Introducing Ken Kane: Business Development Director

As Talent Works International turns 10 this year, we are welcoming our new Business Development Director, Ken Kane. To introduce him, we thought the best way was to sit down with him and get to know him a little better.

So, read on to hear all about Ken, his vision for Talent Works International and the future of RPO.

So, Ken, where did you start?

What, you mean my whole career?

Yes, your whole career. Or, at least the highlights.

I started in radio advertising. My boss came to me and said I think there is a really good opportunity to sell recruitment advertising on the radio. So, I went around to talk to employers in the North East about recruiting using radio as a medium.

What did the radio ads look like?

You let your imagination run wild.

Later on, in my career, I came across a phrase: organisations that build an emotional connection with their people are the organisations that succeed. It’s about having a sense of purpose, aligning organisational values with the values of the people who work there.

Storytelling is something we’re absolutely wired to respond to, it’s in our DNA. As a kid, I still remember being told stories by my mum and my dad before I went to sleep. Those things stay with you.

What happened then?

I had quite a few years in radio, and then I got opened up to the world of agency, in a bit of a back-to-front way. Nissan was opening up in Newcastle. They needed loads of people. So, I approached an agency about utilising radio in the campaign. They said no. So, I thought, right, I’m going to go to Nissan directly. I managed to secure a significant amount of business. Then, the agency rang me up and said they wanted commission on it. I said absolutely not, and then they ended up hiring me.

So, that’s how I got into the world of agencies, when employer brand was still in its infancy.

So, you’ve seen the development of the concept of employer brand?

Yes. Candidates nowadays behave like B2B consumers and organisations have to respond to that. The power is in the hands of the candidate. So, organisations have to market themselves effectively, building a relationship with candidates and making sure that the employment promise meets the reality.

Many agencies will say that organisations have an employer brand which is distinct from a consumer brand. However, I don’t subscribe to that.

Do you think it’s all one and the same?

I think it always has been. Essentially, a brand is the soul and essence of an organisation. It’s shaped by a number of things including culture, values and behaviours. The promise an organisation makes to a consumer is different from the promise it makes to an employee, but it all comes from the same place.

Traditionally, if you look at the market, the line between the customer and the brand has been considered most important. That’s marketing. However, now, it’s about the customer experience, which is driven by people. So, the line of importance in an organisation is firmly on the relationship between brand and people (employees).

If you get the people bit right, you create engagement, which drives higher levels of discretionary effort. Innovation comes as a natural consequence of that. This then impacts on customer experience and creates greater customer attraction. If customers are spending more, then there’s greater shareholder value.

The latest PWC Chief Executives Report says that the biggest inhibitor to growth is not having the talent in the business to support growth.

This is where Talent Works International comes in.

Why do you think companies are struggling to find the talent they need?

I’m going to use a lot of cliché terms here… there’s a war for talent, and it’s a candidate-driven market. People have got a choice, so companies need to ask why candidates should choose them over somebody else. As a result, everybody’s after the passive candidate.

Many organisations fail to define their purpose and do not engage with their audience on an emotional level.

We’ve got the communications and creative capability to deliver the right message, as well the insight and data expertise to ensure that we land it in front of the right people, in the right place at the right time. Allied to this, our RPO capability is agile and scalable, blending brilliant sourcing with the best candidate experience to solve short and longer-term term recruitment needs. What’s not to like?

How do you feel about joining Talent Works International?

I’ve never been so excited to join an organisation as I am about joining Talent Works International. I went home after my initial chat with Neil, and I said to my wife, “I want to work there.” My intuition was telling me that this business is going in the right direction and that’s something I want to be part of.

What would you say is your passion?

My first boss said to me, “if you hire good people, your job will become much easier.” I’m all about hiring people who are on it. Either, they’re better than me now, or they have the potential to be better than me. My job is to enable them to fulfil their potential.

How do you spot talent?

What I look for is curiosity and a willingness to learn. As well as this, people who are prepared to put the hard yards in.

I think, looking at the generations coming up, we’re not recruiting shrinking violets, are we? We’re looking at people with strong values and opinions, and I think that’s a great thing for the workplace.

How do you want to influence this role?

The market is really ready for what we do. So, I want to be the evangelist who plays a part in the team and then goes out and tells the world about what Talent Works International do. I bring a breadth of experience in recruitment and employer brand, as well as creative and digital media. These are all things that are really relevant in solving the problems that employers face today.

What’s your vision for the future of RPO?

I’d like us to redefine what RPO is, rather than being defined by it. Our solutions are relevant to the demands of the organisations that we’re working for. We do RPO differently.

To find out more, you can contact Ken at ken.kane@talent-works.com