CEO INTERVIEW - Wise At Work: Connecting organisations with experienced, skilled and seasoned professionals
New Success Stories - Asia
Exclusive for HR Digital Today with market-leading HR Tech pioneers -
PRIYANKA GOTHI, CEO and Founder of Wise At Work
Please share with us briefly what you do.
I am the Founder and CEO of Wise At Work (till recently known as Retired Not Out) - a platform that unlocks the generational potential for mature job-seekers and organisations in this rapidly aging world.
What were you doing before this?
For nearly a decade, I worked with a global F&B giant, leading several communication, digital marketing, and brand building initiatives. I then worked as an innovation consultant for non-profits and corporates, content creator and scriptwriter before I launched my own company.
Describe your product. How does it work?
It’s quite simple. Our product is a marketplace for older professionals and companies looking to hire them.
We help companies:
● Hire seasoned talent through our job board where they can list openings, view and shortlist candidates and schedule interviews via the platform.
● Build a culture for age inclusion through a variety of corporate training designed to drive multi-generational resilience, digital expertise and innovation.
We help older professionals:
● Find permanent / contract / gig / advisory positions through curated listings in our platform.
● Find “resume builder” courses that will drive employability.
What are the key benefits?
● We bridge the gap between talent-short organisations and immediately available, highly experienced job seekers (who happen to be over 50)
● Our tech+mindset courses help seasoned professionals stay relevant and valuable to organisations
● Our corporate programmes & hackathons are designed for multi-generational teams to drive
innovation & collaboration
Who are your closest competitors?
Existing job boards target millennials and Gen X for positions and don’t reach out to our segment, having said that Hong Kong does have a few local players who are either offline or positioned as “Facebook” for the 50+ segment. We clearly differentiate in our focus to remain a platform for upskilling and discovery of second careers.
Who is your first customer and how did that happen? What were they using before this, and why did they switch?
My first customer was a company called “Storm Kimonos” that worked in the same co-working space. They had advertised that they were looking out for a QA manager for their factories in Shenzhen and I had someone who was just right. This was early 2017 and my platform wasn’t even properly up yet. I introduced my business and the team wanted someone “stable, experienced and well networked in China” so it was a surprisingly easy sell. Prior to my platform, they used referrals or LinkedIn to hire. Post the positive experience they went on to hire a few more candidates for us for senior positions as well.
What motivated you to start this business?
In 2016, my mum retired after 35 years of working as a teacher and found that it was almost impossible to discover any skill or experience appropriate opportunities for people over 60. Those and even those that existed were not easily accessible. This was what triggered the beginnings of Wise At Work (then called Retired Not Out).
We launched in June 2017 with Hong Kong and from an MVP exploring this space, we have evolved into a professional platform for people over 50 to find meaningful opportunities to work, learn and network.
We hope to achieve a change in the way older talent is viewed. There is a huge social and economic merit in leveraging this talent pool. This is increasingly true as the world ages more rapidly than ever before (in the next 3 years there will be more people aged 60+ than kids under 5) and the 100-year life becomes a reality.
Since we started, we have grown into a 1000+ strong community and placed over 45 people in full time /part time roles and listed over 200 positions on our platform.
What is your biggest sacrifice to make this work?
Starting a business is a huge risk. Not only do you have to put at stake your personal savings, forego a salary etc, but also massive amounts of sweat equity without the promise of success. It is also hugely stressful and demanding since you have to be self-motivated all the time. Doing all of that after 10+ years of working for a salary was a pretty big challenge :)
How did you get funded?
I am a self-funded, bootstrapped startup who started with my savings of 10 years.
What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Email marketing works really well for us. Recently we are also seeing great numbers through SEO initiatives
Describe a typical workday
I prefer to keep the first half for my work and the second half for meetings. I usually check in with my remote team and see if they need my support on anything. I usually get back home by 5:30/6 unless there are meetings or events, spend time with my son and then start working again after 10 for a couple of hours.
Who has been the greatest influence in your business and why?
Professionally, my advisors, Tim Wu, Fern Ngai, Nicole Denholder and Maaike Steinebach have been huge supporters in helping me navigate Hong Kong’s eco-system (where I arrived just 2 years ago). As well as the initial 20 seasoned professionals who signed up on my platform – they have now become sounding boards and champions for the work we do.
Personally, my family who have egged me on and supported this work completely.
What has been your proudest moment in the history of your business and why?
The first time I placed someone who had been out of work for years and we went out for a celebratory dinner and I realised what that position truly meant for this individual. When we crossed the 1000+ member mark. That was huge for me as it was a significant validation of what we were aiming to achieve
What is your favourite business failure (and what did you learn from it)?
There have been many. The topic of age inclusion can seem esoteric to a lot of companies so I’ve learnt to make it relevant and make it count for their business goals.
If you could go back in time to speak to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell him/her?
I would tell myself to never stop exploring and remind myself that life happens at the edge of comfort.
What’s one productivity hack you can’t live without?
Where can people find out more about your product offerings and you online?
They can visit our platform at www.wiseatwork.co
Know more about Priyanka
- First job: Copywriter
- Favorite book: Any PG Wodehouse
- Favorite Music: Varies with mood, these days Queen and Bee Gees
- Favorite Gadget: My MacBook Air
- Last holiday: Seoul, Korea
When you are not at work, where can we most likely find you?
At home, cooking or playing with my 4-year-old
Till recently called Retired Not Out, Wise at Work is an online platform to re-imagine the potential of a rapidly ageing world. Since starting in June 2017, Retired Not Out has built a community of over 1000 seasoned professionals across all levels and successfully placed over 45 with Corporates / SMEs / Startups. Prior to this venture, Priyanka has worked for over 12 years as a senior marketing and content creation professional in India and Switzerland, building & engaging large scale online communities.
Contact Wise At Work
4/F, Cheung Hing Industrial Building, 12P Smithfield, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/wiseatwork