The global process and chemicals industry is one of the most complex environments in which we operate, covering everything from the extraction of metallic ores, through to iron and steel, resins and coatings, and renewables and nutrition. Every site that we work with has unique and complex requirements, and site leadership roles, in particular, require extremely bespoke capabilities.

Our team is experienced in recruiting across the entire supply and value chain, and we fill executive-level roles across site management, material procurement and quality control. What has become clear in recent years is that all of our clients are encountering growing challenges when it comes to identifying talent to fill site management positions, precisely because of the unusual skillsets required of candidates.

With this in mind, we have recently embarked on an exciting research project to try and get to the bottom of the site leadership gap, and to identify some ways in which businesses might better position themselves to attract available talent. We have conducted a survey of more than 150 site leaders working in the process and chemicals industry across Europe and the Middle East, as well as conducting detailed interviews with some of our most senior contacts, who kindly shared even more in-depth experiences and thoughts about their own site leadership issues.

We conducted this piece of research specifically to find out more about the drivers for site management candidates when they come to considering new career opportunities. We asked detailed questions about their own succession planning, their willingness to relocate, and the locations that they are both most and least likely to consider moving to.

The results make for some extremely interesting reading and shed a spotlight on the reasons why companies are failing to identify talent for these roles. We also learned a great deal about the challenges that businesses face attracting talent once identified, and the concerns around retaining and developing their own internal pipelines of site managers for the future.

We are looking forward to publishing the report later this month, but what is already immediately apparent is that this is an industry-wide issue, causing headaches for senior management around the world. It is a candidate-driven market, and many of the candidates are unwilling to relocate for new opportunities, despite companies requiring site leaders to have worked in several locations to have built up the necessary expertise.

The process and chemicals industry in Europe is facing a high level of upcoming retirements at senior level, which is only compounding the issue for all concerned. But we don’t see the challenges as insurmountable, and are very much looking forward to sharing our results and our thoughts on the measures that companies can put in place to both develop their own talent pipelines and attract more external staff.

We know the publication of the report will get people talking, and we would be delighted to hear the experiences and thoughts of others. At the end of the day, the industry as a whole needs to take steps to address some of the issues being raised, and we hope our research will act as a catalyst to easing some of the paralysis at site director level going forward. Do let us know if you’d like to receive a copy on publication.

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