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Footwear News Talent Acquisition Q&A

FN asked me some questions on talent acquisition for an article last week.

Here below are the questions and my full answers:

  • For leadership roles, what are the key qualities you look for when recruiting? what specific skill-sets are you on the look-out for?


What we look for on any search depends on what the current needs of the client at hand are. In interviewing the client company we determine together what qualities are most important for that role/company/culture at that current time. It will be different things for different companies depending on what their current situations are and where they want to go. Generally, however, fairly universal essential qualities include: people skills, vision, the ability to articulate and execute that vision, and the ability to get the buy in of the constituency to carry out the missions at hand. And a track record of the highest performance success and career progression.

  • With the new digital sphere and changes in consumer shopping preferences, retail is going through a transformative time. How do you go about hiring a high-level executive during this evolving landscape?


As in any search, previous relevant experience and success in the specific tasks to be accomplished is what one looks for. In the case of responding to the digital revolution etc,, previous experience at a company that has handled digital well. Or someone who has handled other business changes well and made the important decisions necessary to keep the company current with evolving changes in the ways the business is done.

  • Per the question above, once that high-level exec is hired, how do you go about retaining top talent in the current complex retail landscape?


Unfortunately tenure at companies in recent times has gotten shorter and shorter and is radically different from years ago. At any company, people value being appreciated, and having the ability to make an impact. Other things they find important include: the values of the company, the work/life balance, the social responsibility of the company, and the opportunity to grow and realize their potential.

  • What tech skills, specifically, are important when hiring for top positions?


Obviously Marketing is driven in a whole new way by Search Engine Optimization. Digital Marketing brings much more tech into the equation. Understanding and reacting to consumers behavior is calling for new tech analytics ability.

Design calls for new technical designing skills and use of new programs.

Product Manufacturing, Inventory Control and Distribution are all moving at a much faster pace with same day delivery, seeing product at fashion shows and buying immediately and the much shorter lead times for product creation. Having the tech tools and creating newer and better ones to achieve these changes is essential.

  • What are the top ways that recruiting and managing talent will have to change due to changes in the retail environment?


Companies still need to create compelling product and they need people who can effectively sell and market that product on a senior level to retailers as well as manage the exploding direct to consumer channel.

The need to find the people with the greatest documented relevant success in each vertical of the business (even as those verticals change in priority) is still essential. Past successful performance is the best indicator of future success. At the same time, it’s essential to be sure you are hiring people who are cultural fits and whose motivations to join your company align well with their long term goals such that there is greater assurance of long tenure.

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