Building the bench
As we “Turn up the HEAT” in the Electronics Systems (ES) sector, the “H” of that acronym, which stands for Human Capital, is of the utmost importance to our business. Our people are our most critical resource, as Terry Crimmins said in last quarter’s Pulse, and to meet our customer’s needs, we’re poised to add more than 1,200 new hires/re-hires to Electronic Systems this year, with even more joining the company in 2018.
Over the course of the last year, the ES Talent Acquisition organization has built a team that closely aligns to the business and its hiring managers. This has allowed for the development and deployment of robust staffing strategies to fulfill this demand.
As we build our bench strength to meet our Operational Excellence goals, in 2017 we will welcome a record number of recent college grads. Laura Joubert, Leadership Development Program (LDP) manager in Nashua, New Hampshire, sees the challenge in this endeavor.
“There’s fierce competition for early career talent. Talent Acquisition has been really helpful in the hiring process – they solve the mystery of hiring for us,” she said.
Director of Talent Acquisition, Kelly Dunn, recognizes the competitive nature of today’s job market.
“The market has become increasingly challenging as technology companies, both defense and commercial, are aggressively trying to retain and attract from the same talent pool,” she said. “We have to ensure our hiring efforts provide the candidates with a positive experience that will encourage them to join our team.”
What is the key to attracting the engineering, program management, and manufacturing talent we need to be successful? The answer may well be branding, which aligns to another of the HEAT strategic areas: “E” which represents External Focus. ES Communications is working with Talent Acquisition to raise our profile with a stronger presence at job fairs, on college campuses, and in key markets that will involve increased advertising and social media. We are also in the process of designing and launching a new Career Site that will give us the opportunity to redefine how we present ourselves to the external market.
“For many years, BAE Systems did not have brand recognition at universities,” said Joubert. “That’s changing, and now when I talk to LDPs about why they work here, I hear that it contributes to the betterment of society.”
That ideal – of meaningful work – is echoed by Michaela Dinman, a second year intern in Nashua, New Hampshire.
“For me, the decision to work at BAE Systems was a personal one. People very close to me will be entering different branches of the military into different ranks. BAE Systems is a company that allows me, even as a college student, to work on something that may have an impact on someone’s life in the future, as well as the lives of those around them.”
Working here because one believes in the mission of the business is admirable, but we also back that mission up by hiring many veterans. In addition, our Warrior Integration Program is one of the best in the country in offering a place for former warfighters to work.
BAE Systems also offers opportunities for interns and college hires to gain experience that will open them up to other roles as they grow in their careers.
Dinman explained, “The best thing about interning here is that I know there are opportunities for growth. Ever since beginning here, I’ve been treated as an actual employee, rather than a temporary college intern. The work I’m expected to do challenges me, yet is still doable in a reasonable amount of time. In an internship, especially as an early college student, I respect that.”
How will all this new talent influence our organization in return? Liz Turner, Engineering LDP program manager for ES, who organizes intern breakfasts and other events to help them engage and fit in at BAE Systems, appreciates the viewpoints of these employees.
“They breathe fresh life into ideas; I see it all the time,” she said. “They think quickly and we need to embrace that.”
Pairing these interns and new college hires with more experienced employees is one way to ensure knowledge transfer and strengthen our business processes as the organization is infused with fresh talent.
“When you pair a new hire with someone who’s been with the company longer, it’s a chance for the experienced professional to leave his or her legacy,” said Turner.
Dinman agrees that the influx of younger employees is positive, “Age is just another factor of diversity; by incorporating new perspectives from a younger generation, BAE Systems puts itself ahead of other companies that may be more hesitant to take that step.
Of course, the Human Capital effort isn’t focused solely on college hires. Hiring across all disciplines to back-fill for turnover and projected retirements with an emphasis on technical roles, and experienced professional hires is also critically important. As our employees continue to develop solutions to technical challenges, we will permeate our business with new talent at every level. In this environment, fostering an inclusive work environment by amplifying diverse perspectives will become even more important to our business.
Dunn said, “Research has shown that a workforce that invites different perspectives and experiences can provide a strategic advantage for the enterprise. We have incorporated this knowledge into our sourcing activities for Talent Acquisition as we continue to attract new hires into the ES sector.”
Turner believes that the combination of college hires and experienced professionals in our employee population provides continuity for the business.
“Our new hires learn from their more experienced colleagues, so that over time when retirements occur, the technology and knowledge aren’t lost,” she said.
That’s an important idea, especially as so many new hires join our ranks – The ES Sector predicts a significant increase in retirements over the next two years, and we must be ready to meet that challenge by welcoming our new co-workers into the organization and sharing our skills and knowledge with them. According to Dunn, all these activities combine to build our bench for the workforce of the future. To strengthen that bench, what we’re learning is that every employee – including future employees – are essential to that success.
By Shelby Cohen, Communications, Endicott, New York