Today’s gold rush – structuring talent and reward as the talent bubble bursts

April 10, 2023

In the early 19th Century the ‘gold rush’ saw a rapid influx of fortune seekers to the
sites of newly discovered gold deposits, the earliest being in the United States.

Today’s ‘gold rush’ has seen a rapid influx of tech start-ups and talented tech wizards
to hotspots in the US, particularly Miami, FL. Pent up private equity capital flooded
into hyper-growth tech companies following the pandemic years as entrepreneurs
couldn’t hire talent fast enough to deliver on high growth objectives and promises to

Then the market almost skidded to a halt. Inflated salaries, rising interest rates and
the escalating cost of living has led to companies such as Meta firing another 10,000
employees having just reached a headcount of almost 30,000 between 2021 and

In this ‘market correction,’ inflated salaries are now unaffordable, and a disconnect
has appeared between people, performance and value. Valerie Derome, Senior Vice
President, Leadership Advisory at M SEARCH explains, “A lack of strategic talent
planning has resulted in expensive super performers brought in as a ‘band aid’
doomed to frustration and stress, when what the organization needs is a
comprehensive review and reset around strategic talent”.

A feeling of ‘everything everywhere all at once’ is leaving business leaders reeling as
they strive to understand how to manage another hiatus in the workforce.

“This is not just happening in the tech sector,” comments Tina Engineer-McRae,
Founder and President of M SEARCH. “We are seeing this across the board as the
market adjusts to a new reality. This is leading to extreme caution in hiring, as
‘rockstar candidates’ are made to jump through multiple hoops and companies are
no longer willing to engage in a talent auction”.

It’s a major U-turn, with an enormous amount of displaced employees scrambling for
killer jobs; companies no longer have to jump the highest bar to woo talent. The
challenge now is to understand an individual’s value in the context of the
organization and the market; who will fit a changing culture; and how they will fare in
the next market correction.

This is made harder by the fact that a lot of hyper growth companies didn’t have HR
and Talent expertise, or if they did, it was unfortunately cut as a cost center, which has
proved extremely costly in itself.

Organizations are now in a rush to access HR and Talent expertise. For some,
fractional leadership – a part-time, short-term C-level expert – is the solution; for
others, specialist consultants are the answer. Who are they and how can they help?

Our leadership advisory team has consistently expanded its services to help clients
navigate this market. “We engage as the (?)Chief People Officer for a number of
clients who have a broad range of needs. We enable them to understand their
capability gaps in context, create a plan and process around them and manage the
impact of a bursting bubble,” explains Valerie.

“For early-stage companies,” Valerie adds, “bringing in a strategic Head of People is
not on the budget nor the agenda for another few rounds of funding. We then need
to work with those companies’ leadership to create foundational practices and
behaviors, and embed those in their leadership success model. For one of our clients,
a niche consumer goods company, we have established HR processes, structures
and protocols to create a platform on which to build the right team.. We have also
put in place a mechanism for regular talent reviews to identify and reward high
performers who will move the company forward, the strong pillars, innovators, and
implementation drivers. It is crucial to have a good mix on the team. Then in time, we
can find the right Chief People Officer to leverage what we have put in place”.

With such a rapid adjustment both internally and externally, organizations need a
more intentional, planned approach. An integrated leadership advisory and search
solution can provide a holistic, longer-term approach that is grounded in robust
planning and processes. Valerie concludes, “For the greatest intangible in your
business – your people – you need more process and intentional thinking to
reconnect people with performance and value, so you can hire the right people with
reward linked to outcomes rather than froth in the market”.

Valerie Derome is head of M SEARCH’s leadership advisory services. She was
previously Senior VP of Talent and Leadership for REEF Technology and Talent
Development Lead for Apple in Latin America.

She delivers bespoke programs in talent organization effectiveness, people capital,
and culture. Specific engagements include building talent capability; reorganizing
structures from product-led to people-led; constructing talent acquisition teams,
approach and process; acquiring the right technologies to support the people
function; developing authentic leaders and embedding a culture of belonging.

Tina Engineer-McRae is the Founder and President of M SEARCH and an
acknowledged expert in strategically partnering with clients to acquire the best
leaders for corporate functions, notably human resources, finance, operations, sales &
marketing. Her exceptional eye for recognizing best in class talent has allowed her to
engage dynamic leaders, who enable organizations to transform and rapidly scale.
She previously worked in the UK with the world’s largest provider of HR solutions, and
spearheaded the growth and acquisition of a leading South Florida boutique
recruitment firm.