5 ways to reimagine internal talent mobility

When global biopharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb acquired Celgene last year, business leaders were tasked with, among many other things, marrying the talent practices of both companies. Robert Carruthers, executive director of talent strategy and innovation at BMS, said at HR Tech this week that the organization picked the best of both worlds, including standing up a new Center of Excellence model, supporting its overarching goal of fueling internal talent mobility.

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“The talent that we’re pursuing … it’s a new world for us,” Carruthers said. “In the past, we looked at competitors in biotech and pharma and picked people away; that’s not the case anymore.” The value of soft skills–particularly adaptability and collaboration–are reshaping the types of candidates BMS is looking for, prompting it to pursue candidates at competitors like big tech companies, as well as internally.

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The “old” way of thinking, he said, was that, when a role became vacant, the company had to scramble to “go out” and find a new candidate. “That’s too taxing on the organization,” Carruthers said. “To not maximize your internal resources and utilize that business knowledge is missing out on key capability.”

“The value of soft skills–particularly adaptability and collaboration–are reshaping the types of candidates BMS is looking for.” Robert Carruthers

However, a lot of structure needs to be in place to support a successful internal talent strategy. Recruiters, for instance, need to deeply understand the business and the business objectives. The technology–primarily analytics that can allow for efficient and precise predictions–needs to be in place to help the company evaluate and identify internal talent. Learning and development has to be robust. And employees themselves need to be convinced that mobility is baked into the company’s culture.

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For organizations looking to get more out of their internal talent, Carruthers and Essenfeld offered five pieces of advice:

  • Hire talent with the skills your business will need for the future.
  • Build a culture that encourages internal mobility and advancement.
  • Think about sourcing internally first before externally.
  • Leverage technology that makes it easier for internal candidates to move around.
  • Tap into collaboration tools to enhance internal communication and increase hiring efficiencies.

Successful internal mobility, Carruthers noted, boils down to “trying to understand the whole person, where they’re going and how to maximize each individual in a very efficient manner.”

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Jen Colletta
Jen Colletta is managing editor at HRE. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in writing from La Salle University in Philadelphia and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining HRE. She can be reached at [email protected].