People Portrait Chris Weiss

Engineering Executive Chris Weiss on Talent Management in His Organization

A couple weeks ago, I published a post introducing Talent Management in the context of the engineering organization. I honestly believe adopting more efforts like these can be the difference in manufacturers recruiting and retaining top level engineering talent in their organizations. But instead of extolling the virtues of this type of initiative, I figured I’d let you listen to an engineering executive about it instead in their context of his challenges.

You heard from Chris Weiss (LinkedIn profile), VP of Engineering, talk about the selection of Solidworks as their CAD software at Knapheide (company site) last week. Here he talks about the challenges of recruiting engineers to rural Illinois, the skill profile he needs for his organization and how to develop and bring along his staff.

For those of you that don’t have the time to listen to the four and a half minute audio or that want to skip ahead, here are the highlights of the interview.

  • 00:45 – There is a need for Chris’ engineering organization to have some customer facing skills. Not everyone, but some subset to work with customers. There’s a huge advantage in connecting technical resources with customer needs over using sales or marketing organizations for that role. Overall it shrinks development time.
  • 02:15 – Because they are a few hours away from a major metropolitan area, so Chris has to develop and mentor them a little more than usual to turn them into good leaders and managers. Intermix it with some hiring outside, but where you are geographically located can constrain you.
  • 03:15 – For example with a drafter position, it may not make sense to move someone halfway across the country for that position. They have a close relationship with the local community college and try to cherry pick good talent when they see it.

Earlier this year, Forbes published an article that found engineering positions were the 8th hardest to fill in America. The shortfall in STEM graduates, the retirement of Boomer engineers and the willingness of GenXer engineers to find other types of jobs are forcing manufacturers into a war for engineering talent. Talent Management initiatives could well be the edge in that battle.

So what do you think? Does your engineering organization need a specific skill profile? Has it been easy or hard to recruit into your organization? What about development? Have specific efforts been made in that area? Sound off and let us know what you think.

Take care. Talk soon. And thanks for reading.

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