Case Study: Key Account Manager, Detroit, USA
How did it all start, why Detroit?
The Detroit region has been a hub for designing and manufacturing automobiles for years now. Did you know it currently produces more cars and trucks than any other state in the USA?
For a British Tier 1 automotive company that anticipates significant growth outside of the UK, having a representative on the ground is crucial. There is so much collaboration and dialog going on, and a lot of key decisions are made there.
The automotive company mentioned is one of our clients, GSM Automotive, looking to recruit in the USA for the first time.
What was the challenge?
The Key Account Manager role was to be their very first hire in USA. When hiring overseas, it’s crucial to pay attention to the market, its specifics and the local trends. The company had a very clearly defined vision and profile of the person that would help them drive the business development and expand the customer base in the NAFTA market. Due to the time zone difference, once the new person was fully operational, the team in the headquarters would be ocean and hours apart. They needed an expert to come on board, a very resourceful self-starter working independently. Someone with a deep understanding of their commodity basket, global automotive industry and the Michigan backyard.
Recruiting the best talent was one of the key elements enabling the success of the operations in the region. To explore a new market recruitment-wise, GSM Automotive needed a trusted partner to support them with targeting a new vertical. We’ve partnered together before to build their Polish team. HR Contact successfully brought on board the Project Manager, Indirect Buyer and Finance Manager for their plant in Toruń. We also have experience leading recruitment projects in the USA, so we could provide our client with insights into the employment market landscape and help to source out the experts with the necessary skill-set and know-how.
Being the Sherlock Holmes of Recruitment
While working together on the previous recruitment projects, we established a very good model of cooperation between HR Contact and GSM Automotive. One of the first steps was a very thorough briefing session with the HR Manager and the Hiring Manager – in this case, the Senior Vice President of Business Development & Strategy. We listened, we asked questions and took the time to truly understand their needs. We needed to assess how we could support our partner in bringing onboard the best talent. Additionally, the client wanted us to verify what compensation package and benefits would make the offer consistent with the business culture and allow to stay competitive in the respective market.
After a very thorough and insightful discussion, we had a clear understanding of who we would need to look for. A hunter with experience in business development and winning new programs at the OEM clients. Someone with expert knowledge in the Michigan backyard, already established network and understanding of the global automotive market. After the onboarding period, the new Key Account Manager was to hit the ground running. It meant the crucial element was the familiarity with the commodity basket. Someone who not only worked with the interior and exterior decorative components already, but also had previous experience with electronic assembly, metal printing, stamping and functional film. A clearly-defined and narrow profile.
It was time to create the strategy. The specified skill-set and background made us focus on a very thorough research and talent mapping. We needed to define the competitive landscape to understand the spread of talent across the market and incentives used to attract candidates.
With such a tough search we used all the methods available including strategic advertising, direct headhunting, team sourcing activities and network recommendations. As a result, we reached out to 289 candidates during our team sourcing sessions. We designed a tailored screening and interview process to verify all the matching criteria and learn the candidate’s genuine motivations and ambitions. The key was to verify if the candidate had the exact background and knowledge that would help the company establish its operations on the respective market. We had 18 screening calls, qualified 10 experts for the full interviews and shared the short-list of 6 recommendations. Throughout the whole process, we were in contact with our client. Trust, open communication and transparency helped us succeed.
The Key Account Manager recruitment project required for us to focus on market and industry specifics, but also showed that emphasis on collaboration within our team and with our client is crucial. The successful candidate has been welcomed to GSM Automotive team and is working on establishing the company’s presence on the NAFTA market. We still enjoy a strong partner relationship and continue working together on building their team.
Author: Olga Kamińska