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Case Study: Arrow – on target for global Talent Management

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Susan Sescilia, Manager of Global Talent Operations at Arrow Electonics, discusses the firm’s move towards a global HR and talent management strategy.

“We are a distributor of electronic parts. We are a US based company expanding our footprint globally. We have talent in sales, marketing, engineering, supply chain and functional executives. We have 13,200 employees at 260 locations in 55 countries,” says Susan Sescilla, Manager of Global Talent Operations at Arrow Electronics, in a joint presentation with her European colleague Valerie Zara.

“We had a number of challenges. In 2003 we had new CEO join Arrow. New leadership brought new themes. He started on vision of One Arrow – one company acting globally not locally. He created a 4 pillar business strategy which is present in all meetings. Growing the business, operational execllence, finanical stability and shared leadership. Putting talent management here made it not just an HR responsibilty. We were managing HR data in three or 4 different ways which presents its own challenges. We had lots of different cultures coming together. We had a performance review process, but it wasn’t a performance management by any stretch of imagination. We had sucession planning but for the vice president population and carried out in very small groups.”

Arrow has been on a talent management journey that has taken a number of years. “The focus in 2005 was on continuous process improvement,” Sescilla recalls. “We partnered with SucessFactors for global perofrmance management. We set up a global design team to decide on guiding principles for the implementation. Part of that was a flexible roll-out model. We didn’t want to create undue stress. It was very important to have that flexibility. We implemented SuccessFactors first in Asia and North America. In 2006 we focused on ERP programmes in components and computer products business and on the voice of the customer. We created local competency models by job role. We wanted to identify and use a common language. We started working to build out our succession planning ability. We definitely wanted to take advantage of tools SuccessFactors could offer us. We put significant efforts into branding our initiative. We called it CLEAR Performance.

“We created out systems administrator community. Through that, we established regular methods of communication. We had translation issues with Asia in 2005 and so we could transfer that learning over to Europe. In 2007, the business was focused on delivering today while building for the future. In 2007 it was key that talent should be discussed during the quarterly business review. That was huge. That strategy was starting to mean something in the business. In 2007 we were able to touch our general manager and director talent for the first time. With a new senior VP of HR on board we built out the HR infrastructure. We created global centres of execllence and we have regional centres of excellence. It’s a collaborative effort.

“Our managers understood they needed the right employees in the right place at the right time. We offered them a talent management tool kit. We developed a scalable model for succession planning at all levels. We built this year on year. We collect talent intelligence year on year for each level,” concludes Sescilla, adding: “ We have built processes and built out the tools. We want our managers to understand how the development plan links to performance review. We want to partner with SuccessFactors to upgrade to the ULTRA user interface. We will follow Europe’s lead and implement performance management based on Goals and Competency. When our business managers challenge us with tough questions about why they need to do all this, we remind them that now, more than ever, they need to focus on their talent.”

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