Linda Brenner

On August 15, 2011, in HRExaminer, John Sumser, by John Sumser

Linda Brenner of Designs on Talent on HRExaminerPut Linda Brenner on your Radar. The Managing Director of Designs on Talent is hitting the conference trail in a big way this year. In September, she’ll be chairing the Fall ERE Expo in Holywood, FL. In November, she’ll be delivering at The Recruiting Conference in Chicago.

Designs on Talent is a growing operation with a key staffing distinction: each member of the team has already had a full career in Talent Acquisition or Talent Management. Rather than the endless sea of inexperienced consultants, the firm plans to build its reputation on wisdom and expertise developed in the field. Linda is assembling a team of Systems Thinkers who have enough real world experience to actually solve operational problems in the Talent end of an HR Department. Their clients are really big companies with really big operations.

She is a graduate of Pepsi’s famous HR Academy (while there was a formal training protocol, there was no actual academy. It’s talked about that way because the number of influential graduates of Pepsi’s HR training programs in the 80s and ewarly 90s is astonishing.) Linda has worked her way through the major innovative players in Talent Acquisiton: Pepsi, Home Depot, The Gap, Microsoft, Turner Broadcasting, TJX. She’s plainspoken and practical.

Linda and her firm have developed an interesting approach to the development of a leaders in an HR Organizationn. They have built an assessment center that puts the professionals on a company’s team through a day of structured exercises and interviews designed to identify required competencies and weaknesses. The assessment center assesses skills in five areas: Leading through Change, Making Data Driven Decisions, Partnering Strategically, Identifying Talent and Driving Results.

The program involves next day one-on-one coaching, which includes comprehensive written feedback and a personalized development plan. The leader then receives summarized information about the team’s strengths, needs and recommendations for improvements. From there, targeted training solutions – and peer coaches/trainers – can be identified to quickly ramp up the skills and abilities of the team.

They’ve also built a similar assessment center for Recruiters. It focuses on skills ranging from sourcing and cold calling to interviewing. Participants recieve 15 pages of detailed feedback and a plan for skills development.

We talked for a while about the approach she’s taking to building the business. “No one on the team spends much time on building a personal brand. There are a ton of people out there busy becoming celebrities,” she says. “We’re interested at getting better and better at solving problems. From my perspective, there is too little understanding of how things go together and too much emphasis on unrelated pieces.”

I found that the time I spent with Linda was a refreshing bit of fresh air. While she maintains social media accounts, they are anything but top of mind. Instead, she’s busy wrestling with the real fundamental issues on our profession. She maintains her sense of humor while being particularly clear and plainspoken.

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