Technology is changing the workplace and the way people work. It’s creating more opportunities to connect but also creating more complexity in managing the systems, processes, and people at the center of those connections. This rapid pace of change also challenges us to think, act, and react in new ways and with fresh perspectives. Pega’s new podcast, “Bold stories. Future focused.” digs into the minds of the business leaders and innovative thinkers behind the decisions that are shaping the future of their work, their industries, and their communities.
I sat down (virtually) with Paula White-Jennings, the producer of “Bold stories. Future focused.” to get more insight on the people and purpose behind the podcast.
Hi, Paula! So, what’s the motivation behind the “Bold stories. Future focused.” podcast? Why should people listen?
We want this podcast series to go beyond technology to focus on the changemakers and forward thinkers out there and get to the heart of who they are and why they do what they do.
People may recognize the Pega name and immediately think “technology.” But Pega is so much more than the platform that powers brands around the world. We want people to have a better understanding of what we’re all about – innovation, problem solving, empathy – and so we’re telling the stories of people who also share these values.
You know, sometimes it’s easy to forget there’s a human element to business. We’re constantly thinking and talking about ROI or increasing margins. What I want a listener to take away from this podcast is a realization, “Hey, I resonate with this story. I went through this problem, too!” “I want to be more like that person – how do I get there?” or, “Cool, now I have advice on what to do for a similar situation.”
How does “Bold stories. Future focused.” differ from other tech podcasts?
We did a lot of research on this and discovered that most podcasts out there in our industry are built around highly technical content. (Our own Pega Community has some great, technical, how-to podcasts, too!) What we want this podcast to focus on is real-life stories from the people out there who are leading the transformations in their workplaces and communities. These stories are all wound around the same common thread – the future of work.
Having different voices and perspectives is also important, so we created “expert episodes.” Every fourth, episode we switch up the format and invite influencers, analysts, and experts in their space to come in and give their own personal advice and recommendations around content in previous podcasts. It’s more than a recap, and it’s something for the listeners to break out of their normal.
I’m loving the focus on real-live storytelling. How do you come up with your topics?
I mentioned our future of work theme above. It’s inspired by Pega’s in-depth Future of Work research report. Pega is constantly researching topics we know are important to our clients. But these reports focus more on the tech. So, we said let’s start there, but let’s look further. Let’s find the human element in each of those.
For example, we could easily find a tech-based angle on the future of work, but I want us to talk about something that’s more relatable to the individual – like rescaling and retraining. I want to hear directly from our guests: How did it feel in the first 72 hours when COVID hit and you realized that you had to send everybody home? I want to get to the bottom of that personal feeling.
So, is part of your motivation asking the questions and having the deeper conversations that you wish tech companies would have?
Part of it is that, and part of it I like to think of as gut instinct. People want honesty. And there’s a new generation out there that is coming into the workforce, taking over leadership roles, and focused on empathy and on knowing someone’s personal story.
Speaking of stories, what has been the most inspiring, interesting, or surprising story in the episodes you’ve produced so far?
I think my favorite episode is the upcoming Episode 5 titled, “Rethinking the barriers to hiring.” The episode will dive into the concept and application of “banning the box.” And by “box,” our guest speaker refers to the section on a job application that asks applicants about their criminal history. It’s something that’s universal, on most job applications across the board, and – as he explains – can be tied to recidivism. Some U.S. states already have a “ban the box” law on the books. But there’s also a “hidden box” – background checks. It’s just a really interesting and inspiring conversation about the way we as business leaders can rethink and reformat processes at the institutional level and, as a result, remap the way people think.
Looking at the series as a whole, as the producer of “Bold stories. Future focused.” what are you most proud of?
The content and the diversity of our guests.
This podcast is really a group of us saying, “Hey, do you want to talk to Pega and share your story about being a forward thinker and a change-maker in your space?” It’s interesting because all of these people we are interviewing are doing it voluntarily and are saying, “Yeah, I totally want to share my story.” And of the people sharing their stories on the 12 episodes we’ve produced so far: seven of 12 are or have held an executive C-suite position, six are a Person of Color, six are women, and four are CEOs or co-founders of a company. Are those perfect stats? No, but I do think it’s a break from a lot of the work that’s been done before.
Any last words before signing off?
You know, anybody who has ever created a podcast, you just do it and put it out into the world. It’s your baby and you hope that everybody wants to listen to it. And that motivates me to make sure we’re allowing our guests to be authentic and that we’re telling the right stories in the right way. I know we’ve done that on our first 12 episodes. So even if my Mom is the only one that listens, I’ll still feel like it’s a success.