Jenai Akina: "Data-driven HR teams are leading the way, but there is one caveat"
A Harvard University graduate who received honors for studies in Government and a language citation in Mandarin, Jenai Akina recently joined Nua Group as an HR Consultant specializing in HR technology.
In this interview, we spoke with Jenai about her career, the impact technology makes on HR operations, the biggest challenge HR leaders face in the digital era, as well as her tips on settling in a new city, her favorite noodle spots in San Francisco and the one thing she misses about Hawaii where she was born and raised.
What's your background and how did you get started in HR?
I began as a Workday consultant for Mercer, where I worked on implementation and optimizations for client systems. Though focused primarily on the technical workings of this HR software, I was exposed to a variety of HR functional areas such as people analytics/reporting, compensation, talent, performance, and recruiting.
How did you choose your focus on HR technology?
My choice to focus on HR technology stems from an interest in finding, building and leveraging technology to help make organizations’ operations more efficient and data-driven.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy seeing the process of transformation for an organization, whether it be through their technology or their overall operating strategy and business processes. I love the “aha!” moments of clarity that we can bring.
What is the biggest challenge for the HR leaders in the digital era and what can address this challenge?
Data-driven HR teams are leading the way, but there is one caveat. A major challenge for HR leaders is ensuring that your company’s technology adds to rather than detracts from overall operational effectiveness. Your tech should be built and structured in a scalable and thoughtful manner that reflects business needs and company culture.
What attracted you to Nua Group?
Because Nua is a new player and still growing, I was really drawn to the different opportunities available to help grow the company – whether it be getting to help out on a diverse set of project work or develop new business offerings.
What's your work motto?
What you put in is what you get out! Hard work will always pay off even if you don’t see immediate results.
What issues and causes do you support and why are they important to you?
I think that female and minority empowerment in the workplace is critical to the success of any organization.
You were born and raised in Hawaii - what's the one thing that you love most about it that you do not get in San Francisco?
I definitely miss the beaches and how warm the water is. I also miss the local Hawaiian food!
What piece of advice would you give to someone who wants to move to San Francisco? What's the best way to settle in and find your community?
My advice is to commit time and energy rooting yourself in local communities you believe in. For me that meant finding a church, starting a book club and joining the Wing (a female focused co-working space/social group). More importantly, this meant saying yes to attending events regularly and connecting with people in those communities.
We’ve heard you love noodles. What's your most favorite noodle spot in San Francisco?
Currently I have loved Italian Homemade for any of their pastas and Z & Y for their Szechuan noodles.
What's your idea of a perfect day off?
Biking through Golden Gate Park and hanging out with friends!
Anything else you would like to add?
I’m excited to join the Nua team!
To learn more about Jenai Akina and meet the rest of the Nua Group team, head here.