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Building a World-Class Recruiting Team at CDW

Featuring Melissa McMahon, Senior Director, Talent Acquisition

 
Melissa McMahonMelissa McMahon

Welcome to Insights: Amplified Talent Acquision Channel podcast featuring interviews with the movers and innovators in talent acquisition, staffing, and corporate human resources.

Insights: Amplified is a production of Riviera Advisors, helping organizations improve, enhance, and optimize their corporate recruiting and staffing capabilities through sophisticated levels of expertise in tactical and strategic global talent acquisition; and by TotalPicture Radio - the voice of career and leadership acceleration.

CDW Corporation is growing and expanding into new markets. Melissa McMahon is a results driven Talent Acquisition leader with over 20 years of experience and a proven track record of successfully leading, building and re-engineering recruiting functions from entry-level through executive level.

Melissa's challenges include a recent acquisition, a hyper-competitive industry and talent pool; building high performing teams and delivering against aggressive talent demands. Melissa leads the company's employment branding and communications initiatives. Additionally, Melissa is the 2010 Staffing Management Association of greater Chicago Staffing Professional of the Year, and CDW received a 2011 CEO Diversity Leadership award.

Insights Amplified: Melissa McMahon, Senior Director, Talent Acquisition, CDW Transcript

Insights Amplified: Melissa McMahon, Senior Director, Talent Acquisition, CDW

Welcome to INSIGHTS: AMPLIFIED a monthly podcast featuring interviews with the movers and innovators in talent acquisition, staffing, and corporate human resources. INSIGHTS: AMPLIFIED is a production of Riviera Advisors, helping organizations improve, enhance, and optimize their corporate recruiting and staffing capabilities through sophisticated levels of expertise in tactical and strategic global talent acquisition; and by TotalPicture Radio - the voice of career and leadership acceleration. Principal's Overview: Hi, this is Jeremy Eskenazi, Managing Principal of Riviera Advisors. On this edition of INSIGHTS: AMPLIFIED, Melissa McMahon, Senior Director, Talent Acquisition at CDW joins host Peter Clayton.

Why did we choose to interview Melissa? Melissa is a results driven Talent Acquisition leader with over 20 years of experience and a proven track record of successfully leading, building and re-engineering recruiting functions from entry-level through executive level.

The company - CDW - is growing and expanding into new markets. Melissa's challenges include a recent acquisition, a hyper-competitive industry and talent pool; building high performing teams and delivering against aggressive talent demands. Melissa leads the company's employment branding and communications initiatives. Additionally, Melissa is the 2010 Staffing Management Association of greater Chicago Staffing Professional of the Year, and CDW received a 2011 CEO Diversity Leadership award.

Peter: Thanks, Jeremy. A little background to get started: CDW is a leading provider of technology solutions for business, government, education and healthcare. Based in the Chicago metro area, CDW has distribution centers and offices throughout the US and Canada. Ranked No. 38 on Forbes' list of America's Largest Private Companies, in 2007, CDW was acquired by Madison Dearborn Partners, a private equity firm.

Melissa, thanks so much for taking time to speak with us today on INSIGHTS: AMPLIFIED. Tell us about your background. Prior to joining CDW, you worked at Accenture?

Melissa: Yes, I was in a very fortunate position to have an exciting and progressive career with Accenture. It was truly one of the best places to build a foundation or career as a recruiter and eventually into a recruiting leader. The things that stand out for me about my career at Accenture was the process in systems infrastructure which was absolutely solid but more it was just so motivating to work with such bright and talented people every day. Like I said, it just created the best foundation for my career.

Peter: Great. Let's switch to CDW here. Several years ago CDW acquired Berbee, a top tier reseller of IBM, Cisco, and Microsoft products and services. What have you learned through this process that you could share with other recruiters when it comes to an acquisition as major as this one was?

Melissa: Well, as you can imagine, it's not always easy blending two recruiting organizations with two very different sets of processes, systems and protocol, but what I learned most of all is the importance of constant communication, collaboration and true expectation setting. The nice thing is our CDW executives really set the tone around ensuring that we blended the best of the best from both companies and talent acquisition and recruiting was not exempt from that. Berbee also had a very successful recruiting model that we wanted to sustain, and we also knew that we truly were in the position to leverage the strength of two very solid corporate and employment brands. Both companies had such a tremendous sense of pride in the two organizations and that's one of the many reasons that we came together, is that similar spirit and culture, but also because of the power of the two business models and product and service offerings. I think it's up to us, the recruiters, who are that voice, to collectively keep that sense of pride alive and that recruiter spirit is really what feeds into attracting engaging talent in the marketplace.

Peter: In reading your LinkedIn profile, I know you worked for an executive search firm. What's different in talent acquisition when you're in-house, versus working as a third-party recruiter?

Melissa: I happen to work for a small generalist boutique firm and I was working from my home and for me, the big difference was I just absolutely miss leading and collaborating with the team of recruiters. So when I was in search, I was essentially on my own developing new business, finding the talent and managing client relationships, and while I do have a passion still for executive recruiting in the instrumental role that search partners and recruiters play in placing executive talent, my heart, what I learned from that experience and it was a short stint, is truly being part of shaping, growing and leading a team to success. For me it's about the power of we versus the power of me and I feel like in a corporate environment, I get more of that we experience and ability to influence.

Peter: Well, that's some great insight, so here's my perspective - CDW doesn't manufacture anything, you're a reseller of tech products that are available from many different competitors. Lots of the stuff you sell has really razor thin margins. You really can't compete on price, which says to me that much of the success of your company rests on the shoulders of your account managers and solution architects. Am I right?

Melissa: Well, it is true. CDW does have deep roots in providing technology products to customers. We have been able to successfully leverage our expertise to transform ourselves into one of the largest and fastest growing full service providers of IT solutions and services, so our success as a full-service IT provider is really tied to our ability to establish and maintain those strong customer relationships, which has always been a differentiator for CDW. Our objective is to help our customers manage the complexities of IT and maximize the return on their IT investments. And so while we know that marketing conditions around us may always change, everything we do for us revolves around the customer, understanding their business, their IT needs and investing and serving them, and we know that we've been successful because that approach that we've used is reflective in our success.

Last year, CDW reported $8.8 billion in sales in 2010 which is a record-breaking increase over 2009 and we were operating in a highly competitive market, so again for us, that full IT solution provider and customer focus is our huge differentiator.

Peter: CDW's business really depends on having the right employees in the right jobs? How do you find, attract and retain the talent you need to grow your business?

Melissa: I look at it as it starts with the talented recruiting team because I believe you can have the best candidate attraction and sourcing strategy, but if you don't have the right team of recruiters being your voice and passionately telling the story of CDW, our successes, our career opportunities, how we invest in people both personally and professionally, we're never going to be able to clearly articulate our value proposition, our differentiator. So for me, the difference is, it's all about the recruiter and the people that are selling and telling the CDW story with conviction and passion.

Peter: We'll be back to discuss the war for talent with Melissa after this short break.

This is Diana Meisenhelter, Principal of Riviera Advisors. I'm working on a new post for our blog Insights from the Riviera called Making a Life, Making a Living and Recruiting. What Melissa is talking about ties to this new blog post I'm working on. What makes a good recruiter is a passion of mine. In this blog article, I share some of my favorite and simple advice on making sure recruiters discover what they're good at and enjoy as the first step towards making sure they are in the perfect job.

I hope you visit our blog at RivieraAdvisors.com/blog and share your feedback and ideas with our growing community of HR and recruiting practitioners.

Thanks, and enjoy the rest of the podcast.

Peter: Is there a war for talent in your industry, Melissa?

Melissa: Absolutely, and especially the engineering talent that we're trying to attract and hire. The demand for the engineers that we're looking to hire in some markets truly exceeds available supply, which to my earlier point makes the power of a recruiter and the recruiter voice and the story telling, the key differentiator in winning the talent.

Peter: I've read that 40% of your experienced hire openings are filled by current employees? Is that right and if so how are you able to accomplish this?

Melissa: Yeah. Not in all cases year over year, but CDW does have a high rate of filling positions with internal talent. We are very committed to the transitioning and development of our internal talent and yes, over the years we've had a high percentage of our positions filled with the progression of internal talent. But as we continue to grow with an organization, we really need to balance that transitioning and developing of the internal talent by augmenting external talent to build on what we already have. So we do take tremendous pride and as a first place that we go, we look at our existing co-workers. We have a formal talent review process where we're constantly looking at existing talent before we go to the outside.

Peter: Do you invest in social media specifically for talent acquisition - Facebook or LinkedIn?

Melissa: We do and today we invest most heavily in LinkedIn because most of the candidates that we are attracting, it's a passive candidate play and that is the best place to go. We've done a lot in the past on Facebook and Twitter and certainly we have an opportunity to continue to build on our integrated social media strategy and we do that quite successfully with our current recruitment marketing partner as we look at our overall candidate attraction and engagement efforts. Social media is absolutely a critical part of that strategy, but it's one piece of many things that we need to do to engage and attract candidates.

Peter: Let's expand on this then. Do you use job boards, or third party recruiters or staffing agencies?

Melissa: We do. We use all three but job boards primarily and only for our high-volume and entry-level sales position. We've done a lot of research around industry averages and click-through rates and we continue to perform high on that high entry level position, but not for other positions. So we do turn to other Internet mining solutions that scrape boards and we do invest heavily in researchers, candidate and name-generation firms and we even augment and do some outsourcing of some other activities, so we have a blended approach.

Peter: It seems that most companies have become more aware of the fact that a job applicant could very well be one of their customers and I'm sure that's true with CDW. How does this factor in to your hiring process and candidate experience? Melissa: At CDW everything we do revolves around the customer and candidates are no different. They're, in fact, like a customer to CDW and we are committed to understanding their career needs and their desires but more important, we're incredibly committed to our candidates in providing a high-touch experience with solid communication and follow up.

Peter: What kind of technology do you use to track candidates and employees?

Melissa: We have an integrated talent management solution for CDW and that's Taleo, so we use Taleo for talent acquisition, performance management, talent review, succession and even compensation, single platform for us.

Peter: Right. That's seems to be a real trend in the industry, is trying to find a common platform that you can use to accomplish all of these functions.

Melissa: You're right, that is an absolutely trend and I know CDW was an early adaptor as an integrated talent management solution.

Peter: Melissa, what keeps you up at night?

Melissa: I am in the most fortunate position of having the unwavering support of our executive committee and our executive committee believes and supports the fact that our growth strategy is largely dependent on obviously the talent of the organization.

The organization has extended to me a little bit of an anything and everything you need to be set up for success which is truly a talent acquisition leader's dream. But that said, I have no excuse but to deliver to this organization with that kind of unwavering support. Again, the executives know that achieving our goal is about having the right platform of talent, and so what keeps me up at night is knowing that anything and everything mindset from our executives, I've got to deliver and it's a fancy problem to have.

Peter: Yeah, that sounds like a good problem to have, right?

Melissa: It's a really good problem to have and it's a good kind of pressure to have as well.

Peter: I really appreciate your time today. Thanks so much Melissa.

Melissa: Alright, all the best.

Peter: You too.

Melissa McMahon serves as the Senior Director of Talent Acquisition for CDW, a leading provider of technology products and services for business, government and education. Thank you for tuning in to the latest INSIGHTS: AMPLIFIED, a production of Riviera Advisors and TotalPicture Radio. You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, just do a keyword search for INSIGHTS: AMPLIFIED. Also, to subscribe to the Insights at the Riviera blog, visit rivieraadvisors.com/blog. To learn more about Riviera Advisors real world experience in leading and managing global corporate internal recruiting and staffing functions, please call toll free 800-635-9063 or visit rivieraadvisors.com

Riviera Advisors is a member of the Asher Talent Alliance, a global alliance of talent acquisition providers working together to benefit the unique and individual needs of their clients. To learn more about Asher, visit ashertalent.com.

Jeremy Eskenazi

About Jeremy Eskenazi

Jeremy Eskenazi, Managing Principal, Jeremy draws on his more than 20 years of experience and expertise in helping companies assess and enhance their talent management systems and processes.

Peter Clayton

About Peter Clayton

Peter Clayton, Producer/Host, is an award-winning producer/director of radio, television, documentary, video, interactive and Web-based media who has created breakthrough media for a wide array of Fortune 100 clients.

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