The Times Talent Summit, chaired by Oli Barrett, Co-founder of StartUp Britain and sponsored by Vodafone, which we attended on 20th May 2016 hoped to address some challenging issues which Emma Tucker, Deputy Editor for The Times summed up as: “Recruiting the best people and retaining them is still a huge challenge”.

The magnificent views of the London skyline from the News Building where the event took place were just as impressive as the line up of speakers, see below:

      • Octavius Black, CEO, Mind Gym
      • Nicola Mendelsohn, VP EMEA, Facebook in conversation with: Emma Tucker, Deputy Editor, The Times
      • Nick Jones, founder of Soho House, in conversation with Tiffanie Darke, Creative Content Director, News UK
      • Graham Thompsett, Head of Global Resourcing, Talent Acquisition, Jaguar Land Rover
      • Helen Hodgkinson, Head of Organisational Development at Vodafone with Suki Sandhu, Founder & CEO of OUTstanding, Frances Dickens, Co Founder and CEO of Astus in a session chaired by James Hurley, Times Enterprise Editor
      • Cilla Snowball, Group Chair of AMV BBDO, Stephen Moir, Chief People Officer of NHS and Bryce Keane, founder Albion Drive and 3Beards

To keep this update short & sweet, here are some inspirational sound bites of what we heard. Their brevity should not be mistaken for lack of gravity:

Cilla Snowball, Group Chair of AMV BBDO:

      • We must treat people how we would like to be treated.
      • Train people so they develop. Treat people well so they don’t want to leave.
      • People must be able to work in teams, avoid big egos and avoid working in silos.
      • Ability to get on and work well with other people is key.

Stephen Moir, Chief People Office for NHS in the discussion with Cilla Snowball concluded that NHS strives to hire on attitude and not aptitude.

Nicola Mendehlsohn, VP EMEA of Facebook:

      • People are at the heart of everything we do.
      • Ask if people are happy and do a regular pulse check on how people are really feeling across the organisation.
      • Create an exciting and empowering culture of openness and trust.
      • Make it possible for people to think bold and to focus on impact they have on their organisation, community and in the world.
      • At Facebook, we have regular weekly video conferences with Mark Zuckerberg and everyone can ask him any questions they want.
      • On upscaling in business – As you get bigger the only thing stopping you is you.
      • Ask the hard questions and be truthful. Ask your team: “Who had hard conversations this week?” – these often provide valuable information.
      • Do a yearly life vision, be clear on what success looks like to you – include your key professional highlights, personal milestones and your contribution to community. Share it with your colleagues as you might be able to help each other in achieving these goals.
      • Champion diversity, transparency, choose talent above all as the top hiring criteria and let everyone in the team meet and interview the new candidate.

Octavius Black, CEO, Mind Gym:

      • A study of 50,000 worldwide employees concluded that the manager-direct report relationship (LMX) magnifies, or reduces, the impact of almost everything else.
      • Key managerial skill for the business is the ability to form relationships.
      • We tend to disparage managers and middle managers but they are our heroes.
      • Managers have the greatest impact on engagement.
      • A large proportion of managers don’t like being a manager; help them develop managerial capabilities and give them the support they deserve.
      • Ask people what they want to achieve and how being in the organisation will help them get there.
      • People don’t leave jobs; they leave managers.

Nick Jones, Founder of Soho House:

      • The way you engage with and train your people, and what you do next to retain them has a direct impact on performance.
      • For us, looking after our people is a real focus. It’s part of our conscience but it is also really good for the business.
      • We offer various training opportunities and management training courses and it’s very important to create a positive culture; I like to see our people having a good time together.
      • It gives me a great satisfaction to see when someone who used to wash up pots becomes a great manager, or when they’ve left because they are now setting up on their own. Professional development really pays off.
      • People don’t leave companies – they leave their managers.
      • Hospitality and the food industry offer huge opportunities to young people at the moment.
      • To raise through the ranks you have to show dedication, passion and hard work.
      • I hope that others see me as an inspiring leader who relates and talks to everyone; I like being connected with the people on the floor.

General conversation also included:

      • creating a pipeline of female leaders in more male dominated industries by, for example: providing learning opportunities at a primary and secondary education level (e.g. coding)
      • people are increasingly mission and value system led

Helen Hodgkinson (Vodafone), Frances Dickens (CEO of Astus) and Suki Sandhu, Founder & CEO of OUTstanding agreed that hiring the most talented professionals regardless of their background and diversity in workforce contributes to creative thinking and correctly represents the customers in today’s world. Embracing diversity also means we have to become aware of our unconscious bias and look beyond the hiring process and make everyone feel welcome once they joined the organisation.

Ending the event, Graham Thompsett, Head of Global Resourcing, Talent Acquisition, Jaguar Land Rover gave us a great insight into his strategy how to attract talent through an award-winning Apprenticeship programme for those with passion for learning and the right attitude.

Finally, we hope that some of these points inspire you to review how you are leading yourself, your team or your business, and to help you through to the next stage of excellence by championing and actively embracing diversity in order to create thriving business communities.