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The Good, The Bad and The Irony at #IT18NZ Talent Conference

By May 1, 2014One Comment

Hands up who’s feeling a bit weary and strung out as we near the end of a 5-day work week?  It’s become a bit of a novelty recently, especially in this part of the world with ANZAC Day following Easter.  I’m glad, though, because it enabled me to attend another of Destination Talent’s excellent conferences this week without disrupting the workflow too much.

Philip Tusing brought his new IT18 Talent Conference to NZ for the first time this week.  The tech sector is undoubtedly the most exciting, fast-growth and challenging sector for us in the recruitment and talent management industries and this conference sought to tackle related issues head on.  Here’s my take on the Good, the Bad and the Ugly the Irony from the conference:

IT18 Conference NZ

The Good

I love a good talent conference.  The learnings and insights are equally enjoyable as the networking and industry banter for me.  This one was certainly no exception.  Not being an IT Recruiter myself, but rather someone who recruits IT Recruiters, I expected my takeaways to be reduced to getting a better understanding of the challenges facing my candidates and clients in this sector and being able to have more informed conversations with people specialising in this area.  That I did, for sure.  But more than that, the frequent commentary around culture, insights into new technologies and tools, new approaches within social recruiting, and best-practice management of contractor workforces all had plenty of relevance to recruiting outside the tech sector as well as within.

The Bad

We heard a lot of exciting, cool, innovative things from exciting, cool and innovative tech businesses like Xero, Movio, Vend, Atlassian, Orion Health, SAP, TadeMe and ASB.  Hats off to them and what they are doing, but there was barely a mention of the role of recruitment agencies in the wider tech talent puzzle.  I was going to make sure this was debated in a panel discussion I was due to moderate in the afternoon, but because James Bergin from ASB was so bloody good and we all just wanted to hear more from him, the session got axed.  Just under half of the room was agency recruiters.  Talent International sponsored the drinks while Candle sponsored the whole conference itself, but that was really the only way that agency existence was acknowledged.  The companies mentioned above have such strong employment brands and internal capabilities that they probably do manage to drastically reduce reliance on IT recruitment agencies (Kirsti Grant’s stats at Vend of 85 hires at an average $296 cost per hire were particularly galling for agency recruiters) but they still play a major role in the wider tech sector outside those top brands. Don’t they?

The Irony

Not the ugly, but splendid irony instead.  With so much being said about talent attraction and talent retention, a new phenomenon appears to have started.  As our very own David Gordon pointed out in the lead up to the conference, organiser Philip Tusing seems to have developed a midas touch (of sorts) when choosing and appointing speakers to his conferences.  As has happened in past conferences, speakers representing particular employers suddenly find themselves receiving new offers of employment too irresistible to refuse before the conference actually happens.  So keynote speaker Will Staney, speaking as SAP’s Director of Recruiting USA, will be joining Glassdoor as Head Talent Warrior later on this month:



DG tweet

And then, wonderfully timed on the actual day of the conference itself, Gareth Cronin speaking for Orion Health was announced as VP of Engineering at Wynyard Group in this tweet as spotted by Troy Hammond from Candle:

Troy tweet


I love it!  So well done Will and Gareth, thanks for your presentations and good luck in your new roles.  In fact thanks to everyone involved in bringing the conference to NZ, running the day, sponsoring the event, and sharing your pearls of wisdom.  A great day.

If Phillip approaches anyone else from #NZRec about speaking at future conferences, and you’re getting slightly itchy feet, then gladly accept and start brushing up your CV 🙂

Have a good weekend.

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.