Dispatches From #SHRM17 – Day 2 – The Expo Floor and A Conversation with Matt Straz, CEO & Founder of Namely

Day two of the annual conference is intense. You’ve got people rushing to make it to their favorite session, the popular sessions have overflows and to a newbie, that’s overwhelming. Or you could think about it in these terms:  since we’re in Louisiana, the gumbo pot has been mixed and slowly starting to boil.

The second day is the mad rush for everyone, and it’s my favorite time to wander the exhibitor hall. It’s more fun to stand on the periphery of the massive booths watching the attendees and listening to their questions. You can see how easily it is to become overwhelmed, but you can also have some pretty meaningful conversations.

As part of my continuing commitment to the SHRM Blog team, I’ve interviewed a presenter (who’s session was awesome b.t.w) and in a change of pace, wanted to chat with one of the vendors.

I had the chance to meet Matt Straz, the CEO and founder of Namely at last year’s annual in Washington, D.C. We had a great conversation about small to medium businesses, growth in that sector, and how real “trench HR” gets done in those companies. Matt’s a good guy, personable, easy to chat with, and super smart. So, I jumped at the chance to chat with him again.

JN: Matt, always great to see you, thanks for the time. I’m curious since our meeting last year, how has your company changed?

MS: Great to see you, too. Short answer, we’re growing. Revenue is up, we’re growing staff, and we’re going to open some new offices. We’ve also added managed services to our platform since last we chatted.

JN: Last year we talked about the “mid-market”, small to medium sized businesses and how your company was helping them. Is that market still robust?

MS: There are six hundred thousand companies in that space, we're in a great spot. I’ve started to notice that there is some growing competition and that helps validate the growth of our company. 

JN: I’m starting to see and hear a trend that even an HR department of one needs to embrace analytics. If I’m one of those directors, why should I care?

MS: I think what you’re hearing is the term analytics being used as a catch-all for analytics lite and data visualization. You do need to be able to use data visualization to see trends in the company. Even small businesses need to know how to use that information to help recruit talent, and to use analytics to get top line info made visual to make good decisions.

JN: Finally, Matt, what are some ‘bleeding edge” trends that you’re seeing in the marketplace?

MS: Good question, I think we are starting to see some of the aspects of running a large company—like compliance, culture, and diversity—starting to move downstream to the mid-market space. HR pros in those firms are busy, and they’re also on the hook to get culture right, but they’re pros, they’ll get it right.

JN: Thanks for your time today, have a great conference!

MS: Absolutely, hope you have a great conference too.


Day two of the conference is done, and it’s always great to chat and catch up with smart people making a difference.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I hear there are two great places for chargrilled oysters in town, I need to see who’s the better of the two.



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