Michelle Peluso: More inclusive teams produce
better business results. That is facts. Kathryn Minshew: Hello, and welcome everyone
to The New Rules of Work. A podcast from The Muse where we explore the
changing landscape of work and the dynamic between employers and talent. I’m Kathryn Minshew, CEO and co-founder of
The Muse. Now, our guest today, I’m incredibly excited
about. She served as the CEO of Travelocity and Guilt. She was the Global Consumer Chief Marketing
and Internet Officer of Citigroup. And she was a White House fellow and senior
advisor to labor secretary Alexis Herman. She serves on the board of directors for Nike,
Nonprofit TechnoServe, and Tech:NYC. Now Michelle Peluso is currently the Senior
Vice President of Digital Sales and Chief Marketing Officer at IBM. Kathryn Minshew: Michelle, welcome to The
New Rules of Work. Thank you so much for joining us. Michelle Peluso: Thank you, Kathryn. Thrilled to be here. Always excited to do anything with The Muse. Kathryn Minshew: I love it. Well, I was going to say, I have followed
your career for a long time. You’ve been such an incredible advisor to
me and to so many other entrepreneurs in New York. It’s really an honor to have you on the podcast. And to dive in a little bit today into your
background, into some of your career tips, and some of the lessons you’ve learned in
the last several years. Michelle Peluso: Let’s do it. Kathryn Minshew: Excellent. I think anyone who listened to me introduce
you, all of the different incredible positions you’ve hold. It’s pretty clear that you have had such an
incredible career path. I wanted to actually start by talking through
your career journey. You’ve been in different industries, technology,
fashion, banking, et cetera. What are some of the things that motivated
or inspired you at the various steps along the way? Michelle Peluso: That is such a good question. I have always really thought there were a
few common elements to all the career decisions I have made and been faced with. I think in some ways, these principles ended
up guiding North stars for me. The first one is, I really always want to
work with people I know I can learn from. Even early in my career, when I was choosing
consulting, coming out of graduate school. I had different offers from different companies. I chose the Boston Consulting Group, even
though for a variety of reasons, they didn’t treat my graduate degree as equivalent to
an MBA. The pay was less, the title was less than
I could’ve gotten at other leading firms. But I felt passionately that I could learn
the most from the team I had met at BCG. That idea of always working for leaders and
with teams, that I share their values. That I really feel like I can learn, has served
me incredibly well. Michelle Peluso: In the various job career
decisions I’ve made, being surrounded by exceptional people has been really a North star for me. I think that’s particularly important when
you’re early in your career, because so much of your first 5 – 10 years in the workforce
is really, of course, having an impact, and doing what you love. But it’s also about learning how to be successful
in the professional world. Being surrounded by really smart people who
take time and consideration on developing you and helping you grow, is a tremendous
asset. Beyond that, I’ve always loved being at the
intersection of technology and people. It’s such an exciting time and I’ve had so
many opportunities in my career to be at the forefront and how digital is remaking industries. That is something I’m incredibly passionate
about. Michelle Peluso: Finally, I like to be on
a mission. I like teams that are on a mission. I actually like it, sometimes, to be a little
bit of the underdog. To have to think differently, to take risks,
to be bold. I would say those three things have been overarching
in all of my career. Kathryn Minshew: I love that. It’s funny, people ask me all the time, how
do I get from x to y in my career, et cetera. My advice is actually so similar to what you
said, which is I always start with, work with people who you can learn from. Just be a sponge, especially in the early
days. I love that you started with that, too. Michelle Peluso: Yeah. Well you know what’s so funny about that. We’re so used to … I think we go to school
and then you’re done with learning. I feel passionately as Ginni Rometty, our
chairperson and CEO. She really feels, and she says very eloquently
that especially with today’s technologies, artificial intelligence and the like, every
job will be different. Every job is being reshaped and remade by
these explosive technologies. It’s a reminder for us that our job is to
be lifelong learners. Starting that early, surrounding yourself
with people you can learn from is a great way to begin. Kathryn Minshew: I love that. I love that. I may come back to that later, but something
else that I wanted to ask you about. Which I emitted from the list of accolades
in my introduction of you, but it’s obviously very, very important. Is you’re also a mom. Michelle Peluso: Yes. Kathryn Minshew: Thank you so much for giving
me the okay to ask you about this. Michelle Peluso: Of course, of course. You can cut my bio down to something very
simple, which is I work and I’m a mom. Kathryn Minshew: Absolutely. Both of those things take up a lot of time. Michelle Peluso: Yeah. Kathryn Minshew: As a full time working mother
who has spent many, many years in the C-suite and playing a variety of executive roles. Can you talk a little bit about your experience? Because you’re currently leading a team of
I think nearly 7,000 people. How do you think about balancing your time? Michelle Peluso: It is the most important
question. I’m not even sure balance is the right word,
but I am ruthless of how I use my time. I had to learn that lesson early on. I was pregnant as the CEO of Travelocity. Kathryn Minshew: Wow. Michelle Peluso: At that time there really
wasn’t many examples. Some of it hit the press and the team was
in the board. Everyone was kind of trying to figure out
what do you do with a pregnant CEO? I had to fast kind of figure out how I was
going to work. With me it’s always been, how do I try to
do the very best I can at being a professional, and exercising my mind, and my desire to have
impact on the world, and to work with a great team? With being a mom and my desire to be as present
as I possibly can be so they can be all they’re meant to be. Michelle Peluso: I actually leave the office
at 5:00 or 5:30 every day. I do that religiously. I go home, I’m there for dinner, and homework,
and bedtime. Then I work again afterwards. I know a lot of women don’t have an ownership
of their schedule that I can have. But I do think some of these tips and tricks
apply to all of us. Michelle Peluso: First of all, I’m incredibly,
incredibly focused on what matters and outcomes. I really think hard in any job, in any assignment,
in any given week, in any given meeting. I think about this at a micro level, on a
macro level. What is it I’m here to accomplish? What is the best use of my time? I don’t believe in being on every steering
committee and hours. I strongly believe what is usually an hour
on the calendar, can be done in half an hour. What a half an hour can be done in 15 or 20
minutes. I push both in my own work and in teams that
I’m part of, what are the outcomes we’re trying to achieve? How do we use our time best? Michelle Peluso: When I’m on long flights,
I often have printed my calendar from the previous three months. I spend time thinking about what do I want
to achieve this quarter? What’s most important to me in my personal
life with my kids, and my community life, and my professional life? What would be the things that I want to achieve
and how should my time be aligned? Then I look at the previous past few months,
am I spending my time that way? Variably, I find a lot of things that I change
on that plane ride. I don’t necessarily need all the one-on-ones
if teams are doing really well. We don’t have to keep that standing meeting
just because we always have. Michelle Peluso: I really try to align my
time with what I think are the most important priorities. That means back to my first point, I have
to be surrounded by great teams. Really making sure that … I had an old boss,
Manuel Medina Mora, who was president Citigroup. A tremendous role model and mentor for me. He said, “Before any journey, you look at
the journey you’re about to embark on. You really make sure you have the right people
in the boat with you.” That’s always been very top of mind for me,
to make sure on any given project, assignment, an outcome I’m trying to drive. Do I have the right people in the boat with
me? To take the time to assess that and make the
changes needed. Michelle Peluso: I’m also a huge believer
in Agile. I grew up learning Agile as early days in
Travelocity. Right after the Agile Manifesto was written
in 2002. We were one of the first companies to move
software development was Agile. I have always believed that there’s principles
in Agile that provide better ways of working. Now at IBM, we’re the first at scale in marketing
to have Agile as a discipline for all of our marketers around the world. We can certainly talk about that more. Michelle Peluso: But I do believe that Agile
forces, humility and retrospective. You’re always thinking about what you can
do better with your time, with your team, with your work. I think it’s a great approach to prioritize. You have a fixed amount of capacity amongst
your teams. You’re always thinking about your backlog
and what’s the best use of your time. It’s very outcome driven and overcome centric. You have to take the time at the outset to
figure out what metrics you’re trying to move, and make sure the work aligns with that, and
your retrospective aligns with that. There’s a lot of things that I really try
to practice as a discipline from the agile practice. Michelle Peluso: Maybe just a few tips, but
those are some of the things that help, never make it perfect. But help make sure that I can be the mom I
want to be and the professional I want to be. Kathryn Minshew: Absolutely. I think that focus in Agile and on a quarterly
basis, looking back, assessing what went well, what didn’t, were you focused on the right
things. Then using that as input to be more strategic
about how you spend your time and how you allocate your tasks and resources ahead. I mean it’s so powerful and yet I’m constantly
forgetting to do it when life gets too crazy. Michelle Peluso: Exactly. Kathryn Minshew: I think that’s a really important
reminder. Michelle Peluso: Yeah, it’s like plane time
because sometimes you really, really useful. If you take the time to print out three months
of your calendar and you put it in your bag. I guarantee you you’re going to want to have
that thing shredded just to take the weight off by the time you get to your destination. It will be a forcing function on the plane
to go through it, so you can shred it and leave it behind. Carry a little bit less back with you then
you went out with. Kathryn Minshew: Yeah, I love it. I’m actually going on a plane tomorrow, so
maybe I’ll have a new stack of paper weighing down my carry on. Michelle Peluso: A new way of working, exactly. Kathryn Minshew: Yeah, exactly. Piggy backing off the idea of some of the
things that you’ve done to to better fit, maybe we’ll use fit instead of balance, those
different parts of your life together. I loved really reading and learning more about
how IBM has a tech re-entry program. Michelle Peluso: Yeah. Kathryn Minshew: Which is a paid return-ship
for people who are looking to restart their careers after taking a break from work. Which could be for family reasons, health
reasons, there’s a lot of reasons someone might want or need to take some time off. Can you tell us a little bit more about this
program and the impact it’s had? Michelle Peluso: Yeah, absolutely. Well look, elevating qualified women in the
workplace is not only important, but it’s essential. We know more and more that more inclusive
teams drive more creativity, more innovation, and produce better economic results. That equation has been solidified time and
time again here, especially in the past few years. Making sure at IBM that we are attracting
world-class inclusive teams, certainly women, people of color, different nationalities,
orientations, et cetera. Is a huge, huge … frankly privilege for
us and opportunity to drive great results. Michelle Peluso: Tech re-entry is a program
that is really powerful. Our tech re-entry program at scale, we bring
women back to 12 week internships. They come for a three day orientation, they
get placed into one of our different businesses. They get a mentor, they work on actual projects. The idea is to help make sure that these “interns”
have a much smoother re-entry back to the workforce. Also to give our managers a chance to get
up to speed and see the interns work as they hire them. We really focus on it, especially for talented
technical professionals who maybe took a break from their career and now want to restart
their careers. They’re interested in coming back and seeing
how their expertise and their abilities can lend themselves to full time employment. This is a great program and a great way that
IBM has attracting really diverse and terrific talent. Kathryn Minshew: Yeah, I love that because
I think our companies and our workforces would be so much better off if more of them were
more open to people who had taken time off. Or who needed that kind of re-entry. I think it’s really powerful thinking about
what role can organizations and businesses play in making it easier to re-enter. Michelle Peluso: There’s no doubt that … we
have got to, as companies, do a better job overall and understanding in the whole gamut
of learning that more and more skills matter over degrees. Frankly even over necessarily, tenure. Whether it’s attracting new kinds of talent
into the workforce. We have a program, for instance, P-TECH where
we now have 140,000 young people around the world in 14 countries that do a six year program. It’s four year high school degree, two year
associates degree. A lot of very tough neighborhoods by the way. STEM education and they intern over that period
of time, over those six years. We have many of those interns here at IBM. But this is a partnership with other companies,
and with state, and local governments to make sure we’re attracting new forms of talent. By the way, these young people are tremendous
and they get the to leg up by getting in six years, high school and associate degree and
having six years of work experience. Kathryn Minshew: Yeah, I love that. I thought it was really powerful for me to
see when I was preparing for this episode, IBM has received a number of catalyst awards
for it’s [inaudible 00:14:42] in building a workplace that values diversity and inclusion. When you think broadly, I know you touched
on it a little bit, but what does DNI look like at IBM today? For people that might be pushing for their
own workplaces to be more inclusive and more diverse. Are there any either stories of how it’s worked
particularly well or examples of DNI programs in action? Michelle Peluso: Yes, and I can be really
explicit on this one because it’s a huge passion point of mine. In the 1950s the IBM chairman and CEO wrote
policy letter number four. Which said that … decade ahead of the civil
rights act, that we would never discriminate based on race, gender, orientation and the
like. DNI is something that is our DNA. I think that means that for me, I get to run
the women’s program for IBM globally, executive sponsor for all women at IBM. That’s a huge honor and a huge privilege to
stand on the back of a giant like that. To know that our job … my job is to carry
that ball forward, to make it an even more equitable, just an inclusive environment for
women. Michelle Peluso: Here’s the good news and
it really is good news. We just completed, I co-authored a study of
2300 C-suite from all around the world. Pretty extensive interviews with all of them. The bottom line is, very simple process to
have more inclusion at your company. Here’s the recipe. Number one, it has to be a business priority,
not a nice to have. Any of us that are thinking about DNI as a
nice to have, missed the fundamental point. More inclusive teams produce better business
results. That is facts. If that’s true, it needs to be a business
priority. When a company makes inclusion and diversity
a business priority, you find they do things like they would do with all their business
priorities. They invest, they measure, they reward, they
punish. We found 13% of companies that produce superior
economic results and had much stronger and more inclusive teams. They lined it up as a business priority from
the top down, and then they really align the resources and metrics. Michelle Peluso: We know more than ever about
how to use technology to take bias out of recruiting, interviewing, compensation decisions,
those moments that matter. At IBM, we think about those moments that
matter a lot. All of our employees go through bias training,
as you would expect. We use Watson to make sure that after everybody
makes their comp decisions, their algorithms that are run [inaudible 00:17:17] is their
bias in these compensation decisions. Based on someone’s skills, based on their
performance results, based on their job. Should they be receiving differential pay? We take bias and we use Watson, other take
bias out of recruiting. Even the way we we write interview sort of
open requisition, we know there are certain words that really bias the field. We spend a lot of time thinking about how
technology in the moments that matter, along with great training of our people, can produce
more inclusive results. We don’t do it because we think it’s nice
to have, and because we have daughters, and we care about them. We do it because it’s the right thing to do,
to drive innovation, creativity and economic return at IBM. Kathryn Minshew: I love that. I think that clear cut and forceful business
case and moral cases is so important. As you said, it shows up in the data and it
shows up in our business’s ability to innovate. I love that. We are almost out of time. I wanted to close by asking you a broader
question about industry trends that is near and dear to my own heart. You’ve probably, anybody’s heard me talk about
The Muse. Has probably heard me say that one of the
most fascinating things for me right now in talent, and hiring, and HR, is how much that
industry is really adopting a lot of principles of marketing. Companies need to think about building awareness
for their organization as a place to work. They have to wonder what sort of considerations
that are they in and what information are people finding. If they’re doing research, and there’s conversion
questions, and nurture questions. I could geek out on this for hours. But given that we don’t have hours. Kathryn Minshew: As you’ve come up through
both the overall CEO executive side of the house, you’re the CMO now. You’ve seen this from a lot of different angles. What’s a trend that is top of mind for you
or that you’re excited about in terms of how HR and talent can learn from or adopt the
best of marketing? Michelle Peluso: Well, first of all, Kathryn,
I think it’s one of the reasons that what you had done with The Muse is so awesome and
the community you’ve built. Because HR is now at the forefront of company
strategy in good companies. Really thinking through to your point, that
funnel from consideration, to relevance, to preference, to retention. I mean it’s a lot, as you suggest, like a
marketing funnel. What I would just say is, anytime marketers
think about their own funnel, they have to think about a few things. Number one, what’s the big idea? What’s the mission? What’s the purpose? What are the values? What’s the big idea? At IBM, it’s sort of era after era, changing
the way the world works. That is our mission. That’s the big idea. Michelle Peluso: Whether we think about that
from a marketing perspective or we think about that from a talent and recruiting perspective,
we know that that’s the draw. We know that people come to IBM, be the clients
or be the employees because they’re innovators, they’re passionate, they want to change how
the world works. They want to do it at a company where they
can trust that privacy, and principles, and integrity, and inclusion. All of these values are at the forefront of
our company. I think if we continue as any marketer continues
down the funnel, they have to think about what about data? What about technology? How do we make sure that we’re translating
that big idea in the channels that matter most to people? In the ways that people are having conversations. In the places where those conversations are
happening. Just like in marketing, from a recruiting
and a talent perspective, we’ve got to think about making sure we intercept the right populations
at the right time with our message. Michelle Peluso: Then finally, of course,
any great marketer cares about lifetime value, not just about acquisition. That means how you think and about retention
and expansion. From a client perspective was as relevant
as you think about talent. How do you think about making sure your best
talent continues to learn, and grow, and stretch, and stay, and expand their capability, and
their ability to have impact to your company? I think you’re really wise when you think
about the comparisons you make. I would say much like marketers, the big idea
plus data and technology to allow you to hit the right channels with the right message
at the right time. A real focus on lifetime value, retention,
expansion, et cetera. Is as important for an HR team, as it is for
a marketing team. It doesn’t work if there’s not authenticity
at the heart of the marketing message. It doesn’t work if there’s not authenticity
at the heart of an HR message, as well. Kathryn Minshew: Yeah, I mean you can’t see
me, but I’m literally fist pumping right now. Because first of all, I loved when you called
out the lifetime value. The fact that, at the end of the day, if all
we’re focused on as hiring managers, and leaders, and recruiters is getting people in the door. We’re missing so much of the value, we’re
missing the fact that bringing the right people in who will be successful, who will stay,
who will be engaged, and productive employees is really the name of the game. That means being more transparent and authentic
with people before they come in. It means thinking about how you’re investing
in hiring, not just to fill a role, but to think about finding that person who’s going
to be successful and who’s going to stay. I love that. I love that. Kathryn Minshew: Thank you so much Michelle,
for joining us and for being so open. For any listeners who are interested in learning
more about what it’s like to work for IBM, you can check out their profile on themuse.com. Take a peek at their open roles. It’s themuse.com/company/IBM, you can also
search the site for IBM or you can go to their website. Kathryn Minshew: Thank you so much, Michelle. It’s been such a pleasure to have you and
take care everybody. Speaker 1: The Muse is the best place to research
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