MindValley is one of the world’s largest online publishers in the personal growth industry.

They have a small team, mainly based in Indonesia. They are renowned for the company culture and when they recruit for a new role, they have hundreds of people from around the world who come and line up outside the office to make an application.

Most Apple employees (at a corporate level) will have gone through 10+ interviews and are essentially indoctrinated in the company culture before they even get the job! If they do get the job, the brand and culture make it hard to imagine moving anywhere else.

Google, Facebook, Apple, MindValley…they all understand one thing. That the rules of talent management have changed.

Social media has opened up global, non-traditional opportunities for many employees, and some may have more choices than they have ever had before in terms of their career options.

Entrepreneurship, contracting and freelancing is on the rise (a US study from 2011 predicted that up to 50% of the workforce would be self-employed by 2020). While for many this may be a choice, the reality is that job security is fast becoming more difficult to rely on.

While evolving technology continues to disrupt many industries it would appear we are still a long way off being able to replace the most crucial component of most businesses – good people. This means employers still need to have strong talent engagement and management strategies in place.

So, assuming you are not Google, Facebook, Apple or even MindValley, how do you find, attract and retain the best and brightest talent for your organisation?

Whether you are a small business, a multi-national company or a Government Department, the fact remains that without the right people in your team, the business or function can’t operate at optimal levels.

While there is no “one size fits all” talent solution, earlier this year I pulled together a few pointers for my Career Column for the LSJ (NSW Law Society Journal) that I believe are universal, based on my 20+ years working with organisations in people focused roles (including 10 years as a recruitment specialist).


1. Talent Map

It’s important that you know who is in your talent pipeline. This means more than just a name on a door or in an employment contract. Mapping your talent will help you with succession planning and with career conversations with existing staff members (yes, you must have career conversations – your staff want and need them).

2. Don’t Make Panic Hiring Decisions

This feeds back into principle number 1. If you have already mapped your talent, you are less likely to hire on the basis of a panic situation. Panic hiring (sometimes referred to as “bums on seats”) will only ever go one way. It might solve a short-term problem, but often it creates an even bigger problem in the long term.

3. Go Beyond Skills

The best people for your team may not always be the most obvious. Skills are important, but raw talent, potential and attitude can be equally as compelling and rewarding. There is more work, and clearly, risk, involved in hiring for potential, but the benefits to your organisation in the long term could be exponential. Rookies have a lot to offer.

Bearing these principles in mind here are some tips on how to Find, Attract and Retain top talent.


  • Tap into a community. Find out where your ideal candidates hang out, and go hang out with them.
  • Get Social. See point above – get online and build your employer brand so that you have potential employees following you.
  • Build strong relationships with good recruiters. Yes, they charge a fee, but the good ones are worth their weight in gold. It’s a two-way relationship. Let them into your business or team and make sure they know how to sell the benefits of working with you. Partner with them and it will pay dividends. We have SmartWomen members who are excellent recruiters in their field. If you need a recommendation, let us know.
  • Look after your alumni. Always part on good terms and create a platform to keep in touch. Linkedin is the perfect way to do this now, perhaps through an alumni group, if you are a large enough organisation to warrant it.


  • Values matter – let them shine through in the recruitment process. More than ever your future employees want to know what the organisation, and people, they are going to be working for and with, stands for. It’s not enough to have them posted on the intranet – make sure they are practised every day in the business or function. When in doubt, lead from the top on this.
  • Show the benefits. In a competitive market you need to know, and be able to sell, why you should be the employer of choice. Like the values piece, it’s not enough just to talk a good game here. Over-promising and under-delivering is bad for your brand.
  • Don’t rush it. An employee/employer relationship is a special one. And like any relationship it has the potential to be brilliant…or a disaster. Avoid the likelihood of disaster by taking your time in the recruitment process, and give the candidate access to as many people as you possibly can.

At Google, they ensure candidates meet people who will be working for the person, as well as they people the candidate will be reporting to. This is a great cross-check for consistency purposes and it will also benefit the candidate as they will have a chance to get to know the people and get a feel for whether the culture is the right for them.


  • The first 3 months are key. This is your honeymoon period for new employees. Most people make up their mind on an organisation within that first 3 month period – in fact it’s probably the case they make their mind up much sooner than that. It’s therefore key to ensure your induction processes are relevant and smooth. This is also the period where you’re a decision on cultural fit will be made, so do your best to integrate the new employee into the team and the wider organisation so that they quickly start to feel part of the bigger picture.
  • Both parties must “buy-in” to the relationship. This involves working to create a bond of trust, respect, and recognition. This takes time, and should never be taken for granted.
  • Commit to an honest and open relationship. Yes, we are talking about career conversations again. You are recruiting intelligent people, treat them accordingly. Create an environment where they are willing and trusting enough to talk about their aspirations, without fear of reprisal. It’s better for everyone in the long run if you are honest about their future, and also encourage honest engagement from them.

Talent attraction and retention is challenging. But the effort that you put in will be worth it for the rewards you will each take out.


PS We’ve put together a panel to talk about the issues surrounding employee engagement and talent management for our next Smart Breakfast. If you’re a manager, a leader, or an employee looking to position yourself better, click here to join us.


Congratulations to two of our members who are not just individual winners
but a winning team!

Claire Bibby is Senior Vice President Legal & General Counsel at Brookfield Property Partners. Claire won Mentor of the Year award at the recent Women Lawyers Association of NSW Awards. Congratulations Claire on continuing to give back to the women in your profession.

Anna-Athanasia Dervenis is Vice President Legal at Brookfield Property Partners. Anna won Corporate Counsel of the Year award at the recent Women Lawyers Association of NSW Awards. Congratulations Anna on a fantastic recognition of your talent and hard work!


Talya Rabonitz is a pyshcologist. She is also the very proud Mum of a mini-daschund, called Spout. On a call recently he was nudging her leg for some attention and I asked about him. She told me how he is an internet sensation and she had one video which went viral and has reached nearly 20,000 views!

If you need a lift on a hard day, go check out Spout, The Wonder Pup on Facebook. I guarantee you will be laughing your head off and have forgotten your troubles in no time.


SmartWomen know they need to keep developing professionally and personally, and reading is one way to do that.

SmartWomen member Sally Davitt recently read ‘The Triple Package’ by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfield which considers why particular cultural groups in the US strongly outperform those groups who have bought into mainstream post-1960s liberal American principles.

Read her review “The Triple Package – have you got what it takes (and does your employer really want that)?” below.

I recently read The Triple Package by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld. It’s considers why particular cultural groups in the US strongly outperform those groups who have bought into mainstream post-1960s liberal American principles.

It’s a fascinating read. It looks at particular groups like Mormons, Jewish-Americans and Asian-Americans, and concludes that America’s over-achieving groups are linked by three things, each of which violates the basis of modern American thinking. Chua and Rubenfeld refer to this as the Triple Package:

  • a superiority complex – a deep internalized belief in your group’s specialness or exceptionality. This could either be for religious or cultural reasons, but it goes against mainstream liberal thinking that we shouldn’t judge others, and that everyone is equal.
  • insecurity – an uncertainty about your worth, or a feeling that you’re not good enough. This might come from being an immigrant, for example, not knowing whether you can fit into a new place, or earn a living. This goes against every self-help book on sale today.
  • impulse control – the ability to resist temptation, especially the temptation to quit instead of persevering at a difficult task. This goes against contemporary culture’s idea of ‘living in the present’, and to shake off inhibition and repression

The book also discusses the ‘darker side’ to the story, and that the above factors are linked to deep pathologies within those groups. It also considers the natural extension of the Triple Package: whether individuals can have this Triple Package outside of those identified cultural groups.

This got me thinking. Am I surrounded by Triple Package people in my life, or in the office? How would you know? Although impulse control may be evident in many, particularly in those working long hours into the night, I think a Superiority Complex and Sense of Insecurity are not wisely demonstrated in the office environment. Or perhaps it suits some careers and roles better than others – I certainly think that to some extent it suits professional services, particularly those which involve an element of confrontation (litigation, etc).

But what about recruitment? If the Triple Package is the key for success for anyone (not just in certain cultural groups), should we look for those type of personality traits in our candidates?
It’s not an approach I’d be comfortable taking, putting aside the obvious cultural/diversity issues. That’s because the Triple Package doesn’t seem to deal with what I consider the other vital thing for success – EQ.   An ability to fit in well with a team, and to be able to get on with others surely has to be as important as the Triple Package factors.

I was recently given the advice that any personality traits (read: flaws) you see in an interview are likely to be multiplied in the work environment. So would we really want people who clearly show a Superiority Complex and Insecurity in an interview? I’m much happier to go on the following Triple Package: ‘Fit with our corporate culture’, ‘EQ’ and Intellectual Curiosity.

Perhaps I’ll write a book….”

Sally is an Executive Director in the Forensic team at KordaMentha, with over 12 years’ experience in forensic accounting both in the UK and Australia. She spends her time on financial investigations involving fraud or accounting mistreatments, and financial disputes involving business valuations or loss of profit.

Sally is a chartered accountant, certified fraud examiner and has a physics degree, and will happily admit to – on paper at least – being a total geek, but her favourite thing is getting outside with her kids to the beach or on a bushwalk, preferably with a cup of tea, or even better a G&T.


You’re Invited To Our Next Smart Breakfast

When: Thursday 7 September – 07.30am – 09.00am
Where: Bird & Bird:  Level 11, 68 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Join SmartWomen Connect as we bring together a panel of our experienced and knowledgeable members to discuss the challenges inherent in recruiting and retaining people in a fast-changing, uncertain world.

Read more and register here

Join Us For Smart Networking

When: Tuesday 19 September – 5.15pm-7.30pm.
Where: Steel Bar + Grill:  60 Carrington St, Sydney NSW 2000

Talk, laugh and make meaningful connections in an informal atmosphere.

Read more and register here