Podcast: A Tech Pioneer’s Vision of Employee Onboarding

pioneering employee onboarding

Ever envisioned a world where your onboarding process is powered by artificial intelligence or where complex tasks are seamlessly managed by sophisticated algorithms?

Join us for the latest episode of Process Street’s Employee Onboarding Podcast, where Erin engages in a conversation with Tarek Kamil, the founder of Cerkl, delving into the future of employee onboarding, the transformative potential of technology, and the ethical considerations surrounding AI.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Introducing Tarek Kamil: CEO and founder of Cerkl
  • Exploring Tarek’s passion for technology and AI
  • Implementing AI in employee onboarding
  • Tarek’s journey and inspiration behind Cerkl
  • The future of AI in employee engagement

You can listen on Apple, Spotify, Google, Podchaser, Podcast Addict, Deezer, & all your favorite podcast platforms!

Introducing Tarek Kamil: CEO and founder of Cerkl

Erin Rice: Welcome to the Employee Onboarding Podcast, where we are unpacking great onboarding ideas and best practices from the world’s top HR practitioners and thought leaders. 

At Process Street, that starts with our mission to make recurring work fun, fast, and faultless for teams everywhere. My name is Erin Rice, and I’m the People and Operations Coordinator here at Process Street.

Awesome. So before we dive in, I like to ask a silly question, you know, just to break the ice a bit. 

And around Process Street, pizza has been a really big topic, which I hear you’re a big fan of. So I have to know, do you like your pizza folded? Are you more of a fork-and-knife kind of guy?

Tarek Kamil: I love pizza so much that there’s no way I could be patient enough to use utensils.  So I fold and get it in as fast as humanly possible. I’m definitely a fold guy. Thin crust. Hot. 

Although, I won’t complain about the temperature. So if it’s left over the next day, that’s fine, too. Anything with pizza, I’m in. I love it all.

Exploring Tarek’s passion for technology and AI

Erin: Awesome. It’s like a thin, really large slice, New York style, with the bubbles on top. I’m here for it. 

Absolutely. Well, now, what we really came here for is employee onboarding. So, I’d love it if you could start by sharing a little bit about how your passion for technology evolved in your life.

Tarek: Oh, it’s been as long as I can remember, honestly. I started writing software when I was really young, about 12. And it’s like, to an artist, it would be a blank canvas. So when I see a computer screen, it’s blank. And the only thing that’s limiting you is your imagination. 

You can go in and create anything. I just found it fascinating that you sit there, think, envision something, and then bring it to life, and the problem-solving involved with that. I fell in love with it at an early age and really never stopped. 

So that’s probably the single common thread in my career: how do you use technology to make the world a better place?

Delving into AI and its implications

Erin: That’s such a good thought. And that sort of brings me to my next question that AI is all the buzz.

And a lot of what AI is bringing to the world is some concern. And maybe a little bit of nervousness around it sort of taking over. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

Tarek: I think it’s like anything new. In the beginning, we’re learning. Any new technology we are learning. 

It’s the same thing, right? When we went from horse and buggy to automobiles, I think most people would say that was a good move for us. 

But in the beginning, I’m sure people were dying, getting run over, and things exploding. 

So there’s always learning in the beginning. And I think with AI, which has been around for a while, but it has really accelerated into kind of every crevice of society recently, I would say within the last year, to a level we’ve never seen before. 

And the level of sophistication that CHAT GPT and others are now producing is phenomenal and unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. 

So I would say, in general, I think it’s going to be super positive for humanity. I think the negatives and what I would worry about in the beginning is misuse, right? 

You’ve seen all the things and the headlines around propaganda and changing election outcomes through misinformation. Well, this is only going to skyrocket that. 

The other issue that I worry about with this is introducing things that are factually incorrect, because it can just regurgitate what it’s been taught. So if it thinks this is true, it’s going to regurgitate that. And the problem with that is people take that misinformation, and then they post it online. 

You get this very cyclical effect of misinformation becoming fact faster than it has. So, without putting some guardrails on this, yes, I think there could be some pretty nasty, negative consequences, but like everything else, the automobile was eventually worth it.

Implementing AI in employee onboarding

Erin: Yeah, for sure. So, how do you sort of see AI playing a role in employee onboarding?

Tarek: We do a lot of that today. We’ve been talking about and using AI from the beginning, so this is really 2013. Ten years ago, my idea was that a lot of the work that’s done within organizations is very manual, choppy, and siloed. 

And it is more about the person generating the process or the communication, not about the recipient of that. How does it make me feel? And so, how can we use technology to personalize that experience? 

When you think about onboarding, a lot of what happens with organizations is they really do a good job of the employee-employer brand. 

So through kind of talent attraction and how they market themselves and how great it’s going to be to work here. And then the employee, right, gets the job, the candidate gets the job, becomes an employee, well, here is your first real opportunity to show that’s really who we are. 

And a lot of times they say, we’re really innovative, and it’s all about you, and then the person gets hired, and it is not about them at all. It’s a horrific process; it’s slow, it’s a lot of paperwork, and it’s cumbersome.

Significance of personalized onboarding with AI

Tarek: We’ve just lost trust with that person. We’ve said this is who we are, but it’s not. AI is really about how you take all this information that we know about this individual and personalize their journey. 

So, how do you use that data to serve them up the right process at the right time based on who they are, where they’re at in the organization, and what they’re trying to accomplish? And how do you make that a really great experience for that person?

Erin: Right. You’re really leveraging AI to create that personalized experience throughout the onboarding journey.

Tarek: Absolutely. Absolutely. That’s it. And it’s, you know, not every organization is doing that today. But I think over time, as they see the benefits of that, it’s kind of a no-brainer. 

Why would you not want to make this as easy as possible for this person and as personalized as possible? Because you’ve said that’s what you’re all about.

Tarek’s journey and inspiration behind Cerkl

Erin: Right. Absolutely. Can you tell us a little bit about your journey with Cerkl and what inspired you to start the company?

Tarek: Sure. Cerkl actually started as kind of a side project. I was working at Procter & Gamble at the time. And we were going through a really large-scale transformation at the company. And I have always been really passionate about engagement and the employee experience. 

So we were going through this transformation, and it was really taking its toll on the organization and on the employees because there was just so much change happening. 

As a developer by trade, I always kind of looked at things like, “How could we automate some of this process so that it didn’t take an army of people to do it?”

So I came up with this idea: Could we use technology to make this better? And so, this really started as kind of a prototype, if you will, at the time, that I called “internal Twitter” because Twitter was all the rage at that time. 

It was really focused on taking the existing information that was in the organization and then sharing it in a way that was really relevant and timely to each individual. That’s kind of where it started. From there, it just kind of grew and evolved into  Cerkl as it is today.

Erin: That’s amazing. So it started with this idea of making the employee experience better and more personalized, and it’s grown into Cerkl, this fantastic platform that’s doing exactly that.

Tarek: Absolutely. Yeah. That’s exactly right.

The future of AI in employee engagement

Erin: So, what do you see as the future of AI in employee engagement and experience?

Tarek: Yeah, I think it’s only going to get better. I think there’s just so much opportunity to leverage AI and real data to make it a more seamless and frictionless experience for the employee. 

There are a lot of things that can be done today, but they’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible. As technology continues to evolve,  we’re going to see a lot of really interesting and cool things come out of it. For us, it’s just staying ahead of the curve and really continuing to push the boundaries of what’s possible.

Erin: Absolutely. Well, Tarek, it has been such a pleasure chatting with you today. Thank you so much for joining us and sharing your insights on AI and employee onboarding. It’s been fantastic.
Tarek: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me. It’s been a pleasure.

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Anna Hase

Anna is a coffee-obsessed content writer with a master's degree in psychology. Her main area of interest is employee psychology. When she's not writing, she's either reading or lifting weights at the gym.

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