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HomeCAREERSThe Art and Science of Talent Strategies with Zsuzsa Szoke

The Art and Science of Talent Strategies with Zsuzsa Szoke

Zsuzsa Szoke, Global Talent Acquisition & Mobility Director and Strategic RPO Leader at Cielo Talent, graciously shared her story, vision, and thoughts on driving workforce excellence with us. Learn more about her career journey and how she contributes to shaping the future of work at the organization.

C&B: Could you tell us in a few words who you are from both, professional and personal points of view?
Zsuzsa Szoke: I’m Zsuzsa, born and raised in Transylvania. I moved to Bucharest when I was 18 to pursue my studies in finance and foreign languages, and then stayed there for 15 years. I’m a very analytical and logical person, but at the same time, I really care about people and try to provide a fair approach that shapes everyone’s experience. This duality followed me from my studies through to the present moment in my career, where I lead a global TA and internal mobility function.

C&B: Zsuzsa, you’ve mentioned a lifelong partnership between the analytical and human-centric sides of your brain. Can you share how this duality has shaped your approach to talent acquisition and management?
Zsuzsa Szoke: The Talent Acquisition function is a key strategic vertical in every business, whether you buy, build, or loan the talent, as it ensures access to the necessary skills and expertise to drive innovation and remain competitive. On one hand, TA needs to understand the key drivers of the business to shape successful talent strategies, and on the other hand, it’s important to keep the human-centric aspect of our roles to build a culture of belonging and purpose, especially in today’s world where more and more jobs can be automated or enhanced with the help of AI.

C&B: Entering talent acquisition ‘by mistake’ turned out to be a serendipitous career move for you. What was the moment or experience that made you realize this was where you wanted to be?
Zsuzsa Szoke: I’ve tried many jobs, like content marketing, finance, generalist HR before I landed in Talent Acquisition. TA for me is a perfect balance between business and people, strategy and operations. I could never lean towards one or the other long term, but I found this balance and I’m perfectly content with it.

C&B: You attribute your greatest wins to your inquisitive nature and detail-oriented character. Could you share an example of a situation where these traits played a crucial role in your success?
Zsuzsa Szoke: These traits shaped my career and brought me where I am today. Being a very analytical person, I always ask questions to uncover dependencies and put together the puzzle pieces to understand the bigger picture. This was even more important in the beginning of my journey as I was in constant learning mode, and as a result, today I understand and solve complex problems easily.

C&B: Leading and growing world-class talent acquisition teams is no small feat. What has been your strategy for aligning your teams and delivering on strategies effectively?
Zsuzsa Szoke: I’ve been very lucky to build and lead teams who believe in quality. I am a big advocate of transparent communication, sharing the vision & strategy, and getting the buy-in from my teams. We go through the ups and downs together, learn from them and become better and better with each day. The satisfaction of our clients, candidates, and leaders is in the forefront of our minds, so it comes naturally that we bring our best selves to work every day.

C&B: Winning the hearts of candidates is essential in talent acquisition. Can you share a particularly memorable experience where your approach significantly impacted a candidate’s decision?
Zsuzsa Szoke: Every candidate we come in contact with is a different personality, comes from a different background, and has different aspirations. I believe it’s very important to spend time with them to not only understand their professional background but their personal traits, motivators, and circumstances. We learn from them, they learn from us, and in the end, the most rewarding element of the job is when you are a big part of a positively life-changing moment in someone’s journey.

C&B: Fostering an inclusive culture and creating opportunities for career growth are central to your philosophy. How do you ensure these principles are embedded in your talent acquisition strategies?
Zsuzsa Szoke: While leading a global TA and Internal Mobility function, it is key to slowly shift focus to skills-based hiring and eliminating unconscious bias from our hiring processes. Fostering a truly inclusive culture is definitely a journey with constant learning. We learn from our employees, candidates, and leaders every day, and continuously improve our processes to become better on this topic. I believe transparent communication, humbleness, and an open mind are all factors that contribute to this culture.

C&B: With the constant evolution of the job market and technology, what trends do you see shaping the future of talent acquisition in the next few years?
Zsuzsa Szoke: Wouldn’t be able to talk about the future of TA without mentioning the importance of embracing the innovation that AI brings. But technology aside, diversity and inclusion will be equally as important and I believe this is much overdue, especially in global businesses, to become truly innovative and competitive. And finally, I see a shift from buying talent to developing them, which will put a high focus on learning & development, and internal mobility.

C&B: Based on your unique journey and experience, what advice would you give to those aspiring to lead in the realm of talent acquisition and human resources?
Zsuzsa Szoke: Be bold, ask questions, challenge the status quo, and own your development. You are the leader of your own journey, and the only limits you encounter are the ones you choose not to overcome.

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