I’m writing this on the plane back from Toronto, after a whirlwind couple of weeks visiting our businesses in the Americas. Whilst I’m usually based at our UK headquarters, I make a point of ensuring that I meet colleagues in all of our international offices face-to-face on an annual basis. While time zones, weather, regulatory environments and cultures may differ, it’s great to see the shared values of Gattaca employees around the world.
Here are some of the highlights from my trip:
Visiting our new home in Mexico
Since my last visit to the region, we have moved into our new office in Mexico City near the Angel of Independence on one of the capital’s most beautiful avenues. Due to the double digit NFI growth we’ve achieved here, we had outgrown our old home and we took the opportunity to acquire not just more space but an environment which would inspire the team, attract new Gattaca staff and act as a showcase for our visiting clients and candidates. Moving to the new office provides us with an opportunity to truly capitalise on the opportunities we see in Mexico and the wider Latin America region.
To mark the opening, the team held an ‘office warming’, attended by a number of our clients and some of the biggest companies within the engineering and technology industries in Mexico City. Mathias Mieville, our Regional Director for Latin America, cut the ribbon to officially open the office and raised a toast to our commitment to becoming the leading specialist recruitment group in the country.
As well as giving us the capacity to grow, the new office is a fantastic environment for our team to work in. I’m a firm believer that a positive work environment aids employee engagement - something which is backed up by numerous research papers such as the 2016 Steelcase global engagement study. Since 2015 we have embarked on an ambitious programme to ensure that all our staff - wherever they are in the world - have a great environment to work in which makes them proud to work for Gattaca. Our new Mexico office is a great example of this.
Hola and hello to our clients and candidates
While I was in Mexico I sat in on one of the assessment centres we are running locally to help select the next generation of ‘Gattaceers’! One of the exciting initiatives running in the office is the provision of free English language lessons for our Mexican staff. We have two tutors who each run two hour-long sessions per week. Take-up is high and we are already seeing the benefits of improved communications when dealing with English speaking clients and candidates, as well as seeing the confidence of our local staff grow. As a Brit, I think we tend to underestimate the value of English language skills elsewhere in the world and I’m very proud that we are helping our staff acquire this ability which will serve them well throughout their lives, not just in their careers with us.
Experiencing a positive working culture in the Americas
I regularly mention the importance of establishing a positive workplace culture - something that was highlighted in the 2017 Voice of the Workforce survey conducted by our Matchtech and Networkers brands. Of the 4,000 engineering and technology professionals who took part, 40% said that a negative culture is a factor that would make them leave their current employer.
Given our focus on instilling a positive culture in all our offices around the world, I’m always pleased to walk into any one of our offices and feel the friendly, welcoming environment that makes Gattaca a great place to work. My next trip was to Dallas, where this was very much in evidence.
Matt Evelt, Regional Managing Director of the Americas, has worked hard to establish the right working culture across his region. From monthly Town Hall meetings to provide regional and company updates to the team, to the weekly wrap-up competitions, Matt has put communication and team building as two of his key priorities for establishing a winning culture.
We now have a team of 35 in Dallas, up from around 20 when I first visited two years ago. From a zero start we now have a team of eight consultants driving the Matchtech engineering brand forward, specialising in Power and Transmission and – more recently – Manufacturing. The Networkers side of the business is going from strength to strength and is a great example of sharpened focus as well as moving up the value chain – two core strands of our strategy.
Celebrating diversity in the workforce
Networkers recently announced their partnership with Dallas-based Girls in Tech, a global non-profit organisation focused on the engagement, education and empowerment of girls and women who are passionate about technology. As a specialist recruiter of technology skills, Networkers wants to help improve the profile of gender diversity within the sector. We want to act as a conduit between employers looking to have a more gender diverse workforce and female candidates who are looking for work, whether it is their first job, they are looking for progression or they are returning after a career break.
When I was in Dallas, I was fortunate enough to attend the first event jointly hosted by Networkers and Girls in Tech which focused on ‘Bridging the gender gap’. With a variety of insightful speakers and lively roundtable debates, it was great to hear the thoughts of experts within the industry addressing this important topic. It was particularly interesting to hear Steve Zimmel of Ericsson – one of our biggest clients globally – talk about their approach to diversity which is certainly something we can learn from.
Astonishingly, only 11% of the technology workforce is female. Whilst the recruitment industry and Gattaca in particular boasts much higher figures than this at around 50% overall, we have some work to do to ensure that women have continued access to development and career opportunities throughout their working lives and this is something we’re committed to.
Of course engineering is another industry which lacks diversity, with females only making up 9% of the workforce. Our specialist engineering recruitment brand Matchtech works with a number of organisations to help promote diversity within the industry. As a corporate partner of the Women's Engineering Society (WES). a UK based charity and professional network of female engineers, scientists and technologists, Matchtech fully supports their efforts to encourage women to choose a career in engineering and discourage any views that it is only a job for men. It is great to work with a similar organisation within the technology field and I’m looking forward to seeing our partnership with Girls in Tech continue to grow across our other offices. I am proud of our commitment to diversity initiatives within our markets.
One recent internal initiative was an event we held at our headquarters, where employees on maternity and paternity leave were invited into the office with their children. This gave them the chance to come together and share experiences as well as receive an update on the business from their teams, alleviating any nerves they may have had about returning to work and ensuring they still feel a part of the family culture we promote.
Catching up in Canada
Moving on from Dallas I finished my trip in Toronto. Again, one of the benefits of a long gap between visits is that I see huge changes from year to year. Last trip we had five staff in Canada; now we are eleven strong and growing!
We have a great team in place and it was particularly pleasing to see one of our Singaporean Senior Consultants having success in Toronto since relocating from our Singapore office during the last year – a great example of the opportunities we can provide for our staff to develop their careers internationally and one which demonstrates that these are not limited to British expats only.
It was interesting to see how our Technology Development team has grown in the last year – our unit of six dedicated professionals are carving out a great business in this space, particularly in Mobile User Interface and User Experience where a real talent hub seems to have developed in Downtown Toronto. This is a good example of how Gattaca’s strategy of identifying skills-short recruitment markets and deploying specialist consultants with deep understanding of skill sets and industry verticals is adding value to our clients. The days of generalist recruitment are well and truly over and there’s no doubt that these new, highly specialist roles are more rewarding for our staff as well as proving popular with our clients and candidates.
I came away impressed by the passion and dedication of our people, having spent quality time one-on-one with around seventy staff during the trip. There really is no substitute for sitting at the desk of a consultant, hearing first-hand about the issues and opportunities they face on a daily basis. This is something I endeavour to do in the UK as well, scheduling regular ‘desk visits’ with operations teams in one of our specialist markets. As well as being incredibly useful to me I’m told that this is a positive for staff members as they get to hear about our vision and strategy directly from me and of course get the opportunity to throw all kinds of questions at me at the same time!
Staff engagement is a huge priority for Gattaca – we measure it regularly and are striving to become the employer of choice in the recruitment industry. Apart from my ‘day job’ of developing and implementing our strategy and interfacing with our investment community I am passionate about my role as ‘employer brand ambassador’ for Gattaca. I want to play my part in making this the best recruitment company in the world to work for, a place where people genuinely live one of our three values – ‘Love your job’.
Watch this space in future blogs as I’ll be unveiling how we are developing our Employer Value Proposition to meet the needs of our current and future workforce.