Skip to main content


Developing data-driven talent experiences that increase insights and inclusion

EXCLUSIVE Interview with Andy Bradshaw, CEO of SHL.

Photo by @crystalmariesing via Twenty20

Unleash Your Talent Experiences Traditional talent management decisions are often made by humans hiring and promoting in their own image. But data and insights are revolutionizing organizations’ approach to increase inclusion – and drive better business decisions.

  • Traditional talent management processes are slow, data can be biased, and valuable insights as to where your real talent is hidden.
  • HR has the opportunity to drive the insights that enable organizations to make real-time decisions that empower leaderships resilience and adaptability.
  • Talent experiences need to be driven by human connection, insight, democratization and agility.

UNLEASH spoke to Andy Bradshaw, CEO of SHL, the global leader in people science and people answers, about a new vision for the talent experience; one fueled by a powerful combination of technology and human insights.

“Talent management is going through a massive revolution. Traditional processes have been slow and data can be biased based on the views of people and their managers. Even worse, it is often not particularly insightful. Nor does it even tell you where your real talent might lie!” This indictment of the established view of talent management underpinned a recent UNLEASH conversation with Andy Bradshaw, CEO of SHL.

His views reflect HR industry trends over the past year, culminating with analyst Fosway Group ushering in the era of Talent & People Success at the end of 2020 in recognition of the changing requirements around the talent experience to help organizations become more responsive, more agile, and more inclusive.

Following the huge changes for us all post-COVID-19, there has been a “humanization of organizations” comments Andy. “First it was people’s cats and dogs and kids on Zoom bringing that human element into work. Now what organizations are grappling with is a focus on a personalized experience for their people and a rightful focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Bradshaw explains, “the better insights you have about your people, the more informed the decisions are that you take – and that’s whether somebody is coming through your hiring program or already works for your organization.”

The tables have turned in the war for talent…

Reports of skills shortages are on the rise (sound the klaxon?) but Andy believes the cliché of the war for talent never went away. The difference now is that “the tables have turned”. He comments “gone are the days when people asked ‘what can I do for my company’. The onus is now on organizations to proactively go to people with new and exciting opportunities as they progress in their careers. Retention and continuous development are key.”

Data will be a key differentiatior to employer brands and the talent experience

Andy paints a compelling picture. Imagine a world where candidates come through a hiring process. And through that process, they’ve learned about your organization, your brand, your culture, and your values. At the same time, the organization has learned about those individuals’ skills, qualifications, strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. Now imagine if that insight gained as people come into an organization was used on day one for their onboarding plan. And that the very first time someone sits down with their new manager, they’ve already got a development plan – and maybe even a bespoke learning journey created for them. Then imagine if that information stays with those employees as they progress through the organization and become managers and leaders. All the while, HR is gathering and using that data and that insight to offer up opportunities for people – from powering the next generation of talent marketplaces, to succession planning – the potential is clear.

This is the vision Andy has for SHL’s solution – joining up that candidate to employee journey than using that data along the way to create better outcomes for the individual and better outcomes for the organization. A win-win surely?

Talent Management: It’s an ecosystem world

None of this happens with a magic wave of the wand, however (more’s the pity). Integration of systems has always been a key watchword in HR technology, from your ATS to your HCM platform. With APIs this has never been easier but don’t take everything at face value advises Bradshaw. “The really important factor is to understand the bits of data that are truly important in helping HR and the business make better decisions. For example, being able to connect insights around a person’s learning journey can be helpful in decisions around their career plan and your succession planning. If this is done at scale, suddenly HR can support key decisions around their workforce’s skills and roles based on their aggregated data.”

SHL has around 40 billion data points on people across 100 countries and 40 different languages. Clients are able to draw on this data to assess their approach to talent management and benchmark important metrics depending on their unique context and goals.

Data is supporting the drive to diversity, equity and inclusion

With diversity, equity and inclusion rightfully taking center stage in organizations today, transparency has become an increasingly important factor in company data. “It’s so important to be able to report on your diversity mix in different departments or locations and countries” comments Andy. And his view of inclusion extends to neurodiversity and beyond.

But it’s not enough to just “tick the boxes” he affirms. “Having the people data and the ability to access and use it quickly and easily is what can truly drive a more equal workforce. Never again should organizations be reliant on managers’ biases and individual connections – or the results of the unpopular annual performance review – to try and uncover who’s on the radar for a promotion or a place on a juicy project. Instead, you can find those hidden gems and help them realize their potential – both for themselves and for the organization. Which is where the democratization of talent management really kicks in and helps everybody win.”

Visit to learn more about how to make your business thrive because your people thrive.

More like this

It looks like you’re using an ad blocker that may prevent our website from working properly. To receive the best experience possible, please make sure any blockers are switched off and refresh the page.