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“Attraction Factor” conference huge success at Manhattanville College

From left to right: Anju Kurian, Co-Founder, Vermillion Talent; Pamela Welling, Director of Talent Acquisition, MasterCard; Sheila Appel, U.S. Regional Director, Corporate Citizenship, IBM Corp.; Laura Persky, Graduate Program Director, Manhattanville College School of Business; Allison Madison, Madison Approach Staffing.

Corporate culture, a willingness consider employees with non-traditional backgrounds and a clear vision of your business’ mission are some of the key factors to building a great workforce, said experts at Tuesday’s Business Council of Westchester talent conference at Manhattanville College School of Business.

“The Attraction Factor: What Drives The Chemistry, Culture and Cohesion of Today’s Successful Workforce,” a half-day conference at Manhattanville College’s School of Business included a keynote as well as two panel discussions.

Marsha Gordon, President and CEO of the Business Council of Westchester, said a BCW committee led by BCW Board Member and General Counsel Douglas Singer, had decided to organize the conference after identifying talent recruitment as a key issue for businesses.

“One of the largest obstacles to business growth is attracting talent,’’ said Gordon. “There is a tremendous need to get the right people on the team, but in this healthy economy sometimes that’s not so easy.’’

The conferences’ keynote speaker Jessica Schilling, Heineken USA’s senior vice president of human resources, shared Heineken’s success in redefining its corporate culture in 2013. The company has 81,000 employees worldwide with 650 in the United States, and is headquartered in White Plains.

Schilling said 85 of the company’s top leaders and its CEO held a three-day retreat in 2013 and came away with a manifesto which defined Heineken’s purpose and solidified its strong family culture. She said that new employees who come to Heineken participate in a three-day “purpose workshop” to define their purpose and see how to dovetails with the company’s mission. “It’s all about connecting the personal purpose with the company purpose,’’ said Schilling.

She said Heineken USA recently moved 50 employees in its marketing department to White Plains to be closer to their co-workers in operations. A new, spacious remodeling with open floor plans and lots of recreational spaces including a pool table and foosball, plus health and wellness programs like yoga and meditation, have made for a collegial and relaxed workplace.

The day’s panelist seemed to agree that more important than attracting new employees was keeping them. Making sure that employees fit in with the corporate culture was a key to retention, they said.

Sheila Appel, U.S. Regional Director, Corporate Citizenship, IBM Corp, who moderated both panel discussions, led members on a discussion on trends in recruitment. Panelists said companies should be willing to recruit non-traditional workers such as veterans, women returning to the workforce or those who have not completed 4 years of college.

Laura Persky, Graduate Program Director, Manhattanville College School of Business, described these non-traditional workers as “new collar” workers. She said they were often “wise, professional, strategic, more competent and collaborative.”

Pamela Welling, Director of Talent Acquisition, MasterCard, agreed saying, parenting with its multi-tasking and problem solving provided the perfect training for the corporate executive.

The day’s panelists also included; Anju Kurian, Co-Founder, Vermillion Talent; James Giangrande, Managing Director, Altium Wealth Management; Kristin Bernert, Senior Vice President of Business Operations, New York Knicks & Westchester Knicks and Bob Oakes, Vice President, Global Human Resources, Ampacet .

See photos of the event

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