5 Things We Learnt at Google SME Leadership Academy

HR Technology

Do you at times wonder how your organization can stay competitive and relevant in the new digital economy, and the steps you can take to steer the organization in the right direction amidst the nasty hasty headwinds of technological disruptions?

We had the opportunity to attend the SME Leadership Academy at Google Headquarters in Singapore recently and the 1.5 day workshop was crafted with the end goal of helping SMEs to accelerate their digital transformation and had our burning question answered about why Google does not use artificial intelligence to screen its applicants.

TAs the 4th cohort, the 50 SMEs that were participating in the workshop ranged from an established retail departmental chain to digital services companies, and participants could learn through interacting with each other about the common challenges faced when embarking on their digital transformation journey.

Here are our top 5 takeaways from the highly engaging workshop:

1 - Free research on Southeast Asia is freely (pun-intended) available

In 2016, Google and Temasek launched a multi-year research program to delve into the internet economies of Southeast Asia. By 2019, Bain & Company joined in as a lead research partner to track the growth of the internet economy in the region.

The information presented in the report is extremely helpful for SMEs looking to expand within the Southeast Asia region, and points to the opportunity space and size in the fragmented economies in the region.

2 - A new digital marketing framework - See, Think, Do, Care

The traditional marketing model and school of thought, AIDA, is outrageously archaic for current day marketing folks, as it fails to both capture pre-purchase and post-purchase behavioural intentions such as referrals or loyalty programmes.

As a new way to represent a more holistic customer journey, we were introduced to the new digital marketing framework - See, Think, Do, Care.

The framework is then contextualized through a local advertising campaign example that was done to introduce the availability of a new product in the market, alongside with a group activity based on a fictitious boutique hotel that is looking to market its facilities and accommodation to its target audience whilst using the framework.

The framework provides ample guidance on how SMEs should look to target and streamline its message depending on the stage that the intended audience is in.

3 - Do something > Learn everything

As part of the workshop, the academy invited a participant from the previous cohort to share about her learning journey and the changes she implemented in her organization.

The managing director of a local SME shared candidly about her challenges as a SME, the turbulent phases of gaining product / market fit that fellow participants could identify strongly with.

Beneath the seemingly light-hearted candour, was a true lesson and focus on the power of action; It is far better to just have a single takeaway from the entire workshop that you can implement on, rather than to passively absorb the materials as purely a learning endeavor. This is also subtly imbued within the workshop, as participants are often engaged to share their own challenges in their SMEs, and invited to apply the concepts / frameworks learnt to tackle these challenges.

4 - Why Google doesn’t use AI to screen for Googlers

On the second day of the workshop, we were in for a treat, as the entire session was focused on Google’s own journey of recruiting and selection of Googlers, and the sharing of its extensive research on what it takes to make teams wildly successful and effective.

We took the opportunity to ask Ian Lee, a recruiter for Google Asia Pacific the quintessential question of all time - Why, did Google, a world leader in artificial intelligence and deep learning, choose to have its recruiters go through every single application instead of having the applicants screened by AI?

To this, Ian iterated the core of what was shared throughout the morning - That Google values its people and treats the recruitment and selection process of each and every Googler seriously (The rigorous process takes anything from 6 - 8 weeks or longer!) and the use of AI in applicant screening would invariably lack the nuances and intelligence of a recruiter in spotting the Googleyness of the applicants.

For us at RecruiterPal, this rings so true as well - We firmly believe that our value in the recruitment process as a system, is to simplify or automate the repetitive administrative work that often hinder recruiters from their real work; Spotting the right talent for the company. While it’s easy to separate the wheat from the chaff through simple keyword searches and filtering, the human touch in assessing and evaluating candidates is essential and irreplaceable.

5 - People management

Towards the end of the workshop, we took in the extensive internal research conducted by Google on the value of Managers, and how psychological safety surfaces as the key factor for successful teams; It was interesting to note that how a team works matters more than who’s on the team, as evinced in the study.

About the SME Leadership Academy

Google and UOB launched the SME Leadership Academy on 5 August 2019, a new training programme for small- and medium-sized enterprise business leaders with the aim of helping companies accelerate their digital transformation and compete more effectively in the digital economy.

The SME Leadership Academy programme, which is supported by Digital Industry Singapore (DISG) and SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), was developed based on feedback gathered from more than 100 SMEs from earlier pilot batches across various industries such as retail, F&B, engineering, manufacturing and travel. Through the feedback, SME leaders shared their desire for practical advice that would enable them to leverage digital tools to address critical business issues.

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