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#SAPRadio What You Missed on Does a Degree Matter? Unique Talent Dynamics in the SF Bay Area


There’s more to love about the Bay Area than just the phenomenal weather. Pioneers in technology and venture capital have converged on this legendary City (and Valley) by the Bay since before the personal computer debuted in Palo Alto, California in 1973 – and the birth of smartphones, apps and then the cloud keep them coming.

The influx of tech-titans from all over the world has earned this area the brand of Silicon Valley, dubbed for its innovators who globalize change. The resulting tech revolution has created millions of jobs that didn’t exist even a decade ago. 

This community of tech talent has broken down the barriers of what used to define success. Today, the currency of success appears to be coding genius – and not so much the traditional college degree. A unique idea well-executed can turn a $100,000 seed investment into a $100,000,000 ROI in just five years. You never know who’s going to invent the first self-driving or flying car, the next social network with millions of users, or the next artificial heart transplant. HBO has even gone on to create a show about this!

If you’re tempted to head west to swim in this sea of opportunity, your qualifications had better include unwavering 24/7 passion to create and build – or you just might get left behind by the race to the next big thing. While the Bay is fiercely competitive, luckily, the opportunity to succeed is beyond any social class, cultural background, or college major – the language of tech does not discriminate. 

Want to hear what the experts have to say about the Bay Area tech landscape? Click to listen on-demand to Michael Castellano, CEO of the startup engajer, inc.; Cheryl Fields Tyler, CEO of the HR consultancy Blue Beyond Consulting; and David Swanson, Executive VP of HR at SAP.

Top memorable insights from this episode:

  1. One of our [on-site] teammates is originally from India and works late, virtually, with our development team there. But he also loves the sport cricket. It is not an issue if he watches cricket in the middle of the day because I understand that he has a different schedule. We’re just human beings living. Organizations should not just allow, but encourage that. –Mike Castellano @engajerMC
  2. Gold-ticket and marquee employees can be game-changers, but you’re much better off [as an employer] with a collection that plays together well. Which is why we need places for downtime so these people can come together. The Bay Area challenges people to assimilate yet hold onto the richness of their home cultures. –David Swanson @DavidSwansonSAP
  3. Gold-ticket? I’ve seen so many orgs looking for this individual and not know exactly what to do with them. Much more important to build a culture to make the best of the people you [already] have into leadership. Not just a feeling, but it’s through actions and recognition where people are given the ability to work with purpose. –Cheryl Fields Tyler @bluebeyondteam
  4. Really good companies are smart to have advisers to bring that life experience to the table. It’s my job as a CEO to leverage every generation’s strength and bring them all under one roof so everyone can shine. -Mike Castellano @engajerMC
  5. We’re finding more in the Valley more “V Shaped” people and less “I-Shaped”. People who have had other life experiences from social sabbaticals and different cultures. People equipped to come up with the next generation of solutions for the consumer driven market. Universities produce structured people, which is important, but doesn’t always produce creativity –David Swanson @DavidSwansonSAP
  6. You do needsome life experience to have that maturity in the innovation process. While there are exceptions and we get companies to look at non-traditional talent, education is key to being successful. We help clients going through large-scale change. Get their strategy clear and communicate more effectively. –Cheryl Fields Tyler @bluebeyondteam
  7. How do we find these brave people? In a startup environment, the [college] degree will not matter. What matters is that you’re hungry and confident that your idea really matters – that your signature will be on the company and really want the success. –Mike Castellano @engajerMC
  8. Almost 60% of the talent that makes up the Valley is from another country. Like an ecosystem with unique life forms. –Cheryl Fields Tyler @bluebeyondteam
  9. In the Bay Area, people aren’t so much looking for cool technology or big brands, but rather who are they are going to work with. Who is going to inspire me? There is no other market like the Bay – people come from all over the world. Different passions; viewpoints. Companies become more consumer focused with that diverse background. –David Swanson @DavidSwansonSAP
  10. In the Bay Area, especially if you’re going for engineers, is one of the most competitive in the world. You attract great talent by understanding your company culture – [and] by osmosis, you attract like-minded people. -Mike Castellano @engajerMC

Top #CrystalBall Predictions for 2020:

  1. Millennials will be in leadership positions. People will collect virtually – the office will be a thing of the past. Berlin is a great example of what SAP is doing. But the Bay Area will always have a very unique footprint. More populations will develop the ability to innovate. Biggest Bay Area challenge: how do we stay relevant and sustainable for the future? –David Swanson @DavidSwansonSAP
  2. We live in the blue beyond. Silicon Valley will maintain it singular status as an environment for innovation and show the power of community. Silicon Valley companies are going to be more innovative in confronting income inequality. And how are we [as the Bay Area] bringing whole economies up? Other parts of the world are beginning to do, if not rival, the things we were doing 5-10 years ago. The race is on. –Cheryl Fields Tyler @bluebeyondteam
  3. We see blue skies in 5-10 years, especially with technical talent [engineers]. Demand is so high, but the supply is fixed. Because of this fixed-supply-high-demand, companies are going to get creative about hiring outside of the Bay Area. Then connectivity is going to get so good [between international teams], that the gap will shrink worldwide at more competitive prices. –Mike Castellano @engajerMC

The next episode of HR Trends with Game-Changers Radio explores Driving Culture Change – Easier Said Than Done with a panel of HR thought leaders and experts. Stay tuned and please follow us on Twitter at #SAPRadio.

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