SVP Talent Acquisition @ Wonder
Carol McDaniel: Mastering the Art of Adaptability and Efficiency
"Whenever someone asks me to tell them about me, I always wonder - how much do they really want to know and how much time do you have!" A simple, yet powerful reciprocation from Carol McDaniel, the SVP of Talent Acquisition at Wonder, gives the impression of how much she treasures and respects the time of others as well as herself.
With a very diverse background related to TA. Carol began her career in the United States Air Force, and after 10 years entered the civilian workforce. Her roles range from Staffing, recruiting, recruitment marketing, consulting, and TA leadership for various Fortune 500 companies.
Recently, with the aim to give out the best of what she has acquired, she is part of an amazing start-up, 'Wonder' where she strives to build a strong TA foundation and process that is candidate-centric and provides technology to support the recruiters and processes that hold each person accountable for the candidate experience.
As a seasoned leader who has observed the hiring trends across different hiring spaces, she is now taking over one of the most challenging spaces of work where her expertise requires surgical precision- startups.
Carol strongly opines that recruiting for a startup has its unique challenges. Unlike a lot of other organizations, finding that candidate has the tenacity to join an environment that is ambiguous at times and thrive is an achievement that hits differently. However, the competition is fierce for top talent in areas like Tech and Engineering, so finding creative ways to attract and retain them is a constant challenge for talent acquisition executives like herself.
When we asked how she assesses her candidates. She conveyed that at Wonder, what they look for in their candidates is the ability to be strong problem solvers. The capability to look at a scenario, dissect it, find the root cause, and work on the solution. So, even when hiring, she roots for strong problem-solving skills and the ability to work cross-functionally, as well.
She couldn't stress the impeding effects that mishires had on the startup environment,
"We cannot afford to have any "mis-hires". While we are moving fast, literally building the plane while we are flying it and hiring people to continue to build it in flight - super challenging."
The wrong hire can have a devastating impact on business, unlike other organizations where a mis-hire might take months or years for the impact to take effect. In the start-up environment, results matter every day, so when performance drops or isn't there from the get-go, she needs to act quickly to compensate for it.
With her sense of the HR space anchoring her beliefs, she challenged our question of how she handles Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in her organization by pointing out how no one is handling DEI, rather the world is immersed in it and is already a part of their DNA. They bring diverse talent into the organization for their unique skill sets. They are hired for their diverse experiences and the diverse talent is celebrated and their unique backgrounds impact it in their own unique ways.
She strongly opines that communication is what makes life for TA specialists and HR leaders! this includes feedback, a clear understanding of the role, strong interviewing skills, and the ability to hold the teams accountable for the process and the candidate experience.
Automation in TA is key to strong processes - the ability to communicate quickly with the tools that candidates use, text, chatbot, and so on. and to be able to customize those experiences is crucial for Carol as a leader. Currently, she uses Grayscale, Calendly, Guide, ATS, and a few other specific tools.
As a woman in business, she has faced a lot of challenges at work; from not being part of the "boys' clubs", and not being included in key conversations that impact her department or team to bias related to promotions as well as pay challenges and the ever-present "imposter" syndrome, Carol has faced it all.
"I think for me, and every woman's experiences are different, I would have really appreciated a mentor. Someone who shared insights on how to be more confident in stating what I wanted and needed to be successful."
Carol had to learn the different aspects of the corporate the hard way, and that, according to her, slowed her growth. Even the absence of strong women leaders to model success was a critical need as she was progressing in her career but sadly, she had no access to this luxury. When asked for advice as to what she would suggest for women leaders like herself, she says,
"My advice is to arm yourself with market knowledge, a strong TA network with colleagues you can lean on when you need to advise, mentor up-and-coming TA professionals, and be confident that you are enough and deserve to be where you are."
Her strong belief that she wants to leave a mark behind is what keeps her a stand-apart from most leaders like herself in the hiring space. Her employees and peers have landed the gold mine when it comes to getting the best TA out there.