Mining Acquisition Priorities: The Asset vs. Management Talent

June 29, 2015Posted by Pixelblaze

In my role as an executive recruiter in the resources space, I often get asked the same old question regardless of the market cycle: “what’s the market like for good leadership talent?”

Whilst the number of people actively seeking employment will always vary depending on market cycles, when you factor in the passive job seeker market (those open to new opportunities, but not actively looking), the pool of available talent remains constant.  Why? Whilst the proportion of active versus passive job seekers will always change, people are always driven by their own individual career goals and opportunities to better themselves. Whilst some individuals will value loyalty higher than others, everybody has a price. Essentially, the ability to recruit good talent in booming or depressed markets comes down to the same requirement – the Employer Value Proposition (EVP).  By creating a compelling EVP that is greater than your competitors, you can always attract the best talent in a sector.

In recent times as new investors circle asset sales, a common question seems to be whether or not a leadership team must be assembled prior to acquiring an asset. In short, when there are greater numbers of active job seekers, the process of identifying and successfully attracting the best candidates in the market with the ideal skill set becomes an easier task and even more-so when a compelling EVP is created and combined with specialist talent acquisition capabilities. In light of the ability to assemble an exceptional operational and technical leadership team, it’s a given that any group considering acquisitions should focus more-so on the quality of an asset, risk and ROI over and above the need to identify and employ a leadership team prior to a transaction. For the purpose of risk mitigation and confidence, there is always the option to undertake due diligence on the employment market and identify a highly competent team prior to completing a transaction by commissioning a targeted search process and shortlisting key appointments where appropriate.

Another common practice when acquiring new assets is to assemble a leadership team that has worked together at several prior operations. Whilst this is easy and comfortable for both the candidates and executive teams involved, this common practice is often to the detriment of the industry. As everybody knows, reducing costs and improving productivity are the key issues in the current market, but simply recruiting existing teams of management staff is a parochial and out-dated approach that flies in the face of these highly sought after productivity improvements. Failing to conduct due diligence in an employment market such as this where more capable individuals may be available at lower cost and neglecting one of the key factors of high performance teams, diversity, flies in the very face of achieving the cost and productivity improvements that so many miners currently seek (and require).

Alex Beutler, Mining Talent Acquisition Specialist