Why Telstra's Global Talent director is focused on tech
With more than 20 years in the business and a string of successes under his belt Paul Stratford describes himself as a passionate “student” of careers.

The Director Global Talent at Telstra is a great believer in lifelong learning and walks the talk himself.  

Throughout his career Stratford has been fascinated by people’s career choices, pathways and directions.  That passion comes to the fore when assessing, selecting and developing talent and finding the right people for the right roles and the right teams, he says.

At Telstra, the company has built a strong employment brand.  “I am particularly proud of our lead in the industry around some key social and societal issues such as flexibility and inclusiveness and our (policy) around family leave and stance on domestic violence,” says Stratford.  

“More recently our focus on ensuring every role has at least 50% female representation for short lists and interviews.”  

The next focus at Telstra is harnessing technology to provide a better candidate experience.

It’s not a surprise, therefore, that Stratford is looking forward to seeing entries into the SEEK Annual Recruitment Awards (SARA) that showcase technological enablement.  “More and more we are looking at an ecosystem where it is rapid supply, short cycles, and an overload of information.  So I am really interested in how recruiters are strategically sourcing; how they are thinking about careers as portfolios of work rather than reacting to a single job; and how they are determining and short listing based on people’s digital profile rather than a chronology of jobs or roles.”

Stratford is also acutely aware that the term “career” will evolve and morph quite significantly for future generations.

He wants to see recruiters harnessing artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify high quality candidates at pace and scale. “It is a mathematical equation to increase the probability of the right outcome,” he says.  “The more you use the data available and the machine can keep learning how to refine that in a search, the greater the probability you will (produce) a better short list.”

For example, says Stratford, identifying and assessing candidates who have worked previously at certain companies, studied specific courses at particular universities, or gained certain skills have increased likelihood to be better hires for specific companies in particular roles. If that type of data can be manipulated by recruiters’ systems they are more likely to be successful in placing their candidates in great situations for the organisation and the person, he says.

“It’s about how (recruiters) use technology to drive a better outcome and a more efficient process.  Rather than be a slave to technology, it’s about a strategic partnership and how to provide a stream of validated high probability talent for the organisation that is quicker to access.  There are definitely some that do that. But it needs to be faster across the recruitment industry.”

Other challenges for the industry include identifying potential candidates who are not actively looking for work.  “You can put an ad online and active candidates will respond. The ability to build ongoing trusted relationships with the very best candidates will drive competitive advantage and that is a challenge.”

Being a judge at the SARAs gives Stratford the opportunity to delve into the innovation at play.  “I am fascinated to hear more about the different approaches that are being facilitated through the recruitment industry.”

In their SARAs submissions Stratford would like to see:

  • The passion for and focus on candidate experience
  • The use of technology to drive efficiency and connection
  • A contribution to the future of work including a corporate social responsibility element.

Stratford says he was honoured to be chosen as a judge.  “We have a strong partnership with SEEK, which has done a terrific job in terms of driving innovation across the industry and providing a very good candidate experience”.