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The Effects of Digitisation on Executive Talent Acquisition

My name is Simon Gray and I am the Regional Head of Executive Talent Acquisition EMEAR & APJC at Cisco Systems. Reporting directly to the Global Head of Executive Talent Acquisition in San Jose, I was hired to run executive talent acquisition for Europe and Asia Pacific. I partner with the ELT to provide regional executive recruiting capability, cross functional for all VP+ level appointment with core duties including;  executive talent generation, partnering with Regional HR VPs, Regional Presidents and Regional TA Leadership in the creation and articulation of exec TA strategy for both regions. This includes; succession planning, talent mapping, driving inclusion and collaboration programs along with the selection and management of regional executive suppliers. It is a complex role requiring strong project and program management capability to ensure that Cisco achieves its human capital objectives.


Overall I have close to 15 years recruiting experience derived from both external agency and in house with Salesforce.com and Cisco Systems. Speaking as a current day hands on executive recruiter and TA Lead, by far the biggest challenge that I face day to day is capturing the sheer volumes of data that are thrust upon me from an ever increasing set of resources. Tracking the single confidential referral name from an SVP level business leader outside of a traditional ATS/CRM, in a quickly accessible format is a real challenge. Data capture is key to the success of an Executive Recruiter and the impact of failing to capture such data has far reaching consequences resulting in us potentially losing talent to the competition. By using a combination of technologies and techniques we are able to solve for some of these challenges.


If we assess the technologies available to the modern day recruiter, in my world specifically they include, but are not limited to; Outlook for email, Microsoft Office, Various ATS/CRMs for candidate tracking and requisition management, Oracle HRMS systems for workforce management, LinkedIn Recruiter for basic candidate sourcing, WebEx, Jabber, Spark.. the list goes on. When a business leader requires a holistic view of a confidential appointment the question is how do we as executive recruiters pull this information together in a presentable, business facing format. There is no magic reporting tool that can integrate all of these systems, no piece of middleware that will link the an array of disparaged systems so the challenge is how to go about solving for this.


Let’s look at the impact of Digitisation on the Executive Recruiting Industry. Firstly let’s put some definition around the topic of Digitisation as this is a moot point. Digital as I see it is the optimization of processes across all industries ultimately underpinned by subscription based software. Digital in the context of Cisco is about re-inventing systems and tools and creating a continuous cycle of innovation in the product portfolio and in the business operating model. Digital in the context of our customers, is how we help enable organizations to; improve their customer journey and experience, achieve competitive advantage, increase internal collaboration and ultimately improve efficiency.


Looking at this through the TA lens, the People Deal which is our People Strategy, concerns the Digitisation of recruitment processes to ensure; exceptional candidate, hiring manager, employee and recruiter experiences. This is driven by the utilization of IT systems such as Avature for process management, in house developed applications to enable smooth scheduling of interviews and offer to completion parts of the process. Essentially at the heart of digitization is the monetization of investments based on the intelligence that there is access to and the process of unleashing innovation. The technology sector is generally building out global capabilities in the Digital arena enabling executive recruiting and TA professionals to harness the powers of modern day technology to broaden the reach to target talent, to simplify and optimize the recruitment process and to ultimately the attraction and retention of high caliber talent in today’s ever increasingly competitive work.


Going back to the start of my own career I recall the Friday afternoon rush to the fax machine to submit the top five candidates CVs to the then hiring manager of the day. Applications were collected often via the post, applicant tracking systems were in their infancy consisting of a filo-fax and the world we operate in today is almost unimaginable compared to the late 90s and early 2000s. With the advent of social media and the ability that the average recruiter has today possessing only a basic smart phone and LinkedIn license, far exceeds the capabilities of entire recruiting companies of the 90s. The pace of change has accelerated to such a point that without constant innovation then businesses will fail to keep up and will ultimately fail to secure the very best talent for their organisations. Gartner estimates that by 2020, 75% of businesses will be digital, or have digital business transformations underway of which this is having a revolutionary impact on talent acquisition in the technology sector. I think in closing the message to any TA Leader and indeed Executive Recruiter is to ready to embrace digital transformation and to incorporate it a core component of any business strategy.

This post was authored by Simon Gray. If you want to sponsor or contribute an article please reach us at advertising@alltechevent.com

Simon Gray, Regional Head of Executive Talent Acquisition EMEAR & APJC, Cisco

About the Author :

Simon Gray,

Regional Head of Executive

Talent Acquisition EMEAR & APJC,


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