On April 19, the Greater Austin Chamber provided members an outlet to converse about the most pressing hiring issues employers face today. In addition to an inspiring presentation on identifying and promoting leaders by Dell Technologies SVP Jennifer Saavedra, members listed to the 'State of Talent in Austin' by Will Coombes, Chair of the Austin Chamber Talent Council, and three-panel discussions on growing and attracting senior executives, hiring middle-skill talent in a full employment economy, and navigating hiring talent amid rising commercial real estate and adverse City of Austin regulations.
Below are a couple of takeaways from the event.
Leadership: it’s a privilege, not a title
Jennifer, Saavedra, Dell Technologies’ SVP of Human Resources shared the importance of identifying and recruiting inspirational leaders and their impact on company growth during her keynote address to members.
“Leadership; that’s the secret sauce that inspires people to do their best work,” said Saavedra. “Its what inspires employees to better serve our customers and bring their best selves to work every day.”
Saavedra mentioned that although Dell is home to a global network of employees, exceptional leadership is what keeps them there. To understand the growing needs of their employees, Dell Technologies conducts ENPS (Employee Net Promoter Scores) through surveys. The company found that leaders who were exceptional in one of the following principles—relationships, drive, judgment, optimism, humility, vision, and selflessness—had higher ENPS scores amongst their employees, inspired their team to do better, and improved the company’s bottom line.
“Leadership is a privilege it’s not a title,” said Saavedra. “We have all heard it before that people don’t leave companies instead they leave leaders. Well, we found this to be true. What you do matters, and it matters to the bottom line too.”
Wrestling with the big questions
The influx of talent to the Austin region plays a major part in our economic success. But like all things without effective planning, the increase in population can also mean a huge change in hiring practices and access to quality talent in the region. Will Coombes, Chair of the Austin Chamber’s Talent Council and VP for VISA, showcased an in-depth labor market report to attendees which included job creation gains, per capita income gains, and diversification of industry.
“In the last seven years I understand just how important leadership is not only in our jobs but also in our city,” said Coombes. “We have to continue to lift up our neighbors and youth so that we can continue to benefit. We have to continue to wrestle with the big questions.”
Coombes also discussed the importance of Central Texas graduates, the need for educational funding, the action of the Chamber to support business for all, and efforts of the Austin Chamber’s DTC70 program.
Panel Discussion Synopses
Geronimo Rodriguez of Seton Healthcare Family provided members with an overview of each of the three-panel discussions presented during the event. Below is a rehash from each panel.
Panel 1—Recruiting Senior Executives to Austin
Moderated by Ellen Wood, CEO of vcfo, panelists Kurt Wilkin of HireBetter and Jonathan Hines of 9Gauge Partners encouraged the audience to have a clear job description that attracts and screens potential senior candidates. The panelists also encouraged businesses to thoroughly search for the best candidate without rushing the hiring process and to hire a team player that understands the big picture of the company. Their passion and experience should also intersect for the position.
Panel 2—Small Employer Corporate Benefits
Moderated by Mason Ayer, CEO of Kerbey Lane Cafe, panelists Hoover Alexander of Hoover’s Cooking, Nolan Gore of Top Choice Lawn Care, and Salina Vela of Tru-Skin Dermatology discussed the importance of investing in a strong onboarding process that allows small businesses to train and offer creative employee benefits. The panelists also discussed the disproportional effects of city regulations that hamper local businesses including the permitting process and the recent paid sick leave ordinance that threatens to push businesses outside of Austin limits. The group also discussed the importance of technology and how it can help small businesses compete with larger corporations.
Panel 3—Regional Workforce Plans
Moderated by Cynthea Rhodes-Patterson, HR Manager of The Home Depot Austin Technology Center, panelists Kristen Clemmer of Atlassian, Geronimo Rodriguez of Seton Healthcare Family, and Chair Andres Alcantar of Texas Workforce Commission discussed the importance of creating workforce plans that offer a competitive edge to companies. The group also discussed the importance of a comprehensive approach to a workforce plan that values the company culture, employee skills, and improves employee retention.
In partnership with the Chamber’s Talent Council, the event was sponsored by VISA, Austin HR, Clean Scapes, National Instruments, SOAL Technologies, Your 6, The Home Depot, Seton, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Brookfield Residential, Dell EMC, St. David’s Healthcare, AT&T, ABC Pest Control, Austin City Limits, Baylor Scott and White, Cap Metro, Cook-Walden, Goodwill, Google, HEB, RSM, Texas Capital Bank, Texas Mutual, Tokyo Electron, UFCU, and Southwest Airlines.
Greater Austin Chamber
The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce focuses on how the Austin Region works. We serve as the voice of business for 2,800 organizations representing a combined workforce of about 330,000 employees throughout Central Texas. Our mission is to provide leadership that facilitates the creation of a prosperous regional economy and effective advocacy for members.