New North’s race for talent

Summit to address challenges facing employers

Posted on Nov 1, 2016 :: Connections
Jessica Thiel
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Forget swimming, biking and running. The theme of this year’s New North’s Summit, Talent Triathlon, imagines a race of another kind, one that seeks solutions to three challenges in the area of talent: attraction, retention and development.

While the conference also focuses on business development and branding, for Jerry Murphy, New North’s executive director, the decision to place the emphasis on talent was an easy one.

“Across all industry sectors, virtually all of them are experiencing some pressure in finding the appropriate talent for their business,” Murphy says.

The talent crunch has become a constraint on sustaining and growing the regional economy, Murphy says. He sees the summit, which will be held at Green Bay’s KI Convention Center, as a venue for business and community leaders to come together to address the issue and exchange ideas about how to respond.

The event features breakout sessions for the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance, the Society for Human Resource Management and Women in Technology Wisconsin. However, it’s also ideal for anyone who is simply having difficulty finding talent, says Jeci Casperson, director of marketing and investor relations for New North.

The summit, which is expected to draw up to 700 attendees, will highlight unique and successful approaches companies have taken to address talent challenges, Murphy says. Of course, the agenda also includes ample opportunities for networking.

After a successful debut at last year’s event, a series of ED Talks will once again take the place of a keynote address. Based on TED Talks, these dynamic 15-minute presentations provide an opportunity for three business leaders to share their insights on the day’s theme.

“The net of this is that you’ll get three really unique and useful perspectives,” Murphy says.

In his talk, CEO of Oshkosh Corp. Wilson Jones will focus on his company’s experience as an organization in rapid-growth mode. He’ll discuss the difficulties that come with a tight labor market.

Craig Dickman, CEO and chief innovation officer of Green Bay’s Breakthrough Fuel, will talk about his experiences as an entrepreneur and start-up business executive.

Sharon Hulce, president and CEO of Appleton’s Employment Resource Group, says she plans to discuss ways to get people excited to move to Northeast Wisconsin as well as how to attract and retain employees.

“We’re really just starting the talent shortage,” Hulce says, predicting that the situation will worsen.

With older workers retiring and young people leaving the area to live in “sexier” cities, Hulce says the region is facing a perfect storm.

To combat this, she says companies need to reach beyond telling prospective employees the generic story of who they are and what they do. They must identify what’s important to prospects and work to meet those needs.

Hulce believes that Northeast Wisconsin is home to amazing people, and business leaders need to convey that. “We’re wired, as an area not to follow best practices, but to be best practices,” she says.

In addition to the ED Talks, a trio of leaders from the educational community in the New North will engage in a fast-paced discussion about talent development. 

Andrew Leavitt, chancellor of UW-Oshkosh, Susan May, president of Fox Valley Technical College, and Lee Allinger, superintendent of the Appleton Area School District, each bring different yet related points of view on the issue.

Talent development is integral in each of these learning environments, Murphy says, noting that schools have an ever-increasing level of engagement with the business community.

“The challenge to them will be to weave the relationship they’re building with one another to make education a string of development,” Murphy says.

Ultimately, Murphy hopes that remedies for the talent shortage lie in the voices and knowledge of the many. No one person has the solution, he says, “but collectively, there’s a lot of work going on to get to that answer.”