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Talent Crisis Is Top Concern of Paper and Packaging Executives

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A recent survey by executive search and leadership advisory firm Heidrick & Struggles International, New York, N.Y., USA, shows that talent tops the list of concerns for executives in the North American paper and packaging sector. Only 4% believe strongly that their talent management is prepared for current challenges facing the industry.

"The talent crisis is occurring at precisely the time when the industry needs leadership the most," says Jonathan Graham, leader of Heidrick & Struggles' Paper and Packaging Practice, which conducted the survey. The global paper and packaging industry is roughly $600 billion. "As we head into 2010, paper and packaging companies are facing severe challenges on all sides. On top of reduced demand and skyrocketing costs is a global movement to develop more sustainable materials, spurred by events such as the Copenhagen climate conference. And these pressures are compounded by a hypercompetitive global environment as supply chains further expand into Asia," Graham added.

Key survey findings include:

  • Talent and costs share top spot as primary concerns among executives. While materials cost has been a widely known drag on industry profits, the survey found that executives shared as great a concern about talent - ranging from hiring and firing practices to succession planning.
  • Enormous gap between the perceived importance of talent and the ability of companies to address it. "While 73% of executives strongly agree with the importance of better talent management, only 4% are confident that their company's talent can meet challenges sufficiently."
  • Human resources seen as one of the weakest company functions. "This neglect in attracting talent will likely compromise the effectiveness of all corporate roles," says Graham, "further weakening competitiveness."
  • Companies overlooking important talent sources. "The industry knows it can no longer afford to keep ignoring talent development, but it must be more creative about where to look for the next generation of leadership. Instead of trying to compete for talent with consumer products companies, for example, the sector should be looking to find up-and-comers from areas such as the specialty chemical and other business-to-business industries - places where innovation and technology are thriving."



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