Tech Connects


Episode 10: Saad Siddiqui, General Partner at Telstra Ventures

Season 1, Ep. 10

Our guest today is Saad Siddiqui, who’s General Partner at Telstra Ventures, a San Francisco-based strategic growth firm. He invests in HR tech companies such as Certn and Forage, which gives him some unique insights into talent acquisition, how technology impacts onboarding and training, and the future of work itself. He also previously served as an executive at Informatica and Cisco.

Here are some key points from the discussion:

First, the rise of remote and hybrid work is giving companies a lot more flexibility. It’s now potentially easier to recruit on a national and international basis, as well as find the right talent. But even though there are more opportunities to find the right candidates, a company needs its hiring, onboarding, training, and workplace arranged so that new employees can integrate into the company as smoothly as possible.

Second, a lot of workers miss the ability to collaborate in-person within an office. That’s a key reason why many technology professionals prefer hybrid work, where they go back to their offices a few days per week. Many companies are working on how to bring the collaboration, camaraderie, and spontaneity of the office to a virtual environment, in a way that’s not just giving a thumbs-up on Slack. Keep an eye on what tech companies are doing to make remote work more personable.

Third, startups are also trying to figure out how to help businesses manage rising employee costs such as healthcare. With inflation and other factors leading to rising prices, keep an eye on how emerging companies are trying to make company spending more efficient.

More Episodes


Episode 16: Kaitlyn Albertoli, CEO and Co-Founder of Buzz Solutions

Season 1, Ep. 16
Our guest today is Kaitlyn Albertoli, who’s CEO and co-founder of Buzz Solutions, which uses predictive analytics, A.I., and other cutting-edge technologies to inspect and evaluate the power grid. This is critical work, as power companies need this kind of data for everything from anticipating power outages to ensuring we can modernize the power grid and make it “smarter.” It’s always fascinating to see how technologies like predictive analytics can not only be used to tackle intense, real-world problems, but to also update the aging, often antiquated systems that we depend upon for so many things. As Kaitlyn says during our chat, it’s going to be fascinating to see what happens over the next five to ten years as these technologies mature and end up applied to different industries.Here are some other quick takeaways from our talk:First, if you’re interested in launching a startup, take the time to identify the pain points in the market, and whether your idea is a real solution that can solve that pain.Second, it’s still very early days for artificial intelligence and machine learning. If you’re in a business where you’re dealing with people who are unfamiliar with A.I. and its potential, take the time to educate them on how it works. By walking them through the strengths and weaknesses of the technology, you’ll get them onboard with your plans for using it.Third, whatever your industry, a real key to success is effectively analyzing data. Without analytics, you’ll have a harder time achieving tactical and strategic goals, especially over the long term.

Episode 14: Improving Corporate DEI

Season 1, Ep. 14
Our guests are Jacob Little, Glassdoor Senior Head of People Experience and DEI, and Stuart McCalla, Evolution Managing Partner. I was interested in speaking with them because of their deep backgrounds in DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), particularly in how DEI programs can potentially improve a company’s internal diversity and culture. Back in 2020, Glassdoor noticed that users were joining companies that had high ratings on its platform, but once they arrived at their new employer, they found an unwelcoming environment. Glassdoor then partnered with Evolution, a coaching, culture, and leadership development firm, on a two-pronged mission: to boost DEI within Glassdoor, and to better infuse DEI principles into the platform itself. It was a complicated mission that produced some interesting results.Here are some key takeaways from our discussion with Jacob and Stewart: First, DEI impacts everyone. Team leaders, project managers, and even C-suite executives might think they only need to be good at engineering products or making sure teams hit deadlines, but leadership is ultimately about having the skill and fluency to recognize diversity. You need to absorb and respond to peoples’ individual experiences and culture—if you can’t do that, you’re going to have issues with retention, and your best and brightest will walk right out the door.Second, a formulaic approach to DEI just won’t cut it. You need to make sure that team members respond to DEI initiatives on an emotional level. That way, they’ll truly internalize what the organization is trying to teach. It’s more than just KPIs.Third, DEI succeeds when it’s working on three levels: the individual, the collective, and the systemic. You have to make sure that issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion are being addressed on every possible level, from the c-suite on down.