Five Minutes With Jeff Vijungo, Adobe

by Cameron Edmond12 Nov 2013

Software innovator Adobe’s people resources team is 200-strong globally. Of those, 120 fall under the ‘global talent’ umbrella, and the man in charge is Jeff Vijungo, executive VP of worldwide talent. He spends five minutes with Cameron Edmond

HRD: How did you first enter the HR profession? Jeff Vijungo: I graduated from the University of San Diego and upon graduation I cut my hair and moved north to work in a suit-and-tie environment. There were three things I was considering: one was an executive search firm; another was an inside sales entry-level position with a software company; and a third was to undertake a training program with an investment bank.
 
I chose the executive search route because I knew I wanted a sales-oriented role but I didn’t know what industry I wanted to be in. The recruiting firm worked in so many different practice areas and I thought I could vicariously get exposure to all these industries. It worked out, so I stayed the course.
 
HRD: What’s the biggest HR challenge your organisation is facing and how will you set about meeting this challenge?
 
JV: We currently employ around 11,000 people globally and the biggest challenge we face as a company is we’re still growing. And what a fantastic problem to have! Coupled with that, we’re hiring. In fact, the Asia region is hiring a lot – they’ve done an exceptional job under my director of talent, who has ensured we’re also very selective in who we choose. So when we think about the talent pool broadly, coupled with our selection process and our filtering and vetting cycle, the talent pool gets increasingly smaller.
 
We believe in combining talent selection and talent development. You have to approach both. Recruiting alone is not a good strategy, and what I mean by that is that you have to balance with building internally. So it’s succession planning on all the levels – that’s where we see 30% of our hires filled with internals.
 
When you look at CEO success rate in Fortune 100 companies, there’s a direct translation to CEOs that are hired from within versus hired externally. There’s no right or wrong, but we want to have that balance.
 
Jeff Vijungo
 
HRD: Finish this sentence: the thing I love most about HR is...
 
JV: Changing lives. We’re changing lives here – for the creative world.
 
HRD: The thing I dislike the most about HR is...
 
JV: I don’t know if I can answer that because I really love what I do. I would say if I were to dislike something about HR – and luckily I don’t have this challenge – it’s HR professionals not understanding that at the core that people are the nucleus of success, and to treat people as innovators, revenue generators and big-scale operators versus transactors. So just understand that the crux of success is centred around people, and people with this good intellectual property and people with these brains that are muscles that can grow. We feel very fortunate because Adobe as a company is very people-resources-centric.
 
HRD: What’s been your biggest career challenge?
 
JV: My biggest career challenge was the big shift in rigour when managing a handful of people in the hallway to over 100 in over 12+ sites around the globe across 14 different zones.
 
HRD: What professional skills do you wish you could improve, or do you wish you could acquire?
 
JV: To be candid, I’m still working on the biggest career challenge question. That’s still a work in progress. Other than that, I still could improve on not being a ‘hippo’: one big mouth, two small ears. Active listening is such a critical asset to not only show respect but to gather content to make the best recommendations.
 
HRD: The best piece of advice you’ve ever received is...
 
JV: Let’s start with the worst piece of advice: that I needed to learn how to play golf in order to be successful, because all relationships and business deals were born and sealed on the golf course. Best advice was 1) Don’t put on a corporate face. Be yourself; everyone else is taken; 2) It’s not the answers you have but the questions you ask; and 3) The team you work with makes any type of work fun. Team is everything and a sense of humour never hurts.
 
HRD: What do you enjoy doing when not at work?
 
JV: Love spending time with my family. I’m married with two kids and two dogs. I focus my life in these areas that I refer to as the ‘3Ps’:
Personally – My family
Physically – My health
Professionally – My career

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