x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Talent quest is one route to a colourful career

Jane Sunely, the chief executive of a talent management consultancy, explains why it's only going to get harder for regional businesses to hire--and hold onto--top talent.

Jane Sunley says the internet and social media make it tougher for employers to find the best talent.
Jane Sunley says the internet and social media make it tougher for employers to find the best talent.

A UK talent management consultancy that opened its first international office in Dubai this week, learnpurple, aims to help businesses struggling with high employee turnover. Jane Sunley, the firm's founder and chief executive, talks about why holding on to top talent is only going to get harder for employers and the significance behind the colour purple.

How did your firm get started?

We first launched 10 years ago. At that time, we just targeted the hospitality industry. We currently work in banking, retail, logistics. Any industry really. The gap [in the marketplace] was about retaining staff and people saying"we want five-star service", but nobody ever quite getting there.

Is this still an issue today?

Now, as we come out of the recession, everyone is going to be fighting for talent like crazy. We'll probably have about seven years of good luck, and everyone is going to want to capitalise on that and have the best people.

What's making it tougher these days for employers to bring the best on board in the first place?

The internet and social media makes it harder: if you're not a great place to work at, and you don't treat people properly and look after them, everybody knows. Now, if you're going to look for a job, you'll go on Facebook and find out. Before it was all behind closed doors.

What's up with the colour purple?

When I was launching the company, Orange (the UK phone company) was doing a big campaign with the colour orange. I thought it was a good idea. Purple is the colour for learning and there are loads of things around teamwork and purple. If you're into following chakras, which I'm not, purple is the highest level.

There's no shortage of consultancies in the Emirates. Aren't you worried about competition?

This is going to sound really arrogant but I'm never concerned about the competition. I genuinely think we think differently, and in a much more practical way than most consultants.

How so?

We use an approach called participant-led learning. Instead of going in with PowerPoint slides it's more about making it a facilitated session. We have a "talent toolbox" product, which is an online management tool. It doesn't train employees. It will allow them to assess their own performance and career aspirations. They do a bit of planning online, then their line manager would do a similar exercise. The system will put it together. The whole point is to have a rich one-to-one … conversation about moving forward.

Why is this important?

Many [employers and employees] think their goals are aligned, but they're not. That tool then gives a massive return on investment.

So the results are measurable?

Absolutely. Our approach is about bottom line outcomes. There's one company in the UK with 2,500 employees, and they saved £500,000 (Dh2.9 million) in the first year.

nparmar@thenational.ae