For the July issue of CWS 30, Editorial Director Subadhra R. Sriram chatted with Barbara Massa, vice president of global talent acquisition at McAfee Inc., headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif. Massa is responsible for McAfee's more than 6,000 employees as well as organizing a global contingent workforce program. She talks about the McAfee brand, the expectations around temporary workers and the challenges of a managing a global program.
Q: What are McAfee’s goals for the year in terms of talent acquisition?
A: Our big goals for talent acquisition at McAfee have been and continue to be looking for the best and brightest talent around the globe. We are in a very specific security industry as a whole. We’re looking for individuals who not only have the technical or functional proficiency, but also have that extra something that makes them really want to do not just a job but truly make an impact. When you work at McAfee you can really see where you make measurable impact from the work that you do — every single day.
Not to sound overly noble, but we do have an employee population who are relentless in their pursuit of safety for our customers. What we’re doing, what our solutions provide — provide protection. They protect home environments. They protect the computers that their children are operating on. Our solutions protect you while you are conducting commerce online… It’s not just your one computer anymore, it’s vast networks, cloud computing, mobile device protection — if you think about just one person these days, chances are they’ve got a blackberry, an iPhone, a tablet computer/device of some kind, a home PC or Mac and likely a few other devices in the mix as well.
We look for people who not only have very specific technical or functional expertise but also who feel compelled to make an impact. They are going to go the extra mile. They believe that the role they play provides that extra something to help keep this world safe.
Q: What is your view on contingents? I know that you use them too.
A: Absolutely. We look at a blend of our workforce. We’ve got a global employee population. We’re in pretty much every major city around the world, which makes for really interesting work, lots of global impact, both in mature & sophisticated markets as well as emerging.
As it relates to our contingent workforce, there are definitely initiatives where we need very specific expertise in a particular area, for a set time frame, such as for a product development road map or a particular initiative we might be focused on. We look at the blend, bringing on a mix of contingent workers to support and collaborate with our wonderful employees around the globe — all in the name of bringing the best products to our consumer, SMB, and enterprise markets.
Q: I know that you are putting a contingent workforce program in place. What is your philosophy around temporary workers?
A: I would actually refer to it more as refining our global policies and practices — especially in the emerging markets. Ensuring that we’re doing the right things as a global organization. We do have extremely high standards that we would expect from anyone and everyone who is delivering a service or impacting our product and solutions.
Q: What are your views on the contingent workforce management space?
A: Are you talking more from a talent perspective or from a vendor landscape?
A: We’re looking for global partnership. That doesn’t mean that it needs to be a one size fits all. We’re really looking to partner with organizations that have the capability to service us and our global employee population. It relates to things like the tools and underlying systems. Do these vendors understand local employment laws? What are the appropriate regulations, policies and compliance factors that are critical to doing business in the right ways in those areas whether it is McAfee or any of the other big Fortune 1000, Fortune 500, and Fortune 50-type companies? When I talk to my peers at other high tech software companies, we all need global partnerships. I think that’s the one thing that remains to be seen. Who are the folks out in the MSP and VMS space that can truly, truly partner on a global scale for companies like McAfee and others?
Q: How long have you been in the talent acquisition space?
A: I’ve been in recruitment, talent acquisition, executive search and all the programs that wrap around this field for over 20 years. I grew my career in Silicon Valley. It was really neat to see the apple orchards of Cupertino before Apple computer really took off. I have been through the rise of the dot-com boom and the bust. The great thing is that Silicon Valley is always a hot bed of talent. This is where dreams are made. This is where amazing companies are built. The legacy of companies like IBM, National Semiconductor, HP and Intel have built and the innovation that exists with Google, McAfee, LinkedIn and Facebook — it’s just an exciting place to have worked for 20-plus years. I am fortunate enough to have found a career that I love.
Q: What are the similarities between recruiting for full-time workers and contingents?
A: I think that there is a special spot these days for really doing talent acquisition well. I think the value proposition for employees or contingent workers is similar. I think at the root employees or contingent workers want to do interesting, meaningful work. I think the big difference is that contingent workers are going to want to focus more on project-oriented type of work and have more of an independent factor driving their career in different ways. Employees of companies are going to want to make a direct impact on one particular organization for a specific period of time versus going project to project or assignment to assignment.
Again, if people are going to be spending time away from their family and loved ones, they want to do meaningful work. They want to do work that makes an impact. They want to learn. They want to grow. People want career opportunities and self development. It’s rare that you find anyone, be it an employee or a contingent worker, who is happy doing the same thing day in and day out. It’s an exciting time in technology. I think companies that have interesting projects and work to offer have to make sure that they are getting great talent into the organization.
Q: As a talent acquisition professional, what would your responsibilities be toward the people you hire regardless of whether they are contingent or employees?
A: I think we have a responsibility to help make sure that we are making those matches in the right way(s). That we’re working very closely with our hiring managers and our business leaders to understand not only the work that needs to get done, but the values and culture fit for employees or contingent workers as appropriate. There is definitely something to be said for making sure that the people that are coming in and out of your doors every day or working on specific projects for you are also aligned with the company’s objectives, mission and strategy. That’s really our job as talent acquisition professionals — to make sure that we’re not only looking for the technical or the functional expertise. We’re also helping managers, employees and contingent workers find that right cultural fit, whether it’s for a specific duration of time or for a long-term employment type of relationship. I think that’s really where true talent acquisition professionals shine.
Q: Any specific challenges that you have faced as you are putting together your contingent worker program?
A: Finding a global partner to help us refine our global program to make it a really well-run global contingent workforce program. Again, we don’t necessarily want to partner with five or six different entities. We really want to have a partner that can help us do the right things locally. We want to have that key global partner. That’s tough to find. That is our biggest challenge at this point.
Q: What is your opinion of contingent workforce management as a profession? Do you think it’s a profession?
A: I absolutely believe it’s a profession. I think that there are just very significant complexities to managing a global contingent workforce that are unique and different. Regulations, governmental compliance issues — it’s a completely different ball game when you’re looking at making sure that you’re doing the right things for your contingent workers, that you are doing the right things for compliance and regulations. Every single country around the globe has different rules and regulations that you have to make sure that you are adhering to. They’re important. Often times what you need to be doing for your “employee” population is and should be very different. I think there is a true discipline that is very specific to the contingent workforce in particular that varies greatly from what you might be looking at from a policy and program perspective as it related to your regular employee workforce.
Q: Let’s talk about what you like and dislike most about your job.
A: To begin with my responsibilities span a range of tasks from how are we focused on our human capital management for regular full-time staff around the globe, areas that we are making investments in our employee population, where should we be making investments in our employee population, university relations, immigration, relocation, all the analytics, cost per hire measures, quality of hire. I’m also the co-chair of the diversity and career mobility initiative.
I joke that I have two small children and someone asked them once what mommy does for a living. They say mommy just talks for a living, which is pretty true. Obviously, I think to be in my seat you have to first and foremost love communication, love leadership, love working in a global environment. You have to really enjoy multitasking, given the breadth of the programs that are anchored in my organization.
Fundamentally you have to really enjoy people. You have to enjoy helping make connections, and obviously seeing the impact of what we do. At the end of the day, the important things that happen at our company happen because of the people that walk in and out of our doors everyday or through the “virtual doors.” That’s what I love most. I love making connections. I love making sure that we are hiring not only the best and brightest for McAfee, but that we’re making the right cultural fits as well. That’s really where I get the greatest joy — from seeing the results of the people that we have brought into the organization. To be perfectly honest, this may sound a little Pollyanna, but there’s really nothing that about my job that I dislike.
Q: What are your goals for the year besides having the global contingent worker program in place?
A: I think the refinement of our global contingent workforce initiative certainly is big. And we’ve been really focused on internal mobility at McAfee.
Q: What does that mean?
A: Internal mobility: career development and opportunities for our existing employees around the globe. Making sure that those are visible, making sure that we are rotating employees, making sure that we’re really invested in giving those opportunities back to the people who chose to spend their days at McAfee day in and day out. We’ve put a real focus and concerted effort on insuring that not only are we bringing in great people externally, but we’re also offering fruitful assignments and rotations and career progressions to the staff that exist at McAfee today. That’s another big driver for us this year. We’ve seen some real positive work there.
Then I think the third part of it is making sure that our employment investment strategy, where it is that we are choosing to hire staff around the globe — that we’re on our toes on that front, very aligned to the business, making sure that if we are going to open up a new development center somewhere, we are very tightly aligned, we’re in the thick of it so that we can make sure that we’re partnered closely to bring the talent on in the time frame that’s needed to meet our business initiatives. That’s an ongoing initiative. Like I said, we’ve got great partnerships with the executive staff. We’ve just got to stay on our toes and make sure that wherever we do move and flow our employee population that we’ve got the right recruitment capacity to handle the needs.