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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Microsoft's $26 Billion Acquisition of Linkedin; What it means; Meeting Linkedin's VP of EMEA





You arrive on your first day at a new job, you're ushered into the induction room for your first day of training. The first thing the HR Director tells you is that they know you will leave the company one day. This seems strange, but is exactly what happens on your first day at Linkedin. Reid Hoffman, the CEO, in his book 'The Alliance' says that the days of the 'Company man', where you could be expected to work at the same organisation for 30 or more years are long gone.
Nowadays, Reid sees a job more as a Military 'Tour of duty'. The Company needs your skills to fulfill certain problems they have. Once you have completed that you are on to the next job solving the next set of problems. Apparently Linkedin has lots of great data showing that employees leave companies!
 A few weeks ago I attended an Audience with Linked organised by Sandy Pepper, a Management Professor at the LSE. He as plenty of real world experience since prior to this position he had a long career at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) where he held various senior management roles, including global leader of the Human Resource Services consulting practice.
  The main event was Joshua Graff, Linkedin UK Country Manager and EMEA Head of the Marketing Solutions business, talking about his vision for Linkedin. Linkedin's mission statement is to create economic opportunity for the entire Global Workforce. This seems like a wildly ambitious aim. However of the 780 million Professionals worldwide, already 487 million have linkedin accounts; and that number is growing rapidly.
 Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook coined the term 'The Social Graph'. Linkedin have tremendous amounts of social data that can show what skills are leaving your company and what skills are coming in. They can even predict what skills will most be in demand in 5 years time. For example the job 'Data Scientist' was relatively unknown 5 years ago. Today it is one of the most sought after job titles in the world.
 Josh told a great story about a High Tech company that he had worked with that was growing exponentially and hiring large amounts of sales people. Linkedin was able to show that they were only reaching 1% of their potential talent pool with their current methods.
 He elucidated some of the more detailed aims of the company which revolved around creating value through their talent solutions business (60% of Linkedin's revenue), Marketing Solutions, including sponsored content (20%) and of course Premium Subcriptions (20%). All this is going to drive the company forward, particularly now that Microsoft has just completed acquistion of Linkedin for $26 Billion on the 8th of December. Josh said it was ironic since prior to working at Linkedin, He was working at Microsoft, and now he will be back there again.
 He rounded off the talk with a discussion of values. 50% of employees would not consider taking a job at a company unless they had visibility into it's culture and what it stands for; so obviously this is important. Linkedin espouses compassionate management, which is not necessarily empathy, but rather being able to imagine what it's like to do your colleague's job.
Josh said that empathy may debilitate you if you feel too much. But to understand what, for example your team members are going through will enable you to manage them much more effectively. As he put it it's simply 'walking a mile in someone else's shoes'.
 Equally he talked about Linkedin's culture of transparency. This was the most powerful part of the discussion since He shared his own deeply personal story of coming out as a gay man in the workforce. When He first came out to his parents, he immediately went back 'into the closet'. This is what 60% of Millenials and Generation X's do in the workforce. Yet at Linkedin He finally published a piece talking about his homosexuality and embraces that in the workforce today.
 Josh was obviously keen to get everyone publishing on Linkedin. In addition to his own story He shared 2 other situations where publishing stories had had a really positive impact. The first was around the well known Cyber breach at Target. At this time the CMO of Target wrote a piece on Linkedin which admitted Target's mistake, apologised and showed the steps they were taking to rectify the matter and ensure it never happened again. This was widely shared and appreciated.        
             Similarly when a very unpleasant article came out in the New York Times, criticizing the work culture at Amazon, an Amazon employee published a piece disputing this and saying it was a great place to work; this quickly went viral and garnered more than 1 million views.
    I was inspired by this value. According to research, workers who are more transparent about who they are end up as more productive, more engaged and happier. Since Josh's epiphany came from publishing his piece in Linkedin, I was also motivated to publish more myself. Here is the podcast, including my question to Josh on using Linkedin for Account Based Marketing at 54:40 : http://richmedia.lse.ac.uk/alumni/20161129_HRM_alumni_event.mp3
After the talk we all retired to the bar/restaurant in LSE's new building, which is pretty impressive. I met a really interesting array of Professionals from all walks of life; Financial Services, Marketing, Recruitment, Management Consulting, even a Surgeon who had taken a Master's degree in Management at the LSE a few years previously - a great evening all round!