Get Reworked Podcast Guest Meredith Sadoulet of Comcast

Get Reworked Podcast: Is TV the Solution to the Recruiting Challenges of the Great Resignation?

January 04, 2022 Talent Management
Mike Prokopeak
By Mike Prokopeak, Siobhan Fagan

Get Reworked Podcast Guest Meredith Sadoulet of Comcast
Could your TV be the answer to the challenges of the Great Resignation? It just might be, in part at least.

In this episode of Get Reworked, we talk to Meredith Sadoulet, vice president of talent, strategy and experience at Comcast, about the story behind the development of Xfinity X1 Career Center, a job search destination launched on the Philadelphia-based company's cable platform in 2021. Meredith led the small entrepreneurial team within Comcast to launch this new voice-enabled, consumer-facing job search tool. 

Listen: Get Reworked Podcast Full Episode List

"I can remember in the earliest days having some conversations with folks who said, 'I can't imagine that anyone would ever want to think about something serious like job search when they're watching TV,'" Meredith said. "Yet we had some market research and frankly, we had anecdotes. And we also had a gut feeling that there was an opportunity here based on what we were seeing with employment trends and a need for disruption." 

Highlights of the conversation include:

  • How Comcast discovered TV was a search destination for job seekers.
  • What the Career Center does and how the company built it.
  • How companies like Walmart are using the platform to meet recruiting and diversity and inclusion goals.
  • The effects of the Great Resignation on recruiting and job search.
  • Lessons learned from operating as a startup within a larger company.

Plus, co-hosts Siobhan Fagan and Mike Prokopeak talk with Meredith about whether 5G is overrated or underrated, the enduring allure of business travel and bicycle racing as a form of relaxation. Listen in for more.

Have a suggestion, comment or topic for a future episode? Drop us a line at [email protected].

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Show Notes

Episode Transcript

Note: This transcript has been edited for space and clarity.

Meredith Sadoulet: There are many misconceptions about what entrepreneurship is, and what is required to be an entrepreneur. The first myth is that individuals start companies. While the entrepreneur as a lone hero is a common narrative, a close reading of the research tells us a different story. Teams start companies. Importantly, a bigger team actually adds to the odds of success, more founders equals better odds of success.

So we really love that quote. And we held that close to us, as I mentioned, really aiming to build the most diverse, inclusive team possible. And looking at it as a journey for all of us in this startup incubation space within Comcast.

Siobhan Fagan: You just heard from Meredith Sadoulet. We brought her on today to talk about a really interesting project that she's working on at Comcast around the future of job searching and how you bring in new employees. She is the vice president of talent, strategy and experience at Comcast. And she has got a lot of experience under her belt, so I am super excited to bring Meredith on. Are you ready, Mike?

Mike Prokopeak: Yes, let's do this.

Siobhan: Let's Get Reworked.

The Motivation Behind Putting Job Listings on Your TV

Welcome to Get Reworked, Meredith.

Meredith: Thank you for the opportunity to join you. I'm thrilled to be here.

Siobhan: So we invited you here today because you are working on something really interesting. You had shared a little bit of background information with me on a conversation earlier this year. And it's called the Xfinity X1 Career Center. And I guess we should give a little background for our audience who may not be aware of what Xfinity X1 is, can you just give a brief description of what that is?

Meredith: Sure. So Xfinity X1 and Flex are components of our TV platform offered to our Xfinity customers.

Siobhan: Excellent. And so the reason that we brought you in, we're not here to talk TV, unfortunately, although we could do that for another podcast.

Mike: We've done that already, Siobhan.

Siobhan: We have. We've been talking a lot about different actors and movie stars. But today, we're going to talk about job listings. So you have worked with a team to put job listings on TV, and I was just hoping that you could explain to us where that idea came from.

Meredith: The idea was born from both professional and personal motivation.

So maybe I'll start with the professional context. I was hired by Comcast back in 2019, to build a new function within HR focused on talent, strategy and experience, and was encouraged to innovate and deliver outstanding candidate and employee experiences through that role. So my team and I formed a vision for the function to focus on three strategy pillars, which were, one, to create a consumer-like digital experience. Two, to humanize the experience through personal interactions and moments that matter. And three, to introduce our talent to our products, recognizing that many employees and candidates are also customers or potential customers of Comcast. And the critical foundation across all three pillars of our strategy was to very intentionally and thoughtfully elevate diversity, equity and inclusion throughout our vision, and our work.

So I was thrilled to take on this role. I have about 15 years of prior experience in finance and strategy across multiple Fortune 100 companies. And I'm really passionate about assessing organizations quickly and building strategy and change at scale and experimenting with innovation. So I joined the company with a point of view that we could deeply connect our talent strategy and our business strategy really thinking about our candidates, also from a customer lens. And in fact, one of our first major initiatives upon forming the function was to implement what we call candidate Net Promoter Score, or candidate NPS to measure and quantify how our candidates experiences in the hiring process could impact their sentiment about Comcast, not only as an employer, but also as a consumer brand.

So from a professional perspective, I had a strong desire to create a much better experience for our candidates, and to leverage our platforms in a way that could create a better job search experience. So some of the data points we had were that we know across many companies, hiring practices today are overly complex. They take way too much time for both the candidate and the employer. And they've really been largely unchanged for years.

We know that people sift through job boards, they attend job fairs, maybe even pick up paper applications in person. And they really tolerated outdated, inefficient approaches because a better way to search for jobs hadn't existed. We know that a typical job search can take five months for a candidate, and 60 days for an employer to fill an open position. And candidates historically have had to review lengthy written job descriptions that often don't clearly depict what it would be like to work in a particular organization.

So given the complexity, and the time involved in searching, people rely largely on who they know or places they know to find a job. And because of all of that, we know that inclusion is suffering. So the professional motivation was to create a better job search solution for candidates and elevate diversity, equity and inclusion through our strategy.

And then on the personal side, I'll share that my son was diagnosed on the autism spectrum several years ago. And I'll never forget the day that the doctors shared his diagnosis with me. And they provided a packet of information to read, which included very disheartening statistics about unemployment and underemployment of individuals with autism. Since then, I've come to be a very active advocate and an active change agent toward greater equity and employment opportunities. And I've learned this statistic, that roughly 25% of the US population and 1 billion people around the world experience a form of disability. Yet for many years, people with disabilities have experienced double the unemployment rate of the general population.

So combining those professional and personal motivations, our vision for Career Center was really to create a talent product that would leverage the strength of Comcast's unique platforms and technology to increase access to employment opportunities, and to ensure that inclusion and accessibility would be elevated to the forefront of our product design.

How Comcast Career Center Works

Siobhan: So I'd love to hear a little bit about what that experience is that you've created. How does a job seeker interact with this career center?

Meredith: So Career Center is it's a destination on our TV platform, as I mentioned, specifically Xfinity X1 and it's also available on Flex, which is a streaming device and service that is free to Xfinity Internet customers. And the Career Center destination features videos about companies, their values and culture and types of jobs available.

We believe that Career Center provides an opportunity through the platform to customers in a unique accessible way, transforming their job search into a more interactive, engaging experience from the comfort of their homes. So if a customer wants to find the site, they would simply say Career Center into their voice remote, and they will be taken to the landing page on TV, where they can view videos that showcase different types of jobs. In many cases, the videos portray a typical workday for people within a particular type of job anything from customer service to retail, technology, marketing, and sales and even early career positions.

And then while the customer is watching the video on the screen, a call-to-action banner invites the viewer to input their mobile number or they can scan a QR code. And then they'll receive a text on their mobile device with a link to search for current open jobs or they can join a talent community to be included as a potential future candidate for consideration via recruiter. And then as you may be aware, Comcast also has a business unit called Effectv that provides advertising solutions. Effectv is present in 66 markets and has nearly 35 million subscribers. So it really enables advertisers to reach audiences at the neighborhood market or national level.

So you can imagine the powerful capabilities that Career Center offers employers who want to advertise their company and their types of jobs by geotargeting even down to a Zip Code level, or by you need to reach households via demographics to reach broader and more diverse candidate pools.

Believe it or not, an average viewer watches six hours of video content per day and TV, which is often the largest screen in folks' home is arguably one of the strongest ways that brands can connect with consumers and drive action. So the combination of our TV platform plus our advertising capabilities has been very appealing to our early partners. And the D&I opportunity on the platform is resonating deeply companies are very attracted by the potential to engage with our broad and diverse customer base.

A Growing Platform

Mike: Meredith, you joined in 2019, when did you start working on this project? And what have been the milestones along the way?

Meredith: That's a great question. So I would say that concept really started developing in early 2020. And then during the fourth quarter of 2020, our team ran a pilot to test out the Comcast jobs destination. So we wanted to first run a pilot for our own jobs. Our external market research had confirmed that interest existed in job search through TV among some populations.

So we launched the pilot to answer three questions. First, would customers actually engage with job or career-related content on TV? Secondly, if so, which content areas would see the most engagement, and third, which functional job areas would be in highest demand?

Interestingly, before Career Center was fully designed and launched, we analyzed voice remote prompts. And we learned that customers were saying things like jobs, gigs, employment careers, into their remotes, so in essence, they were already potentially looking for content on TV to support a job search, then within the first two weeks of our pilot launch for our own Comcast jobs, with no promotion to maintain organic results, we had over 1,100 households per day on average finding and visiting the destination. The areas that were trending among customers with regard to engagement were frontline jobs, tech jobs and early career jobs. So then by March of this year (2021), the site had experienced over 100,000 visits to the destination, again with that very quiet launch approach, and over 77,000 households have visited it.

So the Comcast jobs destination really represent the first step toward our broader vision for Career Center where not only Comcast but other employers could engage customers with their recruitment videos about their job opportunities. So then in March, we launched a pilot with Walmart as our first external partner on the career center platform. And the relationship with Walmart was appealing to us for several reasons. First, of course, the variety of jobs available within Walmart was broad and spanned from retail, merchandising, transportation, supply chain, pharmacy, tech, etc. Secondly, Walmart shares the spirit of innovation, and has proven to be a great partner in testing and learning together. And third, Walmart shares a long standing commitment to D&I like Comcast does, and as was the case for Comcast, new video assets didn't need to be created for the career center platform. We both already had recruiting videos on our careers pages, on our YouTube destinations on our social media platforms, etc., and we could simply lift and shift those videos over to Career Center.

So we've come a very long way in what we believe is a short period of time since March. Currently, we're approaching nearly 1 million visits to the Career Center site, and over 600,000 households have engaged so we're absolutely thrilled with the momentum.

Driving Faster Time to Hire and Increased Diversity of Applicants

Mike: Right. I mean, that's interesting. And I appreciate you kind of giving us who's getting involved now and how that's expanding, I want to come back to what you talked about a little bit earlier, because it was really interesting, the fact that people were actually already searching, using their voice activation, jobs. And then you mentioned that it was frontline and technology and early career type of roles that were kind of in the early phases of it. What types of jobs do you see this growing to? Do you see it kind of staying within those areas as the core strength of it? Or do you see it being used more broadly?

Meredith: That's a great question. Now we're continuing to test and learn. So we're taking a very intentional approach to experimenting every step of the way. So in addition to Comcast and Walmart being live on Career Center, we very recently launched the US Army as another employer on the platform.

Comcast has a tradition of supporting the military community beginning with our founder, and we deeply value the fantastic leadership skills and breadth of other capabilities that we know that veterans, National Guard and Reserve members, military spouses, etc, can bring to teams. So we're incredibly proud to be partnering with the US Army to pilot how Career Center can advertise the types of jobs available in the Army well beyond the infantry jobs that may immediately come to mind for some people.

So today, Mike, to answer your question, in our early stages, customers can explore a huge variety of jobs across the organizations that are on Career Center in this early pilot stage. Everything from roles as a technician, meant welder, truck driver, customer service agent to jobs in technology, retail sales business to business sales, marketing healthcare supply chain. And as I mentioned, even internships and early career roles. So we're excited that customers can explore all sorts of jobs from the comfort of their home through our site.

Siobhan: Meredith, have you been able to collect any data as far as people being hired through the platform, or are those kinds of metrics proprietary to the companies that you're partnering with?

Meredith: Those are proprietary to the organizations we're partnering with, but I can share some data for Comcast relative to our recruitment outcomes. So for Comcast Career Center in less than nine months time is our 15th highest volume source for applicants to our jobs. And we're continuing to see that grow, our average days to fill jobs through Career Center is 25%. Faster than other sources, we're seeing double digit percent increases in diversity of applicants from the Career Center source versus our other recruitment pipeline sources.

And when we look at quality of candidates coming through the funnel, our applicant to interview applicant to offer an applicant to hire ratios are on par with or outperforming other major platforms for us, like our careers page, Indeed, LinkedIn, for example. So we had always been hopeful that we would see great engagement on the platform. But candidly, when we launched, we just weren't sure whether we would see the recruiting outcomes or not. And so we've just been absolutely thrilled with the success of the recruiting outcomes thus far as well.

Siobhan: Can I ask, you mentioned earlier that you were lifting and sort of replacing the same materials across platforms in your case, and that Walmart was also able to with the assets. Have you had to create any unique assets for the channel, and when you're doing so are you creating them, especially with these DEI targets in mind?

Meredith: So we have not created new assets specifically for the platform yet. We typically like to use a multichannel approach. So if we are launching a new video about a day in the life or something new about our DEI strategy, or our culture, our values, we would introduce those across multiple platforms. What I will share is that some midsize to smaller companies that we've been speaking with have inquired about how to participate in a light fashion on the platform.

So for example, if a company doesn't have robust recruitment, marketing video assets, or is one that wishes to engage on the platform for a very focused hiring need, so let's say for example, one particular hiring campaign or one major role type or one very specific geography, we're considering developing a simplified solution on the platform for those types of specific needs.

We do have, again, an organization within our Effectv business unit that can help companies create short-form video, for example, if they'd like to participate on the platform, and they don't have any existing assets, or again, to your point, if they'd like to just share a new story about how they're approaching DEI or talent recruitment, for example. 

Be Specific About Your Hiring Objectives

Mike: Meredith, I want to get into in a little bit how this is centering on what's happening in business around the Great Resignation, and a lot of the challenges that we're facing in the job market. But before we do that, I want to ask a little bit about one of the issues that you brought up earlier around the reasons behind developing this platform. And that had to do with friction in the job search and just it being kind of unfriendly to candidates.

Anybody who's been on the hiring side has seen that efforts to create less friction in the hiring process, one-click applications, really trying to make it as easy as possible for people to hire, just results in this incredible flood of candidates, some who are not qualified or some who are not not even really interested. It was just so easy for them to do it that they went ahead and did it. How are you addressing that from the employer side, filtering out a lot of the noise to find candidates that actually will serve internal needs?

Meredith: That's a great question. Well, we believe that a diverse workforce is a better workforce. And so it's exciting to us to see the most diverse applicant pool possible. And we're thinking about not only diversity in the context of race, ethnicity, gender, but also diversity in all dimensions, military experience, LGBTQ plus national origin, of course, military and veteran status, as we've talked about diversity of experiences and skills. And so we're actually thrilled to see the influx of candidates with a broad array of backgrounds and experiences. And that's very much aligned with the diverse and inclusive approach that we're trying to drive within our workforce.

Mike: So it sounds like what employers should do, as they're considering using a platform like this is be clear about what your goals are, and just will help you to hit them. If you're just kind of using this as a broad brush approach to the market in general, it may not be as effective.

Meredith: Exactly. So for example, with both Walmart and the US Army as we launched their destinations on the platform, we spent a significant amount of time talking about their hiring objectives. And were there specific campaigns that they'd like to build around that so that to your point, there was a specific strategy that they could then measure the outcomes for related to perhaps a particular role type or a particular geography, maybe experimenting with virtual roles.

Underrated/Overrated With Meredith Sadoulet

Mike: Alright, well, we got a lot more questions we want to ask you. But we also like to throw in a little segment here to change it up a little bit, lighten it up a little bit sometimes, and we call it underrated/overrated where we'll take a few minutes, and we're going to throw a few topics at you, Meredith. Some of them related to the topic of what we're talking about, some maybe not so much, and ask you your thoughts on it. Do you believe that the effects of this are going to be underrated in the future or overrated? Are you willing to play along with us?

Meredith: Absolutely. I'm excited. Let's dive in.

Mike: Alright, I'll throw the first one at you. And it has to do with 5G, the future of mobile experiences. If you hear people talking about 5G, in many cases it is put in this in these very grand transformative terms. Do you feel like 5G is underrated or overrated?

Meredith: Underrated. Some of my friends that Xfinity Mobile shared a stat with me that in 2019, the GSMA, which is the Global System for Mobile Communications issued a study suggesting that 5G will add over $2 trillion to the global economy over the next 15 years. And the number of 5G connections are expected to reach 1.4 billion by 2025, which is 15% of global total connections. So I would say definitely underrated.

Siobhan: Alright, next up, Meredith. Work travel. This is obviously coming at a time when we're just starting to get on planes again, but not that frequently. Is that underrated or overrated?

Meredith: I will say underrated again. I miss work travel. I deeply look forward to the opportunity to reengage in it. I love exploring new places, observing different workplace norms across office locations. And in some of the global roles I've held, it has been an absolute pleasure to learn firsthand about cultural differences across countries, to observe unique traditions, to get exposure to interesting regulations, all of the things that really shape our personal experiences through work and work travel.

Mike: Alright, Meredith, the talent management approach to HR. You talked about in the lead up here, some of your experiences and kind of what you were brought on to do at Comcast. But this idea of talent management, and the strategic side of HR has been on the table for 10, 12 years or so and maybe could feel like it's getting a little bit long in the tooth and there might be a new way to think about it. Do you feel like the talent management approach to HR is underrated or overrated?

Meredith: I'm going to say underrated again. So as I mentioned earlier, I began my career in finance and strategy roles. And so I've really only pivoted into the HR space within the past few years. And so, when I made that career pivot, I had the pleasure of pursuing an executive education certificate from Cornell focused on talent management. And I will say through those courses and the firsthand experience that I've now had across multiple industries, I have absolutely seen that a well established talent management strategy can absolutely lead to improved outcomes in D&I and retention, mobility, employee engagement, etc. So I'm a huge fan. And as a fun fact, Mike, the Cornell program is actually where I first met my husband. So one could say our interest was first piqued in one another as we learned about talent management frameworks, so I have to go with underrated on this one.

Mike: Depends on the quality of your relationship that particular day whether it's rated, right?

Siobhan: So Meredith, I suspect that we're going to go for all underrated here, but I was reading in your bio, one of the things that you do to kind of relax is bicycle racing. So I'm gonna ask you underrated or overrated: bicycle racing as a form of relaxation?

Meredith: So Siobhan, I'm gonna throw you a curveball here, I will say overrated to this one because I love bicycle racing. My husband is French. We do love the Tour de France. But I have to say, my ultimate sport of choice is the sprint triathlon. So of course, the bike racing is included, but it's sandwiched between swimming and running as well. So I'm gonna say overrated on the bike racing alone, because I prefer the the trash.

Siobhan: You prefer the bicycle sandwich. Excellent. Excellent. Well, I'm glad that we got an overrated in there.

How the Great Resignation Is Shifting the Job Market

Mike: Alright, Meredith, we're gonna go back to the topic of the day. So thank you for playing along with us. I mentioned a little bit earlier, talk about the great resignation and kind of centering what Comcast's work on the Career Center is and how it fits into this. And you've talked a lot quite a bit about, you know, how this is a way to address inequities in the market. But, you know, as you look at what's happening with the Great Resignation, people leaving their jobs after this period of time where they've been kind of locked in. How do you see what the Career Center offers, as fitting into that concern that many business owners, many hiring managers, many people who are just interested in getting people to do what they need to do in their companies? How does it fit into that?

Meredith: Well, I would say the Great Resignation is driving to interesting trends that do tie in directly with Career Center with many individuals spending more time at home. We have seen an increase in TV viewership throughout the pandemic, specifically an 8% increase in total time spent with TV. And then on the talent side, of course, sure, we're all seeing companies willing to experiment with new ways of sourcing talent. We're seeing many more virtual roles crop up, for example, which are enabling companies to recruit talent who may not have previously considered working for them due to geographic location.

So the concept of utilizing a new and different way to attract talent is resonating very much. And in this tight labor market, companies are testing many new approaches. We're seeing things like traditional billboards used more often to recruit candidates. I'm sure we've all heard stories about interview incentives being offered at different companies. And Career Center, of course, does offer a brand new approach to recruitment. And so it's been interesting to see the attention to that throughout the Great Resignation. 

Siobhan: So Meredith,before the Great Resignation, and sort of concurrently at the same time, we've been discussing the skill shortage in the workplace on many levels, and the challenges that companies are facing finding people with the skills that they need for the jobs. And I'm wondering, when you think about the future of the Career Center, do you see it expanding its scope into areas like training or in other areas that might give like a fuller package to the would be employee?

Meredith: Absolutely Siobhan. So we've been performing customer callbacks, and we also have an SMS customer survey live. And both of those are producing some very interesting themes around opportunities for career center expansion. One area of interest among our customers is to be offered video content with resources, tools, tips for passive job seekers who'd like to brush up on things like crafting a resume, updating their profile, preparing for an interview, for example. And then to your point, we've also heard a number of requests around learning content to support continuing education or technical skill development. So those are some opportunities that we are actively exploring right now.

The Measures of Recruiting Success

Mike: As you look forward, how are you going to measure the success of this? And how would you recommend others who are considering either partnering with Comcast to do this? Or you know, considering other ideas and alternative ideas? What are the success measures that you recommend that people hone in on?

Meredith: So we're thinking about two primary categories of key performance indicators. The first is really around engagement on the TV platform with the job-related content, and then the second category of course is around the recruitment outcomes. So, with regard to engagement, as I mentioned earlier, we're approaching 1 million visits to the destination, and we've engaged over 600,000 households. We're thrilled that 72% of our customer survey respondents have said that the Career Center made them more interested in applying to a job, and 76% confirmed that they would return to the site to learn more about careers through their TV. Our customers comment frequently about the strength of our technology, platform and ease of use.

And an interesting piece of feedback has signaled that customers enjoy using the platform to engage their household members around an important decision, like career exploration on the largest screen in their home together. So rather than huddling around a computer or cell phone to review a job description, a customer can watch videos on Career Center, with their loved ones to discuss whether a company's culture appeals to them or whether a job type might be one that they'd want to pursue.

So those are a number of the metrics that we're monitoring around engagement on the site with job-related content. And then of course, as I mentioned earlier, we are also tracking and monitoring and learning about our recruitment outcomes and doing so with our partners as well. So our interpretation of the results at this early stage is that Career Center is a viable platform with a very engaged audience to advertise company, culture and values types of jobs available. And again, as I mentioned, it's also proving to yield very promising recruiting outcomes in this early stage.

What She's Learned From Operating a Startup Within a Big Company

Mike: Alright, so here's a newsflash for listeners. Comcast is a large company. It has a lot of reach and customers, but also different business lines. And what you've kind of been doing here in building the Career Center is operating as a startup within that organization. Can you talk a little bit about that experience? How did that come about? How did you build a team to carry out this vision?

Meredith: That experience has been an absolute highlight of this product launch. So the fuel for this work came from an innovative, diverse, passionate team of approximately 40 individuals who all dedicated time above and beyond their day jobs to build the product because they all believe so deeply in this opportunity for positive impact on our customers and in our communities.

So as the product concept was developed, we had the great fortune of being extended an invitation to participate in Comcast Lift Labs Accelerator. So this accelerator is a highly selective 13-week experience, partnered with Tech Stars, who you may know as a top accelerator in the US, which has supported approximately 2000 startups. And so we represented the first ever internal contest team to participate in the accelerator, operating like a startup alongside 10 other external startups.

So we challenged ourselves to operate differently, testing out concepts of acting like a startup within a massive Fortune 30 company. And we engaged colleagues from across strategic development, technology, data science, marketing, sales, enterprise, client management, advertising, HR, finance to work through internal gigs, to contribute to building business models, product roadmaps, go-to-market strategies, sales and marketing plans, etc.

And so I believe the team is really a shining example of inclusion representing very different functional backgrounds, very different skill sets, experiences, communities and perspectives. It's been an absolute dream to lead that team. And what I'll share is one of the things that we held very close to us throughout the accelerator experience was a quote from Bill Aulet who wrote the book, "Disciplined Entrepreneurship." So we often had this quote across many of our strategy docs and internal communications, and I'll share that with you this quote was: "There are many misconceptions about what entrepreneurship is, and what is required to be an entrepreneur. The first myth is that individuals start companies. While the entrepreneur as a lone hero is a common narrative, a close reading of the research tells us a different story. Teams start companies. Importantly, a bigger team actually adds to the odds of success. More founders equals better odds of success."

So we really love that quote. And we held that close to us, as I mentioned, really aiming to build the most diverse, inclusive team possible. And looking at it as a journey for all of us in this startup incubation space within Comcast.

Siobhan: So when you think about that model of that nimble team that's created across disciplines within Comcast, I'm curious if Comcast is seeing the success from your initiative and planning to use that model in the future. And also, if you could speak in more broader terms, if other organizations could benefit by sort of setting some of their employees loose on specific projects where they work across departments like this.

Meredith: Yes, so I'm so happy to share that the company has been incredibly supportive of this experience. So the original partnership to enter the accelerator was with our strategic development function. As I mentioned, with the Lift Labs Accelerator and Tech Stars, and many senior executive sponsors across the company were incredibly supportive, challenging us to proactively develop entrepreneurial acumen and those skills across all levels of employees.

And we committed to testing new workforce strategies within our own way of working as a team. So not only during the accelerator experience, but then also beyond, with me wearing the hat also of leading talent, strategy and experience, we've been able to then bring many of those strategies within the broader context of our workforce.

So for example, we tested things like leveraging asynchronous ways of working as much as possible. We tested out maintaining our existing roles while also operating in a gig capacity on a particular project to resource our work, experimenting with team norms that may differ from traditional corporate norms like flat structure, abandoning day job, title-driven hierarchies, etc. So, I'd say we learned so much as a team and our company at large was very supportive of all of those learnings and eager to see us deploy many of those approaches more broadly.

And then to your question around do I see this as a model for other organizations? Absolutely, I'd say my personal point of view is that as the talent marketplace continues to evolve, I believe we'll see more and more people who want to diversify their experiences across their careers, and not necessarily have to leave a company to do so, much like many of us receive advice to diversify our financial investments. I believe that we'll see a trend toward employees wanting to diversify their personal sources of income and/or their types of career experiences.

So my personal belief is that offering a startup structure within a large organization can really offer the best of both worlds, it can offer that large-scale strategy and experience alongside the agility, speed and experimentation of an accelerator or an incubator.

Mike: You brought this up as I mean, all this was happening at a time of pretty massive disruption to the way we work. You're leading remote teams, you're leading big teams, all these sort of agile methodologies that we're trying to apply to the way we work. Final question before we close it out then is, what lessons have you learned that other leaders can learn about how to lead these kinds of teams? How do they need to change their style, their leadership to address that?

Meredith: So I'dsay two things. The first major lesson, which of course, we've read about and all of the research, we have all seen the statistics on this, but to experience and live firsthand the ability to build a team from the ground up, committing to diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility at the forefront of the team and its objectives has made a huge difference.

So often, we know that people are committed to D&I and accessibility, but they'll forget to have that discussion until later in a project or later on product development, or later as they're analyzing the structure and makeup of their team. We made a commitment to do that from the very beginning and to lead every discussion with how are we elevating D&I and accessibility to the forefront of this work. And because of that, as I mentioned, it was an incredibly diverse team. But people that I don't know would have found each other otherwise may not have worked together day-in and day-out otherwise, but it was so powerful and the experiences and perspectives that everyone brought to our work enriched it.

So that was takeaway no. 1, everything we read about and I've heard about and learned about in terms of the benefits of D&I on business strategy and on products and solutions is real. And we experienced that. And then I would say the second major lesson was test and learn. Don't be afraid to fail fast, as we always hear. And don't be afraid to experiment. So we did that as a team. I can remember in the earliest days, having some conversations with folks who said, I can't imagine that anyone would ever want to think about something serious like job search when they're watching TV. I think people only want pure entertainment.

Yet, we had some market research. And frankly, we had anecdotes. And we also had a gut feeling that there was an opportunity here based on what we were seeing with employment trends, and a need for disruption. And so to push through and put out a pilot and learn quickly through it, and analyze data, and then do the same again with an important partner like Walmart. And now to be doing the same with US Army, I think is encouraging us to continue to maintain that entrepreneurial spirit, which is to have courage, and to test and learn.

Wrap Up and Final Thoughts

Siobhan: Meredith, I think that is a fantastic note to end on. I also love that you went with the data, but you also followed your gut. So the data was kind of pointing in that direction. But you're also like, No, I think this is just something we should try out. So thank you so much for sharing your story with us. If our audience wants to find out a little bit more about you, where should they go? And obviously, if they want to hear a little bit more about the career center, where should they go?

Meredith: They can find me on LinkedIn. And I also have a personal webpage, MeredithSadoulet.com, and I would welcome the opportunity to connect with your listeners. So I hope many will reach out.

Mike: And if you're a Comcast customer, be sure to search it through your voice search as well.

Meredith: Yes, indeed, you can say Career Center into your voice remote to test out the experience.

Siobhan: Thanks again, Meredith.

Meredith: Thank you both.

Mike: That was pretty interesting, Siobhan. I always thought that TV would be the answer to my problems. But I didn't know that it would be the answer to my job search problems.

Siobhan: Honestly, it's why I wanted to have her on as a guest. When she was telling me about this, I'm like, how does that work? And does it mean we spend even more time watching TV which, you know, could go either way? 

Mike: Well, in the fact that they actually had data showing that people were searching for job content through their audio searches through Xfinity. I mean, that was pretty fascinating to kind of see that that's actually happening.

Siobhan: But I do love when she said that it was sort of gut instinct, but at the same time that they did have the data and they were just like, let's give this a try.

Mike: Well, it's definitely a time to be creative when it comes to finding job candidates and doing job searches, you know, given what's happening in the industry. So I'm excited to see how it turns out. And thanks to Meredith for being a part of the conversation. And as always great to talk to you, Siobhan. 

Siobhan: Greattalking to you too, Mike.

Mike: We encourage you to drop us a line at [email protected]. If you have a suggestion or a topic for a future conversation, we are all ears. Additionally, if you like what you hear, please post a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you may be listening. And be sure to share Get Reworked with anyone that you think might benefit from these types of conversations. And then finally, be sure to follow us at Get Reworked on Twitter as well.

Thank you again for exploring the revolution of work with us, and we'll see you next time.

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