Fisher centers’ collaborative series shines spotlight on ‘talent war’

Fisher College of Business’ research and business partnership centers might be individually focused on an eclectic range of themes, but finding common ground is easy when it comes to today’s toughest business challenges.

A group of four Fisher centers teamed up this summer to tackle two of the biggest challenges companies face today: growing and developing talent, and unlocking the power of data and digital disruption. Nearly 150 members and guests of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Center for Operational Excellence, National Center for the Middle Market and The Risk Institute gathered in July for a deep dive into winning the “talent war,” with the disruption-focused follow-up set for Wednesday, August 16.

The big picture

Keynote speaker Marek Gootman of the Brookings Institution

The July “Winning the Talent War” session turned a spotlight on some of the key issues employers are facing as they match the supply in the talent pool with their hiring needs. A region’s talent pool, keynote and Brookings Institution Fellow Marek Gootman told the crowd, is nothing short of the key to its vitality.

“One of the things that connects everyone is where we’re pooling our talent from,” he said, “and talent is a key driver of economic competitiveness.”

Harnessing the potential of the labor pool today, however, means facing serious headwinds, Gootman said. For one, employers are demanding more workers with a college education despite the fact that many out-of-work members of the labor pool don’t have more than a high school education. A recent Brookings analysis of 130 population centers by county – among them Columbus’ Franklin County – found that 55 percent of those out of work have, at most, a high school degree, while only 20 percent have a bachelor’s degree. In Franklin County, that gap is even wider.

Brookings, a research partner with Fisher’s middle market center, is an advocate for workforce programs – apprenticeships and social enterprise initiatives, to name a few – that can help solve this supply-demand imbalance. And with technology’s reach extending these days to traditionally “non-digital” jobs, building workforce skill in this area is quickly taking on critical importance, Gootman said.

“This is something that everyone, large and small, is going to be grappling with,” he said.

While these challenges might prove formidable to larger companies, they can be downright crippling to the middle market sector, whose companies create 60 percent of the country’s new jobs but can lack the capacity or perspective to reach outside their four walls for workforce help. New survey data Brookings compiled with the Fisher middle-market center and released at the session showed the sector’s firms struggling to hire for needed skills, underinvesting in talent planning and facing intense competition from larger companies.

By moving from an adversarial relationship to one that’s focused on building a better region, middle-market firms and larger companies can join forces and better leverage support from the public sector, Gootman said.

“You’re reliant on these mid-sized firms for the economic vitality of the region,” he told the crowd. “Large firms can find their own value in working with the middle market.”

The ground war

talent war panel
The discussion panel, moderated by Fisher Prof. Marc Ankerman, featured HR leaders from Cardinal Health, Marathon Petroleum, Nationwide and Wendy’s.

Shifting demographics and an explosion of digital technology are very much on the minds of top talent leaders at some of Ohio’s biggest brands, who joined Fisher Prof. Marc Ankerman for a panel discussion following Gootman’s keynote. In a wide-ranging question-and-answer session, human resources leaders from Cardinal Health, Marathon Petroleum, Nationwide and Wendy’s Co. grappled with the challenges ahead.

At Nationwide, a top Columbus-area employer, process automation and the rise of driverless cars are two technology-centered trends likely to disrupt not only the company’s base of 10,000 call-center associates – but the insurance models at the heart of its business, said Kathy Smith, the insurer’s VP of talent development. The oldest business represented on the panel – 125-year-old Marathon Petroleum – is similarly bracing for technological upheaval, but also investing in readying its existing workforce for it.

“We’re really focusing on repurposing our workers’ skills and preparing them to learn automated technology,” said Tony Moore, head of talent acquisition.

Technology is even transforming the hiring processes at the heart of human resources, said Will Shepherd, Wendy’s director of enterprise learning and development.

“We’re having to meet applicants where they are from a technological standpoint, and recruiters are stepping that up,” he said.

No matter what technological leaps are around the corner, panelists told the crowd they still have an eye on the kinds of capabilities that won’t show up on a resume, Smith of Nationwide highlighting collaboration and “emotional intelligence” as critical.

“We need to continue to build skills in the hard stuff,” said Kelly Wilson, VP of talent management at Cardinal Health, “but the soft skills are so important.”

Coming up

The collaborative summer sessions continue with a look at data and digital disruption on Wednesday, Aug. 16, featuring speakers from Cisco, Safelite Group, Columbus-based data analytics startup FactGem and the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law’s Program on Data Governance.

Seats allotted for COE are currently full but employees of member companies may join the waitlist for the seats by e-mailing Jackie McClure at mcclure.92@osu.edu. More spaces are expected to be released to the center the week of July 31, and those will first be extended to waitlisted attendees.

Hiring, retention a growing employer concern; July event tackling ‘talent war’

For more than 20 years, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business has been polling hundreds of CFOs once a quarter, asking them what their top concerns are. For the latest survey, they saw something top the list that hadn’t done so once in all 84 rounds before it.

According to a June report in the Wall Street Journal, results of the Duke survey found “Attracting and retaining qualified employees” topped CFOs’ list of concerns for the first time in its history. These talent acquisition and management concerns edged ahead of headline-grabbing issues such as government policies, cost of benefits, economic uncertainty and data security.

Hiring and retention challenges might have topped the list of concerns this time, but they’ve been near the top of the ranking for a number of quarters in the past few years, indicating the issue has broken out of the human resources silo and become a major consideration in businesses’ ongoing efforts to stay competitive. And understanding the forces at play – demographic shifts, a skills gap, to name a few – is an imperative for more than the C-suite and the HR department. Keeping a pulse on this challenge is critical for leaders of any rank.

The Center for Operational Excellence at Ohio State is taking a deep dive Tuesday, July 18, into the so-called talent war in an event co-hosted with the university’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Fisher College of Business’ National Center for the Middle Market and Risk Institute. At this half-day, morning session, open to employees of COE members and guests, we’ll be presenting exclusive new data on work-force trends and engaging in a wide-ranging conversation with talent acquisition and management leaders from some of Ohio’s top employers.

At “Winning the Talent War,” you’ll hear insights on:

The Big Picture: Marek Gootman, fellow and director of strategic partnership and global engagements in the Global Policy Program at renowned think tank the Brookings Institution, will be presenting a mix of survey data and research-based insights from the renowned think tank focus on how companies are responding to large-scale shifts in work-force dynamics to hire and retain workers.

The Ground War: The middle section of the morning’s program will be dedicated to a panel discussion led by Fisher senior lecturer and HR expert Marc Ankerman and featuring: Tony Moore, head of talent acquisition, Marathon Petroleum Corp.; Will Shepherd, director of enterprise learning and development, Wendy’s Co.; Kathy Smith, VP talent development, Nationwide; and Kelly Wilson, VP HR-talent management, Cardinal Health.

The Pipeline: The morning concludes with a presentation from Jamie Mathews-Mead, senior director of graduate career management at Fisher, on how the college is preparing students to best meet companies’ rapidly evolving needs and how organizations can leverage Fisher to build and grow their work forces.

With less than a month remaining before the session, limited seating is available for invitees of each center. Employees of COE member companies can register now at no cost using discount code “coesummer” while non-member guests of the center can save half off the $95 admission until July 1 using discount code “coeguest.”

The centers’ collaboration hosts the second of the two-part “Top Business Challenges” sessions Wednesday, Aug. 16, where we’ll be exploring opportunities and risks surrounding data and digitization. Featured speakers include:

  • Jeremy Aston, senior director, Cisco;
  • Bruce Millard, VP digital and customer innovation, Safelite; and
  • Dennis Hirsch, Professor of Law and Director of the Program on Data and Governance, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

Registration for the August session will open the week of July 3.

Head to COE’s events site for more details on these and other upcoming sessions …

July summer session takes deep dive into critical work-force challenges

The U.S. work force is at a turning point, with change swirling everywhere: Millennials are now the largest generation in the workplace. Baby boomers – and their decades of institutional knowledge – are nearing retirement after putting it off during last decade’s recession. Constant technological leaps are rewriting the rules for the skill sets that matter.

What does this mean for organizations trying to attract and hire today’s talent? How does this change the game for their ongoing efforts to build culture and develop their existing employees?

The Center for Operational Excellence is teaming up with three other centers for a pair of summer sessions focused on today’s greatest business challenges. The first, “Human Capital and Talent Management,” tackles these vital work-force development issues and on the morning of Tuesday, July 18, at the Fawcett Center.

At this session, gain insights on this issue from three compelling angles:

  • M. Gootman, Brookings Institution

    The Big Picture: Brookings Institution Fellow Marek Gootman will be unveiling results of a new work-force survey conducted in conjunction with the National Center for the Middle Market. The survey, set to be released in late June, looks at how middle-market companies – the fastest-growing segment of the economy – are responding to large-scale shifts in work-force dynamics to hire and retain workers.

  • The Ground War: Join talent management VPs Maura Stevenson (Wendy’s) and Kelly Wilson (Cardinal Health), and Kathy Smith, AVP Executive Succession and Development at Nationwide Insurance, for a moderated panel and audience Q&A session on how their organizations are responding to these work-force trends.
  • The Pipeline: Jamie Mathews-Mead, senior director of graduate career management at Fisher closes out the session with a look at how the college is preparing students to best meet companies’ rapidly evolving needs.

After the presentations, enjoy a networking lunch with members of other Fisher and Ohio State centers. Registration is set to open in June, with limited seating available for members and partners of each center.

The second summer session, set for Wednesday, Aug. 16, focuses on the explosion of data and digital disruption companies face and features a keynote from Jeremy Aston, senior director at communication tech giant Cisco. More details will be announced next month.

Check out all of COE’s upcoming events on our website …