Yuri Kruman, CEO of HR, Talent & Systems, talks to The Ortus Club’s Benz Limsenkeng about the role of the CEO as a one-man band, contributing to high-level strategies and making major decisions.
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Can you give us a one-sentence description of your company?
HR, Talent & Systems work primarily with high-growth tech startups and other companies to build their strategic HR function from scratch and help them with employer branding, tone acquisition, and business development. Ultimately, creating the entire strategic HR function starts with storytelling, coaching, and internal communication.
Can you describe the role of a CEO in one word. Why?
Everything. I mean, not to sound vague, but it really is. I’m a one-man shop, and I do everything from A to Z.
What current challenges are CEOs facing right now? Can you identify a solution?
The biggest challenge is finding talent. Everything around talent acquisition ensures that employees understand the business and stay to help the company grow. It’s not anything new. But during the pandemic, and the current imbalanced market toward talents, finding talented people has become a massive problem for all businesses.
In terms of solution, you have to help people feel safe, comfortable, and help them understand how this current opportunity allows them to progress in their careers and personal lives. I no longer distinguish between personal and professional, so we should drop the premise that you’re a different person at work and home.
How do you explain the success you’ve had in your career?
The success I’ve had in my career is thanks to hard work, a little bit of luck, and seeing where things are going. A famous quote by Wayne Gretzky, ‘I skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been,’ represents how I’ve acquired opportunities and built my career. As I’m in my sixth career right now, many things I’ve done on paper would look as if I had no business being there with zero experiences and connections. Instead, I talked my way into multiple startup projects with great companies and amazing people. But at some point, you have to use pattern recognition and understand how people work in business.
When you figure out how to work with people, over time, you will know what makes them tick, and it will be easier to help them avoid what does not work. A lot of my success also comes from coaching and understanding human psychology. I help people understand themselves and how they can have a positive outlook in life. At the same time, I work on how they can enjoy their jobs, build on what they care about, and align their choices to a more positive outcome.
“When you run a business, it’s about nurturing the people you work with, helping them understand why we do these things, and showing them how this can benefit them and the company.”
Can you tell us about a time you took a major risk in your career?
I’ve taken some insane risks in my career, like getting into an industry and immediately building a company. Once, I started a company with a friend of mine, a health tech investor, and we called it More Spinach Ink. For younger listeners, they may not know about Popeye. He pops open a can of spinach to become very strong, fights the enemy out, and everything is good again. Essentially, it’s health insurance for millennials.
That’s how I got into health tech and my first startup. I worked at a bank, a job I hated but learned a lot from. I took that risk because I was intellectually curious and wanted to build stuff.
How can you see your role evolving in the next two to three years?
My worldview regarding talent development is progressive because that’s what I’ve done in my entire career. Whether I’m working for myself or somebody else, my job position didn’t matter. It is about finding ways to help people figure themselves out, helping them understand where they’re going, and optimising their present situation in their current role in the industry they’re in and how they can improve their current situation.
My goal is to make sure that incentives are aligned. Do people understand their ‘whys’? I want to contribute to others what I’ve learned from my experience. So many of those experiences help me relate to just anybody from various backgrounds and industries. Moreover, it helps me formulate a good strategy for how to help somebody. It’s not always about suggesting a technique or tool to resolve their problems. Sometimes, it’s simply asking, “Hey. Tell me what’s going on.” Being an executive these days means being that shoulder they can cry on. You need to be like a dentist that pulls teeth. Be the plumber that connects pipes. Make sure that you connect people, ideas, and industries because you are that advocate-in-chief for everybody that works with you. You have to be their coach and motivator.
A significant emphasis on leadership is not someone who says praises and complements in small bursts like “Good job!” or “You’re doing great!” Instead, be true to them by offering them true praises where you connect with them and support them in their endeavours. At the same time, you still have to run a business, make sure that the product-market fits, and explain how working together is a two-way street. They benefit from your company, and you benefit from them too.
What marketing or business trends are you taking advantage of right now?
As a business owner, to attract your potential customers, you need to create a lot of content. The trend that I’ve been applying to my business is creating valuable content. It’s being clear about your ideal audience and giving them a reason to trust your brand. In return, they will avail of your services. What else can you offer the audience that makes them want to work with you?
What career advice would you like to share with CEOs?
As I’m in the sixth year of my career, figuring myself out took a long time. My advice is reinvention. Only through massive change and uncertainty can you improve and grow. Know where you are going to get ahead.
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