Getting Ahead of the Hiring Curve: Talent Acquisition Leaders Event Key Learnings

On Tuesday, 3rd October, we held our Talent Acquisition Leaders’ Breakfast at the Ivy Club in London. The workplace is evolving just as fast as the world around it. This means that the skills you are hiring for today could be very different from the skills the business will need tomorrow.

In this event, Suki Sandhu, Founder & CEO of Audeliss and INvolve, talked with Nikki Humphrey (CPO of Virgin Group) and Bertie Tonks (Chief People Officer, Collinson) about how to get ahead of the curve to develop tomorrow’s skills today and create an employee brand, pipeline, and retention strategy to future proof a company’s talent needs.

Key Takeaways

Changing dynamics of talent acquisition

The conversation highlighted a shift in the dynamics of talent acquisition, especially in the context of remote and hybrid work arrangements. Companies like Virgin are adapting their recruitment strategies, recognizing the need to tell compelling stories about their culture and values to attract talent. The emphasis is on personal connections and authentic storytelling, moving beyond traditional recruitment approaches.

Future skill requirements

There will be specific technical skills required by businesses, especially in relation to AI. Although deep proficiency in these skills will only be necessary for some roles, there is a wider need to upskill the whole organization when it comes to overall digital skills where there still remain notable skill gaps. While technology is an obvious focus, hiring managers shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that organizations are still ‘people-based’ and soft skills around management and leadership remain a critical skill need.

Impact of hybrid work

The discussion delved into the impact of hybrid work models on company culture. Collinson’s approach involves an eight weeks per year office mandate, coupled with remote work flexibility from anywhere in the world. This strategy aims to strike a balance, ensuring that employees contribute to the physical aspects of the company culture while enjoying the benefits of remote work. The effectiveness of such hybrid models is still being measured, with a focus on outputs rather than the traditional face-time metrics.

Leadership deficit and cultural alignment

Bertie introduced the concept of a “leadership deficit” within organizations, emphasizing the need for leaders to connect more intimately with their teams. Maintaining cultural alignment in a family-owned business is crucial, requiring continuous efforts to understand the core values of the founders and ensuring they permeate through the organization’s growth. He challenged the conventional wisdom that places the blame on middle management, asserting that it’s a symptom of leadership failure rather than the root cause of problems. There is need for a more profound examination of leadership dynamics, going beyond the surface to explore the inner drivers and behaviors of leaders. This results in the necessity of bespoke interventions, indicating a departure from one-size-fits-all leadership development strategies.

Global talent management

Managing talent on a global scale presents challenges related to varying local laws and practices. The discussion acknowledged the need for a balance between adhering to local regulations and offering a unique, specific value proposition in different markets. Our panel highlighted the importance of understanding what makes the company stand out beyond market norms in each geographical region to attract and retain the best talent.

Equipping leaders for hybrid work

The conversation explored the challenges of equipping leaders with the right management skills for hybrid work models. The consensus was that leadership principles remain consistent, regardless of the work medium. The focus should be on human connection and effective communication, regardless of whether in-person or through virtual channels. There was emphasis on ensuring that leaders are equipped to support their teams by setting objectives and managing outcomes.

Leadership training and bonus linkage

The controversial notion of linking leadership characteristics to bonuses was discussed, with differing views on its effectiveness. While some argued for incentives to ensure participation in training, others emphasized the need for leaders to take ownership of their development and for leadership effectiveness to be a non-negotiable expectation. Virgin Group is charting a course toward a purposeful leadership model; by co-creating interventions with leaders, they aim to foster a more profound understanding of personal missions and align them with the overarching organizational goals.


Although the overall landscape of work is changing quickly, especially when it comes to technology, this discussion emphasized that many of the skills required in the modern workplace are universal and transcend sudden changes. No matter whether teams work remotely or hybrid, the skills required to effectively manage and lead an organization remain largely the same, and placing an emphasis on leadership development to address leadership shortfalls will pay dividends.

When it comes to attracting and retaining talent, a similar message came through. Clear and authentic company values will shine through and underpin a culture which is both strong and flexible enough to handle change. Demonstrating these values through offering something ‘extra’ from the market norm and featuring personal stories from real employees are both effective ways to cut through to audiences and position the organization as an employer of choice.

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About Audeliss

Audeliss was created to increase the representation of women, LGBTQ+, ethnically diverse talent, and other diverse individuals on Boards and in the C-Suite by leveling the playing field in the executive search process.

Diverse teams drive better innovation and decision-making, leading to more successful business outcomes. We prepare your organization for the future by unlocking the true potential of diversity within your leadership team.

We have an unmatched track record in diversifying the leadership teams for organizations across the UK & Europe and the US & Canada through solutions in Executive Search, Board Practice, and Talent Pipelining.

To discuss how we can help with your company’s executive search, get in touch

About Chapter 2

Chapter 2 uses a combination of people, processes, and technology to scale their client’s businesses. Their holistic approach combines embedded talent, best-in-breed technology, and employer branding into organizations across all sectors.

Chapter 2 have redefined the traditional RPO model to achieve fast, economical, and exceptional results. Their three pillars guarantee success in:

• Embedding talent partners that are hand-picked for client’s individual business needs. They get to the root of challenges through close and collaborative relationships built for success.
• Providing licenses to their extensive market-leading technology stack. Chapter 2’s clients make strategic hiring decisions through an improved understanding of the top talent- where they’re located, who they’re employed by, what their salaries and demographics are.
• Employer and personal branding provide candidates with a window into the company’s world through corporate and personal channels. Chapter 2’s scalable service ranges from strategy to content creation and activation.

To find out more about Chapter 2’s projects, visit