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The Future of HR: Data-Driven Empathy and Trust

With Neervi Patel, CPO, Faire (Ep. 35)

As the workforce is consistently evolving, it’s critical to keep employees top of mind: cultivating a workplace that fosters intentional inclusivity, talent development, and active problem-solving.

And the number one way to do this is through data.

"Data is a powerful tool for any HR department. It allows us to see beyond the surface and understand the heartbeats of our organizations. By using this data, we can make informed, empathetic decisions that resonate with our employees,” says Neervi Patel, Chief People Officer at Faire.

Neervi Patel, CPO, Faire

In this episode of LEARN, Neervi discusses the future of HR through embracing empathy and leveraging deep data insights for a holistic employee experience, the importance of continuous learning and growth, and the power behind a hybrid workforce.

Key takeaways:

  • Embrace a data-informed approach in HR to tailor policies and practices to the company's unique needs
  • Foster an inclusive and intentional workplace by prioritizing individual employee well-being and leveraging a hybrid organizational structure
  • Continuously pursue personal growth and career development by learning from a variety of sources

Tune in on your favorite podcast app as we explore how the future of HR can vastly improve the workplace.


[09:18] The power of strategic thinking

[15:36] Invest in learning cloud platform services

[20:39] Unique approaches for specific organizational needs

[24:22] Flexible office hubs prioritizing employee preferences

[27:49] Treat employees well, value humanity, and build connections
[30:36] Use data for employee insights
[32:42] Learn from everyone to elevate your trajectory


Neervi Shah Patel: If you are in a position where you are in the room, you have a right to be in that room, and you should take up the space, and take up the space that has been granted to you. I would say the second is if you are going to be in the room and you're taking up space, do diligence, do the prep work, and show up and like put everything into that moment.

Ted Blosser: Welcome to the LEARN podcast, where we interview top leaders in tech and learn about how they're building the world's most innovative companies. I'm Ted Blosser, CEO and Co founder of WorkRamp, the world's first learning cloud platform. Our mission is to help professionals reach their full potential through learning, and the LEARN podcast is where we can learn from the best leaders at the top of their game.

Please subscribe, leave us a rating, and we hope you enjoy the episode.

Ted Blosser: Hey, everyone. Welcome back to the LEARN Podcast. We have a special guest on today, Neervi Patel. She is the Chief People Officer at FAIRE.

Welcome, Neerv.

Neervi Shah Patel: Thanks, Ted. Glad to be here.

Ted Blosser: Well, excited to have you on. And today we're going to go through essentially a career progression. You've had an amazing career. We'll talk about all the things you've learned through your career. And then we'll talk a lot about what you're doing at FAIRE. But before we go into it, can you just tell the audience a little bit about FAIRE and then what you're currently doing at FAIRE, just to set the stage for us as we head into the conversation.

Neervi Shah Patel: Yeah, for sure. So FAIRE is a wholesale marketplace. We help to connect independent product makers and brands with local retailers and small businesses. Our goal and purpose out in the world is to help level the playing fields for these uh, you know, smaller retailers who are competing against some of the big box, both online retailers and live retailers, and to really bring energy and unique character back into local communities.

This has been, I think, even more relevant in the post-COVID era. but we've been on this track well before then.

Ted Blosser: Cool. And just rough size, the organization scale, just so we can set some context there too.

Neervi Shah Patel: Yeah, for sure. The company is roughly 900 people today. And that's across all of our locations globally. The people organization, I'm not sure if you were asking about size and scale of the people org, but that includes recruiting. It includes the office and workplace team, along with kind of what you would consider in the core people or HR organization.

nd we're roughly about 45 ish, give or take.

Ted Blosser: Cool. Awesome. Well, that helps give us a lot of context into the conversation, but where we'll start is actually your journey. Remember when we were talking on the pre call with your psychology background and then moving into essentially people leadership, take us back to those days when you were studying in school.

And then let's walk through the evolution into how you, essentially became a people leader. We'll walk through different portions of that, but get us started back in the early days.

Neervi Shah Patel: Yeah, for sure. So, as you mentioned, my undergrad years, I initially wanted to go down a path of clinical psychology. I was set on that, applied to PhD programs, and ended up taking an org development class in my senior year of college, and I loved it. Uh, it seems like a great many of people and business and coming from a family of entrepreneurs myself.

Felt like I needed to pause and just work and go out there first before embarking upon something like a PhD. I landed at a company called C. E. B. Um, They're now owned by Gartner. But at the time, it was a corporate executive board and I landed there in an account management role.

I ended up staying there. meant to go try it out for a year or two, and I ended up staying there for five plus years. I was hungry. I was in an environment that promoted based on meritocracy. I helped leaders who took bets on me and I just, I learned a ton and I would say that my time there

really served as a foundation of my professional growth journey, building relationships in a corporate environment. I was in my early twenties, and I was, and I had my clients who were very seasoned senior executives at Fortune 500 companies. How to influence how to manage employees. I started managing probably earlier than I should have.

To be honest, managing a book of business, it was kind of like a crash course, business 101 business basics. And I would argue that the skills that I learned, the experiences that I had there. I still use them every single day.

Ted Blosser: Can I ask you a question about the CB experience, you just hit a really interesting point managing earlier than you should have. And in the people world, it's really interesting. We'll, we'll do some, uh, leadership reviews. It was like, man, maybe that person wasn't ready yet. Or maybe they're overdue.

How did you realize like, maybe you were too early? To be people managing and were you too eager to jump into it? Should you have maybe, uh, developed some more skills before doing it?

Neervi Shah Patel: To be honest, I did not think I was too early when I was in it. It was totally fine. It was also just the structure of the company. It was like, in order to do this next role, then you have X number of people under you. That was just the structure of, the sales function at the time there.

I would say one, like I got lucky, right? I got lucky. I had great mentors. I had great managers myself who, um, were able to show me what this could look like and what that would mean. I say in retrospect, did I know what I was doing? I'm not sure. I'm not sure if I remember that far back.

But, my background in psychology probably helped here because I was trying to first and foremost provide a safe space for my team. We all had the same goal in mind. In retrospect, again, I'm like, I probably had no business doing it. I think I did okay.

As a manager, but I'm still, I'm actually still good friends with some of the folks who I did have on my team very early in my career. And I don't know, I think they're, I think they're doing okay. I don't think I traumatized them too much.

Ted Blosser: Okay, cool. Cool. And any big thing, if you had to reflect back on the CB time and then we'll jump ahead here in a second, any big thing that you, or what was the biggest thing you took away from that CB time? That you say you even use to this day, from your CB Tenure.

Neervi Shah Patel: Yeah. I mean, I think, probably a couple things jump out. One is if you are in a position where you are in the room, you have a right to be in that room, and you should take up the space and take up the space that has been granted to you. I would say the second is if you are going to be in the room and you're taking up space, do diligence, do the prep work, and show up and like put everything into that moment.

[00:06:42] Ted Blosser: So you finish up this tenure at CB. What happens next? Ehere were you at in your career at that point?

Neervi Shah Patel: Yeah. So, I went through, like I said, five plus years there. I also knew it wasn't what I wanted to do long term. And I ended up going back to grad school in a more niche master's program in organizational psychology. I took that one class, it stuck with me, and I would say because of my experience at CEB, I assumed that I would just go into consulting coming out of that grad school program. And I was shocked during my first year in my master's that a bunch of my peers were actually considering roles in HR. I had really little exposure to the HR space besides simply being an employee and being a manager.

And I was in New York at the time. And so I thought, you know what? I'm doing grad school. Let me give it a shot. I wanted to focus on companies that I thought did HR really well because I think HR can get a bad rep sometimes. If I was going to test it out, I thought I would learn from the best.

I did a couple internships. One was at GE, and GE, much larger company, strong reputation for people practices really because of the groundwork that Jack Welch laid out when he first did all the all the stuff that he did there. And then I did a second internship at Disney ABC and both the experiences were fantastic.

They were great. at the time they still taught me that I definitely did not want to go into HR and I liked the client services side of the business. and I wanted exposure to just a broader set of organizations. And so, I decided not to do the HR thing at the time and went down a consulting path instead.

Ted Blosser: It's almost like, I don't know if the right word is allergic, but it's just like, it wasn't an interest. And it's so interesting to see now you obviously live and breathe, people. Walk us through this transition. Like, when you moved into consulting, how you actually came back into thinking about HR, and then we'll jump into the actual, foray into the people world, but yeah, walk us through that kind of last step where, like, what was the aha moment where like, actually, you know what, I do think I can do well at this and like it.

Neervi Shah Patel: I decided I do not want to go into HR. I ended up going into consulting. I was talking to both big companies, small companies, my now husband, and I, I mentioned we were in New York. We wanted to move to the West Coast. Deloitte let us move to the West coast, moved to San Francisco. So I appreciated where Deloitte fell in the spectrum of consulting companies. They weren't just execution. They also weren't just strategy. They kind of fall in between. And I thought it was a really good marry of being able to do the strategic work, but then also being able to help companies execute the work and it not feeling like we're handing you a strategy and then moving on with our life.

And so I would say, you know, I, joined Deloitte and similar to my experience at CEB, I learned a ton. And I would say some of the foundational skills that I learned when I was at Deloitte was really around strategic thinking, the ability to draw insights from a set of information or data.

I know this may not be true for many folks who have had consulting experiences. I had a great run there. Um, again, I think I was lucky. I had the fortunate opportunity to just work with fantastic partners to learn from. I was very embedded with my clients. Some of which who I did stints with went back again.

I had a couple of clients that I did that with

Ted Blosser: what type of work was it, at Deloitte in terms of, the projects

Neervi Shah Patel: of the project. Yeah.

Ted Blosser: I know you can never disclose names, but like, uh, like where the HR transformational projects.

Neervi Shah Patel: Yeah. Yeah. So I was in the human capital practice at Deloitte that's what they called it at the time. Anyway, I'm not sure what they call it today. The core of the work that I was doing was around culture work. There was org design work, some change management, almost everything that we did kind of had a big change management component.

And I would say one of the things that I thought about over and over again over the course my career is this notion of just being able to take the most of what you can get in any given experience. And so for me I was in there for every project that I had, every client that I had I was focused on the tech industry and consulting is one of those places when you're in it, you kind of think that you know everything.

And sometimes, very rarely actually, were my clients HR teams. They were usually different business teams. And we were kind of working directly with the business teams. But at some point I realized that I did not want to be a partner at Deloitte. I loved the company. I loved what I was doing.

I love the people I was doing it with. But at the end of the day, I felt like I didn't have enough role models at the company itself whose life I wanted to emulate. I had my first child, I have two kids, and I had my son when I was there. That's when I started to explore internal roles in HR.

And it was a big shift. It was a big like internal shift to say, I thought I was going to be bored. I thought it wasn't going to be interesting. And I thought it wasn't going to be strategic.

Ted Blosser: When we talk about this transformation, it clicked. I might be putting words in your mouth, but kind of clicked as you were consulting in the HCM practice for Deloitte and you're starting to get interested in it. Then you moved to Dropbox, one of the hottest companies at the time. People forget sometimes how hot Dropbox was. And I worked at Box personally, but the 2010, 2012 period is like one of the hottest companies in tech. So you move into Dropbox in this in- house role. What was that evolution like for you too? And then we'll come into everything you've taken into a FAIRE as well.

Neervi Shah Patel: my learning journey began again, I realized very quickly that though, as a consultant, you think, you know everything, coming in as an internal operator. I realized I knew nothing. And I stepped into kind of like a chief of staff role to the head of HR Arden Hoffman at the time. And it allowed me to use my narrow skill set that I had developed over the course of my career and apply it across the people space. And I would say, you know, I think it was a really transformational role in that I hadn't served an internal organization. And in the chief of staff role, you're serving not only the employees of Dropbox. I was serving the people team.

My own peers were my key stakeholders, along with some of our business leaders. And so um, in addition to my manager, who led the whole function, I learned a ton from my peers. They were all owners and drivers of different kind of HR sub teams, and they had been doing it for their entire career.

And I would say, over the course of my time there, my scope ended up expanding. But it was because of that visibility and insight that I had into, here's how we run comp. Here's how we run talent development. Here's how we, you know, the things that I could offer were more about how could we get to a decision?

How could we think about the strategic elements of why we were making a decision? Things of that nature. But I went from that individual kind of chief of staff role, by the time I left, I had multiple kind of HR sub teams that were reporting into me a function of different people leaving, work shifts, changes, things of that nature.

Ted Blosser: What was the most unique about Dropbox's People function, whether it's something you built or the aura that your team gave off. Because it is, I would say now it's one of the leaders of the remote work push. And I know that there's a little bit before COVID and and before your time when they start to push that, but like, what, was special about the culture you built there.

Neervi Shah Patel: I got lucky in going to Dropbox. I did not know this when I chose to go there and was offered the role, but the company was incredibly intentional about the way in which they thought about the employee experience. They prioritized it as much as they could. Prioritized the innovation and the levity that they brought to their end consumer.

And, it was co founder team, Drew, who is still the CEO. And Arash, who was a co founder and they really thought about the people of their company at the forefront of how they would serve their customers. And it allowed us on the people organization and on the HR team to do innovative work. It allowed us to be really thoughtful and strategic and think about the employee experience with extreme intentionality. And they were willing to invest in it. And I think, It was unique. I think back to that time and it was probably the most fun I'm ever going to have at an organization.

Um, they made you feel really, really great. That was the culture. I think it still is the culture.

Ted Blosser: Yeah. It's a huge contrast. I can imagine, from, uh, consulting-driven culture to essentially the center of the tech world. Right. And it's really great to see the founders pioneer how much they care about the people function and the people in its company and having great leaders like yourself drive that.

Neervi Shah Patel: And I would say I think it has to start there. Um, I think if it doesn't start there, it's kind of an uphill battle.

Ted Blosser: Hey, everyone. I want to take a quick commercial break and tell you about the company that produces this podcast. I co-founded WorkRamp back in 2015, and our mission has always been the same, to help professionals reach their full potential through learning. As part of that mission, we built the world's first learning cloud, an all-in-one platform for your employee, partner, and customer learning needs.

If your company is looking for a learning management system, also known in the industry as an LMS, we'd love to talk to you. You can reach us at our website, workramp. com, or you can even email me directly at and I'll get you in touch with our team. Hope you're enjoying the episode and back to the show.

Ted Blosser: So we're at the point in your journey. So you've had this amazing career where you've fallen in love with essentially the people function. You really learn the ropes on a let's call it in-house perspective at Dropbox, and then you go to FAIRE, which is where you're at today. But we have to remind the audience, like you go there, literally at the start of COVID. I couldn't imagine taking a new job in May of 2020. Like the world, if you flashback to that time, it was like, I didn't know how I was going to get lunch on any given day. Right. That is a crazy time. No one knew what was going to happen. Walk us through what you were feeling as you moved, and we'll talk about everything you've accomplished at FAIRE and see what we can learn over these four years.

Neervi Shah Patel: Yeah. So, as you mentioned, I joined in May of 2020. Which means if you just reverse from that date, I accepted my offer the first week of shelter in place in the U. S. I remember calling Jeff and Max, our CEO, COO, and our CEO, saying, Hey, haven't resigned yet from Dropbox. I still love my job. Like was illegal for FAIRE customers to operate their business during those first months of COVID, you know, local retailers were not operating. And I was like, is a business going to go under, you know, what, what's going to happen here? They said something to convince me that it was all going to be okay.

Uh, this was probably also during the time when we thought in two weeks we were all going to go back to work. We thought the whole pandemic was going to blow over really quickly.

All good. All good. it was a bizarre time to join an organization. I would say in any role in particular, in this role, I onboarded a hundred percent remotely, I had virtually no live interactions.

I think I had one maybe in the first 12 to 18 months post joining the company. It just meant that I had to be incredibly intentional about every single person I met. There was no water cooler conversations. There was no bumping into someone or just getting to know a handful of people at the same time.

Every person I wanted to meet, every person I wanted to know, I had to literally have a one on one with them on Zoom. And, ignorance is bliss. I don't know if I would have taken it, taken the role, had I known what I was going to walk into. I would say the other just context of what was going on in the world during that time, I joined about three weeks prior to the George Floyd murder.

And the start of the black lives matter movement. So in addition to a global pandemic, we were navigating through from a diversity perspective, social response perspective. You know, what does this actually look like? And at the time, the company was 200 people. It was a one-person HR team. A few folks in recruiting, handful of folks in recruiting, a couple of folks on the office team, but it was building from ground up.

Ted Blosser: Wow. I'm so glad you navigated 2020, right? It could have been easy for you to give up or go back to what you're comfortable with, but you really persevered and hats off to any people leader during that time. Like that was probably the hardest job in any company was people leadership during that time and there was no playbook for you.

Right. Yeah. And so you get through that time, tell us a little bit about what you've built from a people perspective at FAIRE. Tell us a little about the organization, the things you're proud of, so the audience can kind of learn about, Hey, what's a world class people organization look like?

I wanted to share that. It's like, I think you've built an amazing people organization. Tell us a little bit more about it and what you've done over the last four years.

Neervi Shah Patel: I would say at the baseline, we have a fully functioning HR org. We have all the sub teams that you would need in order to grow and scale and to function. I mentioned before it has to start with the founders. It has to start with the founders of a company that kind of sets the stage. And so on one hand, I walked into not a ton. Not a huge team. A very minimal team. They actually did have like, had intentionality. They had processes in place and things of that nature. And I would say the few things that I think we have really been intentional about is one, the way in which we leverage data, the way in which we use data in order to inform our practices. I always say HR is very much an art and a science. We can go out there and pull best practices. We can pull what five other companies have done, what our peers have done, what all the benchmarks look like. But the reality is each company is unique and what you're looking to achieve is unique within an organization.

So there isn't a silver bullet. There isn't like a, Hey, we're trying to do X and then here's how you should go and do it. I think we've done a really nice job at marrying those two things and in thinking about what do our employees need at FAIRE who, what we know of our employees across each of our locations, what do we know of the market and of the industry right now, what our benchmarks doing and what does that mean for the answers that we want to create?

And I think this goes across each of our different kind of domains within the people org.

Ted Blosser: Can I double click into the data comment for a second? And I've seen it in many different forms. Like, do you have any recommendations on types of data you like looking at? For example, probably baseline is your engagement surveys and taking action off of that, but anything else, you like to share on from a data perspective that people can learn from.

Neervi Shah Patel: I would say, like, start with the basics. engagement survey data is helpful. But it should be married with other basic points. It should be married with attrition data, exit interview data and compensation data. Like, it should be married with a bunch of other information. And you should fill your gaps with anecdotes.

You mentioned the engagement survey. this actually comes from my time at Dropbox and I have, pushed this on our leaders here at FAIRE, which we were doing this when we were 200 people. We're still doing it today at 900 people, which is every single engagement survey, every single one of our founders and our executive team members, myself included, reads every single comment that comes through.

It's usually in the thousands.

Ted Blosser: Wow. You're not using AI to summarize that you're, you're reading the raw data.

Neervi Shah Patel: We're reading the raw data. and I think it is relevant. sometimes I think it allows you to do two things. One is identify the trends. , if the same thing is being said 50 times, you quickly get that. But by the way, if only one person said something, it is true for that one person. And if it's true for that one person and their experience, it's very likely true for others. You have to start with actually hearing what your employees are saying They are the customer. They are my customer. And so just like we would review and vet and analyze customer data and NPS scores and things of that nature. I have been given the privilege to be in this role and I owe it to the team and our employees for me to treat them with the same level of diligence.

Ted Blosser: Yeah, that's a great call. I know our team. Maybe we should do what you're doing. We're a little over a hundred people, so, but we're in the thousands of comments, and that was, it was almost too overwhelming. So I had the team bucketed into different themes, but even that they would probably remove some items with, just subjectivity or grouping things together.

But that's a great best practices. Give the raw data to your exec team to actually read through because you're right, every single comment could really change the trajectory of the decisions you're making too. That's a great best practice, as well to anything else too.

So we clicked into the data, anything else that you would say kind of stands out as unique in terms of the programs you built or that you're proud of at FAIRE. And then we'll conclude, this portion with just kind of talking about overall lessons learned too over the last decade or two here.

Neervi Shah Patel: A couple things that I will point to one is just around hybrid. We are a hybrid organization. We have offices. I'm in one of our offices today in our in San Francisco, but we do have a number of remote employees. And, um, again, it kind of goes back to this piece around intentionality.

We have not said that we would be remote first because if we said that it would mean like someone like me shouldn't come to the office cause I'd be giving unfair advantage to those are coming into the office. And so I think we've leaned into this quite well, which is we are every exec team member we think about how we're in other offices.

We think about how we're setting up hubs, i. e. locations where we have a concentration of employees, but maybe not a physical office space. And just investing in and leaning into again, we're hearing from our employees what they're looking for, and we're marrying that with kind of, you know, what we want to set with the company.

And again, I think we've done a pretty good job at kind of bridging the gap there and we've taken a build it and they will come a flow as it relates to our offices. They're here. If people want to use them, we have programming, we have activities, we have all the things that you would expect to see. But we're leaving it to our employees.

It's up to them whether they want to lean in there or not. The second piece is around the way that we think about maintaining our hiring bar, and our talent bar more broadly. It is something that has always been very precious to us in terms of ensuring that we're hiring, folks who are really

masters of their craft. And we want to be able to give them. We believe they can do their best work here. They can solve really hard, complex problems. Career growth comes in a lot of different flavors and dimensions at its core. You know, when I think about learnings, I don't think about a promotion or a title change.

I think about when I learned the most and that is our goal. That's what our goal is to give to our employees opportunities to learn and grow. and so our structures enable that our structures enable a lot of visibility with the executive team, the ability to brainstorm the ability to deep into problems, have active conversations on a regular basis.

And we're always trying to marry and pivot and iterate to make sure that the systems that we have are apt for our size. And I think that's one of the trickiest things to do for a growing and scaling company.

Ted Blosser: Well, that's music to my ears as a learning company that you focus so much on employee development, employee learning. And so, it's a huge retention play of and attracting great talent as you continue helping them grow in their career. So, okay, last question I want to ask you, and then we'll get into the LEARN rapid fire round.

So you've had almost two decades of just amazing professional experience and really capping off this part of your career as having amazing people leadership. What would you say biggest lessons learned you can share with the audience? One or two. What would you say biggest lessons learned so far to this point in your career?

Neervi Shah Patel: I would say the first one that I would start with is employees. And I think this is more true of the more recent generations than ever. But I think it is true, honestly, everyone, which is employees want to feel heard and valued at a very basic human level. that they matter as individuals and that they can feel empowered to show up in the workplace exactly as who they are, and this translates to some seemingly basic, but I would say, really important and effective principles of leading a people-first organization, which is one get to know your people at the individual level.

It goes back to the why I ask our execs to read every single comment. It's because individuals actually took the effort to provide their feedback and their thoughts.

Ted Blosser: And that actually bucks the trend right now, right? Actually, you feel like people are not treated as well in this environment. Like the power is kind of shifting back to employers. And you see what's called poor treatment of employees. I love how you're kind of pushing against the common knowledge of the moment or the hot take of the moment and doubling down on employee growth.

Neervi Shah Patel: Right. So it's really great to see. I mean, I think this whole notion of like the power play, so to say, between employer and employee, you should just always treat your employees well. Like it doesn't matter where the power is. Just always treat your people well. And that bill is again, it goes back to the talent bar that we have.

And, I don't treat you well because the environment is one way or another way, I mean, we know as of the last four years that can flip on a dime. It doesn't matter or just do the right thing. And. Treat your employees as humans. Build those personal connection points. And that really builds the foundation for a lot more.

And then I think this piece around just like valuing humanity, and this really goes back to embracing the whole human, even pre pandemic, the workplace had inklings of this. And again, my, time at Dropbox, was an important baseline for me on this front. But I would say the pandemic has made this movement happen more rapidly.

We are a lot more attuned and aware of all the things that parents have to do in order to make their worlds happen. And so let's treat each other with more empathy and understanding of how someone shows up on a day-to-day basis.

Ted Blosser: it. That's a great lesson to take away. All right. We're going to close with our LEARN rapid-fire round. This is where I love asking, um, people I'm interviewing just a couple of quick questions and you can give me one or two-line answers. First question I'll ask you. What is your number one resource for learning right now?

It could be podcast, book, anything you want to recommend.

Neervi Shah Patel: I'm an avid reader. I have been, since I was a child, and I would say my current genre as of probably for the past couple of years has been around memoirs. I love reading about real stories of real humans who have done exceptional things. And some of the ones that I have, read more recently That have really spoken to me My Life in full by Indra Nooyi, who is ex CEO of Pepsi, Untamed by Glennon Doyle, Finding Me, which is by Viola Davis.

Those are a few that come to mind, but it's learning at a much more macro, broader level, kind of goes back to this piece of, I believe I can learn from anyone and take away great insights from those types of books.

Ted Blosser: Are you audio paperback Kindle? What's your medium of choice?

Neervi Shah Patel: I would say either paperback. I love real books. I have a Kindle, but that now my son has taken. But, um, I like real books. And then I have started to do audio books actually many memoirs and biographies are actually, narrated by the author themselves, which is also really fun.

Ted Blosser: Great to hear their voice. And with this hybrid, hybrid, uh, work environment, you got a lot more commuting. So yeah, back on those audiobooks. All right. Next big one. What's your biggest prediction on the future of the HR practice? What do you think is going to change for HR slash people?

Neervi Shah Patel: I don't know if this is a prediction. And it kind of speaks to a little bit of what I just said. But something that I am seeing more of is how companies are able to use Deep levels of data to develop insights about their employees in a way that was just not done before. And I think this is because of the proliferation of so many new organizations [00:31:00] that are actually serving the people org.

I feel like for a long time, you had the work days of the world. You had, these large companies that were serving A high majority or high percentile of organizations and you have new ones popping up all over the place, whether it's a comp tool, whether it's for L and D for performance management for analytics, honestly, there's so many and I would say each of those.

Provides a level of data and insights we would have had to do manually before. And I think you have to be able to marry at some point. FAIRE will be too big for our exec team to read every single engagement survey comment. I am. I'm acutely aware of that, and we will have to rely more on the data.

And so I think there is something around being able to tap into multiple dimensions of the employee experience and marrying those together, have these things talk to each other that help inform. How companies develop their policies, programs, and practices. I think if there was a prediction in here, it's that we're going to have to show our math work more and being able to leverage data to help inform how you're arriving at the answer.

And then being able to showcase that back to employees is going to be a really important part of how employees build trust with their organizations.

Ted Blosser: love that. If I dig back in your career, I'm assuming you're marrying your Deloitte data-driven approach with actually practicing in-house and having a much better data-driven approach to people. So I was just at HR Transform, and yes, walking the halls was so fun. Cause you could see all the new tech, uh, that all the HR practitioners were checking out.

So, all right, last question, biggest piece of career advice you would want to give.

Neervi Shah Patel: I would say, learn from anyone around you. I think folks get really stuck on I learned from my boss. I learned from people who are more senior than me and I cannot learn from someone who is younger than me or someone who is not as experienced as me or someone on my own team.

And I say this to my team frequently, which is I learned from them every single day. I mentioned when I was at Dropbox, I learned from my peers. That was my growth trajectory. And don't be foolish and give yourself the opportunity, of being able to pick up those bits and pieces from everyone around you to really elevate your own trajectory.

Ted Blosser: Awesome. Awesome. Well, Neervi, thanks so much. This has been an amazing conversation. Hearing about your career and what you're doing at FAIRE merging data into your day to day and can't wait to see where FAIRE goes, where you go as well too. And thanks so much for jumping on the podcast today.

Neervi Shah Patel: Thanks so much, Ted. It was a pleasure chatting. Love your podcast and everything that you're doing and sharing out with folks. So thank you so much for having me.