Interview: “Attraction and retention of talents takes work and attention”

The war for talent is a continued reality given changing needs, demographics and increased competition, says Karin Priarollo. We spoke to the Head of Human Resources EMEA of PPG about the challenges to attract and keep talents in the coatings industry.

Interview: "Attraction and retention of talents takes work and attention”. Image: fotogestoeber - -

How do you rate the situation regarding a lack of talents in the industry?

Karin Priarollo: The war for talent is a continued reality given changing needs, demographics and increased competition. We, as other companies too, make it a high priority to attract the best talents. We hire them from universities or specialist colour schools for technical roles and we train them internally. It takes many years to become a trained and experienced technical expert. There is a big investment in training at our company. Another element, apart from those technical or colour experts, is to identify those who have the desire and ability to become managers and leaders in our organisation.

What are the challenges when it comes to recruiting?

Priarollo: When it comes to attracting talent, brand recognition is a challenge when we are recruiting outside of our industry. Which is interesting, given that we are such a huge company. We just need to be less modest and talk about ourselves more – we just made the Fortune’s world’s most admired company list again for the 10th consecutive year, after all!

We are doing a lot of work globally to raise our profile and to continuously improve our recruitment process. Reaching out to universities, establishing contacts to professors and using platforms such as Linkedin, Xing, Glassdoor or Kununu are just a few examples.

It is particularly challenging when we go into new territories. One more recent example would be Russia. We hired technical personnel locally and then took them to our established training centers to train them. It is an investment but it works well for us.

What is more difficult, hiring or keeping talents?


Karin Priarollo

Head of Human Resources EMEA, PPG

Priarollo: Both are challenging albeit for different reasons. Retention takes work and attention. For people hired into the organization, particular attention is paid to their onboarding and socialization to the PPG culture and ways of working. Regular discussions include regarding performance and development are key to understand what motivates an employee, where he/she is at, what’s happening in his/her life and how we as a company can support him/her. And, of course, retention is a combination of things – meaningful work, good people to work with, values that guide decision making, fair compensation and business success all of which PPG offers and why people decide to join and stay with PPG.

As a truly global company we have a competitive advantage. We do not only have different business units and a variety of positions, we are also encouraging people to move internationally and we make that possible. The average company affiliation is 12 years and we have low voluntary turnover of some 3%. This shows our employees are valuing PPG as employer.

In the course of globalisation, it is more and more common to work in multi-cultural environments. Could you please describe the benefits and challenges?

Priarollo: The greatest benefit is that it generates different perspectives and ideas which lead to more and faster innovation, better solutions and results for the organization. It creates a more vibrant and enriching work environment. I think it is a key reason why people join us and stay with the company. We have 15,000 employees in 34 countries only in EMEA. The creativity of our global teams drives success.

Multi-cultural team can outperform homogenous teams but only if the differences are understood, communicated, and leveraged. This takes work. When we recruit future leaders, we put emphasis on an international background. We train our teams in cultural awareness and unconscious bias. You must make these differences work.

In terms of diversity, PPG is very active to attract female talents to the industry. What do you do?

Priarollo: There is a pipeline of STEM graduates which are our main target but currently doesn’t have the diversity we’d aspire to. To tackle this, we are trying to promote STEM education to a younger age group. The European project called Hypatia is a combination of universities and science centers across 14 countries in Europe. Under this project education modules for teachers are being created to promote STEM-subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – to teenage girls. We are trying to grab the current crop but also target the upcoming generation. And, of course, we actively develop female talent within PPG through mentoring and leadership programs and job rotation.

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