Meet Jessica Begley, Chief People Officer at Very:

Jessica Begley, Chief People Officer at Very, brings a unique blend of psychology, anthropology, and HR expertise. With a master’s in organizational psychology, her diverse background in retail includes roles in recruitment, talent management, and HR business partnership. Joining Very two and a half years ago, Jessica built the people function from scratch in this fully distributed tech company. Her broad responsibilities cover talent acquisition, employee life cycle, compensation, benefits, and more. Jessica’s influence extends to Eudora’s advisory board, showcasing her impact in HR and organizational development. Her passion lies in shaping company cultures and experiences.

Listen Up: Jessica Begley, Chief People Officer at Very — Full Podcast Episode on Spotify

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Quick Read: Jessica Begley, Chief People Officer at Very, Interview Highlight

Recently, on the Default Global podcast, I had the pleasure of speaking with Jessica Begley, Chief People Officer at Very. Jessica’s career has spanned various roles in HR, leading her to Very, where she has been instrumental in shaping and moulding the company’s culture.

Career Journey and Current Role

Jessica’s career path, although seemingly diverse, has always revolved around her fascination with people and culture.

She shared:

“My background primarily was in retail. I supported the technical groups within retail several times. I was really lucky to have exposure to multiple aspects of HR.”

In her current role at Very, Jessica oversees everything from talent acquisition to internal communications, making every day a new adventure. She is particularly proud of Very’s English as Second Language (ESL) Academy, which her team oversees, demonstrating the company’s commitment to inclusivity and employee development.

Global Hiring Strategy

When asked about how Very selects countries for recruitment, Jessica explained that the company looks for geographies rich in the capabilities they need, while ensuring that potential employees align with their culture and values.

She mentioned:

“One part is finding the geographies that are rich in the capability that we need. And there’s a reality that different markets have different capabilities or maturity of those capabilities.”

Understanding Regional Differences

Jessica highlighted the importance of understanding regional differences when hiring globally.

She said:

“One of the things I have to say is, I think a few years ago, it was harder to identify global talent, particularly being fully distributed. But now, in the post-COVID world, people are more open to the opportunity of working fully remotely.”

Regarding the legal complexities of hiring in different countries, Very ensures that it adheres to the strictest employment laws among the countries they operate in, and often offers more than what local laws require.

Compensation Policies

Very follows regionalized pay structures, with salaries published on every job description.

Jessica explained:

“When you are seeing the job description for a job, you see the salary attached to it. So it’s not a surprise.”

Creating a Connected, Welcoming Environment

Very encourages curiosity and inclusivity through various activities, such as celebrating holidays of different countries and creating social Slack channels where employees can share aspects of their personal lives.

Jessica noted:

“By opening up into different cultures, different backgrounds, you gain so much.”

Talent and Performance Management Strategies

Jessica shared that Very has a very mature talent development program, despite its size.

She explained:

“We have reviews once a year. They are not tied to promotions, but they are tied to anything else in terms of pay, which I think is really important.”

The Role of AI Technology

Although an advocate of AI, Jessica warned about potential pitfalls, particularly in Talent Acquisition (TA), advising to use it thoughtfully.

She suggested:

“Build those sheets up. You know, really think about what those search terms that got you the best people.”

Jessica’s insights provide a fascinating look into the practices of a global, remote-first company. Her experiences highlight the importance of cultural understanding, transparency, and a commitment to employee development in creating a thriving remote work culture.