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February 20, 2016 - No Comments!

Brand is the “Why” of your Business – Candidates Want to Know

This past week we hosted a Great Starts Breakfast, SBCo's learning forum in LA on the topic of "Why Brand Matters."  Our guests were heads of HR, Talent Management leaders and those managing the Talent Acquisition function.  It was a lively discussion about branding, which is one of the most misunderstood concepts in business. What does it mean to create a compelling brand message that lines up with your culture?  Our experience is that messages and experiences on the inside don't always connect to those on the outside for your customers.  We are far better at capturing the hearts and minds of our customers and still struggle with that experience for candidates.

What we are seeing now is the intersection of HR and Marketing.   Here are some definitions from our guest speaker, Krysta Masciale (owner and founder of Big Deal Branding in Los Angeles):

  • Marketing is anyone in the organization who is responsible for creating, maintaining and communicating the brand's message internally and externally.
  • HR is anyone in the organization responsible for attracting, selecting and retaining top talent to carry out the brand promise.Sherryand krysta

We have not seen enough collaboration in these two domains.  That is changing.  There is a need to holistically look at strategy for finding those scarce high performing talents.  Many companies have resorted to hiring a search firm to tackle this work (something that SBCo enjoys doing and has excelled in) AND there must be an expanded focus in this work that ensures greater probability of long term success and candidate fit.

In our session, we explored the realities and misconceptions of “Brand”.  Krysta Masciale reminds us that brand isn’t solely a fancy logo or high tech website. Brand is the “Why” of your business. Why do you exist? Why should customers choose you over a competitor? Why should talent come work for you?

To get to the “Why” piece, you must first define these five things:

1. Values- Identify 4-5. Define meaning for your organization. Claim these values in your daily work.

2. Strengths- Find the sweet spot of what you are good at and acknowledge what your organization is not good at.

3. Goals- Establish a yearly theme. Set quarterly goals. Assess goals and theme regularly.

4. Messages- Clarity and commitment is key here - take the step to clarify two words that describe your organization and commit to those words/message.

5. Ideal Clients- Identify this group so that you can speak to the wants and needs of this group.

When these five steps are done right, profits rise and employees see the "why" to stay, production increases and candidates learn more about new opportunities. These steps can easily be utilized by a Marketer creating the company story or the Recruiter and his or her Marketing/Communications partner to develop the talent story.

In 2016 our firm is committed to expanding this work with our clients in order to create a talent brand and message that ensures ideal candidates see "their wants" in the hiring company.  If they don't see themselves in this picture, then it is probably not for them.  Candidates also want to experience interviews and realistic job previews that reflect the organization and leader values.  Here at SBCo we already focus on that when crafting a "marketing specification"  that is entirely beyond the traditional job description.  Clients value the time and effort we place on getting the story right and asking questions that uncover the "DNA" and culture of a firm as well as the opportunity to contribute in cool ways.  (p.s. we love using micro sites, podcasts and other non-traditional ways to relay the story).

Get started on the "why."  It will make a big difference.  If you need help along the way and are committed to raising the stakes in competing for talent; call us here at S. Benjamins & Company and we will bring our brand strategist and amazing search team into a new conversation.  Let me know your thoughts at Sherry@sbcompany.net and Krysta Masciale at www.bigdealbranding.com

 

January 10, 2016 - No Comments!

Entrepreneurs are Paranoid – A New Year View

It always happens in January.  We start a new year and budget for 2016 and even though we are in our 19th year of successful business, I remain paranoid.  In the past it was stronger for me in the first quarter than other times of the year.  My husband says I do this every year and should not worry.  Last year we had our best year since 2008.  Actually I am proud to say that my level of paranoia is quite diminished relative to other years and we did celebrate proudly at the close of the year.

As business owners it is totally natural to be suspicious or fearful of starting a new year with a steep ramp for projects and not knowing what is ahead.  What we do know is that employment is up and more jobs are being filled than expected.  We also know that these emotions feed our desire to succeed, try new things and be innovative.  Yes, that is a win win for us worry warts. So, why am I paranoid?

Aside from reading the business section today proclaiming gloom and a "bad week for stocks which dims 2016 outlook,"  which I am trying to ignore, there is still that uncertainty on how our work will play out this year.  The business climate is good, however, I see our clients managing intense amounts of work, stressed at times and resource constrained.  Then, I remember what my dear friend and respected Professor, Jeremy Hunter, at the Drucker Institute says, "manage moment to moment and with intention."  My intention this year is to enjoy the moments such as when;

  • Colleagues and friends are there for you when you have a problem or a happy moment to share
  • Laughing at myself more
  • Delighted clients with new hires say they appreciate our help or just simply when we help them by listening
  • Candidates thank us for keeping them informed (whether they get the job or not) or call to say they love their job
  • People we care about call for career game plan help
  • HRoundtable  or Great Starts Breakfast conversations transform ideas into action
  • Stephan and I are able to try out new things like Argentine Tango and cycling trips; laugh and learn something newstephand sherry2016

What do you want your meaningful moments to be this year?

Enjoy the adventure of the unknown and if you also get paranoid, don't worry, it is natural and may contribute to your success this year in entirely surprising ways.  Happy 2016.

 

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January 7, 2016 - No Comments!

SBCo December Newsletter: Reflecting Back and Looking Forward

We are living in an increasingly connected world with incredible opportunities, tools and technologies to transform the work that gives us meaning. The growth in new-model companies presents challenges that excite the millennial and might frustrate the traditional leaders.

Our friends at the Institute of the Future in Palo Alto say, “In ten years, today’s 11-year-olds will be entering the workforce. Today’s 18-year-olds will be taking on positions of leadership in our largest institutions. What’s waiting for them when they get there? What will they expect? What does their experience of the world today tell us about how they’ll reshape our society (and our careers) tomorrow?”

Our team would like to thank you for your friendship, connections and participation in learning this year. We thought it would be fun to share our insights looking back and also looking ahead to 2025.

Kate Kjeell, Recruiting Practice Leader (SBCo team member since 2000):

  1. Greatest takeaway/lesson/aha moment of 2015 for you/SBCo?

Personalization of the recruiting message. Top talent wants an opportunity that speaks to them and piques their interest to learn more.

  1. What do you think will be the biggest trend in recruiting in 2016?

As the competition for talent heats up in a rebounding job market, the need to differentiate your job will be critical.  Your message, inmail, job postings will need to stand out in light of growing demand for talent.  Recruiting is now at the intersection of sales and marketing and needs to leverage the same approach in terms of content generation, analytics, talent networks, social and mobile recruiting.

  1. What will recruiting be like in 2025? 

I don’t think we will be recruiting for Spacley’s Sprockets and driving our flying cars. (Ala The Jetson’s) I do think that the nature of recruiting will change to be a marketplace where people advertise their skills and accept bids similar to eBay.  We are seeing glimmers of this with the growing flexible, free-agent workforce. Virtual workers and technology platforms enable visibility to interesting work across the globe.

Lisa Sutherland, Recruiting Consultant (SBCo team member since 2001):

  1. Greatest takeaway/lesson/aha moment of 2015 for you/SBCo?

    The greatest takeaway for me this year was learning from hiring managers who are assessing talent in entirely different ways. It is more about potential this year. With such hot demand leadership capabilities, it has been critical to be consultative and partner with our HR clients. This means refinin strategies real time.

  2. What do you think will be the biggest trend in recruiting in 2016?

    I see “grow from within” as the competitive advantage in our healthcare clients. Many key positions have a limited supply of experienced candidates. Developing internal talent and conducting career conversations signals the high performer that you are invested in them. They expect this.

  3. What will recruiting be like in 2025? 

    Recruiting in 2025 will be 4-5 generations working together and integrating those different styles into the workplace. There are already more women in the workplace by then we will see progress in tech companies and Boards.

Nicole Peguero, Recruiting Consultant (SBCo team member since 2014):

  1. Greatest takeaway/lesson/aha moment of 2015 for you/SBCo?

Recruiting processes are still a two way street with the edge towards the employee or worker. Not everyone wants to be an employee today. The importance of reputation and brand is alive and well as future talent is faced with significantly more opportunities than a year ago. It is a competitive talent driven market for sure.

  1. What do you think will be the biggest trend in recruiting in 2016?

Retaining the talent you have invested in will be the number one challenge for multi- dimensional generations at work.

  1. What will recruiting be like in 2025?

The majority of workers will shift to mostly millennials. Employers will need to play close attention to what this demographic desires. They look at work, life, career through different lens. Purpose driven, collaborative culture and flexible work arrangements will rule.  What will your company do to remain talent competitive in 2025 and beyond?

Corey Protzman, Marketing, Learning Events, Sourcing Coordinator (SBCo team member since 2013):

  1. Greatest takeaway/lesson/aha moment of 2015 for you/SBCo?

HR is at a pivotal point in its life cycle. As the economy continues to recover and new organizations sprout up across the world, the demand on “human capital” leaders is in constant flux. There is no longer a cookie cutter approach to HR/recruiting.

  1. What do you think will be the biggest trend in recruiting in 2016?

Personalized messaging for active, passive, and future candidates. No one is/will be
biting on the generic job description anymore because of the downpour of information individual’s process daily. It will not be about adding to the downpour, but standing out from it.

  1. What will recruiting be like in 2025?

Recruiting won’t be just an HR initiative in 2025. Every person in an organization will be a brand/job ambassador and candidates will be motivated to make a change by individuals empowering a company not generic, umbrella company- wide messaging. The best talent ambassadors will understand personalization and networks

Our Final Thoughts...

Do you recall the first few moments of 2015? If that is tough, how about going back to 2000?   The journey has been exciting, unpredictable, and tragic at times, but filled with change on every front in the human capital arena. Our focus shifted from retention to engagement; from big data to brain science and from innovation to de-constructing work.

As we look ahead to 2025 our journey will demand navigating beyond a world of employment. John Boudreau boldly states that the non-employment work arrangement will leverage us into project based, crowd sourcing, and free lancing like never before. One of our clients recently said, “future workers will just say no to traditional modes of work” and we need to be ready for that now.

What will the rites of passage be that young workers and enlightened business leaders take as they adapt to the shifting needs and opportunities of the future? There will be new stories and perspectives that reframe how we work, where we work, and coordinate across the globe.

As we reach the end of the year, we plan to take a moment to reflect on the lessons learned, the challenges ahead and greet the New Year with hope, resilience and a search for good. We wish you the same and more.

 

November 25, 2015 - No Comments!

Labor Shortage – What it means to you?

If you are a recruiter or have responsibility for finding top talent, then you know about the talent shortage.  If you read the news, listen to podcasts or talk to business leaders, you know the scarcity of talent is here in many key areas and will arrive soon in others.

The Wall Street Journal is hosting a great series, which started November 23rd on "Demographic Destiny 2050."  The series will talk about how we work, how we will age, and live in the coming years.  This is not a US centric issue - it is much bigger and complex as it impacts many economically producing countries.  There are too few people.  (WSJ.com/2050)

Next year, for the first time since 1950, the world's combined working population will shrink 5%.  Slower population growth impacts economies and competitive advantage.   We are not alone in encouraging our older workers (including me:) to work longer.  There is plenty of opportunity for potential workers in Europe and US to retire later.  We see that happening more and more.

Today on NPR radio I learned of a new series this week that will address aging and the science of helping us live longer.  Sounds interesting but let's focus on what we can influence now.  Our health, our people and commitment to developing others.  Let's engage the hearts and minds of our workers.  Create a work culture that you are proud of and model the fact that we can work hard and separate from work to enjoy life, our families and breathe.  Whether you are a small entrepreneurial business, start-up or middle market company there are people needs that if not met will impact your success and hold you back from a balanced life.  Read this series, think about talent in new ways and share what the 2050 demographic "time bomb" as stated in the article mentioned, means for your business and your life.

 

August 3, 2015 - No Comments!

SBCo July Newsletter- HR Innovation – Impacting Business through Candidate Experience

We recently talked with long-time friend and respected talent leader, Jared Flynn, Senior Director, Head of Talent Acquisition for T-Mobile. Having joined T-Mobile in 2009 when they were not the most popular mobile phone carrier, Jared has taken part in their amazing transformation, a business transformation that has resulted in nine consecutive quarters delivering more than 1 million total net customer additions.

We sat down with him to discover how and why T-Mobile reinvented their candidate experience.

Sherry Benjamins (SB): So great to talk to you! Tell us a little about your role at T-Mobile.

Jared Flynn (JF): I lead Talent Acquisition for all T-Mobile brands and locations in the U.S. This equates to filling over 22,000 positions a year currently.

SB: And what were some of the challenges you faced at T-Mobile?jared Flynn

JF: Three years ago we had new leadership join T-Mobile and they challenged us to re-think HR and Talent. We came to realize this meant owning some of the pain points in our recruiting process.

T-Mobile focuses on getting rid of pain points for our customers and we wanted to do the same for our candidate “customers”.

SB: What were the biggest pain points you discovered?

JF: By far the biggest pain point for a candidate is lack of response. They go through the effort of applying for a position and their application goes into the black hole. We would never treat our customers like that, so why are we treating our candidates that way? We decided to focus on radical transparency.

SB: What steps did you take to become radically transparent?

JF: Every candidate should have a complete understanding of our process and know where they stand. For instance, we list the length of time a job has been open and the number of people that have applied.

Secondly, we feed our Glassdoor reviews onto our own website. Not all the reviews are positive, but if candidates are already looking at them, we might as well make them readily accessible.

Lastly, we created an infographic and video so our candidates would understand the process.

SB: From the T-Mobile perspective, does all this help ensure the right candidate applies to the job?

JF: That’s a great question. One area we really learned a valuable lesson on finding the right fit was customer service. We were experiencing 50% turnover in that department. The feedback from employees was the job wasn’t what they expected.

We decided to create a video that depicts what it’s really like to work in customer service at T-Mobile. It’s an amazing place to work, but some parts of a job are just less fun and exciting. The video helps empower candidates to find the right fit for them.

SB: What have you done for your internal candidates?

JF: We received a lot of feedback that our internal candidates also suffered from the black hole effect. One employee’s comments really stood out to me. T-Mobile had paid for him to go to school, but when he applied for a job with us in the trade he went to school for, he never heard back. Here were paying tuition reimbursements and yet not capitalizing on the investment or the employee’s new skills!

We’ve been taking steps to ensure we fully utilize the talent we already have on our T-Mobile team.

SB: How do you think HR is impacting business?

JF: We have 1 million people a year applying to work at T-Mobile. Frankly, that is way too many candidates. By changing our practices we are able to encourage only qualified candidates apply, thus reducing the resources necessary to manage an excessive number of applications. Additionally, we know a positive candidate experience could increase the likelihood of those candidates choosing to join T-Mobile as a customer.

SB: Do you partner with other T-Mobile teams to make these initiatives come to life?

JF: One of our core values is “Frontline first, because customers are first.” The frontline employees are in customer service and retail, the employees closest to the customer. We work closely with our frontline teams through focus groups and frontline “internships” to ensure we are always in touch with their needs and perspective. Additionally we work closely with our Marketing and Corporate Communications teams to ensure we’re aligned from a brand perspective. Our partners have been amazing at re-inventing our high volume job descriptions.

Our job descriptions are really energizing now.

SB: What are you most proud of when you look back on all you have accomplished at T-Mobile?

JF: I am most proud of seeing my team accomplish something that has never been done before. There were many heroes along the way that were really able to bring “next-practice” thinking.

It was also great to see the team receive the CandE award from the Talent Board in 2014. Internal recognition is always wonderful, but we value external recognition that we’re listening to our customers and actively solving their pain points.

SB: So, what is on the docket for 2016?

JF: We’re focused on ways to “Monetize the Million” (candidates). We want to delight them by doing a little something that says “thank you,” and leaves them feeling appreciated, and hopefully turns them into a T-Mobile customer.

SB: I have always admired you as a TA Leader and your ability to push beyond the norm. What skills do you think future TA leaders need to have?

JF: Most importantly, TA leaders need permission and an expectation to be bold. They should have the space to take risks and use them as learning experiences.

Our Thoughts...

Finally, a focus on talent and great companies transforming the conversation with their candidates is on the rise. It is an understatement to say the talent market has heated up. From Apple, to Zappos, JetBlue and T-Mobile as well as smaller entrepreneurial firms, there is an understanding that candidate experience impacts brand and that authentic messages matter.

Jared and his team are speaking to their customer – the candidate in a way that captures their heart. We at SBCo encourage you to do the same. It matters to your customer and your employees. Let us know how it works for you and share a success story that we can highlight in our next newsletter.

July 17, 2015 - No Comments!

How CEO’s of middle market companies can hire exceptional candidates for their business.

Our very own CEO & Founder, Sherry Benjamins, sat down with Critical Mass Radio Show to discuss how CEO's and Executive can find and hire great talent. The talent market is better than it has been in many years, but it is also more unpredictable than ever before. This landscape forces top leaders find, retain, and grow exceptional talent.

Tune into to listen to Sherry here

 

 

May 18, 2015 - No Comments!

SBCo May Newsletter: Are you a Game Changer? Purpose Driven Companies Understand Talent

On April 28th we hosted our annual Great Starts Breakfast Series. There was a full room of CEO’s, CFO’s, CHRO’s, VP’s, Director’s and others engaging in a fascinating discussion centered around culture, which is a “hot button” in many of the organizations we work with.

Who better to help us facilitate a discussion on culture than Gustavo Grodnitzky, Ph.D., author of the book, Culture Trumps Everything. Gustavo

Dr. Gustavo effectively built the case for social capitalism cultures, which deliver higher levels of performance compared to classic capitalism. The research on this performance improvement is impressive and is sited in numerous studies from groundbreaking research from the book, Firms of Endearment: How World Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose to the Dow Jones Index, S&P 500 and more.

Why does social capitalism deliver higher performance?

Social capitalism balances the needs of all stakeholders, including employees, not just shareholders.
Companies that remain in the old model of “bottom line first” will not meet the demands of the employee today. The modern employee wants to be heard, engaged and inspired to build and learn. We are dealing with employees who expect all aspects of the Happiness Paradox to be fulfilled (Pleasure, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment).

Can this be proven with data?

For those “data driven” leaders, Dr. Gustavo effectively laid out the profit paradox, which he considers “the money slide” of his presentation, to convince your C-level team that social capitalism is a more profitable strategy. Data over the last 10 years shows that social capitalism has far greater profit margins than classic capitalism. The results are staggering. In January 2014, Social Capitalism companies had a profit percentage of close to 160% compared to the 45% that Classic Capitalism companies had.

Who has successfully demonstrated social capitalism and shown strong profits?

Companies’ small and large as well as inspired leaders are bringing passion and purpose to their cultures. A few examples include Zappos, Gravity, IDEO, Patagonia, TOMS Shoes and Starbucks.

Companies like WD-40, led by Garry Ridge, a purpose driven CEO, have created a highly engaged “tribal culture” of people who have a sense of belonging and commitment that is rare. Our client, Jet Propulsion Laboratories has clear purpose and energizes workers with unprecedented innovation and their “left field” lab embraces experimentation and learning from mistakes.

How do employees adapt to social capitalism?

Culture trumps psychology and biology (because culture trumps everything) – a fascinating concept that is compelling as you reflect on how the shift might be made to a more balanced social context.

Gustavo introduced Epigenetics which literally means "above" or "on top of" genetics. It refers to how these factors affect of the expression of our DNA, turning our genes off or on. Our cells react to our environment, how we live and how we manage stress. We create cultures that support or are toxic to human life. Our primary drive as humans is to connect to and understand others and belong (have a cause). How can you promote this in our work culture?

Gustavo challenged us to move away from individual attributions and begin to think about the impact of context on individuals. Introverts can behave just like extroverts in the right context. Low performers can perform well in the right context. In the same respect, extroverts can behave just like introverts within certain contexts. High performers can tank in certain contexts despite their success elsewhere.

Many people in the room resonated with the Trust model presented. Experience over Risk equals Trust. We were asked to write down the names of three people you trusted and three you didn’t.

Is this trust exercise important?

(The answer is yes.)

Those we trust display Reliability, Openness, Competence, and Concern. Those we don’t trust either all share the same absent behavior or a variety. If they share the same absent behavior, you may have a hot button. A hot button suggests you may over-emphasize a certain attribute when evaluating your trust in others. If you look at the list and don’t find one or all of the four components are particularly valuable to build trust, you may have a blind spot. Blind spots suggest you have under-emphasized a quality essential for trust and this blind spot may create an obstacle when you are trying to have others trust you.

What can you do now to impact my organization?

Given that the primary drivers of connectedness are relationships and cause, you want to ask your employees a few questions to help to move closer to cultivating the culture your leaders’ value and believe in. Start by asking your leaders and employees how they define your cause? Do they define it in the same way?

Our Thoughts…

As Gustavo says, “Culture is a garden”. The garden requires time and a bit of work, but can grow some beautiful flowers and profitable produce! (What Gustavo calls “Quintessence”).

New models of business and culture are being created and led by inspiring Orange County CEO’s. There are new “playbooks” that help people and business thrive. Game changing companies are mavericks of culture. Are you creating a work environment that supports your purpose and empowers your employees so that everyone enjoys success? Why not go for it - let us know about your journey.

April 4, 2015 - No Comments!

Culture of Accountability – Best Advice from Tammy Sicard, PhD

At our most recent HRoundtable event, we had the pleasure of learning from Tammy Sicard, PhD, Founder & CEO of The Partnership Advantage.

Prior to the meeting, participants were asked via a survey: out of connections, consistency, and commitment, which would you focus on if your success were guaranteed, and why? Connection came out on top as the area to focus on. Tammy said this can be demonstrated through connections between:
• People to people
• People to work
• Work to work

A four-quadrant model was presented to show the interrelatedness between the following aspects of accountability & self-leadership:
• Individual/Tangible: individual roles, goals, skills
• Tangible/Collective: structure, policies/procedures, systems, processes
• Collective/Intangible: norms, assumptions, beliefs, patterns
• Intangible/Individual: meaning, identity, inner experience

To put this four-quadrant model to use, participants were asked to think of their “2 a.m. initiative” (what keeps you up until 2 a.m.?) Then identify its purpose, the key players/partners on whom success will depend, identify one of the three connections above on which success will depend, and finally, take the 2 a.m. initiative through each of the four quadrants.

To create a culture of accountability, four questions need to be answered:
1. What is it?
2. What does it look like in action?
3. What are the intrinsic qualities we associate with people who choose accountability?
4. What are the individual and organizational barriers to accountability?
Five conversations (not just being talked at, but authentic conversations) that drive accountability and performance:
1. Create shared purpose (awareness)
2. Develop connections (alignment)
3. Make tradeoff decisions (action)
4. Address disconnects (action)
5. Choose interdependence: dependent upon and accountable to one another (accountability)
Accountability does not come first in this process; the other elements should be addressed first.

We were encouraged to consider taking small steps rather than huge change at once.  It can start with a small pilot. Find a starting place within the company where you can experiment.  Maybe it is where silos exist and then see if that is contributing to more "make-work" than you would like.  This is a great place to start with building awareness and then move to possibilities and action.

“There are no recipe or formulae, no checklist or advice that describes ‘reality’. There is only what we create through our engagement with others and with events”- Meg Wheatley

March 2, 2015 - No Comments!

SBCo February Newsletter: Taking Talent Global with Edwards LifeSciences

Globalization and growing talent continues to be a hot topic, so we decided to get the first-hand perspective from an ex-pat on assignment in China with a highly successful U.S. based organization. This month we talked with Thomas Hopson, Business Unit Director Greater China and Korea, at Edwards Lifeciences about the unpredictable nature of working global.

Sherry Benjamins: How did you end up as the Business Unit Director in Shanghai, China for Edwards? 

ThomasHopsonThomas Hopson: Fifteen years ago I did an international assignment in England with a different company and loved it. After I completed my EMBA in the states, I was working at Edwards and wanted another global challenge.

I approached Edwards about an international assignment and they asked if I would be interested in going to China. At the time, Edwards was struggling to bridge the gap between what our corporate office in Irvine wanted and what was actually happening in China, so I was sent to train and develop the sales and marketing teams.

 

SB: Wow, what a fascinating start! Now that you have been there for a few years, what is your number one objective for 2015?

TH: I really want to create the building blocks for the future. We need a stable and sustainable foundation to continue our growth. For Edwards, sustainability starts with investing in employees. We have a young tenured staff in China, so it is important to establish a culture of Edwards investing in employees for the long term.

SB: What major learnings have you had working with your team in China versus your team in Orange County?

TH: The biggest thing has been to be very clear on the message being stated and ask for confirmation of understanding. In the Chinese culture it is very difficult for people to say “no”. They end up saying “yes” even when they don’t understand because they don’t want to seem disrespectful or incompetent. I am learning the language to help ease some of the complexity, but right now it takes two times as long to deliver a message to my team through translators or translated materials.

The other learning was that the environment over here is young, vibrant, and the economy is growing. We find individuals hooked on finding the “next best” opportunity. I have had to be flexible and let go of any preconceived notions of how this workforce should think, act, or perform.

SB: You mention employees searching for “the next big thing”. How are you learning what that means?

TH: We train on everything from product, to organization development and skill building. Most importantly, I try to empower my team to have a voice and an impact. We created an Executive Sales Panel where employees have an opportunity to voice any concerns to management and we respond. The answer is not always “yes”, but at least they know they have been heard. Through this effort we learn what is important to each individual.

With such a young team, we also run into issues where employees are promoted at a rapid pace, but lack the skillset to match their new title. We have to make sure we evaluate our talent in a way that is logical and also makes the employee successful.

SB: In the U.S. we talk about the exit of Baby Boomers, the new Millennial workforce, and lack of leadership in middle management. What are the talent issues in China keeping you up at night?

TH: There is a huge leadership gap here. The workforce is young and lacks experience, which is why you see mostly ex-pats in leadership roles right now. The one child policy in China is beginning to have an impact on talent. From a business stand point, the aging population is beneficial, but it makes for a very tight talent pool.

At Edwards, we want to be seen as a career destination, not a transition company for strong talent.

SB: It sounds like you have consistently been the pioneer for people-driven initiatives.

TH: I have always loved leadership and watching people grow. I have worked harder in this role than ever before, but I have also never been more excited about my work. I can really see the effects of what we are doing here from a business and talent perspective.

On the personal front, I am learning that persistence, perseverance, and flexibility serve me well. Being in China has meant constantly learning and being comfortable with being uncomfortable. Everything from the food, to the internet, to the way work is approached is different here.

SB: I actually worked at Edwards Lifesciences at the beginning of my career. That is really where I learned how to be strategic, but at the time there weren’t global opportunities. What advice do you have for someone looking to go on a global assignment?

TH: Going global just for the sake of career advancement is the wrong reason to go. You really need a high level of curiosity, adaptability, and some thick skin to succeed in a global role.  It can also be complex as it relates to family or significant others. They need to be a part of this commitment to adventure and personal change.

SB: It seems like we could be doing more “at home” to help our leaders have a global mindset.

TH: You really have to live it to understand it. One week trips to global locations doesn’t provide you the same understanding as living it for 2-3 years. I encourage everyone to take on a global challenge. It’s been one of the best experiences for my personal and professional development.  These experiences have definitely rounded out my skillset and fine-tuned my business and people transformation skills. I am more understanding of the impact of cultures, motivators, and the unique business aspects in cultures such as China.

I was so taken by my discussion with Thomas that I could actually see myself considering an expat assignment! He creates a vision of this incredibly important work in a fascinating culture where he is learning every day. His positive perspective and commitment to learning inspired me. His family is right there with him, learning language and navigating in this unfamiliar global community.

Let us know what you are doing to develop or grow talent in China or overseas. Thanks Thomas for sharing your story of year three in Shanghai. You are clearly energized by this impactful work and we can’t wait to hear how this evolves. Unfortunately, my husband says China may not be in our plans just yet.