DisruptHR Vancouver: Interview With Rocky Ozaki, Rise

Rocky Ozaki is Director of People & Culture at Rise (formerly Paysavvy). Rocky argues that the mainstream way we lead our employees needs drastic change and its inevitable that new solutions with continue to change what HR used to represent. Technological advances, the “connected generation” and an unavoidable shift in workplace demographics are just a few reasons for this inevitability. Prior to Rise, Rocky was Director of People & Culture at another technology startup called Chimp where he implemented a robust

Prior to Rise, Rocky was Director of People & Culture at another technology startup called Chimp where he implemented a robust talent acquisition strategy that led to 4-fold growth in their Team size. Alongside the rapid growth, Rocky built a comprehensive People operations system and led the creation of the organization’s core values.

Looking Ahead To DisruptHR With Rocky Ozaki

rocky_rise_picRocky will be a speaker at the DisruptHR event in Vancouver happening later this month. The event, in case you hadn’t yet heard of the super successful franchise, talks about talent in fresh, new ways. DisruptHR is built on the belief that how we’ve approached people and talent in the past won’t be the best way to approach it in the future.

We caught up with Rocky ahead of DisruptHR Vancouver, presented by Learnkit, to learn more about him and his company. Here’s what he had to say..

Editor: Please tell us a little about yourself – your career path and expertise.
Rocky: I’m a People and Culture leader with 15-years of senior level experiences in companies from 50 – 25,000 Team Members. A few years ago I excitedly entered the technology startup scene because I saw the future of work already in action there. My superpower is building forward thinking company cultures that unarguably contribute to the business success of the organization.

Editor: What’s your company and how does it help professions in the Talent arena?
Rocky: Rise (Rise.xyz) is building the world’s first People and Culture platform. Our product has applications that communicate with core HR functions while integrating with other leading HR software. Integrations and a single source of truth will free up time for the People and Culture professional to focus on the broader employee experience.

Editor: What brought you to becoming a speaker at Disrupt HR Vancouver?
Rocky: I’ll stand on any soapbox to spread the word and inspire others to disrupt traditional HR.

Editor: What will you be speaking about at Disrupt HR Vancouver?
Rocky: I’ll be challenging the value of HR certifications.

Editor: Why is your topic important to HR and Talent pros?
Rocky: I’m not convinced that the prevailing certifications acknowledge the evolving HR profession, and the role of People and Culture. If changes are not made quickly, the emerging HR professional may only seek certification for the purpose of fulfilling job requirements (career opportunities) and earn a bump in pay.


Editor: You only get 5 minutes to speak to the audience. What unique challenges, and indeed opportunities, does such a condensed speaking slot offer?
Rocky: I enjoy the format because its audience-friendly. Presenters are forced to be succinct and the crowd benefits from a fast pace with many unique perspectives on the future of HR.

Editor: How does Disrupt HR provide you with a platform to talk about talent in new ways?
More than the platform, the value of Disrupt HR is the targeted audience who are open to, and excited about the evolution of the profession. HRisDead and #HROS are other great thought leading initiatives pushing the conversation about talent.

Editor: Please share 2 or 3 ‘influencers’ in the talent and recruitment space who you follow and tell us why.
Rocky: Tony Hsieh (Zappos) because of his ability to balance disruption with a pragmatic approach to leading his People and Culture. Locally, I am constantly inspired by the Vancouver startup scene and the tight network of thought leaders in the space of People and Culture. We learn so much from one another.

Editor: 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?
Rocky: To me, people and culture is a commitment to attracting and engaging Team Members in pragmatic yet creative ways — with little influence from HR text books. It transforms the traditional HR function in a way that appeals to the connected generation, entrenches culture across the entire organization, and strategically contributes to organizational success.

Editor: What do you think will be the major developments in the Talent 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?
Rocky: While exciting technology and new best practices are rolling out each year, I think the major development over the next 12-months will be People and Culture’s mainstream traction. The name, purpose and impact People and Culture has will continue to transcend economic sectors and company size. As more companies recognize the changing landscape and purpose of HR, the more will adopt forward thinking practices that are engaging the future (current) workplace.

DisruptHR Vancouver is hosted by Learnkit and will be held at the Rise office on Wednesday, March 30th 2016. You can learn more here.


Next week, Rocky will be a presenter of a webinar called The Future of Recruiting with PFM Search; Smart, Savvy + Associates; and Recruiting Social. The webinar will share 1) best practices for sourcing entry, mid, and executive level talent 2) how to smoke out the pretenders and find authentic A-players and 3) employer branding in 2016: what does it look like and where do you start?


Author: Editor

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