March 4, 2022
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5 minutes

Powering talent from 0 to 100+, with insights from Talent Acquisition Partner, Alyssa Liu

Careers in Tech

Technology doesn’t wait on anyone—or anything for that matter.

Unlike some industries that have been afflicted by Covid-19, the tech sector was one of the few that exploded with activity as the world rapidly sought innovations for working, learning, and entertainment during numerous lockdowns.

According to Alyssa Liu, a Talent Acquisition Partner at Harvest, this surge in tech would have happened with or without the catalyst of a pandemic — and the proof is in the masses of talent gravitating towards a career in this industry. 

In 2021, Harvest filled more than 800 roles by supporting hypergrowth companies to scale, and supporting companies undergoing digital transformations at a more moderate pace.

We sat down with Alyssa to chat about how she got her start in her career, what qualities about the People team at Harvest make her feel right at home, and the company’s unique approach to powering the Prairies with tech talent.

Tech was always on her radar

Straight out of university, Alyssa worked in finance in the private wealth sector. She hadn’t yet experienced the excitement or complexity of hiring in large volumes that she would eventually find at Harvest, but always kept an eye on this industry.

“I was born and raised in Grande Prairie, a small town in Alberta known for its energy sector,” says Alyssa. “I didn’t have to look far to see that tech permeates everyday life and I leapt into the emerging sector as soon as an opportunity opened up.” 

She names development, infrastructure, and employment as a few of the things impacted by digital innovation that motivated her to join the cause. In addition to the capability of modernizing the world for the better, Alyssa gushed about the possibility of driving new ideas and opportunities for employment, and connecting everyday people with their passions.

When she learned about Harvest’s vision for uniting the Prairies as a tech ecosystem through the work of its portfolio companies, it didn’t take much convincing for Alyssa to get on board.

A job in tech can propel anyone’s career 

As an early-stage startup (with less than three years in the making), Harvest finds itself in a unique position of building out breakthrough tech startups in the Prairies while also scaling their own company and growing their services.

“Playing matchmaker between top-notch talent and Harvest’s startup ventures while being a startup ourselves is interesting for a few reasons,” explains Alyssa. 

“I get to build strong relationships with candidates by being in their shoes and assessing where they want to take their potential. Then, I evaluate whether there’s alignment in their skills with the positions our portfolio companies are hiring for and driving the dual success of the business and the individual.”

Harvest’s current portfolio companies include Neo Financial, OneVest, Propra, and most recently, Walnut, an insurtech that offers modern, embedded insurance solutions that prioritize wellness and balanced living first.

Although it may be unusual to power multiple billion-dollar unicorn companies outside of Canada’s traditional tech hotspots, no less in Calgary—an oil haven—it’s certainly a strategic move that’s mobilizing fast. As of 2021, Alberta is now home to 3,000 new tech companies

“And of course, Harvest’s internal teams are rapidly growing too,” adds Alyssa. “We’ve more than tripled the People team over the last year.”

But growth alone isn’t just in the numbers. 

“Everyone at Harvest is aligned on our end goal,” says Alyssa. “You can see the consistent drive to understand what’s going on with each company, their road maps, metrics, and so on. Everyone is invested and gives 110%, which leads to a high level of engagement and excitement about what we are trying to achieve here.”

Harvest’s purpose-driven work won’t go out of style

With the tech industry’s white-hot glow burning brighter into 2022, it’s no shock that candidates continue to have the upper hand in the job market.

“Candidates—especially devs—have between two to four offers on the table, so it’s critical for us to move fast in the hiring process and make a positive impact on skilled talent,” says Alyssa. 

On top of ensuring candidates go through a seamless process to keep up with the growing competition, Harvest requires serious pull to secure amazing talent. Their bargaining chips are its promises of growth opportunities, an ever-dynamic work environment, and the ability to take on many different responsibilities.

“At Harvest, I’ve had the opportunity to work in almost all job functions of recruitment, whether it’s in operations, people, tech, et cetera,” says Alyssa. “As someone who wasn’t too familiar with recruitment before I started here, it’s definitely a big accomplishment.”

Alyssa expresses that across the board in all positions (not just engineering), the chance to progress into higher-level roles comes much faster than in any corporate environment. However, it’s no coincidence that the people that join the tech community are those who carry a strong sense of purpose for creating a greater impact in what they do and value connecting with people across different cultures and contexts.

“Successful long-term candidates adapt to constantly changing work environments,” she says. “And that’s the first rule of thumb in tech — operational business needs are always changing, and you’ve got to remain agile. One day you’ll be working on hiring a role, then the next, it’s changed or on hold or maybe doesn’t even exist. You can go from needing 10 customer experience specialists to needing 100 overnight. It’s really volatile and the right-fit people will be resilient and open to the challenge.”

Harvest’s unique approach to scaling: You’ll lose if you fight for talent at random 

Talent strategy makes the difference between a cold candidate declining an offer or pausing and seriously thinking about joining another company when it wasn’t even on their radar.

The way Harvest secures top talent is by working with the grain, not against it. In the last two years, Harvest had nearly 100,000 qualified candidates in its applicant tracking system (ATS).

“Rather than fighting for talent, we utilize the shared talent pool among Harvest’s clients and portfolio companies,” says Alyssa. “Not only does this result in more hired candidates and stronger rapport with many of these individuals, but it also means we can focus and hone in on placing the right candidate into a culture that suits both the candidate and organization. We’re always thinking about where a candidate’s skills would best align with companies we work with in our ecosystem. Drawing emphasis on the tech ecosystem at large helps ensure quality placements and innovative work.”

To address the talent shortage in technical roles, Alyssa admits to finding more creative ways to close the gap. 

“There’s a shortage because there’s a difference in specific skill sets we are looking for. That’s why Harvest focuses on creating solutions to upskill the overall talent pool while also leveraging international marketing to bring in the local talent. Some of the biggest engineering hubs are located in Latin America and Eastern Europe, so we extend our scope into the global talent market.”

Tech doesn’t wait and neither should you

If you’re looking to catapult your career into the tech space, now’s the time to start the conversation.

“The best feeling is when a job doesn’t really feel like work because you’re surrounded by so many supportive, forward-thinking people that keep you hungry for more,” says Alyssa. “And that’s exactly what you get at Harvest and its portfolio companies.”

To learn more about career opportunities at Harvest and join the innovation we’re building across Canada, see our open positions.

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