Zach Yentzer and Devon Underwood had the opportunity to connect with a couple of Tucson’s for-profit, technology business leaders on a segment of Workforce Pivots on Tipping Point.
Grant Anderson, founder and CEO of Paragon Space Development Corporation and Calline Sanchez, VP and Tucson Site Leader at IBM, are key players in Arizona’s so-called “Silicon Desert.” As professionals in the region’s tech industry with a vested interest in keeping their companies strong, maintaining a robust pipeline of talent is essential.
Founded in 1993, Paragon’s niche is Space Development and Exploration. Their research and product development is around “life support in extreme environments,” space being arguably the most extreme of environments. Paragon’s mission is an alluring one for America’s best and brightest, yet the challenge is universal – attracting and retaining quality workers.
Calline Sanchez faces a similar demand. IBM, an icon in the tech field, has been around since 1911. Despite its influence and the depth of technical skills in the Tucson area, obtaining top talent remains an ongoing focus.
Different companies, same objective. Grant and Calline shared some of their talent attraction strategies with us and here are the key take-aways.
- Recruit nationally – most of us have mastered working remotely during the Covid pandemic. This can pull in top talent from geographically diverse areas.
- Maintain an outward face on social media. This is your opportunity to highlight your company’s work/life balance, for example.
- Think out of the box! Paragon placed an electronic billboard outside Elon Musk’s “Space X” office, advertising opportunities at their Tucson headquarters.
- Networking is not just important for job seekers – it is critical for employers as well. Key to IBM’s workforce development is partnering with area educational institutions and incubators – University of Arizona, UATech Parks, and Pima Community College. IBM has created an apprenticeship program, for example, with Pima, forming a relationship with potential candidates before they graduate.
- Get creative! IBM forged a valuable relationship with a student engineering group from the University of Arizona that holds an annual “La Familia” event with the support of IBM. The program allows management to observe the group’s competency in speaking and working with others (valued “soft skills”), while the students teach basic computer skills to family members.
- Place a greater emphasis on skills rather than degrees. Appreciate the work experience and technical skills prospective employees have. A specific pedigree isn’t required to find an incredible contributor to your team.
These Tucson-area businesses have built-in advantages compared to competitors in Silicon Valley and elsewhere. Sometimes, the lower cost of living, more affordable quality of life and strong and growing talent pool is enough to lure strong candidates. Other times, employers need to dig a bit further and invest a bit more to keep their workforce pipeline healthy. Calline Sanchez and Grant Anderson are doing just that.
At the Talent Store, we are dedicated to helping our client’s grow through the acquisition and retention of top talent. Equipped with leading technology, best practices, a devotion to clients, and a keen eye for top talent, we help our clients grow by offering: