Meet Refapp's new CSO Emira Blombergđź‘‹

Hedvig Bergström

The Refapp team is growing fast and recently Emira Blomberg joined our team as our new CSO, we couldn’t be happier about this! Refapp's marketing manager Hedvig Bergström shared a coffee with Emira and talked about digital reference checking, trends in HR, farming and shared a few insights. Tag along!

Welcome to Refapp Emira! How are you today? - Thank you for the warm welcome, I feel great today!

So..let's warm up a bit...tell us something about yourself that we didn't know!

-Hmm, ok. I don’t think many people know that I partly grew up on a Swedish farm since my grandparents were farmers, so I spent most of my weekends there as a child. I realize now as an adult having children on my own, what a privilege that actually was, getting to tend the cows and pigs with my grandfather and picking blueberries in the woods with my grandmother.

“I have also done my fair share of reference checking, working within recruitment and Executive search, and it is both time consuming and hard to do objectively.“

That's very interesting, it sounds like an ideal childhood! So, tell us, why did you start working for Refapp? - I actually had a close collaboration with Refapp when working at Assessio, so I knew both David and Philip before joining, and I was super impressed by what they had managed to achieve, disrupting reference checking, making that step of the recruitment process both more efficient and structured. I have also done my fair share of reference checking, working within recruitment and Executive search, and it is both time consuming and hard to do objectively. ..and can you tell us a bit more about what you did before you joined Refapp?

-Sure, before joining Refapp, I worked at Assessio, still within the HR tech stack, but with products focusing on psychometrics; personality tests, and aptitude tests. Actually, when I joined, it was still a consultancy firm and I got to play a part in transforming a distinguished consultancy firm into a SaaS company. Talk about a learning journey! I have had various positions within recruitment and HR as well as commercial roles in that industry and it is really fascinating to see all the changes within HR and Talent Acquisition more specifically. For me, it has always been about the business side of it. How can we do it more efficiently, more accurately, maximizing ROI… But I also think the fairness side of it is equally important.

““It seems to me that reference checking as part of a recruitment process always brings value, but that sometimes it is a bit unclear for hiring managers what that value really is.““

That sounds like a great experience to have for your new position as CSO. So many questions now, but why do you think digital reference checking is such an important step in the recruitment process? - I believe that no matter what part of the recruitment process, it is always important to eliminate biases and ensure validity. Reference checking is especially tricky since the candidate gets to cherry pick which people to choose as referees. Plus that it seems to me that reference checking as part of a recruitment process always brings value, but sometimes it is a bit unclear for hiring managers what that value really is. And quite often, reference checks are used for multiple purposes. Unlike other parts of a recruitment process, there has been little research done when it comes to validity in reference checking, so it is kind of breaking new ground, although we know that there are certain elements that increase the validity such as asking the same questions (aligned with the job profile) to every referee, the number of references etcetera. That’s why I am passionate about our mission: we are solving a problem and at the same time we are bringing value to our customers. Looking ahead, what do you see as the main challenges as CSO of Refapp?

I see myself as an enabler. My job is to help the organization prioritize when it comes to choosing what to focus on, more specifically when it comes to developing the product. We are an international company now, and different markets have different challenges and opportunities, so the main challenge I think will be to stay focused. I mean there are so many things we could do with the product, right? We have an exceptionally great product-market fit, but as we enter new markets and as the needs of our customers are changing, we have to be one step ahead. So prioritizing the product roadmap is definitely a challenge that I see. Also, creating a smooth process for getting input from different parts of the organization will be a challenge. It is crucial going forward, that we manage to do that. I really agree with that. Over to something else, do you see any interesting trends in HR right now?

-I think it is really interesting to see how organizations are struggling to choose the right leaders. Leadership is a crucial thing for organizational success. And it is really hard to define “good leadership”, because it all depends on the context, right? Of course, there are certain traits that we know make a better leader, but it is still very much dependent on what the team needs and what you are trying to achieve. We also know that when choosing leaders, unfortunately, we tend to choose confidence over competence. I believe that by focusing on competence in all parts of the recruitment process, we can choose better leaders for our organization. And as a bonus, taking one step towards dealing with a lot of other problems, such as problems with gender equality and other diversity aspects. Another interesting trend that has felt relevant for a long time is that of succeeding in creating a common thread throughout the employee journey. And also to really be able to be more data-driven in decision-making. Or really I should say more data-influenced in decision-making.

Besides diving deeper into your work at Refapp, what are your plans for the Swedish February holidays?

-I am taking some time off since it’s the school holidays in Stockholm where I live, so I am actually going skiing with family and friends. I am one of those who appreciate the surroundings and the whole thing more than the actual skiing. Basically, I’m no good at it, but I love it anyway, the whole concept.

Well, that sounds really nice, I hope you will have lots of both sun and snow on your vacation! Thanks a lot for your time. We are so happy to have you on board and I look forward to working with you!