TA Leaders Gather to Discuss Challenges Around Innovation

Hosted by: Bloomberg

ChapmanCG was recently joined by a diverse mix of regional TA heads for the latest HR Leaders’ roundtable co-hosted at the Bloomberg offices in Singapore. Attendees ranged from many industries and included Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Cargill, Cisco, Cognizant, Deloitte, Paypal, Phillips and Shell. It was a valuable session where the group discussed the continuing evolution of the Talent Acquisition function.

TA and Analytics

Analytics was the first topic covered, and the group agreed that HR data has the potential to be very powerful when influencing the business to make decisions. As one attendee commented, “We are successfully bringing analytical models from finance into HR to help us gain insight from our data. We are now able to predict which high potentials are flight risks by looking at exit data, and we can action accordingly, which now links into the whole Talent Management process.” At this point, not many organisations are going beyond the basic reporting, but new models and systems to help mine the data and drive insights are continuing to develop across the TA and the wider HR functions. Workday software is certainly one system which is being used extensively and is causing excitement in this space.

The Analytics of Recruitment

Cisco’s Natalie Bayliss, who is in Talent Acquisition, shared, “We are using Tableau software to analyse data and identify areas of opportunity to improve within the recruitment process. We are able to cut the data by country, function, and internal and external hires, to identify trends both positive and negative. We can also review this against attrition data to gain some very powerful insights on organisational transformations and workforce demographics. Although survey data is confidential, further patterns can be investigated through an opt-in process to enable direct feedback to breakdown the data further.”

However, a lot of the data capture is still in the hands of the hiring managers, and it remains a challenge in most organisations to drive these managers to input the data and complete the necessary surveys. This is still proving to be a challenge across the board. It can turn into a vicious cycle because the data insight is needed to help engage the business, and yet it remains a challenge to persuade them to provide accurate and timely information, which is necessary to fuel the insights.

Using Data to Benchmark

Progressive companies are now starting to benchmark areas such as overall employee satisfaction levels, with other companies and competitors using bespoke tools to compare regional differences – both externally and internally. However, the group did discuss the danger of becoming too data-centric. Becoming too focussed on statistics such as ‘time to fill’ can jeopardise the actual quality of the hire. Areas such as ‘speed to productivity’ and retention are much more powerful indicators, and represent the success criteria against which TA teams would prefer to be measured. Likewise, we are seeing a change in the capabilities required for recruiters. They need to be capable in the analytics space, and although this can be developed through bespoke training, more organisations are starting to look at data-orientated recruiters from the start.

Measuring Diversity Through Data

The group discussion then moved from analytics to diversity. The consensus was that it is paramount to drive a diverse slate, rather than focusing on a diverse hire, because the latter doesn’t necessarily encourage the right behaviours. A diverse group of candidates may enable you to put a powerful case forward for why you have ultimately hired an applicant who doesn’t tick that diversity box, but who is the best person for the job. In some organisations, recruiters are incentivised around diversity, and these direct incentives can help to change the behaviours.

The Data of Retention

Retention is still clearly proving to be a real challenge in some industries with diverse talent, as they are increasingly sought after and actively courted by other companies. For Talent Acquisition teams, it is important to build a long-term view for this type of talent and start to build relationships early. Targeted marketing, campus ambassadors and social media campaigns are all ways that organisations are engaging with diverse talent pools.

Higher Level Sourcing

Sourcing diverse talent continues to be an interesting challenge for TA teams, and having specialist sourcers who can think more long-term is often a good way to go. Indeed the overall effectiveness of implementing a more dedicated sourcing function was an area the group explored in some detail. As Tim Errington of PayPal reinforced, “It’s important to go beyond the requisition, be proactive and show the business some meaningful insights on the market and what competitors are doing. One of the biggest mistakes people are making is thinking of a sourcer as an entry-level recruitment role. Sourcing specialists need to be on a par with recruiters.”

In an ideal world companies might have recruitment business partners who are focussed on the relationships, the process and the overall strategy; backed up by a team of capable sourcers, researchers, or as one company are starting to call them ‘talent scouts’. Whilst this job title sounds more akin to the world of sport rather than recruitment, it’s interesting to explore this analogy further. In football for example, your talent scouts would not be inexperienced, junior or entry-level employees. They are seen as a critical resource, the eyes and ears of the club, essential in finding and tracking new talent – and they have enough seniority to deliver on this. Talent scouts are critical to the success and healthy future of the football club, and they are rewarded accordingly.

One solution discussed was the introduction of a sourcing career path, allowing more talent sourcers to move up, rather than stepping across into a more mainstream recruiter role, which often happens today. We might envision a career path moving from Generalist Sourcer to Executive Sourcer. The challenge remains in the cost, and it’s therefore important to continue to educate the business on the differences in these roles. Some organisations are still outsourcing this ‘talent scout’ function, which often means that the outsourced research organisation doesn’t know the business inside out, and the sourcing is less targeted than it could be.


As the role of the Talent Acquisition specialist evolves, organisations are continuing to expect more and more from their recruiters. It is therefore time to start being creative with new TA structures, models and role profiles. The ever-increasing demands of the role mean that companies can no longer have only one person operating effectively in all of these areas. Hiring from outside of the function could certainly be one way to boost innovation. It was an insightful session, and ChapmanCG would like to thank Bloomberg and our host Vandna Ramchandani, who commented, “It was great meeting TA leaders from different industries, and good to hear about all the innovative strategies everyone is trying to overcome similar struggles.” We look forward to the next TA gathering in Singapore later this year.


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Key Contributors:

Tim Spriggs

Regional Managing Director - EMEA

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Consulting Team

Tim Spriggs

Regional Managing Director - EMEA

Tim Spriggs is Regional Managing Director, EMEA with ChapmanCG based in the UK where, as part of the executive committee, he leads the EMEA business.

Tim and his team deliver senior retained executive searches for a range of clients from global multinationals to SMEs and has a background in global HR executive search. He is particularly passionate about finding unique and exceptional talent for his clients across the region.

Prior to returning to the UK in 2017, Tim spent five years in Singapore where he was instrumental in building the China business and covered international work out of Asia. Prior to ChapmanCG, Tim worked for JD Haspel, a boutique London-based executive search firm, where he specialised in EMEA HR search assignments across multiple sectors including technology, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, financial services and natural resources.

Before moving into executive search, Tim’s passion for sport led him to his first career in sports marketing and sponsorship with Octagon. He has a BA (Hons) in American Studies from the University of Nottingham, and a CIM Diploma from the London School of Marketing.

In his spare time, Tim enjoys running and cycling in the Chilterns and is known to have the occasional swim in the Thames near his home in Henley.

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