n a previous HR position for a global mining company, Cady O’Grady, SHRM-SCP, discovered that half of the company’s employees—sales and administrative personnel, technical experts, and executives—were eligible for retirement within three years.
Specialized talent was hard to find in the mining industry in 2008; O’Grady and her leadership team had been concerned about the shortage of new talent for a while. And although the company had made some progress filling positions, challenges remained. Among them: Fewer college students were majoring in mining, and regulatory and environmental requirements on companies were discouraging people from pursuing jobs in the industry.
O’Grady and her team ended up looking to similar industries—steel and paper services—to find individuals with transferrable skill sets so the company could then grow its own talent.
“The people strategy was more challenging, but it was well worth it,” O’Grady recalls. “We had the opportunity to think more innovatively, and we were very successful in that process.”
Nevertheless, the situation taught her the value of having a succession plan in place, she says.