Celia Harper-Guerra is a perfectionist by nature. Throughout her career, she has spent innumerable hours—“too many hours”—making sure that everything is flawless. Today, Harper-Guerra has learned to rein in those tendencies somewhat, following a “90/10 rule” that allows her to get things done while still stopping to smell the roses. But it is precisely Harper-Guerra’s zeal that makes her the perfect match for Sprinklr, the company that “genuinely, passionately cares.”
An expert within the talent acquisition space, Harper-Guerra has spent decades working across the country at companies large and small, in industries from technology and communications to biotechnology and life sciences. When she decided to accept the position of vice president of talent acquisition at Sprinklr, a New York-based software company founded just over ten years ago, it came as a surprise to many around her.
“People asked me, ‘Why are you going to work for this small company?’” Harper-Guerra recalls with a laugh. “And I told them, ‘It’s simple. It’s because I know I’m going to work with great people who care.’ It’s just amazing, the strong executive leadership talent that we have here at Sprinklr.”
As vice president of talent acquisition, Harper-Guerra is responsible for making sure that the company continues to be a magnet for top-tier talent, whether that’s at the executive level, entry level, or anything in between. But finding the “right” talent isn’t just a matter of evaluating candidates’ technical job competencies and their expertise.
“We treat each other like family here, with dignity and respect,” the VP says. “We care about each other, and we truly want to help others succeed. We are passionate about our work, of course, but we also show up every day with the notion that every human has the potential to be amazing. We have the intellectual curiosity and an appetite to learn. To net it out, we’re working with great people who want to make a difference.”
“We are passionate about our work, of course, but we also show up every day because we’re working with people—and a company—that genuinely cares.”
Attracting the Right Talent
As the first point of contact for anyone outside of Sprinklr, Harper-Guerra and her talent acquisition teams constantly work to ensure that they are “living and breathing” the culture as brand ambassadors.
True to her perfectionist roots, Harper-Guerra isn’t satisfied with relying on brand ambassadorship alone to recruit top-level talent to Sprinklr. She has developed a three-part plan that will not only help attract the right talent to the company but also help the company “scale and grow as fast as it wants” in the years ahead.
1. Build the Best Team
“You have to have a strong, diverse talent acquisition team who will enable you to execute on your vision and strategy,” Harper-Guerra notes. “The recruiters we hire are talent advisors. They’re consultants by nature, who are brand ambassadors, and they excel at finding and providing strategic talent information to their hiring managers.”
2. Build a Pipeline
“There are two types of pipelines,” Harper-Guerra explains. “First are the active candidates who are looking for new opportunities, automatically find you and come to your website, and apply for jobs themselves. We get excited when talent just comes to through our front door.
“But what really interests us is when we seek out passive talent,” she continues. “Those individuals aren’t necessarily looking for a new job, but when you reach out and start talking to them, they get excited about our story at Sprinklr. Those are the individuals that are usually the top performers at other companies who aren’t looking for their next job, and we want to tap into that talent.”
To help with the search, Harper-Guerra and Sprinklr work with software company Gem. “Gem is pleased to support Celia and the Sprinklr team in their work to find, engage, and nurture passive talent so they can grow and scale the team while maintaining a personalized approach,” says Steve Bartel, Gem CEO and cofounder.
3. Show Who You Are
“In any interaction we have with a candidate, we need to demonstrate who we are,” Harper-Guerra says. “We need to exhibit that we are a high-tech company with a strong vision, with quality products and that we execute. Our intent is to be purposeful in how we engage with candidates, and to share our core values and beliefs.”
“We’re in a very niche market, so people who are already in that market know who we are,” Harper-Guerra adds. “We are working towards building a stronger brand across multiple industries to provide us the opportunity to tap into other talent channels and communities.”
“Whether or not the candidate gets a job, we want them to walk away feeling like they’ve had a great experience.”
Finding the Right Fit
Above all, the talent acquisition team must be continually mindful of the candidate experience, Harper-Guerra emphasizes. “We strive to provide an extraordinary candidate experience by engaging with our candidates through every interaction whether that is digital or face to face,” she explains. “Our core belief is ‘People never forget how you made them feel.’ Interviewing is not a skill that everybody has mastered, and to help a candidate be at their best, we take great efforts to provide a rich and rewarding experience for our candidates.”
Sprinklr holds a minimum of six interviews for every candidate, with each interview designed to have a deeper engagement focused on core competencies and the company culture. Throughout those six interviews, which are conducted by a diverse array of organizational leaders and hiring managers, Harper-Guerra and her colleagues use a combination of cutting-edge technologies and individualized interview questions.
“Interviewing is a two-way street,” she says. “We share with candidates, ‘We are interviewing you, but you need to be interviewing us. At the end of day, we want you to be sure that this is the right culture fit for you.’ And of course, we want to ensure that Sprinklr’s culture is a match.
“Whether or not the candidate receives an offer, our goal is to have candidates walk away feeling like they’ve had an extraordinary experience,” Harper-Guerra continues. “Even if they are not hired, we believe that a candidate could be our next customer, partner, or shareholder in the future. And, if a candidate shares with their friends, cousins, or uncle about their interview experience, those people could become our next customers or a future hire for us. We hope everyone walks away thinking, ‘I really love Sprinklr.’”