In this episode of the Rebel HR Podcast, we have the honor of hosting a true expert in the people development space, Kasheef Wyzard. Join us as we delve into his remarkable journey and his passion for empowering underserved and underprivileged kids and individuals, guiding them towards careers in tech.
Kasheef's background as a first-generation American born to Caribbean parents and his exposure to educational resources beyond his community have deeply influenced his career alignment with purpose. He believes in the transformative power of interventions and access to opportunities that can bridge the gap for those seeking a better future.
As the National Director of Dream.Org's TECH program, Kasheef leads the charge in ensuring the integrity of tech programs, trainings, and materials, aligning them with the organization's mission, vision, and values.
Join us as we learn from Kasheef's wisdom and principles in empowering others and driving change. His fascinating story and commitment to making a difference will undoubtedly resonate with our audience.
Kasheef's impactful work has earned him features on renowned platforms like College Interns, Blavity, Authority Magazine, and many others. To learn more about him, kindly review the attached media kit with additional featured speaking topics and bio.
Don't miss this engaging episode filled with inspiration and valuable insights from Kasheef Wyzard. Tune in now to the Rebel HR Podcast! 🎧
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This is the rebel HR Podcast, the podcast about all things innovation in the people space. I'm Kyle ROED. Let's start the show. Welcome back rebel HR community with us this week, I'm extremely excited to introduce you to Kashif wizard, because she is the national director of firstname.lastname@example.org. And we're going to have a wonderful conversation about a formula for talent that includes trust, and focusing more on aptitude, versus some of the things you would find on a traditional resume. So I can't wait to dig into this, because she welcomes some. Welcome. And thank you so much for joining us on the podcast here,Kysheef Wyzard:
who we call Thank you for havingKyle Roed:
absolutely, and and, you know, a lot of times, I wish I would have hit record before, you know, before I do and, and you know, I can already tell that this is gonna be a fun conversation and that you've got an important context to share with the audience. But before we jump into that, I'm curious, can you give our audience a little bit of your, your personal background? And what led you into this type of work?Kysheef Wyzard:
Yeah, certainly. Well, I was born. I'm originally born in Boston, Massachusetts. So I'll say that, right. I'm a first generation American born to parents of Caribbean descent. My dad is a Jamaican invasion. My mom was born in Haiti. And I attribute the alignment of my career, my purpose to intervention, it's really an exposure to educational resources, far outside the community that raised me. So when I say that, I mean, you know, Warren in inner city, and urban center that has many shares, many challenges that many urban centers have especially related to education, and the lack thereof of education and economic opportunity leads to crime, right. So tough area that I grew up in. But fortunately, my parents had the foresight to put me into a program where I was bused to school. And I started busing to school at the age of seven on the child of the bus and busing riots in Boston, which, you know, people think about Boston, always here watching the racist city, it's definitely had a systemic challenges, and there are numbers to prove that, but coming out, again, being a part of a busing program, and abled me to have access to educational resources that I wouldn't have had otherwise. So, that dichotomy between the two worlds that I grew to know, you know, seeing what I saw in my community daily, but then going to school and an hour throw away, that too, I'd say, an unshakable commitment in me to be on the frontline of change. You know, those experiences, realizing that, hey, you know, why am I having a different experiences in the kids in my neighborhood, later on in life, it made me realize, the fact that those experiences, those experiences are experiences that, you know, I could connect, or later on in life, be a bridge, right, position me to be a bridge, connecting community, it's opportunity. So fast forward, you know, I worked in corporate for a while traditional corporate sector or worked in big tobacco. The work didn't necessarily aligned with me or who I was, but it did give me skill sets, skill sets that are transferable, and later, and we might be able to dig into, you know, specifics later, but later, I was able to pivot into nonprofit and seize on an opportunity, a pain point, really, with diversity in tech, right? Companies needed help, and I had skill sets to help them with their pain points. And fast forward, you know, a couple of doors opened, and here I am, so we can dive into details later. But it really all goes back to the beginning, me having exposure that enabled me to dream, I had access to build on those dreams through a busing program. As I mentioned, choices made by my parents. I had space to fail, fail forward as a black man to learn and that affirmation all along the way to believe in myself.Kyle Roed:
Absolutely. And I think you know, I think it's a really powerful story and I think that that context that you that you come from the background you come from is really important, especially for us to hear, and human resources as we you know, it as we sit in our roles, and we think about, you know, how do we help, all of the problems that our organizations are facing, you know, there's a dei B challenge that many of us are being asked to rise to the occasion and help solve, not only in our organizations, but in society. You know, there's, there's a talent pipeline challenge where they're, you know, there's the, quote, not enough people for the jobs available or not the right skills, or, you know, and how do we fix that, you know, there's there's the, you know, how do we retain people? And how do we keep, how do we keep talent engaged, and all these sorts of problems. And I would argue that your approach and some of the things that you do, can give us some, some takeaways and some practical learnings that we can do within our organizations today, to help with some of these issues. So, so I want to talk a little bit about what your focus has been, as it relates to your your formula for some of these talent issues.Kysheef Wyzard:
Yeah, certainly well, are afforded the opportunity to partner with Fortune 500 companies and organizations alike, through my email@example.com. So I'll just say this real quick. dream.org is an organization that dreams of a world beyond poverty, pollution, prisons, and polarization, our mission is to close prison doors and open doors of opportunity. We have two key social justice issue areas, which are criminal justice reform and environmental justice. There is no justice though, in these areas without economic justice, which, you know, communities most challenged communities, our most overlooked, critical proponent to acquiring justice for those communities is through economic opportunity. So just want to say that, and in my role as the the national director of our tech program, I've partnered with organizations like like Target, for example, target work day, the list goes on, but I'll just speak specifically to my partnerships there and where they identified is a challenge in hiring diverse technical talent, and also retaining that talent. And what myself, my team, what we honed as a solution is a cohort model, in which we partner with these organizations we reverse from their technical need. And then we create a curriculum to develop talent. So the company for one one part of this one part of the formula is an investment, prioritizing investing in talent, talent, who who is the talent, it's talent with lived experience, right talent that reflects the demographics that you serve reflects the demographics that you sell product to, right, your your talent pool should align with the talent that you serve. That's talent with lived experience that then can help you generate better solutions at your organization. But because of Eken, because of educational gaps, the lack of educational access that challenge communities have, you got to take risks. You got to you got to invest? And take I say risk, right, slower risk, actually. But the risk is, hey, this is non traditional talent. But this is talent with aptitude. Right? So this is part of the formula aptitude to learn. And how do you get it? How do you get a chance to understand their aptitude, it takes multiple touchpoints. There could be you know, digital engagement via application surveys and so forth, where you know, you're getting a sense of who the person is, but that it takes follow up, right? Traditionally, we rely on resume or HR, what I've learned in my role is that HR departments rely on resumes. And they'll have an in person interview. But again, many of the decisions are already made just based on what they see on paper. And they don't give that opportunity for talent to really give insight to their how their why so aptitude, aptitude, their ability to learn. And we've done that also being in a technical space. We even have talent, take a technical assessment. So we actually We'll learn where their technical acumen is. But by giving them follow up interviews, which we have a seven touch interview process by giving them a follow up interview, we get a chance to give them, we'll give them a chance to answer how, why give us context of the answers. So aptitude to learn, then mindset along the way, throughout throughout that entire process, we're getting this as their mindset, is this person solution oriented? Does this person have a growth mindset, you know, and insatiable curiosity, to learn something new every day get better every day? Grit, right? One thing that talent from challenged communities, talent of color, black and brown program, what do we got his grit, you know, just by default. So this, that's why I said when I brought that word back, when I said risk, because excuse my language, I want someone on my team that has that drive around that has that insatiable curiosity, that competitive fire, to to push through to achieve to win, right? That's grit. So aptitude to learn, mindset, grit, those are critical attributes. And throughout your process of engaging talent, bringing talent in retaining talent, you got to be really purposeful about building trust, right? Like trust is a word of everything get mentioned enough. And in every room, I step into on making sure I speak up trust, because in actuality, you're hiring talent, because you trust them to be able to do the job. They haven't necessarily you have a resume, you have some some insights based on what they've shown you and what they said to you. But at the end of the day, you're making a decision based on trust, they're making a decision based on trust to work at your organization, to stay at your organization. So how do you cultivate trust purposefully on the front end, throughout, invest in them to retain that talent. So I'll pause there, but that's a lot of the formula that I've been able to leverage. And through that formula, not only have we had, you know, nearly 200 people go through our in person cohort program, or and I say in person, virtual format, but 80% of that talent has been placed through that training at a high placement rate. And we've actually upskilled even more talent beyond just that in person cohort model, we have a scholarship for it as well, where we're empowering talent, to upskill for Su technical certifications. And, you know, for Su, technical roles of the truth.Kyle Roed:
Absolutely. You know, I think it's, you know, it's it's one of those things that it makes sense. But it's, but doesn't mean that it's easy to do. Right, you know, and I think if you think about the model that so many of us have, as it relates to you know, how we bring in talent, how do we retain talent? How do we train it? You know, it doesn't necessarily it doesn't fit this model, you know, and I think when you were talking about the, you know, how we make a decision, you know, how we screen a resume, or how we assess talent. So, I mean, we are taught that behavioral interviews are the way of the world and that's the, that's the best way to do it. And I had this argument with an HR professional a few weeks ago that Why are behavioral interviews good? Right, you know, I mean, do they really work? You know, is past experience truly a good predictor of future performance? And the answer is, you know, maybe, right, but it's not black and white, right? You know, and if somebody has a skill set, and an aptitude and a natural tendency and motivation to do well in your job, but they just haven't done that job in the past, or they haven't flexed that skill set in the past, and you've never, like, you're missing out on potentially your best hire you've ever made. And I can tell you so many stories of individuals where you know, to be, you know, I can't take credit here. The reality is, we were just absolutely desperate to hire somebody. Yeah. And we took a chance on someone and we're like, you know, what, terrible resume, the interview sucked, but we're gonna give you a shot. And the more times, we're often than not there, they kill it, you know, they come in and they're just, they're rockin and rollin. And they're listening, and they've got that grit that you described. And, and, you know, so I think, I think our model is, you know, it's it's faulty. And it doesn't work as well as everybody thinks it does. And so I'm curious as we talk about, that, that question of kind of assessing The aptitude how have you seen organizations adjust how they assess talent that works like what? What works as you think about it, as opposed to the behavioral style? How do we actually assess talent based on aptitudes and kind of, you know, mindset ability to learn, and, and all those things?Kysheef Wyzard:
Yeah, well, I have seen organizations make adjustment. And I'd say, just by the fall working in partnership with us, because of the amount of time that we take, that we've taken in the past to, you know, again, really assess talent and GIVE TALENT A shot, you know, we found those diamonds in the rough, for lack of better words, and I've seen organization become really intentional, when I tell you, you know, go back, look under the hood, literally go back and analyze. And a lot, so what we're, what what's happened is, we make recommendations based on our process, but ultimately, we partner with these organizations to, to, to make that final to have that final word, right, and investing in bringing in the talent. And through a process building high trust with our partners, we've had some of our partners go bad, and really assess their interviewers their their rates in regards to how many that they've said yes to, versus the talent that we've said yes to, like we've had partners really do that deep analysis, I'd say, and what we've seen are positive changes. So like, even for wanting to get in the talent pipelines that I support, I've been technical. So this is even even higher barrier, higher, a higher barrier barrier for access, right for additional talent. So that said, what they've done is even critically analyzed, they're the hardest component of their interview process, which there are two areas, the standardized tests, right, so I've even had some companies lower the value of the standardized coding assessments for lack of better words, that they're assessing, because they realize through partnership with us, and through engagement with experts in their network, that you know, what there are, for lack of better words, biases, you know, and there, this shouldn't hold the weight, ultimately, that it holds, like we got to take time to engage talent on the front end, and and on the back end, are to again, get that context, get that how get that why get a sense of, you know, their acumen, their mindset in other ways. So that's been one area of shift that I've seen. But then also, you know, even had a partner allow, basically shift the interview process to make it more practical in regards to what a day in the life is, as a coder for lack of better words, you're not, you're not creating, you're not coming up with the solution on your own, you're actually working in teams. So how does this person how so in terms of the assessment, let's actually put them into scenarios that are more like those that they would experience on a day to day and I've had a partner, you know, shift their component of their assessment to actually create, you know, clear coding scenarios where they're working with someone and, you know, just essentially shifted their interview to a more and more like, the work the actual day to day work, that this talent, that that would be expected of this talent. And from there, we've seen positive changes, we've seen talent actually do better versus standardized coding assessments, which is, you know, just a literal test, right, um, they're getting assessed more in line with the work that they will be expected to do in their day to day job. So I think shifts like that, that humanizes the process. Right it also the talent senses that Italian sense is a desire that the organization is really, really wants to understand their talents beyond what's on paper, you know, and I think that just sets up a springboard to high trust.Kyle Roed:
Absolutely, absolutely. And I think it's, you know, what's, what's really interesting there is, you know, it's you're talking about organizations being willing to adjust a process, right, and being willing to admit, like, hey, maybe this doesn't work as well as we think it does. And I think that that's, you know, just just being open to that, you know, from my standpoint, you know, I, I actually questioned is an interview even necessary for some of the jobs that you're recruiting for, right, like, like, you know, is it really a good predictor of success? And for many technical jobs? It's not, you know, I mean, an interviewer measures how good somebody communicates in the parameters of what you think good communication is. That's what an interviewer is assessing, right? And I guarantee you, their HR professional system is going, Yeah, I've hired a couple of doozies. Great Interviews, fooled the system they even took, they even took these assessments, and it's like, 100%, straight up and down, perfect match to the position profile, blah, blah, and then they get in and they're like, Who is this person? This is a nightmare. Yeah, and, you know, the reality is, we have to be able to admit that and be willing to, to adjust. You know, so I'm curious, I know, you know, dream.org does a lot. And I know that you're really focused on the dream.org, you know, tech, tech space, you know, how do you, you know, approach these organizations? And how do you how do you get them bought in that, hey, change might be necessary here. Here's the program that we have. And and you should be a part of this, how to? How do you approach that? And how do you really, ultimately gain the buy in? And the reason I'm asking is, I guarantee you that there are HR professionals listening to this right now going, this makes perfect sense. I love everything about this, I want to do this, but I've got to, I've got somebody in the organization that doesn't buy in. So I'm curious how you get these these individuals that don't think change is necessary to buy in? And, and and how do you, you know, how do you kind of make that compelling vision for the work that you do?Kysheef Wyzard:
Yeah, well, there's one area where I can't shift organization, which is just their commitment to diversifying their pipeline. So for 111 attribute, one thing that I look for, is the fact that a company or a potential partner has already made that commitment, they already prioritize that maybe even have the metrics, the IB metrics associated to mete out their bottom line, their scorecard and so forth. So it starts there were aligned there that, hey, this is supporting. And with that starting point, then there I take a needs based approach, and it takes the time to understand you know, your pain points, your technical needs, and with that understanding of those pain points, and actually, the literal skill sets the roles that you need to feel, I'm then able to propose my solution, which is hey, you know, what, I have a team, we have a solution in which we have diverse educators that mirror the talent base that the they would tray, right? So there's that lived experience, there's that connection. They can we can build a curriculum, and literally partner with you. So it's a Coke, it's collaborative, you know, so we lead the design, we'll create that 10 to 12 week curriculum, wow. But you're stamping it right and you're you're engaged throughout to ensure that you know, the frameworks and all the above align with what fatalities meaning when this training is done, they're able to step into the work. So we can do that. But guess what, we could also go into the community and and find the talent and then partner with you and ensure that as we are as we are engaging in finding talent that you know, we think is a great fit, we're also going to give you we're going to be transparent and allow you to see you know, through Our tracking mechanisms and then the way in which we do it, but we're gonna allow you to see right the talent throughout that process. And I know that traditionally, you doing this on your own, on average costs around $20,000, to find a technical professional, I also know that there's anywhere from a multiplier of four to nine times that to find a diverse technical professional. So now I'm on I'm tying it to I tied it to their bottom line, I'm speaking in a way that elevates the solution that as value proposition, the value proposition of this solution, considering the costs, it's traditionally takes down to do this themselves. And then, because of the way that we do this, because of the fact that, you know, the talent will have a mentor, that is from your organization for that the duration of the training, and the fact that they'll have lunch and learn. So it's not just technical, but it's there are foundational skill sets that they attain along the way you, your leaders can engage with that process metric, I want you to, that we're building trust throughout the duration of this program. And guess what, that all these two, not only talented 8%, that talent, being ready to step in day one, but a higher probability that you're retaining that talent, because of the trust that you built. And that's the way in which I engaged companies, you know, with that solution, I will say, you know, the economy in the last year has as thrown as presented a challenge in companies taking that quote, unquote, risk on but we're also committed to doing a lot of research right now. And in honing the skill sets of highest demand, in the new future of work, so the new future of work is not just tech, it's green tech. And green tech doesn't mean just, you know, the skill sets needed behind the computer, but also, some of the traits, some of the skill sets that are needed, on the ground ID construction, and so forth in transforming these communities. So, you know, I say, stay ready, so you don't have to get ready. We're positioning ourselves to pivot to, you know, the best solution forKyle Roed:
Yeah, I love that. And I think it's a, you know, it's really important, you know, for us, as HR professionals to remember this, you know, if you, if you want to gain alignment, and you want to, you know, get get people on board in your organization's you, you have to be able to speak their language, right, and understand, you know, the, the things that are compelling, you know, to them, I think, you know, if, if you're like, in your organization, you're struggling, and you're, and you're trying to figure out, how do I, how do I solve this problem? You know, so often if you go back to, okay, what is the actual problem we're trying to solve, trying to get talent, trying to keep talent, you know, whatever that that might be for your organization? And then you actually got into an honest assessment of what talent is available and what it's going to take, what's the investment in order to get that talent where you need it to be like, That's a totally different value proposition, then, hey, I just can't find people. Right? Or that, you know, like, like, that is, that's the most worthless comment ever. We can't find anybody or we're not having luck, right? Like, well, luck is not a strategy. Like, if, if there's not what you need out there, then you need to go figure out, okay, what is the what is the market that I need to go tap into? And what are the resources that I need to tap into that market, and at the end of the day, here's what's cool about this, because if it's like, oh, by the way, this is also just the right thing to do. But that's how you get, you know, that's how you get business buy in. And then, you know, my assumption is that once once it starts to work, it's like this snowball rolling downhill, and you've got organizations are like, oh, we need to do more of this. Like, can you get me 20? You know, 20 more tech tech folks, you know, for these open positions? Because, because we'll take 200 If you can get a point, right, like, I have a feeling that that's probably the case and it becomes becomes an issue where you can't service all these partners. Yeah, forKysheef Wyzard:
sure. I mean, Target Corporation, 6060 people over the last three years cohorts of 20. You know, we're built into their annual budget, again, a unique year that we're in right now, but, you know, they get it and they're made substantial commitments and investments in resources, like ourselves, but also the talent. Yes, the talent gets there, you know, so, and that's, again, that's critical to retaining talent, you know, especially, you know, I'm actually I'm a millennial, and one thing I actually learned growing as I matured, prefer Surely, and this is kind of a theme in this is probably part of the challenge to for Terrell acquisition in HR, when it comes to retain, that's why people are back to trust so much to kind of make those investments because we, my generation, I know at least myself, I was actually coached, I'm not gonna say, Todd, but coach in a way that, hey, you know, this isn't, you know, the 90s, and so forth, like, in order to set and he got you, you got to go get your promotion, you know, essentially two years and on to the next role, you know, and that is, I would say, probably another dynamic another challenge that companies are dealing with in terms of retaining talent. Because, you know, just, I'd say a little bit of Porsche that have the mindset that we have, as a generation.Kyle Roed:
Absolutely, yeah. Hey, millennials stick together, man. Millennials was sleeves, like, you know, I think this has been a wonderful conversation, I really appreciate the context and the approach that you take. And I think that we can, we could all learn a lot from from this model. And I guarantee you that there are organizations within your local communities that are doing very similar things, but they are looking for partners to to be open minded. So I would encourage everybody to do a little bit of research in their organizations do some research in their communities, we can help solve this this challenge together. So with that being said, cuz she, if I want to switch gears into the rebel HR flash round, I'm fascinated to hear these responses. Question number one, where does HR need to rebel?Kysheef Wyzard:
Where do they need to they need HR needs to rebel. In regards to I say, again, who, you know, the tariff room, they're selecting who they're hiring, HR needs to rebel, on the front end, take risk, and select talent again, more based on their aptitude to learn mindset, and less just where they've gone to work or with what their work experience has been or it or where they've gone to school.Kyle Roed:
Absolutely couldn't agree more. Maybe that's confirmation bias. But hey, question number two, how can our sorry, who should we be listening to?Kysheef Wyzard:
Yeah, who right? Lean experimentation and just lean experimental mindset, right? impact value scale, you don't build solutions, without a vigor of engaging can the stakeholders constituents or constituent engagement? So to answer your question of who, who is, I would say both the community, right the the, the talent, the targeted the talent that you're seeking to engage in and hire but communities of color, right, so engage them, but then also your, your diverse talent that you have at your company? Right? Because I think engagement on both ends, for one can help you identify gaps, right, help you identify gaps to close so that ultimately, you can create higher level of trust with the community and the talent that you have. So they're gonna be able to retain and get some of those leaders of color, especially to leadership positions. Absolutely.Kyle Roed:
Absolutely. And then last question here, how can our listeners reach out and connect with you?Kysheef Wyzard:
Yes, I'm easy to access because she first name K S H E firstname.lastname@example.org. Or LinkedIn as myself because she wizard wy ze ARD and also Instagram cash was k s, Hwy Z. Perfect, loveKyle Roed:
it. And we will have all that information in the show notes. Open up your podcast player, click in cuz she sincerely appreciate the time today and sincerely appreciate the work that you're doing out there in the community in the world we live in making it better place one, one person at a time. So thank you very much, and have a great rest of the day. All right. That does it for the rebel HR podcast. Big thank you to our guests. Follow us on Facebook. At rebel HR podcast, Twitter at rebel HR guy or see our website at rebel human resources.com. The views and opinions expressed by rebel HR podcast are those the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any of the organizations that we represent. No animals were harmed during the filming of this podcast. Maybe