Process & Chemicals

Building a career in site management

We are delighted to have recently published our latest talent trend report, which is called Site Management: Plugging the Site Leadership Gap.

We know that this is a big issue for our clients, who consistently tell of us of their struggles to fill site leadership positions in the process and chemicals industry, thanks to both a lack of internal talent, and the difficulties of attracting external candidates. But with such demand for the right skills, and so many opportunities open, we see a fantastic chance for brilliant candidates to build their careers around a focus on site management positions.

One of the interesting findings in our report is that generational change has brought about a shortage of suitable site leadership talent, as many current site managers approach retirement, and the pipeline of successors is found wanting. Companies have not, in recent years, committed as much resource to their internal talent management and development programmes as they should have done (and did in the past), and they are now facing the consequences.

The responsibility for career progression in the process and chemicals industry increasingly falls to individuals themselves, to identify their own potential, to build necessary skills, and to capitalise on opportunities. In this context, site leadership looks like a highly attractive career prospect, given salaries are rising and talent is in short supply.

As part of our research for the report, we surveyed more than 150 site leaders working in this industry across Europe and the Middle East, with a view to finding out their own career ambitions. We also had the opportunity to interview some of our most senior client contacts, who very kindly shared many more in-depth experiences of both the challenges in filling these roles, and the ways in which they are seeking to address those issues.

An abiding message emerged from these conversations, which is that candidates must be more mobile, both as they progress through their careers, and when they come to considering site leadership roles. Candidates that have moved around several sites while developing their expertise will be much more attractive prospects when leadership roles arise.

So, building multi-site experience early on in a career will certainly pay dividends, and that sits alongside the need to take responsibility for personal career progression, and to develop a career plan early on. Other tips that emerge for candidates include the need to develop a network of contacts across a company, sector and region, to both assist with career progression and to tap into available opportunities when they arise. And it is worth developing language skills also, to ease mobility and open up more lucrative opportunities.

We are excited to have published this report, which not only highlights the many challenges of site leadership recruitment for the process and chemicals industry, but also contains many ideas for ways in which both candidates and companies can overcome these challenges.

We are very much looking forward to hearing some reactions to our findings and kicking off a debate about how the industry can address this very important issue. There are certainly some brilliant candidates available to those businesses on the front foot.

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