5 Ways to Identify Transformational Talent

Keeping up with the rapid pace of change is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today. Due to rapid technological advancement and shifting customer expectations, achieving future success depends on finding talent that can move and transform as rapidly as the business itself. However, that’s easier said than done.

Most companies understand the importance of recruiting top talent and retaining A-players to address the business challenges of today, but what about the challenges of tomorrow? When hiring for your organization, every placement should be looked at as an opportunity for future growth. And while you may understand the importance of recruiting top talent and retaining A-players within your organization to drive change, have you heard of transformational talent?

If your goal is to fundamentally transform your organization and drive significant change, you may need to look beyond your traditional recruiting pool for transformational talent–an “outsider” with a fresh approach and the innate ability to catalyze digital innovation, exercise critical leadership qualities and question the status quo. However, knowing what to look for can be a challenge, here are five questions to ask to help you identify transformational talent and better understand your organization’s hiring needs.

Defining Transformational Talent

Before we dive in, we should first start by briefly defining what Transformational Talent is. Transformational Talent starts with the idea that the right person in the right position can dramatically alter the course of a company or organization for the better. Unlike traditional executive recruiting, transformational talent often comes from outside of the usual skill and experience set, or industry that would have typically been chosen.

These candidates bring a fresh set of eyes, a valuable outside perspective and the ability to radically alter the path a company takes from mission statement to revenue. Oftentimes, these individuals are found or placed in roles that have never existed before and were created based on a unique need.

Is it a new role or a role in need of a significant upgrade due to technology?

The first question to ask is whether it’s a new role, a role that’s never existed within your company or industry, or an existing role that needs significant upgrade due to the infusion of digital marketing and technology.

For many companies, the way to fill these roles and create lasting, meaningful and profitable change is not to reach out to experienced industry executive, but instead, unexpected and exceptional candidates from unusual places. For example, when PepsiCo needed a way to reinvent its vending machine business, they looked beyond traditional industry channels and turned to Microsoft to recruit a technology executive who led the creation of the Xbox Kinect. Seemingly unrelated, the candidates digital skills translated well to PepsiCo’s goals.

The trifecta of skills PepsiCo was looking for internally didn’t exist and it was critical that the person they hired had the skill set to be able to understand digital and how it can be leveraged by a food and beverage company largely foreign to the idea. PepsiCo has built a reputation as a global leader in edible consumer goods, but with the help of Transformational Talent, the company has been able to successfully enter into hardware and compete with LG and Samsung.

To learn more about PepsiCo’s Transformational Talent story, download our free eBook, The Hiring Revolution.

What are the foundational skills for the role?

Transformational Talent tends to have a combination of a handful of skills. In the case of PepsiCo, an engineer with an MBA who previously developed a product that never existed before was recruited to reinvent vending, fountain, and cooler equipment. These transformational executives have abandoned their silos to become cross-disciplinary experts that understand the power of technology and knowhow to harness and effectively integrate it into an existing business structure.

Did the candidate have a transformational moment or take time to invest in new skills?

Innovation is critical to the future success of any modern company, and transformational talent recognizes that traditional skill sets are ill-equipped to handle the business challenges of tomorrow. The best candidate will be someone with a forward-thinking attitude, the desire to grow, change and innovate who also has non-traditional skills that can translate to your needs, rather than someone with a skill set that fits a traditional model.

Typically, this person will be someone who has taken the time and effort to invest in new skills, which might be drastically different than what they’ve done in the past. For example, a financial planning pro who invests in learning data visualization via Tableau and catapults himself to his dream career. The key is that these candidates tend to be forward-thinking and are always looking to get ahead on mastering the skill set of the future. I encountered a candidate who was savvy enough to recognize the importance of social media early on and decided early on to become a world renowned expert before it blew up. By 2008, he was already onto the next thing, and that’s precisely the mark of transformational talent.

Do key competitors have who you’re looking for, or do you have to go outside your industry?

If you’re a company on the leading edge, odds are your competitors don’t have the talent you’re looking for. The solution is think about which industries have the talent that’s going to help you set yourself apart. For example, poaching machine learning talent from Amazon and placing them in a financial services role.

This means exploring fields and industries that are only somewhat, or not at all, related to your industry. The next step is understanding how you can translate the skills of these candidate to fill the needs of your company.

Finding the Time to Recruit Transformational Talent

Conducting an executive search can be a tangled web of time consuming challenges. When it comes to finding transformational talent or filling a role that’s never existed before, these challenges can be magnified. You may need to find a candidate that doesn’t neatly fit into a category or departmental designation. Oftentimes this requires breaking out of your industry and looking at the broader business / technology landscape to find someone who can offer a fresh perspective on the way your company interacts with its customers. Transformation doesn’t happen on its own. It stems from having the right people in the right positions, but recruiting and retaining game-changing executives takes meticulous planning, broad knowledge and experience.

If you need help finding and attracting people with non-traditional skills, MJS can help. If after reading this blog, you realize that your company needs transformational talent, please contact us today to learn more about how MJS Search help your organization create opportunities for transformation

What is your definition of transformational talent?

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