Faces of HR

Faces of HR: Ana Recio on Valuing HR, Her Best Mistake & More

Meet Ana Recio, SVP of Talent at SoFi – a finance company that offers comprehensive financial solutions on one platform. We recently connected with Ana to discuss how she got her start in the industry, her biggest influences, best mistake, as well as her thoughts on how company leaders can make HR a value within their organization.

ana recio sofi
Ana Recio, SVP of Talent at SoFi

“HR has a HUGE opportunity to capture the hearts and minds of employees and to truly listen and understand employee sentiment,” Recio shared with HR Daily Advisor. “Talent is the lifeblood of any organization, and ensuring that a culture of empowerment, development, and access is fostered is the center of creating HR as a value. It is imperative that HR harnesses data to identify and articulate opportunities as well as empirically measure progress. Using data to evaluate developmental opportunities, bonus payout rates, performance ratings, engagement scores, and ultimately promotion rates is core to building trust with all employees as it sets the standard in the organization that fairness and trust are the values of the HR function.”

As SVP of Talent, Ana oversees all aspects of recruiting, diversity, employee experience, and careers. Ana has 25 years of experience leading talent acquisition teams at pioneering tech companies including Salesforce, Yahoo!, MobiTV, EMC, Documentum, and Sybase. Prior to SoFi, Ana was the EVP of Global Recruiting for Salesforce, where she oversaw a global team responsible for hiring over 10,000 people annually and helped grow the company from 8,000 employees to 54,000 over 7 years.

In our latest Faces of HR, meet Ana Recio.

How did you get your start in the field?

Through dumb luck and a lucky star, I fell into recruiting and HR right out of college and have loved every second ever since. I started off as a coordinator, became a sourcer, a manager, ran university programs, and eventually built organizations that hired over 15,000 people a year and fostered career development for over 50,000 yearly at some of the most pioneering companies in the Silicon Valley.

Who is/was your biggest influence in the industry?

I love working for founder-led companies because founders can see and imagine evolutions in the market and in technology that most don’t perceive until it is right in front of them. Founders bring an element of chaos and a passion for talent like no other. They understand how great thinkers and innovators can exponentially advance market positions, and define entire industry categories. The best founders build entire organizations around great talent.

What’s your best mistake and what did you learn from it?

Implementing technology that didn’t quite have all the features and functionality mature and hoping that the road map would catch up in time for our needs. It didn’t happen, and we were hostage to a contract and a solution that didn’t meet our needs.

What’s your favorite part about working in the industry? What’s your least favorite part, and

how would you change it?

I love that software is generally on the front lines of pioneering technology that is truly changing the speed of business and changing the world for good. My least favorite is how homogenous and elitist tech can be. I believe that we can create a more level playing field through technologies like Criteria that empirically identify the success factors associated with specific roles, broadening profile apertures, widening pipelines, and removing unvalidated requirements that often lead to bias, all while streamlining the interview process. I have seen equitable hiring funnels because of aligned hiring criteria that anchor back to success factors in a given role.

It sounds like through your experience you really care about people, and you want to help them feel safe and comfortable, which is important in the industry. Please elaborate here.

I believe in working with the business to review all the components of the employee lifecycle quarterly:  Brand, Assessment, Engagement, Performance, Rewards, Development, and Retention to ensure parity across all demographics and role levels in the company. We review employee engagement measured through empowerment and communication, performance ratings, developmental opportunities, and ultimately, retention. We discuss and publish results to each executive and company-wide in the spirit of transparency and alignment around our opportunities and goals.

Where do you see the industry heading in five years? Or are you seeing any current trends?

I see both a focus on white-glove talent cultivation, as well as the emergence of technology that help accelerate accuracy and efficiencies. I believe that engagement will become even more central to HR functions, as well as we’ll experience a renewed focus on developing incumbent talent. In this economic climate, companies are dually experiencing talent shortages as well as curtailing budgets, putting a stronger emphasis on developing and leveraging existing internal talent.

What are you most proud of?

Besides my awesome kids (17 and 19), I’m most proud of the extraordinary teams that I have had an opportunity to lead and the tremendous work accomplished in the areas of DE&I, Talent Management, and Talent Attraction. I have built mentor programs that have driven connection and belonging, I have personally developed teams and individuals, and I have ensured a culture of fairness in its hiring, development, promotion, and rewards practices.

Do you have any advice for people entering the profession?

You are in a unique position where you are playing an active role in a major decision for most people. Changing jobs is stressful, and something that most individuals will have to explain why they chose a certain employer for the rest of their career. Take the role seriously, be a coach, be kind, and be accessible. You are walking a leg of life with each employee and/or candidate that you interact with, so be patient and gentle in the process. Take the time to listen, understand, and counsel on what is best for them. Cultivate a brand of trust, where people view you and the HR function as objective and genuine.