Managing a multifaceted group like EADS

Managing a multifaceted group like EADS


Interview with Karin Tegtmeier, head of employment marketing in the EADS Recruitment Center

EADS is a company that is highly regarded among engineers. In Universum’s employer image surveys, the group is strongly positioned in its key recruitment markets France, Germany, UK and Spain. Recently, the group won the title as France’s Most Attractive Employer 2014 for Engineers. Moreover, it has a strong position in Universum’s regional European ranking. To understand what makes EADS an attractive employer and to get insights into their employer brand, Universum interviewed Karin Tegtmeier, head of employment marketing at EADS.

A multifaceted group is challenging to work with

The challenge Ms. Tegtmeier faces is the intricacy of working in a big industry. EADS is the mother company of four divisions: Airbus, Eurocopter, Astrium and Cassidian. Each division is then present in four countries.
“It’s basically 16 different units which one has to manage,” she said. Due to the pure size of the group, having many interrelated parts, it creates “complexity and various types of issues that needs to be addressed.”
She explained that one has to have knowledge of EU employment regulations and simultaneously understand specificity of each national market.
From her experience, being in a transnational role, she believes that employment markets are very national. According to her, there is no such thing as an international recruitment market since regulations are different and due to the diverse cultures in Europe, as well as abroad, candidates are all unalike. For example, what an engineer represents in the UK is not the same as in France or Germany. Therefore, it’s important to work with the national teams where they recruit, as it helps them better understand and master the conditions of the national employment markets.

A common vision creates group unity

The mother company EADS has created Shared Service Centers, e.g. for recruitment, which provide service to Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian, Eurocopter, as well as to the EADS headquarter functions.  From an employer branding perspective, Ms Tegtmeier explained that all divisions have their own brand. However, they share common factors that contribute to making the group cohesive. First, they work in the high-tech sector. Second, they share the pioneering spirit.  And third, they strive to go the step beyond. In terms of the type of candidates they recruit, they look for individuals who have a good technical background, are ambitious, passionate and result-orientated. Moreover, they look for people who share the pioneering spirit and have a keen fascination, as well as interest, of the high-tech industry.
“Yet being enthusiastic about innovation is not enough, as the group expects its performers to also show results,” said Ms. Tegtmeier.

The challenge is time-to-fill

In 2011, the Group plans to recruit more than 8,000 people, 4000 permanent positions and 4000 interns. Most of the opportunities are in the engineering area. When Universum inquired if EADS has experienced a shortage of engineers on the recruitment markets, Ms. Tegtmeier explained that EADS was fortunately able to fill all positions. The real challenge, she clarified, was more the time it takes to find someone suitable for a position and to find experienced engineers.
“Our set target for time-to-fill is 35 days.  For certain critical positions or scarce profiles, however, we go over our desired time frame, and we sometimes have to reach out very far,” she explained.

Economic times affect supply

Although the group certainly succeeds to fulfill its recruitment quotas, the economic environment, whether good or bad, does affect the supply of engineers. One of their major competitors is the automotive industry, especially when it comes to hiring structure and stress engineers. In good economic times, Ms. Tegtmeier said there is a general shortage of stress engineers. When the economy is down, however, the supply of stress engineers improves.
Ms. Tegtmeier confirmed that it is more difficult to find experienced engineers, but recruiting on a global level, from countries such as Brazil and Canada, does help. The only drawback, according to her, is that it requires greater effort.

Ability to source is a measure of your employer brand appeal

EADS measures the success of their employer brand activities by the supply level in critical areas.
“It’s about candidate sourcing and how successful we are in filling positions,” she explained.
Being perceived as an attractive employer in Europe’s graduate recruitment market surely facilitates their recruitment and retention of top talent. Even a group like EADS, which is successful with their HR marketing, still admits that it is difficult to meet their time-to-fill target for critical positions. It is a reminder of the importance to be active with Employer Branding:  To ensure appeal among critical target groups and be able to continually fill important positions.

A collaborative effort leads to good results

Although Ms. Tegtmeier has a dedicated team working on employment marketing, her and her team is able to get the commitment, as well as engagement, of upper management of EADS but also Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter.
“We are a small nucleus of people responsible for HR marketing, but then we network and get a larger circle of key people involved.”
A good example of such a collaborative effort is the Paris Air Show. EADS offers exclusive workshops on the exciting opportunities available throughout the group. Candidates have the opportunity to discuss with engineers and HR managers.
“To organize such an event, we have the CEOs involvement and that of the CTO.  We also have the CEOs of the divisions that meet with students. Everyone is contributing to the success of project.”

What makes the group attractive?

Seeing the group’s achievement in being an employer-of-choice, it was important to understand from the HR marketing team the ingredients of success: Why do Europe’s future engineer want to work for EADS?
From a candidates perspective, working at EADS is working in a big industry. Ms. Tegtmeier explained that employees have opportunities to develop, work on fascinating projects, and cooperate with both in-house and external experts in high-performance areas.
“The products and their impact on our global environment, the professional training and development is what attracts brilliant and ambitious engineers to the business,” confirmed Ms. Tegtmeier.
However, like anything, nothing is picture perfect. Similar to any individual, the group has weaknesses too. The downside, which is typical of any big industry, is the complexity of the organization.
“To do something involves many stakeholders and it sometimes takes time, as well as patience, before decisions are made,” said Ms. Tegtmeier.
Engineers will have to measure the trade-offs and make a decision based on what works best for them. Irrespective of their preferences, however, EADS has a reputed name and reputation, one that can certainly provide engineers, if they choose to go elsewhere, with an excellent reference for a future career.

The lessons learned

After speaking to Ms. Tegtmeier for over half an hour, Universum gathered the significant recommendations, ones which are useful for any big employer working in a large industry:

  • Global recruitment teams need to work with national players due to diverse regulations and cultures
  • Big industries are multifaceted but a common vision creates group unity and steers behaviour
  • Economic times affect the supply and demand of talent, so one needs to plan HR marketing activities accordingly, being more aggressive with communications when supply is down and maintain visibility when supply is adequate
  • Ability to source one’s talent pipeline is a good measurement of an organisation’s employer brand appeal
  • Upper management’s cooperation in HR marketing is critical to the success of relevant projects and activities.

About Karin Tegtmeier
Karin has extensive experience working as an HR professional in a big high-tech industry. Having worked for EADS for over 10 years and having been the global sourcing manager of the EADS Recruitment Center in her previous role, she has invaluable experience and knowledge on the complexity of Europe’s key recruitment markets and the challenges to attract the best and the brightest engineers. Previously she worked in the automotive industry and, although not an engineer, was drawn to EADS because of the international work opportunities and the exciting challenge to apply her HR expertise to an unfamiliar yet fascinating sector.  She currently works in France and leads the employment marketing teams in Munich, Paris and Toulouse.