How Tech Can Build Global Employee Connections

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Digital collaboration is more important to HR than ever before, says Stuart Robertson, chief people officer at AvePoint. It’s all about enabling real-time connections, ‘way fewer meetings’ and ‘more capacity for creativity.’

Stuart Robertson last summer was named the first chief people officer at AvePoint, the largest data management solutions provider for Microsoft 365, based in Jersey City, New Jersey. His first order of business? “Empowering the collective.”

Robertson spoke with StrategicCHRO360 about just how he is doing that, and what it’s like to oversee talent while helping to scale an organization—the company recently merged with Apex Technology Acquisition Corp., a publicly-traded special purpose acquisition company. Prior to joining AvePoint, Robertson was head of HR for luxury goods leader Richemont Americas, based in New York City.

How do you scale a talent acquisition and development plan across multiple continents? What is your plan for doing so at AvePoint?

Well, first, AvePoint is already comprised of incredibly smart, passionate and hard-working people at the forefront of innovative technology. I have a dual focus on ensuring our current team grows its capabilities, and on building new capabilities through talent acquisition.

I spent most of my time in the first few months at AvePoint listening. That is the best way to learn and to improve, especially when you are leading a global organization like ours. It is too easy to make high level assumptions that ignore the operating differences in each of our regions.

Specifically, we are building and leveraging a centralized sourcing model that can support global teams and integrates seamlessly with talent acquisition specialists in our major markets. Our sourcing model combines technology and passionate specialists who explore outside the usual “boxes” to find the best AvePoint talent.

Why does digital collaboration matter when building a cohesive global workforce today?

Digital collaboration is more important than ever. In the height of the pandemic, most companies tried to continue their same operating practices, but remotely. This quickly turned into days packed with meetings and asynchronous collaboration patterns. But that model was just not scalable. Leveraging connected technology that enables real time collaboration means way fewer meetings, more time to connect with colleagues on specific needs and more capacity for creativity. AvePoint utilizes many tools like Microsoft Teams, Yammer and SharePoint to build a cohesive global workforce, empowering folks to work together from anywhere in the world.

I believe that to truly innovate, the process of ideation and creation must include diverse perspectives. We aim to do that by fostering an environment in which our employees can engage in fruitful conversations from where they reside. 

How will hybrid office technology offerings impact talent acquisition and retention moving forward?

For years, many technology companies attracted top talent by highlighting the perks of their physical office spaces. This led to massive company investment in things like elaborate happy hours, on-site wellness spaces, an abundance of snacks and more. Now, however, we will see a big investment in the hybrid experience—which includes an engaging digital ecosystem and more flexibility in general—to both attract and maintain top talent.

Technology, however, is a means to an end and not an end itself. All companies, ours included, need to ensure that leaders lead with conviction and empathy, being clear on our purpose, strategy and initiatives. When we are confident this is happening, we can empower and trust our team. Of course, to truly trust digital collaboration, businesses need a highly secure ecosystem.

What’s your vision for the role and company as AvePoint’s first ever CPO?

AvePoint is a publicly traded company as of July—and we have ambitious goals for growing the organization. Now is our time, and with my public company experience and over multiple decades and multiple continents, I cannot wait to see what is possible.

My vision for the CPO role is simple. I want to grow our organization by empowering our collective to best serve our customers. To do so, I must be crystal clear about our purpose, strategy and initiatives with my colleagues on the senior leadership team, and make sure I am strongly connected with all AvePoint colleagues.

Initially I am focused on ensuring the employee experience is superb, enhancing our active inclusivity and diversity programs, installing a 360-talent management approach, streamlining global processes and developing a rewards system that will propel the organization. As my team engages in a very inclusive approach to building the long-term people strategy, our approach will evolve. Ultimately, we aim to enable the continued success of AvePoint by maintaining the core culture that has been built over 20 years and adapting to the many opportunities that lie ahead.

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