How Air New Zealand is Innovating with Talent to Succeed in 2016

Antony Hall, Senior Manager, Talent speaks with John Childs-Eddy of LinkedIn

What are you personally most excited about in 2016?

There are two things in the world of talent that really excite me about next year (and beyond). First: the rise of the importance of data to drive better people insights. We have a focus on ensuring we use better analytics to support all our internal and external talent decisions and, all going well, will be rolling out a simple to use selection tool to support this in the near future. Secondly, we have deliberately combined our talent management and talent acquisitions functions so that next year we will be focusing on how we integrate and embed our internal and external talent identification, succession planning and talent appointments across the business.

What is going to make the difference for global companies in winning the war for talent in 2016?

Being able to differentiate your employment proposition and promises from the rest of the pack is a huge challenge. Good talent is hard to find and even harder when you are competing in a global market. Locally, Air New Zealand is a well-recognized employer of choice but overseas our brand and reputation is less well known. We will be looking to work a lot closer with our brand, marketing and social teams to ensure we line up our employment brand with our winning consumer brand so we can attract great global talent when needed.

Air New Zealand has had some big successes with innovative safety video’s going viral, can you speak to how you think about innovation as a talent brand?

It is easy and cliché to say that innovation is important — of course it is. However, for an organisation like ours where we are a relatively small player on a global stage we HAVE to innovate to succeed. When we are recruiting however we don’t just test for innovation skills we test for innovation culture — people who can learn fast, deal with ambiguity, take calculated risks and be leaders in their field. This then becomes self-perpetuating where innovative people become attracted to our innovative brand.

One of Air New Zealand’s innovative and viral safety videos: Men in Black Safety Defenders

There’s been a lot of scary news in Europe recently, does that impact the airline industry in the context of TA at all?

The success and focus of Talent Acquisition for Air New Zealand is very much aligned to the success of the business. As the business grows and becomes more successful we are solely focused on ensuring we bring the best possible talent into the organization. So as long as the tragic events that have occurred and are threatening to occur don’t drastically impact the airline industry we will continue to help the business be successful by hiring he best.

How quickly is TA changing globally? Is the rate of change different in New Zealand or in the airline industry?

I have spoken to a number of well-traveled and well known international experts in talent and recruitment and they are all impressed with how advanced the New Zealand recruitment scene is. One even compared us with the Silicon Valley of technology. That’s probably a stretch, but there is a strong community of innovative recruitment leaders trying new approaches, adopting new thinking and sharing new ideas — often on open social mediums such as Twitter and LinkedIn.

What have you had to reinvent to be more competitive and successful as a NZ company competing in a global market?

We have significantly reinvented and optimized many parts of our recruitment function — if you don’t evolve, innovate and adapt you become irrelevant. As an example here are some of things we are doing differently than we did a year ago:

  • Proactive sourcing. One of our recruitment teams has a target of 50% proactive hires, that is, at least half of all hires need to come through a targeted channel or directly sourced. This has resulted in higher quality and a massive reduction in the number of unwanted applications.
  • Targeted social sharing. This may sound like an oxymoron, but doing things such as getting your business leaders to write business specific blogs such as the one Hamish Rumbold (Group General Manager Digital) did recently, “Digital technologies are empowering the customer experience like never before,” is a great way to use social media to attract relevant talent.
  • Quality is key. We have reshaped our entire attraction and sourcing strategies to be heavily weighted on finding the best possible talent in the market. We look for four broad attributes — Leadership. Culture, Potential and Role-related skills.
  • Employment brand. We continue to evolve our employment brand and proposition to ensure it is relevant, exciting and attractive to the type of people we know will be successful here.
  • Having the best team. The recruiters who work at Air New Zealand are some of the best in the world (yes, the world). We had zero local agency use last year — one sign your internal recruitment team are world class.

Are there any innovative tools or practices that you’ve piloted recently and found successful enough to roll out in 2016?

We are always trialing new tools aimed at making our lives easier and/or improving hire quality. Here’s a few: Trello for managing job and project communications, Slack for internal recruitment team communication, Medium for blogging content.

To keep up to do date with Air New Zealand and myself, please follow me on Twitter, @AntHallNZ


Antony Hall is the senior manager for talent at Air New Zealand. Ant is passionate about the role people play in an organisation and likes being able to influence and lead innovative solutions to ensure organisations ‘get, grow and keep’ the best possible talent. To learn more about careers at Air New Zealand, visit the the Air New Zealand careers page.

John Childs-Eddy is a sales and marketing leader who is passionate about helping the world become more efficient through technology. He writes and speaks on transformational growth strategies. Follow him on LinkedIn here.

This interview originally appeared on LinkedIn. Republished with permission, thanks to John Childs-Eddy.