Chief of Talent & Operations
Q: We oftentimes hear that talent is one of the most valuable competitive advantages for any organization. Give us the lowdown on PowerOn as an initiative. What is it and how does it work?
A: PowerOn is a program to bring those back to advertising who find it hard to re-enter their career after taking an extended break to be caregivers. The program will combine an on the job role with a training program to help support their transition back advertising. We believe this is an untapped pool of amazing talent and we feel we will benefit from their past career successes in our industry, combined with their time as caregivers. They will bring a wealth of knowledge and insights that are enormously beneficial to clients. Having taken a step away, they offer fresh perspectives, ideas, and approaches.
Q: What can candidates expect from the training program that eases them back into full-time work?
A: Every candidate is going to be unique in what they’ve done since they left the industry. We build on their diverse foundations by offering training that equips them with the tools and skills they need as they re-enter an industry that is constantly evolving and growing. The PowerOn program offers a curriculum that helps participants brush up and build their skills in a variety of areas – ranging from business writing and storytelling, to time management, social marketing and updated software knowledge as well as emerging technology.
Q: Across the entire talent landscape, parental leave policies can be very inflexible. With such a large talent pool of family-ready aged employees, why haven’t companies adjusted their policies accordingly?
A: I think the industry is starting to adjust and add policies when it comes to family care leave, work flexibility, part-time, etc. I do see change happening. In addition to benefits like these, Y&R Group is launching unconscious bias awareness training. I believe that policies alone won’t help unless we rid the workplace of decisions being made that are affected by unconscious bias. People who take advantage of the needed policies are not necessarily slowing down in their career, but we must make sure the workforce is trained to treat them as such.
Q: Is PowerOn as much about retention as it is recruitment, especially with such a younger workforce?
A: We do hope that this program will be successful over time and employees see this as a way to return if they ever decide to take an extended caregiving break in the future. We have had so much positive feedback from our current employee base that I do believe it will help build even more positive perceptions for us as a good place to work. The training program will be open to ALL employees – so, that should be a retention opportunity as well.
Q: Ideally, what are you looking for in an applicant or candidate for PowerOn?
A: We are looking for people who have been out of the workforce for a caregiving reason over an extended period, who are trying to get back into their careers but are having trouble finding opportunities to return. The applicants should have had at least 5 years of experience in marketing/advertising prior to leaving the workforce, then they are qualified for the positions we have open for this program. Most of the positions are mid/senior Account Management and Strategy – so their experience prior to leaving should be in those areas.
Q: Given the nature of work currently, is it possible to project what programs like PowerOn will look like in 5 -10 years? How will programs like this contribute to an ever-evolving workforce?
A: In the future caregiving needs will still exist, and there will still be employees who will take career breaks – so, the need for programs like this will be just as necessary. I hope that our program grows, and expands to other cities globally in our network. I also hope to see our own employees in 5-10 years come back through this program if they decide to take a career break.
Q: How is your program different from other returnships?
A: I believe PowerOn is different in three important ways: 1) PowerOn is a program built and supported by multiple agencies in advertising/marketing/communications within our family group (Y&R, Wunderman, Cohn & Wolfe, Landor, Burson Marsteller, Red Fuse, Hogarth, and the WPP Health & Wellness agencies); 2) PowerOn is filling actual open positions at these agencies, so at the end of the 12-week training program, the goal to hire the participants is actually achievable; and 3) The PowerOn training curriculum will be open to ALL employees within the companies supporting the PowerOn program (not just the program participants themselves) – so, the networking and cross pollination of learning opportunities are huge for everyone.
Q: How will you determine if this program is successful?
A: The goal of the program is to hire great new talent – so, the measure of success will be hiring these folks into full time positions coming out of the 12-week program. Making the official hire means not only that we found great candidates for this program, but that the participants themselves found a home for the next stage of their career. We think the companies that participate will realize how amazing this talent pool really is. We will continue to run this program annually in NY and hope, after this first program, to find ways to replicate it in other large markets globally. This program will also contribute to our longer terms goals of attracting and retaining more diverse talent in the senior ranks.
Q: How does someone apply?
A: Anyone interested in the program can find out more, or apply to the program at www.poweronyrg.com