Leadership and Talent Management: The CEO’s Role

Three CEOs shared their challenges finding and retaining skilled employees—and the solutions that are helping to bridge the gap.

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Leaders from Brew Masters, Snap-On and The Barnes Group discuss their role in talent management.

Who: Fernando Palacios, Chief Integrated Supply Chain Officer, MillerCoors

The Backstory: The No. 2 brewer in the U.S., MillerCoors manufactures the flagship brands Coors Light and Miller Lite, as well as craft and import brews like Blue Moon, Foster’s and others.
The Talent Challenge: “Beer is all about fermentation. My best comparison is paint. If you want pink paint, what do you do? You pick out a base, they dial 2347, and that can of paint becomes pink. Formulas work. In our case, you’re dealing with living things. You’re dealing with barley and hops. I can dial 2347, but what comes out is not necessarily pink.

“Our folks have to smell, touch and taste, then cut and add. Our constant challenge is in how to bring people with a chemistry/biochemistry background into something that also has some art to it. We can’t just take someone out of a university and say, ‘Here, come and brew beer.’ We need to spend the time to get them to the point where they can literally smell barley, touch it and say, ‘This is going to be good extract.’”

The Solutions: “We’re trying to bring in people with a science background and educate them in our own two-year program very specifically on how we want them to brew beer. And that’s how we [train our brewers], either through us, or we’ll send them to Nottingham in the UK.

“On the technical side, all of our breweries have a direct relationship with one technical campus, whether that’s a university, a college or a vocational school.

“The programs may take place inside the breweries or at the schools, where they will mimic everything we do, from electronics to mechanical design.”

Who: Nick Pinchuk, CEO, Snap-On

Manufacturing 9The Backstory: Kenosha, Wisconsin-based Snap-On is a 95-year-old company that manufactures and distributes high-quality hand tools and auto diagnostic equipment.

The Talent Challenge: “There’s an art to producing a hand tool—an art around heat-treating, grinding, a number of other things. Therefore, we need people who can handle low-volume manufacturing and apply an art to it. We also keep trying to increase our complexity because the ability to solve any major critical problem in the workplace is what people pay us for. So our talent challenge is, one, to feed the pipeline and two, to have the people educated and capable enough to deal with the complexity.”

The Solutions: “We train our people in three ways. One, we have training in-house. In Milwaukee, existing employees get to spend 40 hours—two hours on our time and two hours on their time—training on new skills to handle the machinery of the future and bid on jobs that become available on those machines.

“Two, we partner with community colleges. For our power tool plant in Murphy, North Carolina, we found a community college that was receptive to partnering to build the training for the workforce we needed.

“Three, we [helped establish an organization called the National Coalition of Certification that assists community colleges to develop [curricula] that match what’s needed in the industry today.

We have 250 schools, 3,000 instructors and 30,000 students involved. We’ve given out almost 60,000 certificates saying, “You’re certified in a standard curriculum to be able to weld, to be able to use an automotive diagnostic or whatever the case may be. That’s very important because community colleges, believe it or not, need help in terms of calling in the airstrikes and matching their curricula [to the jobs].”

Who: Patrick Dempsey, CEO, The Barnes Group

The Backstory: Founded in 1857, The Barnes Group is an international aerospace and industrial manufacturer and service provider.

The Talent Challenge: “Our new vision and strategy is to move more towards engineered products and innovative solutions. As we [progress] through that transformation, the challenges have been quite significant. Three years ago, we had zero design engineers as part of Barnes Group. Today, we have 125 design engineers.

“We currently have 35 manufacturing facilities worldwide and generate 45 percent of our revenues overseas. Five years ago, a communication to our workforce that went out in English captured 90 percent-plus of our workforce. Today, we need to put it out in seven different languages. These are some of the challenges that we’re facing in adapting to our new needs and to the needs of the new workforce.”

The Solutions: “Sometimes when you go to the universities, it’s a day late and a dollar short. At that point, many students have already been influenced heavily as to what careers they’re going to pursue. So we start a lot earlier. Last week, 30 people from Barnes spent four hours in our local elementary school talking to the kids about all the different types of jobs that make a community successful.

“We used donut manufacturing as something that the kids could relate to. We said, “Now you’re going to be a part of a manufacturing process, and the end product is going to be donuts.” At the end, we had the kids actually project their donuts up onto a screen to highlight what was a great donut and what was a defective donut. They all were split up into separate teams so there was a competitive spirit there, but the heart of the message was that manufacturing, whatever the end product is, is a career that contributes to society.”

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