26 Sep Poitevent of GNO, Inc. Explains Importance of Creating a Talent Pipeline

As Human Capital Manager at GNO, Inc., Evie Poitevent serves as the “Great Connector,” assisting individuals and businesses who are considering moving to New Orleans to do business, or have already committed to doing so and to address the job-worker/worker-job disconnect. As part of the efforts to solve this challenge, she works on regional workforce pipeline flow and workforce retention strategies, starting with outreach and relationship building with our area two & four-year higher ed partners.

NOLABA: From your experience, why is talent so critical in creating sustainable economic growth in our city?

Poitevent: “Talent” is the people. It refers to the workers that make up any city, region, business or organization. If you don’t have the highly skilled, well-trained, educated talent – a.k.a., “workforce” – in your organization (or region), then the leadership is essentially operating in a vacuum. To use a sports analogy, you cannot have a strong NFL football franchise without the well-trained, highly-skilled players on the field – no matter how nice your brand new stadium is and how well-staffed and managed your front office may be. You have to have the talent – the players – in place, and functioning at peak performance level, to yield the best results for the greater good of the entire organization. The same goes for our city, our region, and our state.

Economic development is an increasingly competitive landscape, and every major city is now actively recruiting and competing for both talent and companies. We must develop – and retain – more highly-skilled, well-trained, and well-educated talent in the Greater New Orleans region, in order to position ourselves as a legitimate player on the national and international economic development stages. There is a belief in real estate that “if you build it, they will come” – but in the reality of economic development, they often will only come if they also see the workforce-ready talent is in place to quickly fill their new positions once they arrive. In many other markets across the country, good talent is already in place, ready to “play.” We must increase educational and training opportunities for all of our workforce to stay relevant and competitive in the eyes of business.

NOLABA: What can be done to retain more great talent from our universities, and how far have we come in this area in New Orleans?

Poitevent: Ensuring graduates are aware of and have access to high-wage, high-growth employment opportunities is a key GNO, Inc. strategy for retaining graduates. Through GNO, Inc.’s “GNO U” workforce development initiatives, we are working to build out demand-driven programming at our 2- and 4-year colleges and universities so that curriculum aligns directly with what employers need and want in their future workforce.  By facilitating partnerships directly with and between employers and universities, we are able to position these graduates for greater success in their job search upon graduation.

Another free tool we provide to the general public, and therefore our university students and graduates, is WorkNola.com, the most widely used talent board in our area. A more intelligent and user friendly website is set to roll out in late 2017, which will help our graduates to find the right jobs more easily. It also will provide an events forum through which higher ed partners can engage the regional business community with their student bodies via events such as career fairs, mock interviews, resume nights, etc., in addition to the internships, part time jobs and full time jobs that will be posted on the site.

Last but certainly not least, we have recently established new working partnerships with key contacts in career services and alumni relations departments within all of our regional higher ed partner institutions to share useful career and professional development information and resources with their students, alumni, faculty and administration, and to promote directly to their students via on-campus events and classroom speaking opportunities the idea of living, working, and staying in the New Orleans region, along with the career networking tools to do so. As we continue to build out these new working relationships, our goal is to develop and implement a strategy to retain an even greater number of our higher ed graduates from both the two-year colleges and four-year universities. While there are numerous recent success stories of university-industry-EDO partnerships that have yielded very successful workforce training and placement results, there is always more work to be done.