Process & Chemicals

Site management: how to find tomorrow’s leaders

We are delighted to be publishing our latest talent trend report today, 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 leader positions in the process and chemicals industry, thanks to both a lack of internal talent, and the difficulties of attracting external candidates.

There are many reasons why there is currently a shortage of site leadership talent, and these are detailed in our report. For a start, the process and chemicals industry is an extremely diverse and complex sector, and the skills required of site management are by their nature bespoke and often not particularly transferable. The different requirements of businesses operating in iron and steel versus those in resins and coatings, renewables or nutrition are self-evident, and explain why the pool of candidates is, from the outset, so limited for these roles.

But candidates do, of course, exist. Further challenges arise, however, in attracting them out of their current positions, both because many are reluctant to move locations, and because the shortage of talent around means companies are essentially paying ‘golden handcuffs’ in order to make it expensive to tempt people away.

As part of our latest research paper, we interviewed more than 150 site leaders working in this industry across Europe and the Middle East, with a view to finding out what might make a move attractive to them. We were surprised that 77% of respondents said they would consider relocating for a new career opportunity – those that would move highlighted Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands and the United Kingdom as the most attractive locations for a new job.

We asked what the most important factors were when assessing a new opportunity, and were told that the compensation package, and an increased salary, ranked highly, as did the work environment, company stability, and the reputation of senior leadership. As such, it is apparent that candidates will move for the right job, but they are typically expecting significant salary uplifts (we tend to think in excess of 20% has become the norm), and they are making a lot of judgements based on the new employer’s brand.

One other important finding from our survey was that only 48% of our site leader respondents said that they currently had career succession plans in place for their own roles. And therein lies a problem that companies can immediately address, in the shape of better internal talent management and development programmes, to improve the internal pipeline of viable future site leaders.

In addition to our survey, we were also able to interview some of our most senior clients in the process and chemicals sector, who talked to us in great depth about the challenges they see in site leader recruitment, and how they are seeking to address them. The resulting report makes for some fascinating reading, and delivers, we believe, some wonderful ideas for companies on how to find the site leaders of tomorrow, along with some tips for candidates.

If you’d like to receive a copy of the report, do let us know. 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.

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