Finding the right mix of competencies

Doug Markham, director of people processes at AIB International, has had a successful year on the recruitment front, particularly when it comes to attracting the right mix of skills to meet customer needs in the market.

Over the past 12 months, the organization has hired 40 new food safety professionals within the organization, 21 of whom were international hires. Of the 40 individuals hired, 26 also have bilingual abilities.

“This is a huge benefit to our organization,” Mr. Markham said. “It gives us much more flexibility, which can reduce travel and give us more options to perform the work we have.”

AIB International also has hired three baking professionals at the Manhattan, Kas., office, Mr. Markham said, and continues to pursue additional baking professional candidates that could be located in Manhattan or elsewhere in the United States. In addition, he is pursuing baking professional candidates in China and the U.K.

Doug Markham, director of people processes at AIB International, has had a successful year attracting the right mix of skills to meet customer needs in the market.

Mr. Markham described several ways in which AIB International has been successful in recruiting. When recruiting food safety professionals, Mr. Markham said the message AIB International likes to get across revolves around the high level of experience that may be achieved by working within the organization.

“As a food safety professional working with AIB you’re going to be in and out of 100+ different food manufacturing facilities every single year,” he said. “You’re going to see people doing food safety really well. You’re going to see people doing food safety very poorly, and you’re going to learn from all of those experiences. And you’re going to learn it across all kinds of different categories, everything from baking to beverage to food contact packaging, to grain-based foods to chips and all kinds of different things.

“The story that I think that is resonating with candidates out there is that if AIB International is going to be a career long job for you that is fantastic, that is what we want. But even if this is only going to be a 6 to 8 year job, think of the exposure you’re going to get across the food industry and the things that you’re going to learn that your peers in the industry aren’t going to see.”

A different approach is taken when dealing with recruitment of baking professionals. Mr. Markham said AIB International tends to look to appeal to those individuals’ sentimental side, where there may be a personal connection to the organization or the baking industry.

“These are the types of people we’re targeting because they tend to be candidates who want to be able to expand their influence off of just their one shift or just their one facility or their one company, and those are the people who want to teach and have a broader impact on the entire industry,” he said.

Mr. Markham said one of the things that AIB International offers that others in the Manhattan community can’t is the fact it is a global company.

“In coming to work here you can truly impact the world’s food supply chain,” he said. “To be able to do that from Manhattan is a unique opportunity that not a lot of places can offer. We’ve also had a lot of success recruiting bilingual candidates into our Manhattan office. It’s something we constantly look for, and I think it’s something interesting that we offer compared to local employers. If you’re someone with those abilities we can actually leverage those skills for you, whereas I don’t think that’s an opportunity that’s available at a lot of companies around here.”

While 2014 was definitely a whirlwind of recruiting activity for AIB International, Mr. Markham said the organization now finds itself in a more stable position where the recruiting focus is less on numbers and more on finding individuals with specific niche skill sets.

“A great example is right now I’m looking for a French speaking, FSSC 22000 auditor that can go in and out of eastern Canada for us and service some of those accounts,” he said. “It’s those specific skill sets we’re looking for. Really we’ve grown the food safety professional pool enough that in the meantime we’re training up all those folks to be certified in different GFSI categories. We’ve made a huge investment in that over the past year. So while we are still looking for the needle in the haystack specific skill sets, in the meantime we’re making plans to train individuals to develop those skills here within the organization because they are difficult skills to develop.”