Josh Bersin is the founder and Principal at Bersin by Deloitte. Bersin by Deloitte is the leading provider of research-based information, benchmarking, professional develoment, and advisory consulting services for strategic HR, talent management, leadership development, recruiting, and training organizations.

The company’s global membership program empowers HR and Learning professionals to drive bottom line impact in their own organizations. Our research, tools, and professional development help HR professionals and business leaders at all levels improve their effectiveness and drive bottom line impact.

More than 60% of the Fortune 100 are Bersin members and more than a million HR professionals read Bersin research and information each month. A piece of Bersin research is downloaded approximately every minute of the business day. He is also a renowned LinkedIn Influencer!

An exclusive interview of Josh Bersin with Wenger & Watson Inc he shares his ideas and thoughts on HR, his journey so far and few tips for newbies.

Q:  The 1st Job always holds a special place for an individual, where did you start your career and could you share your learnings of your 1st job?

A: I started my career as a project engineer working in an oil refinery, back in 1978. I have always been someone who liked to work, starting with a paper route in grade school, working at McDonald’s in high school, and then working part time doing dishes in college.

This first position taught me how complex and difficult it can be to work in a larger organization, and I went through several months of training to learn about the oil industry, refining, and project management.  A few months into the job the refinery had a major structural failure in one of the major facilities, and I was asked to lead the relationship with the engineering contractor to diagnose the problem for repair. It was a somewhat frightening project since it has so much top level visibility, but I learned that if you respect the expertise of others you can get almost anything done.

Q:  In all these years, can you share with us, one of the toughest situations you have had to face at your workplace?

A: Following my two years at Exxon, I worked for IBM for a decade and then had a series of roles at software companies, startups, and eventually running my own business. Throughout those years the biggest challenges I have always had were around people:  trying to decide who to hire, learning how to inspire others to work well together, and directing teams toward the vision or strategy I was trying to communicate.  As I moved into HR, leadership, and learning research I realized that the challenges of management are everywhere and at every level.

Q:  After spending two decades in the area of Sales and Marketing, what made you step-up Bersin & Associates?

A: It turns out my career prepared me perfectly for running my own business.  I started my career as an engineer, then worked in sales and marketing leadership, then spent almost a decade in product management and business development, and then, accidentally , found myself running my own business.  All these experiences taught me things I would need.

In my case I never aspired to start or run a business – I was laid off from an online learning company in 2001 and that pushed me to go out on my own.  I found myself unemployed during one of the biggest recessions in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I went out on my own and looked for consulting projects to keep me busy.  Over a few years I realized that my background and experience lent itself to becoming an industry analyst and building a research business, and that’s how Bersin & Associates was born.

If I look back, the decade I spent at IBM serving customers, the near-decade I spent at Sybase building products and doing marketing, and the years I spent in sales and business development, all taught me that business is all about serving people. If you get up each day thinking about how you can better serve problems, better serve clients, and better help your team – you will eventually succeed.

Q:  What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?

A: I believe much of our research has helped shape the profession of HR and L&D, and I’m very proud that we’ve had the opportunity to impact the profession and all the employees served by HR around the world.

Q:  How has HR intervention changed from the day you started your career to now? (wrt employee engagement, retention, recruitment and policies)?

A: The biggest shift that is taking place is the transition of HR from that of a compliance and process design function to that of an enabler and facilitator of people.  Today HR and L&D leaders (and their teams) have to live in the world of “design thinking” – where everything they do, every program they build, and every system they buy has to help employees do their jobs better. Technology has changed and is now integrated into our lives, so HR”s new role is to essentially design and curate the work experience so we can manage, lead, and operate better at work.  And the disciplines of analytics, behavioral economics, design thinking, and psychology have become more important than ever.

Q:  Finally, Your views on the traits that a new age recruiter should have? 

A: I think recruiters have a very difficult job – they have to simultaneously understand the business needs of their hiring managers and also learn how to source, assess, and attract just the right people.  IN many ways this is the most important job in any company, because the entire culture and performance of the company is driven entirely by who you hire.  I think most recruiters are under trained and often under appreciated, but ultimately when you find a great team and a great company, you always find a great talent acquisition team surrounding and supporting it.