Australasian Talent Conference – Conversation with Trevor Vas

trevorVas Now in its third year, and boasting a speakers list which includes some of the recruitment industry’s leading thinkers and practitioners, the Australasian Talent Conference (ATC) is arguably the premier HR event (which focuses primarily on ‘talent’ ) in Australia. I spoke to Trevor Vas, Executive Director of HCMS and co-founder of the conference, about the ATC’s origins, its aim, line up of speakers and the theme for this year’s conference.

The Australasian Talent Conference will be held between 5-7 May in Sydney. Judging from the breadth and variety of subjects to be addressed by a line up of highly accomplished speakers, it merits a place in your calendar (see special offer for Destination Talent readers at the end of the Q&A ).

DT: Trevor can you shed some light on the Australasian Talent Conference (ATC), its history, target audience, attendance and raison d’être ?
Kevin Wheeler and I have been business colleagues for many years.  We both attended the ERE (Electronic Recruitment Exchange) Conference in San Diego many times.  Our goal was to create a similar event in this region.  We have achieved our goal.

Our target audience for the ATC  is senior HR staff involved in Talent Management, typically HR Directors, Recruitment Mangers and Learning and Development Managers.  We had over 250 senior HR staff attend in 2008 and had 30 exhibition booths with 10+ sponsors.

For 2008 the topics were predominantly 70% recruitment focused and 30% retention and staff development.  As Talent Management is more than recruitment our goal is to increase the emphasis on performance development particularly as it relates to recruitment.

DT: The theme for this year’s ATC is “talent strategies for tough times”.  How different is  talent acquisition strategy in tough times, as opposed to the good times. With regards to talent, what must companies do when times are tough?
TV: Talent Strategies in tough times is interesting.  Organisations need to understand what staff to keep,  what staff to redeploy and what staff to let go.  We are seeing organisations turn their recruitment function into a redeployment function both internally and now we are seeing some recruitment functions also make external placements.  This is quite a change in a short period of time.  DR John Sullivan will be talking about this and I will be running a workshop on Best Practice Redeployment Tactics based on this need

We are also noticing that it is harder to move good staff from the safe haven of their present jobs as fewer people are taking risks.  This places extra emphasis on the sourcing side of recruitment and importantly having and using an attractive Employee Value Proposition (EVP).  It is as important to screen on the EVP as it is to screen on the mandatory requirements.  Gerry Crispin will be running a Workshop on this topic.

End-to-end screening and assessment is also important right now.    Organisations are experience the “fire hose and tea cup effect” few jobs and many candidates.   This will place more importance on getting the end to end approach connected and aligned to your high performing staff.  Automating this process is also key to reduce manual effort.  DR Charles Handler who I think is one of the best in this field will be running a workshop on this topic

DT: A lot can change in a year. Previous conferences focused on new ways of identifying and acquiring talent . Times are harder now, are the lessons from past conferences still relevant this year?
TV: Yes very relevant.  As mentioned you need your sourcing strategies and your EVP to locate and motivate the best candidates.  The previous conferences had some foci on Talent Pools.  Now is a great time to set up talent  pools that reduce costs and improve the quality of hire.  Importantly right now organisations have both the time and the potential candidates.

DT: The keynote speakers are mostly international heavyweights. How relevant are their messages to the Australian market?  What can attendees hope to learn from the conference?
TV: I believe that the US speakers bring a new perspective to the Australian Market.  The US is approximately 12 months in front of Australia in innovation and also tends.  I enjoy understanding what the leading US organisations are doing and what solutions they are deploying.

In terms of what people can hope to learn :

  • Gerry Crispin – workshop on designing your staffing pages to attract great candidates and reduce costs.
  • Trevor Vas workshop best practice  redeploy strategies both  internally and also how they can help staff find roles in other organisations.
  • Charles Handler workshop on  how to set up an end-to-end assessment strategy that both reduces costs and selects high performing staff;
  • Master Burnet Managing Director Dr John Sullivan workshop on organisations set up CRM tactics to select high performing staff;
  • Dr John Sullivan Strategic Recruitment in an economic downturn
  • Nathan Carbon setting up Workforce Analytics that enable you to develop flexible tactics to improve staff and recruitment performance.
  • Christine Deputy Maintaining Employment brands in challenging economic times

Our goal is provide attendees with an ROI that will more than justify attending.

DT: One of the focus this year conference is ‘making technology work harder’. How important is ‘technology’ in acquiring talent. What new technologies shows promise, in your opinion?
TV: Technology is critical in Talent Management.  We are seeing new technologies emerge on a weekly basis.  We are also seeing the integration of technologies to reduce manual effort and provide instant information to reduce costs improve quality and reduce time.

I see the whole trend of integration of Career Websites,  Social Networking, Employee Value Proposition and Online Assessment as fascinating.  I think that the increase in virtual technologies as fascinating as well.

DT: What do you think are the challenges ahead for the recruitment industry?  As head of HCMS, do you see a shift in employers behavior with regards to talent acquisition?
TV: The challenge of the Recruitment Industry will be to add significant value in a down turn economy.  This means Recruiters need to act and think strategically.  Many recruiters are transactional and will find this difficult.  The emphasis will be on reducing costs and improving speed and quality.  It will also add the dimension of redeployment.  This will mean that organisations are looking for a recruitment function that starts with work force planning, assists with talent management, sources prospective talent  provides recruitment services, undertakes retention tactics, and delivers redeployment and external placement.  Yes it will be interesting.

DT: Are you able to offer a special deal for readers (email subscribers only) of this blog?
TV: For readers of this blog we will offer a discount of 15% off the standard price of the conference or workshop (The discount is on top of the 12.5% already offered for early bird registrations. If you register before 28 Feb the discount is 27.5%)

Thanks to Trevor, readers of Destination Talent are entitled to a substantial discount of 15%. If you are interested, either email me at info @ destinationtalent (dot) com or contact Trevor on tvas @ hcms (dot) com (dot) au and mention Destination Talent.

UPDATE: Enter this code DES09 if you sign up online.

(disclaimer: I have no professional association with ACT or HCMS, nor do I gain anything from the above offer. The discount is a goodwill gesture by Trevor to readers of DT)

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