Customer story

First Decision as a Director of Talent? Why HackerOne’s Leader Chose Ashby

Story from

Christian Novicki

Christian Novicki

Customer Success

HackerOne is a cybersecurity company with a mission to make the internet a safer place. 

When HackerOne began planning for scale, they took advantage of slower hiring periods as the perfect time to introduce new tools and give their team time to embrace the changes. To lead this new chapter, they brought on a new Director of Talent, Brandon Samuel. His first assignment? Select a new ATS before the legacy system’s contract expires

During his first week on the job, Ashby was one of three solutions Brandon looked at. While he admits the demo helped rule out one of the other options quickly, he was admittedly nervous to take the full bet on Ashby. 

“I was so scared of it. I came from bigger companies where we had in-house systems. The ATS was already designed for you. Now, I’m being told we not only have to shop for an ATS, but the one everyone likes is fully customizable. I’m not a tech-savvy person, but having Michaela and Marizza on our side, and Arjun and Christian on Ashby’s side made the entire process seamless.”

— Brandon Samuel, Director of Talent at HackerOne

I’ve had the unique pleasure of spending extensive time with Brandon and his team. We spoke with Brandon as well as Lead Recruiter Michaela Ricketts and Talent Experience Specialist Marizza Clemente on the Ashby migration and results since. 

Problem: A Broken ATS Causing Hiring Manager Friction

When Brandon first joined, a few problems from his team quickly emerged. 

  • Limited hiring process: Having been a first talent acquisition hire at previous companies, Michaela expected to see more processes in place coming into an established TA function. There was a clear need to improve the system, add resources, and start to have a real influence on the business. 
  • No accountability: Marizza shared how their legacy ATS touted reporting functionality, but the data was often incorrect and always difficult to pull. This led to friction between hiring managers (who pushed for a “perfect hire” without context to what constitutes such) and recruiters (who had to influence with emotion given the lack of data access). 
  • Resentment for existing ATS: The entire organization had an aversion to the existing system to the point where they were willing to revert to hiring in spreadsheets if the legacy system’s contract expired before a new decision was made. 

After demoing the three ATS options, the decision came to choosing between Ashby and a legacy provider. To Marizza and Michaela, the Ashby choice was clear: They were compelled by the opportunity to design a recruiting process that fit their team needs versus conforming to a process other ATS providers required. 

Brandon was interested in how Ashby’s analytics core could keep the team accountable and even expose flaws in how the business approached hiring. 

“One of our values is ‘default to disclosure,’ which is why the reporting piece is so critical to us. We want to ensure that everyone across the board can see both where we’re struggling and where we’re succeeding. When I pitched Ashby to our people leadership team, I talked about how it would unlock growth for our team by influencing with data. Everyone on this team has passion; couple that passion with data and you’re unstoppable.”

— Brandon Samuel, Director of Talent at HackerOne

Solution: A Seamlessly Personalized ATS Migration

To go from nervous about trying a system he had never used before to fully comfortable in his first few weeks in seat, Brandon started by reflecting on why he was hired as a Director of Talent Acquisition in the first place.

With that reminder, Brandon employed a few vital resources to ultimately take what at the time felt like a “bet” on Ashby.

1. Internal Champions

Michaela and Marizza were instrumental in getting the rest of the talent team comfortable with the new system. The two worked together to determine exactly how they’d want a new ATS set up. They discarded old job templates, interview plans, and instead laid out their ideal scenario. 

2. Talent Community Crowdsourcing

Michaela set up a number of calls with Ashby customers for the team to tackle, and heard back a unanimous consensus in support of Ashby.

“I didn’t hear anyone say anything negative about Ashby. You can’t normally get a hold of a TA director in a few minutes, but they would reply almost instantly wanting to hop on a call. Everyone was wanting to talk to us, which I guess is how we feel now.”

 — Michaela Ricketts, Lead Recruiter at HackerOne

3. Implementation Tracker

Our team provided a project plan and checklist (both embedded within a spreadsheet) that tracked every step in the migration process and which stakeholders needed to be involved when. HackerOne’s talent team found this immensely useful for highlighting who across the organization they needed to involve — such as when the Head of IT needed to be pinged to disable users in their former ATS. The team now uses that same tracker as a template for internal project managing.  

4. Ashby Team Accessibility

From routine check-ins to answering questions, HackerOne knew that they weren’t having to take on the stress of the decision alone — and this support from the internal Ashby team was a driving force behind calming Brandon’s nerves. 

“Arjun [Ashby Product Manager] made me feel, okay I can do this. His support and accessibility made me feel comfortable in a way that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Even just on the Workday integration; despite never using the tool, Marizza looked into it fully on her own and had a list of questions — and Arjun always had an answer. It was so impressive on both ends, they both had a level of investment in making sure implementation went smoothly.”

— Brandon Samuel, Director of Talent at HackerOne

Outside of a legal signature that delayed the signing process internally, the implementation itself took three weeks — with just a week left before the team’s former ATS contract expired. 

While the team set up training sessions, Ashby was intuitive enough for recruiters, hiring managers, and leadership to log in and understand on their own. Hiring managers shared their love for its ease of use, reporting, and the ability to see resume and candidate feedback on the same screen. 

Brandon specifically noted HackerOne’s culture of feedback and the amount of opinions that can come in when a new tool is implemented that worries other stakeholders. 

“We watch things roll out all the time and we watch critiques flow in immediately. To not get any blowback on implementing Ashby, to see that it was instead silent… was insane and very impressive.”

— Brandon Samuel, Director of Talent at HackerOne

Impact: An Upleveled Talent Team 

The HackerOne team felt closer through the bonding that emerged from implementing Ashby. For Marizza and Michaela, it was an opportunity to impress their new manager (Brandon) with what they were capable of. The team learned about one another’s strengths, setting goals, and saw their careers elevate as a result.

Recruiting Coordinator → Talent Experience Specialist

“Marizza’s title was recruiting coordinator, but it quickly became clear she does way more than coordination. When I went to change her title to Talent Experience Specialist, no one bat an eyelash. Ashby required so much cross-functional collaboration that it got to stretch and show what Marizza was made of to our HR team, our engineering team, and to our people leadership leaders. It was amazing.” 

— Brandon Samuel, Director of Talent at HackerOne

Senior Recruiter → Lead Recruiter

Three months after the Ashby contract was signed, Brandon was able to easily make the case for promoting Michaela. The team even joked about how her championing of Ashby played in her career. 

Ready to seamlessly switch to an ATS that up-levels you and your team? Request a demo today.

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