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Putting talent at the forefront of strategy

Talent is getting harder to find - and to retain. With the proliferation of digital, data-led media and tech operations (from the platform giants to start-ups in hubs around the world), who do rapidly evolving magazine media businesses lure and keep the top drawer practitioners? For Rebecca Constable, head of talent and learning at Haymarket Media Group, these are conundrums for which the solutions are imperatives.

Haymarket is big on developing its people. Rebecca Constable, head of talent and learning at Haymarket Media Group, says it’s one of the key reasons the company has been so successful at retaining and developing its talent - something which has been a strategic focus for the international media business in the last few years.

 
Rebecca Constable ()
 

*** Rebecca will be part of a panel discussion on “How to find and keep good people” at the FIPP World Congress in London. She will join Duncan Tickell, MD: Advertising and International, Immediate Media Co., UK, and Peter Kreisky, Chairman, The Kreisky Media Consultancy, USA, as they are interviewed by James Hewes, CEO and President of FIPP. If you haven’t yet, register to join here***

It’s now more than three years since the launch of the Haymarket Skills Academy. Founded in March 2014, the initial aim was to bring a structured approach to all aspects of developing young talent as Haymarket emerges as an international data and tech-led media business.

But the Haymarket Skills Academy has had much larger spin-offs, as Constable explains: “At first we recognised the need to develop the digital skillsets across our business. It’s imperative to us to foster talent and embed in that talent the culture of innovation and entrepreneurialism that is driving our business transformation. Our intake is all about developing our own talent - with a heavy focus on digital natives. And one unlooked for benefit is the energy and agility - the insight that our young talent brings into the organisation.”

A pipeline of entry level talent

Constable describes the growth of the Academy as hugely successful: 40 apprentices have been welcomed into the business since the Academy was formed in March 2014. The largest single intake of 12 apprenticeships were introduced to the company within the past month. This is a significant investment of time and effort, says Constable, but the pay-off is well worth it. “For us it’s become an invaluable pipeline of entry level talent into the business.”

She says the natural expansion of the academy has beaten all expectations. “Today it’s not merely focussed on the digital challenges but apprenticeships have widened to varied skills in our organisation to include business administration, events, finance, journalism and web development.” 

For more experienced roles in key investment areas like technology and data, finding the right talent is getting harder and harder. Gone are the days where vacancies can merely be posted on a job board in the expectation that you will be inundated with good quality candidates

As Constable explains: “Talented digital and data professionals often can afford to be choosy. Which means that we have to work hard at making sure they take note of the opportunity to work with us. It makes networking - and social media - hugely important in the recruitment mix. It also makes the company’s employer brand and culture imperative in landing the right talent.”

Haymarket invests of lot of time and energy in thinking about creating an authentic culture which works across its very different international businesses.

“Talent can often afford to cherry pick. And on that basis wise companies have to go way beyond thinking about the role, and even the salary. For a lot of talent it’s about the benefits - and that can include the feel good factors of aligning with the company’s values and working in a better environment. And it’s fair to say that we have to be equally as good at telling the story of our future as celebrating our heritage.”

She references the recent £50 million investment into transforming Haymarket’s successful consumer automotive portfolio into a next gen auto-tech operation. “The positions we have the greatest demand for - technology roles - are the ones where we have to work hard to tell our story of transformation. It’s important that candidates are fully aware of what the company is really like - the tech-led innovation - and how interesting and challenging the work is going to be. That spirit of the start-up backed by the track record of 60 years of media success.” 

Being proud of a work environment

Constable adds that often the physical environment is a factor in allowing Haymarket’s talent to thrive. And Haymarket made a significant investment in creating an attractive workspace environments across its international real estate - including its head office to Twickenham.

“I think the physical workspace is really important. People want their work environment to reflect the modern media brand and technology that they are working on or with. We also need to offer a variety of spaces to work in - from break out collaboration spaces to non-bookable spaces where individuals can tune in to tasks on their own.”

Choice is key. “People still want that sense of a team, seamless technology, and they want to be proud of their work environment - a space that enables them to be really productive, working fast and working under flexible conditions.” 

Technology is crucial to that flexibility. “We are no longer tied to our desks…we can effectively work from anywhere and by giving the people the tools to do that is really important.”

Constable warns that publishers who are going to be successful in future will not only need to have  access to the people with the right skills but also those who are able to adjust fast and effectively to new challenges, new platforms and whatever the future disruption of publishing models will throw at them.

“We need people with learning agility - people that are comfortable with change in a fast-paced environment. Because of the fast pace these new technologies are moving you are not likely to have a pipeline of talent that went through the formal education process. You will need people who have the ability to constantly learn on the job and be perfectly comfortable doing so.”

More about Rebecca Constable...

Rebecca Constable is the Head of Talent and Learning for Haymarket Media Group. She has over 15 years experience working as an international talent, learning and organisation development professional, facilitator and coach.

She has previously worked as Talent Management Director for Viacom International Media Networks before joining Haymarket in 2013. She is a seasoned facilitator who has designed and delivered workshops for everyone from MDs to apprentices. Her passions include strengths-based coaching, workplace culture and change and helping all levels of talent thrive at work and fulfil their true potential.

Meet her at the FIPP World Congress from 9-11 October. For more, visit fippcongress.com.

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