David Wilkinsonâs strategy forÂ Boeingâs global talent managementÂ is ready for takeoff.
By Debbie Bolla
With nearly 20 years of experience managing talentÂ around the world with stints in London, Dubai, andÂ North America, no one is better suited to pilot successÂ for Boeingâs new global approach to human capitalÂ acquisition than David Wilkinson. The global infrastructureÂ and operations director has been tasked with building aÂ foundation that enables the tech company to compete forÂ the best candidates in its many divisions. Here, he sharesÂ the challenges of the current market, the technology thatÂ empowers Boeingâs candidate experience, and how toÂ reach talent on a global scale while embodying a localÂ relevance.
What are your biggest talent challenges?
Boeing is an industrial champion but itâs also a new ageÂ tech company. When you look at the makeup of theÂ organization, there are many different talent needs.Â We have a defense and space unit with significant contractÂ wins. We had a record year with commercial airplanes.Â We also have Boeing global services, which is the afterlifeÂ of the planes after we have delivered and sold them, andÂ corporate, which is the management of the business. All ofÂ those areas need different skill sets, different talent pools,Â and different numbers of hires. Every win that we getÂ means more pressure to get talent more quickly.
There are many challenges when you hire up toÂ 35,000 employees a year, but our greatest is that weÂ are competing for talent on a global stage. DigitalÂ transformation plays a key role in our talent needs andÂ we recognize the skill sets required for the future willÂ continue to evolve and require a more technology-orientedÂ focus. This means we are competing for talent inÂ industries that are outside of traditional aerospace sectors.Â Like many employers, we are seeing a dramatic increase inÂ competition for talent across the board, unemploymentÂ rates at an all-time low, a reduction in STEM graduates,Â and increased competition in the technology-orientedÂ skills, making the talent market more complex andÂ competitive than ever before.
Historically, we havenât had a globalÂ view of talent or a global viewÂ of how we manage our hiringÂ process. So we needed globalÂ efficiency in terms of tools,Â technology, system, andÂ processes across the acquisitionÂ lifecycle.
Our mission is to be global talentÂ champions: We are global, weÂ are diverse, but we are also here toÂ winâand we are going to do that.
How are you tackling theseÂ challenges?
We are on a journey within Boeing talent acquisition. WeÂ are challenging the assumptions based on âthis is alwaysÂ how weâve done it.â We are redefining how we approachÂ talent. We are moving away from an administrativeÂ process to an advisor-like engagement. I like to use theÂ phrase âengage and educate.â Whoever we are touchingÂ in the process, we need to engage positively and educateÂ about potential opportunities.
How can we do this? We set up a globalÂ infrastructure with technology, tools,Â systems, and processes to drive candidateÂ experience. For example, if a candidate isÂ an IT or data analytics specialist lookingÂ to work at Boeing and one of ourÂ competitors, how do we make sureÂ they feel engaged? We are engagingÂ with this candidate through aÂ crescendo of interest that ends withÂ them landing at Boeing rather thanÂ a slow-drip process. Weâre focusingÂ more on the candidate experience andÂ differentiating ourselves through ourÂ culture, our priorities and our products.
We also have a team that is solely focused onÂ candidate care. We are also looking at our applicationÂ process and our conflict of interest process.
We have to get better at every opportunity. The changesÂ we continue to explore are not about changing all of ourÂ practices dramatically. Rather, theyâre focused on smallÂ changes over time that will lead to greater improvementsÂ in how we attract, acquire, and engage top diverse talent.
As our hiring demand continues to be high, we areÂ exploring best practices at engaging talent around theÂ globe at various points in their career. We have investedÂ in entry and mid-level rotation programs that will enableÂ talent in multiple disciplines to learn about Boeing and theÂ opportunities for career growth and exploration. We alsoÂ continue to keep diversity at the forefront of our priorities.Â In 2018, Boeing announced a $6 million investment in theÂ future technical workforce through a partnership withÂ the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), the nationâsÂ largest organization exclusively representing the blackÂ college community. The investment will fund scholarships,Â internships, on-campus engagements, and immersiveÂ âboot campâ programs that will introduce students toÂ Boeingâs culture and career paths.
What tools and technology do you leverage to getÂ an edge?
We will deploy new HR technology in 2019, which willÂ be a strategic enabler for our organization. We are usingÂ this implementation as an opportunity to integrate aÂ large number of systems into this framework, while alsoÂ simplifying the overall practices used in talent acquisitionÂ and also our entire enterprise. We are looking to deployÂ technology that enables our teamârecruiters and HRÂ professionalsâto focus on the candidate experience. WeÂ can automate some of the hiring process through machineÂ learning and chatbots to allow all of our teams to be moreÂ strategic.
We appointed PeopleScout to look at our RPO model.Â Historically, weâve gone to them when we are at capacityÂ and they step in to manage the surge. Now PeopleScoutÂ is moving into a test lab for services, including a videoÂ interviewing pilot and the integration of analytics intoÂ some areas of our talent data. I see huge value fromÂ PeopleScout with their technology capability, candidateÂ experience capability, and integration capability.
I want to move our services for all our vendors awayÂ from reliance in times of surge and max capacity to anÂ intentional and strategic direction. Now we ask ourÂ vendors: If there was one risk that you would take withÂ Boeing, what would you deploy right now? Where do youÂ see needle movements in terms of how we are doing?Â What is the future of this relationship? We are askingÂ them to advise us on what our roadmap should be.
How do you attract talent on a global scale?
We need to create organizational capabilities and aÂ local perspective that has relevance to that market. WeÂ recognize that the talent we need is global and haveÂ taken significant strides to align our organization toÂ source and attract talent in the markets in which ourÂ workforce is present and the business demands. India,Â for example, is a newer market for us and many of theÂ candidates donât realize the full breadth of BoeingâsÂ products and services. As part of our talent attractionÂ strategy, we will ensure the candidates understand ourÂ business imperative in India, the type of work that ourÂ teams deliver, and their role in supporting our customerâsÂ needs.
We also continue to identify talent analytics thatÂ showcase where global talent resides. We use thoseÂ analytics to inform our future hiring locations and alsoÂ direct our investment in entry-level talent programsÂ outside of the U.S.