Tom Conroy

Q&A with Tom Conroy, MD of GattiHR Industrial

By Caitlyn Federico

Tom Conroy is the Managing Director of GattiHR Industrial (Armstrong Franklin). He leads the executive search for our Integrated Supply Chain and General Management practices. Tom has built a strong and talented network within the industrial manufacturing space and with GattiHR Industrial’s proprietary tools and techniques, he has helped his network actively manage their careers. GattiHR sat down with Tom to discuss the changes he is seeing in the Manufacturing industry.

Q: What roles are you seeing a need for today in Manufacturing that you didn’t 10 years ago?

A: We are seeing the emergence of specific manufacturing technologies like 3D printing and rapid prototyping.  We do a lot of work with discrete industrial manufacturers and it’s common now to see made-to-order, or engineer-to-order products utilize these technologies to deliver for their customers. Recently we’ve seen it in complex aerospace components or more simplistic filtration devices. Some of the manufacturing technology has gone from “emerging” to “accepted” or “needed” in Manufacturing relatively quickly. Customers in the B2B space are expecting the Amazon treatment also. A prototype that used to take 4-6 weeks now needs to only take 2-3 days.

Q: How have these new roles impacted your talent attraction strategies?

A: What we’re seeing is that the best candidates out there have a strong progressive career track of expanding their scope and roles, and they present an ability to adapt to new technologies. They are the candidates that are always reading about, evaluating, and implementing select software, automation, or AI types of programs into their teams.

Q: With so much talk of Artificial Intelligence in the workplace – especially in the manufacturing space, how is this new technology and machine learning impacting jobs?

A: There is a constant struggle to learn where the new technologies make sense to be implemented. It’s important that leaders understand they need to continue to learn about new technologies, evaluating them and choosing which are implemented. Some of our clients have force fed the new technologies and it is not effective. In this industry, it’s important to include the AI where it makes sense and make sure that the employees understand that these are supplemental technologies not replacement technologies.

The strongest leaders and teams usually work to get all levels of an organization or operations to be part of the project, so it’s not a top-down implementation. That way there is a peer-to-peer conversation able to be had when a change or potentially un-nerving technology is implemented.

Q: They’re saying it might take 200 years to close the wage gap. How is this impacting your ability to attract the best candidates in Manufacturing?

A: The 200-year comment that I’ve heard is a pessimistic view of the wage gap. 200 years ago, we weren’t flying planes or driving cars and now we’re talking about flying to Mars in the next 5-7 years. It’s hard for me to imagine that anything will take 200 years.

But, as of right now and how it is impacting our candidate pool; There are so many different career paths people can take in Manufacturing. From working the floor, to production manager, to finance or sales, the possibilities are endless. It’s important that when we attract our candidates, we retain them. We give them tools to succeed in their job but also in their career to make sure that they understand the options they have in the future.

Q: What does the future look like?

A: I’m an optimist and I think there’s always going to be innovation. My team and I want to make sure we’re in tune with our current and potential clients on those innovations, and trends. The only way to effectively do that is to stay educated with the innovations that might disrupt the different industries we’re working with, but most importantly continue to develop a deep understanding of our clients’ challenges and goals. From that starting point, we then can help them write the job profiles, determine the combination of experience needed, and deliver what they’re looking for in an employee.