We’re proud to provide the first of a consecutive monthly interview series where we’ll be interviewing senior leaders of HR in Fortune 500 and 1000 organizations to get an insight into what they’re forecasting in employment, how they plan to grow their function and a reflection on the impacts of the down economy over the past couple of years. In this first interview series, we had the pleasure of speaking with Corry Ioli, the Corporate Vice President of Talent Acquisition for New York Life Insurance Corporation. In her role at New York Life, Ms. Ioli is responsible for the hiring of all divisions, except the agency field. We thank Ms. Ioli for taking the time to share with us her perspectives on corporate talent acquisition in the insurance industry.
Q: In reflection of the previous year, what employment and hiring trends did you experience at New York Life in 2010?
A: “We experienced an incredible uptick in hiring demands in 2010, all attributed to the growth of various businesses within New York Life. We’re still in the process of tallying total hiring volumes for the year; however I can tell you that we had more hires through the third quarter of 2010 than we had in all of 2009. I expect that we’ll see nearly double the number of hires in 2010 over 2009.”
Q: Wow, that’s quite a different story than what we have heard in terms of unemployment rates nearing 10% given the sluggish economy in 2010. What was different for NYL?
A: “New York Life went through a lot of organizational change in 2010 with various businesses, such as Retirement Income Security and Agency Life Operations, and with the restructuring came growth for those departments – leading to the need to continuously hire and staff to the business needs.”
Q: How have you handled the business growth and increase in hiring demands?
A: “The business growth has created an opportunity for us to evaluate continuous process improvements and organizational changes not just across the Talent Acquisition department, but across the whole of HR, to ensure we’re adding value to the businesses and that we’re delivering ROI. We’ve been able to provide career growth opportunities to staff, while leveraging a hybrid staffing model whereby we’ve outsourced some of the hiring volume to our partners, which has provided us greater flexibility to meet the increased demands of our internal clients while maintaining costs and customer satisfaction.”
Q: Thinking about the year ahead of us, what are the top 3 things that keep you up at night?
A: “Number one is managing the Work/Life Balance of the Talent Acquisition team members. It’s been so busy for the team in 2010 trying to keep up with the hiring demands of the businesses that I worry about their ability to continue operating at an accelerated pace and volume, which is why we’re leveraging an outsourced provider to help fill in the gaps and even out the hiring peaks. Number two would probably be workforce planning and succession planning. We need to focus on our strategy and plan of execution to ensure continuous operation at key roles and levels of the organization. We have had the fortune of a high rate of retention of staff over the years and because of this we now have the challenge of identifying a succession plan for those roles where staff are nearing retirement. Number three is the concern of competitors taking back staff that we’ve successfully lured away over the last year, while our competitors weren’t doing as well as New York Life. We know we need to continue to manage and create opportunities for our key talent in 2011 in order to continue to manage to a low rate of attrition.”
Q: What key initiatives and investments do you plan to focus on in Talent Acquisition, in 2011?
A: “As part of the HR organization, all departments are investing in process improvements, implementation of operational standards across the board, technology improvements to integrate systems for better talent management and data reporting. We plan on continuing the employment branding initiative which started in 2010 where we’re focusing first on HR’s brand internally, and will build the employment brand from the inside out. We’re also deploying a consistent onboarding process for new hires from the point of offer accept through 6 months of employment with the company, as well as deploying an onboarding portal to create operational efficiency and improvement of the overall candidate experience. We’re driving the talent acquisition function to be more consultative to the business, and working with the hiring managers to better understand their talent markets, successful role profiles and means to partner together to find the best talent.”
Q: Where do you anticipate growth for 2011?
A: “We anticipate growth across the board in 2011–if one area is growing, then it needs support functions staffed appropriately to meet the growth, so the impact is seen from corporate functions to operations, external and internal wholesalers, etc. We are forecasting to create a number of new positions to support the business growth in 2011, such as the new Field Marketing Consultants.
Q: How have your Talent Acquisition strategies changed, or will change, to meet market and business demands?
A: “We have had to get creative in looking at sourcing of talent at all levels, and what channels are best to find qualified talent across the various generations of the workforce. In 2011, we plan to deploy a more focused, targeted and proactive approach at both resource allocation and sourcing strategies. Our overall talent acquisition strategy is to go deep in key areas with our core staff, such as our diversity strategy and MBA Leadership Development Program, to provide a strong candidate experience and high-touch process with our hiring managers. We’ll then leverage outsourcing and executive search firms for support for targeted roles to augment our team and build a pipeline of qualified talent. We also leverage social media and networking techniques to build relationships with talent pools, and re-launched our partnership with key national diversity conferences to hire classes of new and diverse MBA leaders into the organization in a solid leadership rotational program.
Thank you Ms. Ioli for taking the time to share with us your insights, perspectives and experiences in Talent Acquisition. New York Life Insurance has clearly lead the charge over the past year in making its impact on the national unemployment rate and we look forward to watching future growth in 2011.