The Technology Of People And Culture – Interview With Rocky Ozaki

Rocky OzakiAfter more than a decade of success in corporate operations and HR, Rocky turned his focus to the ever-growing, uber exciting technology sector. It is here where he believes the future of work is already well in motion. How companies acquire talent, engage their Team Members, and achieve business success is changing rapidly and Rocky is a thought leader and practitioner in this evolution.

1. Please tell us a little about yourself – your career path and expertise. 

Rocky: My name is Rocky Ozaki, and I’m the VP of People and Culture at Rise. I’ve been in the (startup) technology world for the past 4-years after spending a decade leading Human Resources in companies as large as 25,000 team members.

I believe strongly in the future of work and how the connected generation, technology, and the sharing economy will fundamentally change the way most companies attract and engage their talent. My expertise is building innovative company cultures that resonate with the future of work, while clearly contributing to business success.

2. Tell us about Rise – its history and vision.

Rocky: Rise is the world’s first People & Culture Platform. It’s based on our central Team Hub that connects our best in class apps and integrations. Every tool is built around one central idea: people come first, always. It’s clear that the way we work is changing at an incredible pace, as more and more fast-growing companies embrace technology as a tool to empower people, leverage data, and replace outdated processes. We’re changing the way companies perform HR functions and making it easy to build an incredible company culture.

3. Why the rebrand from Paysavvy?

Rocky: We rebranded to Rise because we saw a new way forward for HR, and we wanted to lead that transformation. When Paysavvy started in 2011, our payroll and HR software was built to solve a pain point for our founder, who was frustrated with the cumbersome payroll software that was available.

Since then, we’ve worked with a lot of amazing people at a lot of amazing companies. We learned that frustration with traditional, one-size-fits-all HRIS systems was common and that we had a unique opportunity to provide something that people truly wanted and needed.

The Paysavvy brand was amazing, and it got us to where we are today. But it was too tied to ideas of payroll, and we wanted to provide so much more than that. The name Rise means so much to us, from our passion for elevating people and culture strategies and increasing employee engagement, to our belief that traditional HR tools are no longer cutting it, and the People & Culture Platform is set to rise up in their place.

4. You’re experiencing huge growth. Why is that and what are the goals for the next 2 years?

Rocky: Yes, since I joined Rise 6-months ago we have doubled the team size from 30 to 60 team members and we are projecting similar percentage growth over the next 2-years. We can attribute this to our expansion into the US, and the excitement around our product – both in the US and Canada. By 2018, our ambitions are that Rise will be the leading people and culture platform, and the go-to place for insights into the future of work.

5. How does Rise improve a company’s culture?

RiseLogoRocky: Our tools save people and culture professionals tons of time that they’d normally spend on core HR functions so they can have more time to build culture and engage employees and do the things they’re passionate about.

Our People & Culture Platform is designed with culture and core values baked into it at every level. With employee profiles that include so much more than the usual employee number and benefits data, to time off tools that remind team members to take their vacation, we have up-turned the traditional HRIS system so that the key deliverable is to improve the employee experience, for both team members and HR professionals.

6. Tell us about some of your partner integrations and what that means for the reach of the new Rise brand?

Rocky: Another of Rise’s core values is “Craftsmanship.” We don’t believe in half-doing anything. So if we don’t have the bandwidth to build something ourselves and make it the best there is, we integrate with best-in-class instead. That way you can build out a custom HRIS using the tools you already know and love.

Currently, we’re working on an integration with Greenhouse for recruiting and Humanity for time and attendance. We’re also working on integrations for culture-building tools like employee recognition, internal communication, performance management, and more.

7. Tell us why Rise believes traditional ideas of HR are no longer relevant? What is the role of a modern People and Culture professional?

Rocky: I actually wrote a whole article about this on my LinkedIn, which you can read here

It’s not that HR is literally dead, it’s that it’s evolving to align with the future of work. In HR, we’ve been battling against this notion that we’re back-room bureaucrats and policy-makers for decades.  Even changing our name from HR to People and Culture, or Talent, or Employee Experience – as many forward-thinking companies have already done – can have a profound impact on changing those legacy perceptions. People and culture is, and will continue growing as a strategic business partner.

8. Is there anything else you’d like to share with The HR Gazette audience?

Rocky: While highly controversial, I’d like to engage your audience on the merits of the HR certification program. To be clear, I’m a career-long advocate of the HR profession and proudly obtained my CHRP many years ago. Despite this, I’m not convinced that the certification, as it stands today, is offering business value to companies, or preparing HR professionals for the future of work – which by the way, is closer than many believe. 


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of The HR Gazette or its team members.
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