DisruptHR Edmonton: Interview with Ashley Janssen
Ashley’s career post-university started in the provincial government in business and operational planning, but after three years she took the plunge into entrepreneurialism. For the last six years, she has been running AgileStyle (www.agilestyle.com) with her husband and navigating the many adventures that come with it. Ashley’s focus in the company is business development and strategy and she has a specific talent for operations. She has also recently started her personal blog (www.ashleyjanssen.com) on topics related to intentionality, productivity, and self-care.
In preparation for DisruptHR Edmonton on June 7th, we took some time to ask Ashley about disrupting HR, and what that means to her.
HR Gazette: What is your company and how does it help professionals in the HR & Talent arena?
Ashley: AgileStyle is a business software and web development company. We work with our customers to build custom software solutions that help their businesses grow, become more efficient, communicate better, and improve services for their customers. The software we build has a direct impact on their employees and customers which influences how they interact as a team and as service/product providers.
In addition, as an entrepreneur and employer, I get to experiment and champion new HR processes and then share my experiences with my colleagues in the business community.
HR Gazette: What motivated you to become a speaker at DisruptHR Edmonton?
Ashley: As an employer, I love the idea of being involved with an organization that is an advocate for exploring and sharing new ideas and approaches in the field of HR so I jumped at the chance. I also liked the idea of trying the Pecha Kucha style presentation format that Disrupt HR uses since I think it is a unique and impactful way of communicating.
HR Gazette: What will you be speaking about at DisruptHR Edmonton?
Ashley: My topic is centred around the idea that investing in your team culture actually results in greater profitability for your company. Happy, engaged employees will do great work and treat your customers well. Happy customers buy and refer, which means higher profitability.
HR Gazette: Why is your topic important to HR and Talent pros?
Ashley: Culture is often thought of as a secondary consideration for many businesses if it is thought of at all. However, I think that it is actually one of the most important things in a business and that companies who focus and hire around a strong culture will have a competitive advantage
HR Gazette: You only have 5 minutes to speak to the audience. What unique challenges, and indeed opportunities, does such a condensed speaking slot offer?
Ashley: With such a short time frame you can only really communicate a few major ideas with any clarity. It means you have to be really concise in how you communicate and support those major ideas. You have to cut out unnecessary filler and get to the point
HR Gazette: How does DisruptHR provide you with a platform to talk about talent in new ways?
Ashley: Since DisruptHR uses Pecha Kucha style presentations you get a chance to give a very focussed and visual talk. You can’t really have more than a few words, if any, on each slide or you will lose the audience’s attention while they read it. This format forces you to use visual cues which can be very impactful in sharing new ideas with a highly engaged audience
HR Gazette: The HR Gazette is a big believer in the shift from traditional thoughts of HR to embracing modern HR as part of ‘people and culture’. What does ‘people and culture’ mean to you?
Ashley: To me, people and culture are foundations of a business. They are the intersection of practical elements like office space, benefits packages, team building activities, performance measurement, communication, and operational processes with the personalities, talents, and even shortcomings, of the individuals on a team. Together these pieces are the genetic makeup of a business and are strong influencers for success.
HR Gazette: Please share 2 or 3 ‘influencers’ in the people and culture space who you follow and tell us why.
Ashley: Ray Muzyka, co-founder of Bioware, is one of my mentors and someone who has shared a lot about how he built the culture in a company that grew exponentially. Ray often provides a very analytical and structured approach to challenges and I have learned a lot from him.a
Don Cummings, partner at National Growth Partners, is also one of my mentors. Don has a long and successful career in organizational and strategic consulting. He is the consummate people person and I am constantly learning new things from him as he asks us tough questions and pushes us to think in new ways.
Jason Fried, CEO of Basecamp, is an influencer that I follow because his company is centred around communication, productivity, and teamwork. He is someone that has done some really innovative things in my industry, both in how he runs his company and in technology.
HR Gazette: What do you think will be the major developments in the people and culture space to watch out for in the next 12 months and why? For example, how does the growing numbers of Millennials in the workplace shape traditional talent management approaches?
Ashley: I think there are two major developments: First is around HR technology. There is a shift in how teams are communicating with each other and the number of companies that utilize remote workers. More and more attention will be given to the challenges in building and managing team cultures that span the globe. Second, is around building team cultures that will engage baby-boomers, gen-x, and millennials simultaneously. More and more companies have greater diversity in their employees and it will be challenging to find a balance in meeting each group’s unique needs.