recommend candy shop for the Nathan. Thank you again for being with us. We’ve really enjoyed your time. We appreciate you taking time out of your data to talk to us and educate us and we look forward to catching up with you maybe in the future for another podcast episode.
Nathan Sheranian 45:05
I’d love to do a sequel. It was my pleasure to be part of this podcast and wish you all the best.
Jonathan Bench 45:13
We hope you enjoyed today’s podcasts. We look forward to connecting with you on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and anywhere else you want to find us until next week.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai