CWS 3.0

Print

In the Spotlight: It will become a profession - CWS 30 January 2.1

Contingent Workforce Strategies 30





Our first issue of 2010 features Eileen Sepot, director of talent acquisition at Abbott, an $83.4 billion global, healthcare company. Headquartered in Chicago, Ill., Abbott has a slew of pharmaceutical, medical and nutritional products including specialized medicines; medical diagnostic instruments and tests; minimally invasive surgical devices; a spectrum of nutritional supplements for infants, children and adults; and products for veterinary care. One of Sepot's responsibilities is managing the company's recently recreated contingent workforce program that uses a range of skill sets from clinical to the creative, with the help of a managed service provider and vendor management system. She is currently dealing with the challenges that a new model can usher in. Read how Sepot views talent and what it takes to get program adoption.

--------------------

Q: Describe your company's contingent workforce program?

A: Our program, relaunched in August 2009, covers all skill sets. The largest skill sets we use would be in our IT organization, as well as our production workers.

--------------------

Q: That would be technical IT workers?

A: Yes.

--------------------

Q: Why has the program been newly recreated?

A: Our program was supposed to be a managed service provider model, only our MSP was acting as a staffing firm as well; it was not a truly vendor-neutral model. Over the years, our spend had increased so much, but we had not bid it out for the last eight years. So we did our due diligence and did a request for proposal.

We had a team of people, cross functional and cross geographies, who went through the RFP process with us -- through the scoring, presentations and everything else. Through it, I partnered with corporate purchasing. As a result of the process, we determined that there were a number of flaws in the program. Then we decided to go through the entire program and recreate it.

--------------------

Q: Can you briefly describe the flaws?

A: The flaws were in the quality of candidates, the time to fill and inconsistent processes. Currently, the new program is implemented for the U.S. and Puerto Rico, and in 2010, we're looking at taking it global.

--------------------

Q: Do you have any goals for 2010 besides going global?

A: Right now we're looking at just the global aspect.

--------------------

Q: How long have you been dealing with the contingent workforce program?

A: On and off for nine years.

--------------------

Q: Describe the contingent workforce space when you first entered it?

A: When I first entered it, as with most companies, we were pretty decentralized and managers were really making the decisions -- how much they were going to spend and so on. Another issue was we were at great risk because of co-employment issues as well as improper screening (of candidates). Also there wasn't really a good technology out there.

--------------------

Q: And how do you find the CWM space today?

A: Today, I view it as being more sophisticated. The technology is there to be able to really understand and control the contingent workforce.

--------------------

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: I really like the ability to work with every one of our business units at every site, and really understand what the business is doing and what it's all about.

--------------------

Q: What don't you like about your job?

A: I guess the only thing is that -- how should I say this -- it's not sexy to the executives. At times, people tend to push it to the back burner. ... It can be hard to maintain visibility on what the program truly offers, its benefits, the risk reductions and the cost savings.

--------------------

Q: How do you view contingents?

A: The contingent workforce is a part of talent acquisition because Abbott as a whole looks at acquiring talent in various ways. Obviously the first way is bringing them in as regular head-count (employees). But, the other is to bring talent in as contingent workers; we do a number of contract conversions as well.

--------------------

Q: What advice would you give to other contingent workforce managers trying to do this?

A: The first thing and foremost, you always need to get executive sponsorship.

--------------------

Q: Why is this so important?

A: Because managers won't do it. No. Having executive sponsorship really assists in the ability to sell the program to the front line managers.

--------------------

Q: Let's talk about the challenges that you've faced.

A: I think specific challenges we found were issues with the old program. But now that we're relaunching, the challenge is going to be that managers are right now suspicious (of the new developments). "Okay, you told me this. Are you really going to deliver the quality that you said you would" I think the biggest challenge we have right now is delivering everything that we said we would in the new program.

--------------------

Q: And what were the challenges before the relaunch?

A: Before the relaunch, many of the managers would tend to try to go around the program because they weren't getting what they needed.

--------------------

Q: So how did you deal with rogue spending?

A: Well, we could talk it through and everything else, but we really determined that we needed to recreate the program to ensure that there are specific processes in place, to make sure that we continue to get the quality and everything else. Candidate quality was a big issue, cost is not.

--------------------

Q: Outline something to me that saved your skin on the job.

A: When developing the new program, the relationships that I built along the way with various departments and organizations in Abbott really helped me. They were willing to jump in to assist in developing a whole new program.

--------------------

Q: What's your opinion of contingent workforce management as a profession?

A: I think it's heading that way into being a profession. I think the companies still aren't sure where it really belongs or what it is. But as we start growing it and companies really start looking at doing this globally, when they see the benefit, I think it will become a profession.

--------------------

Q: Would you recommend someone to enter it?

A: I would. It gives you a very unique opportunity to understand intimately your business, the company's business, because you are working with every single (internal) organization. That's only if all skill sets are included, obviously. You understand the company's business goals, the products. What are the business units producing? What are their goals? What are the business objectives?

--------------------

Q: And this is because you work with all the internal stakeholders.

A: Yes.

--------------------

Q: What skills do you need to be a good contingent workforce manager?

A: Number one, you've got to be passionate about what you're doing. ... You have to be innovative. You have to be able to really take the initiative to create the program you want.

--------------------

Q: Any other skills that you need?

A: Yes. I would say you'd definitely need to have some procurement background, but I think it also helps a lot to have some type of HR experience as well, in particular talent acquisition or staffing.

--------------------

Q: What do you do when you're not working?

A: I love sports and I love all sorts of outdoor activities.

Comments

Add New Comment

Post comment

NOTE: Links will not be clickable.
Security text:*