Vanguard Magazine

Vanguard April/May 2022

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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TALENT OPPORTUNITIES & CHALLENGES IN THE DEFENCE INDUSTRY Sponsored Content PERSPECTIVE While employment challenges arise within the defence industry, so too do the immense opportunities for new talent to thrive. The adoption of more technology-enabled systems ignites competition against well- established tech businesses, and retaining staff is pivotal amidst growing compensation pressures and a narrowing talent pool. James Baker, CEO and Founder of Keynote Search, offers a solution – executive search and recruitment services – which will enable defence companies to hire more efficiently and stably. What are some of the biggest pressures on talent right now within the defense sector? There are two core problems that we're facing – the availability of talent and the compensation pressures. I think of defence organizations that may have multi-year contracts, government contracts, which have built in provisions for compensation increases, cost of living but in the last year we've seen compensation go up between 10 and 15% for most positions. There's no way they have those types of provisions built into their agreement. We're seeing companies competing for the same talent. We are seeing people em- ployed every single day being targeted by other organizations, both domestically and internationally for new opportunities. Your employees have options right now, which is making it very hard for businesses to plan. As defence companies become more technology enabled with regard to the so- lutions and services they offer, they're now competing against large tech businesses for talent who have very deep pockets from private equity and venture capital firms. At times, they offer absurd amounts of money for talent which is counter to the compen- sation structures that may be in place at most defence organizations. What kind of tactics are organizations using to attract and retain the right people? It is key to have increased flexibility. We're seeing a massive improvement in corporate wellness programs, things like increased or unlimited vacation time, flexibilities around work schedules, etc. Adhering to values and actually demonstrating them is essential for organizations to retain staff. There's an uptick in incentive programs as well – bonuses, performance bonuses, profit share and corporate performance are being rolled out to more employees that were not eligible previously. If you lose talent right now, it is so diffi- cult to replace them. This person's working elsewhere, probably earning good money. When you make an offer, you're going to get into a situation where you might be overpaying by 20% for a particular result while also creating internal pay equity is- sues with their peers within the organiza- tion. The market is a complicated place to navigate for most organizations right now. So is it safe to say that it's an employee market right now? Employees are realizing their work con- struct has shifted. They're not necessarily going in 9-5. How companies are able to reinforce culture is pivotal in the success of not only retaining, but also recruit- ing and compelling people to consider an opportunity. You said your mission is to help businesses succeed through the people that you find to place in their companies. That's not an easy task. How do you find and build these relationships and really understand and go deep? It's not easy, otherwise there would be no demand for our executive search service. It's about ensuring that we can objec- tively review and compare the qualities of different people. Our research team right now typically looks at more than 200 people for an opportunity. We interview around 50 of those people for each role that we undertake on behalf of our cli- ents. When you sit down with 50 people, you can start to compare and contrast different experiences, values, personality styles, successes, and make objective rec- ommendations on behalf of the employer that we represent. The top 12-15 candidates are further screened and evaluated before we present the top 4-5 to our client. After, during the client's interview and assessment process, we look at solving specific problems for the company and target people that can both resolve it and are excited by that work on behalf of another organization. James Baker is the CEO and Co-Founder of Keynote Search. With 20 years of experi- ence in the industry, James has successfully completed hundreds of executive searches on behalf of clients looking to upgrade or build out their executive leadership teams. Listen to the full interview here. APRIL/MAY 2022 3

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