Kip Wright – Genuent
It is an intensive three months. From day one, participants dive deeply into specific technologies, IT systems and platforms. Beyond getting into the specs, they perform case studies, analyze real-world data, practice best and worst-case scenarios—all while honing their presentation, negotiation, business and personal skills.
And after 12 weeks? “They are promoted to a full analyst or consultant, and are available for assignment,” says Kip Wright, president and CEO of IT staffing firm Genuent. Simply put: “They are ready to work.”
A modern challenge; a unique model
This is Talent Path. Genuent launched the immersion program to help new IT professionals get jobs, and to assist employers in their growing need to secure qualified technology talent.
The initiative trains select early career talent in high-skill areas including Java, blockchain, data visualization, business intelligence, Angular/React frameworks, cloud systems and applications, and IT service management. Offered with assistance from University Ventures Fund, Talent Path launched in July 2018 and is now on its fourth cohort of participants.
Talent Path partners with colleges and universities that the company has identified as developing candidates with “grit, determination and commitment,” Wright explains. These “high potential” individuals are recruited and put through a rigorous vetting process that analyzes their background, education history, cognitive skills and personalities.
Once selected, they go through the three-month program, which, Wright emphasizes, focuses as heavily on communicating with peers as it does business leaders and end users.
“The traditional IT person who sits in a cube and doesn’t lift their head is really not useful to many companies anymore,” Wright says. Participants are paid while in training, and once completing the program that compensation increases. Genuent then works to place them in an 18-to-24-month assignment with a client company, the goal being that they are hired full time.
“Clients love the concept,” says Wright. “It’s new and different. They get to dip their toe in the water, and as they do they realize these are much more than technically trained resources. They are risk-free, well-adjusted candidates and they don’t show up cold.”
As he stresses, the traditional staffing model—working with clients, getting to know their needs, sending out recruiters to fill those needs—does work. But only when there’s a significant supply of talent out there.
In today’s IT market, though? “The supply is incredibly short, and it’s getting even more so,” he says.
For one, businesses across the economic development spectrum are accelerating and optimizing their use of technologies, from mobile applications to big data and AI. “The demand for technology and especially technology resources is accelerating,” Wright explains.
Yet millions of technology jobs go unfilled in the U.S., and for numerous reasons: Domestic universities can’t keep up with the growing demand, and they also aren’t providing the specific training graduates need; many workers who are qualified are reaching retirement age; and scrutiny and pressure is increasing around foreign worker immigration and visa programs under the Trump Administration.
“It’s challenging to find resources, so we have to look at new and innovative ways of doing that,” says Wright.
Talent Path is singular because Genuent invests in workers up front and trains them before they are even out in the workforce—preparing them for careers, not just finding them jobs.
Passion meets purpose
Wright has been in the staffing industry for 25-plus years—doing everything from managing clerical and entry-level assignments, to staffing higher-skilled project-based jobs, to hiring specific talent on a company’s behalf.
“I never originally planned to be in the staffing space,” he says. “But once you get into it, it’s almost infectious.”
That’s because of the human element, he notes: You help people find jobs and further their careers, while also immediately solving business needs. When you find a match between a company and a person that has “stick-to-itiveness and retention,” it’s a win for everybody. “Candidates aren’t commodities,” he stresses, “they’re human beings.”
Wright joined Genuent in January 2017, he says, because “the opportunity to get out there and do something unique in the marketplace was too big of a draw.”
The 11-year-old company still concentrates on its staffing and recruiting services—its recruiters are trained to understand a client’s technical, departmental and cultural needs, and match prospects to that—as its core business. It is the platform that makes the innovative “last mile” model possible. Talent Path is a strategic focus for Genuent, and it plans to “aggressively ramp” the program in 2019.
Wright notes that the program complements the company’s four pillars: “relationships matter,” “performance is key,” “talent is our best asset,” and “geo-orientation.” Of the latter, Wright notes that Genuent’s goal is to grow geographically—compared with other staffing companies, which are decreasing their footprint or consolidating overseas. Even—perhaps especially—in this digital age, geographic proximity helps build relationships.
“It’s passion meets purpose,” Wright says. “We know that in a commercial environment we have a responsibility to provide a return for investors—but there’s also a social cause and an opportunity to make a dramatic impact in a unique way. I’m excited about that cause and what we’re building here.”
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