Bright Crown Appointment Image by Pexels from PixabayEightfold AI has announced the appointment of Chano Fernandez as its Co-Chief Executive, effective January 2024. The appointment sees Fernandez returning to a leadership position after leaving Workday as Co-CEO earlier this year. After nine years at the global vendor, helping to grow the company from $450 million to $6 billion. He was instrumental in growing Workday’s international presence during his tenure there.

At Eightfold AI, Fernandez will aim to help transform HR again with its AI-powered Talent management platform alongside Ashutosh Garg, CEO and Co-founder at Eightfold AI. Garg commented, “We are now at an inflection point with AI for the HR industry. There is no better person in the world than Chano, who led HR’s transition into the cloud to drive HR’s next transformation with AI. The rise of AI as a scalable and efficient offering has raised the ceiling for how organizations acquire and develop their teams. Eightfold has continuously pushed the boundaries of what’s possible for HR and talent, and this is the next step. We are thrilled to welcome a seasoned visionary to usher in a new wave of HR capabilities.”

Leadership changes after growth

Eightfold AI last raised funds in 2021 in a $220 million Series E funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. At that time, the firm had an estimated valuation of $2.1 billion. Since then, the company has continued its growth. This year, it added global enterprises to its customer list, such as Faurecia, Chevron, and Vodafone. There were also wins in the public sector, including the State of New York and the government of Puerto Rico.

To continue the growth, Garg appears willing to share the leadership reins with someone  with proven experience scaling a global organisation. Fernandez also shared the CEO role with Aneel Bhusri at Workday, thus the role is not unfamiliar. Fernandez led the early international expansion of Workday. Joining the company in 2014 as EMEA & APJ President at Workday, when Enterprise Times first interviewed him.

Fernandez is the latest hire for the Talent management company. With Darren Burton, former CHRO at KPMG, joining as Chief People Officer in October 2022. Ankur Bhatt was appointed Vice President of Engineering at the start of 2023 after nearly a decade at SAP SuccessFactors. Where he rose to the role of Chief Technology Officer.

Preeminent industry analyst Josh Bersin noted “It was not long ago that I spoke about Eightfold as a pioneering AI company that every HR Tech buyer should know about. This appointment is a validation of that belief. Large scale AI is about to become a requirement for every future-ready HR organization, and Eightfold is uniquely positioned to bring this promise to the HR Technology market.”

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

Fernandez has had a year to recharge his batteries. With offices in the US, the UK, Eire, and India, the organisation has a similar footprint to that of Workday when Chano first joined. Expect further but cautious international expansion from Eightfold in the coming years. Will Fernandez seek further funding for Eightfold AI? It is clearly a role that excites Fernandez, as with his experience, he might have held out for a larger, public organisation.

Fernandez commented, “Every once in a while there is a company that redefines an industry. Eightfold’s team, mission, technology born and built in AI, and ecosystem are clearly that of a generational company, ready to bring HR into the future. I am convinced Eightfold is uniquely positioned to deliver a personalized experience to help lead the AI transition for HR and that is why I am so excited to join this team.”

An excellent hire from Eightfold AI and one that Softbank no doubt approves of. It is also a measure of its potential that Fernandez has chosen to join the company. It is not only his experience at Workday that Eightfold AI could benefit from. Eightfold has a close relationship with SAP, including winning a SAP EMEA S Partner Excellence Award 2023 for SAP Endorsed Apps. Fernandez spent six years at SAP in Europe and will have good relationships with the global giant. It will be interesting to see how the relationship evolves.

Whether this is a long-term strategy to share the CEO role or part of a transition with Garg looking to hand the reins across in time is unclear. It seems likely that Fernandez will initially lead the international expansion. But it will be interesting to find out how the relationship between the two will work in 2024.

Fernandez departs Workday as Carl Eschenbach becomes co-CEO




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