Martin Aircraft

Key Outcomes Delivered:

  • 100% of roles filled within agreed timeframe and within budget
  • Candidate satisfaction rating of 100% with 87.5% highly satisfied
  • Average of 1.8 Line Manager interviews per hire

martin-aircraft

Background:

Martin Aircraft is the manufacturer and inventor of the world’s first commercially viable jetpack.

Based in Christchurch, the company was founded in 1998, taking its inspiration from the US space program with a dash of Thunderbirds mixed in for good measure. From humble beginnings in the inventor’s backyard, the Martin Jetpack was named as one of Time magazine’s Top 50 inventions in 2010 and successfully listed this year on the ASX, meaning Martin Aircraft Company will become the world’s first manufacturer of commercial jetpacks by 2016.

Initially designed with the leisure market in mind, commercial demand for the Martin Jetpack has seen the development programme focus on readying the product for use in a number of sectors including emergency response, defence and recreation, with numerous applications in each sector.

The company has gained tremendous “lift” in the last 12 months in the form of a public listing and new investment from China, which has driven the expansion of the business and accordingly the need for a rapid increase in staff across the Engineering Design, Flight Operations and Production teams.

The Christchurch environment has presented its own special challenges over the last five years, dealing with the consequences of two very damaging earthquakes in 2010 and 2011.

When the new Martin Aircraft vacancies went to market however, the city rebuild was in full swing and the broader local economy was performing well, which enabled The Talent Hive to develop an exciting story around the employment opportunities and the dynamic new city Christchurch is becoming.

This was important given that the skills Martin Aircraft needed were very niche and typically found offshore.

Recruitment Brief:

Martin Aircraft initially contracted The Talent Hive to recruit 15 new hires, mostly senior Engineering and IT roles over a three month period in the first half of 2015.

Criteria:

1) An “adventurer” spirit – people who were prepared to relocate (in some cases) themselves and their families from the other side of the world, to a city in rebuild mode, and to a disruptive technology business that was still in a start-up phase.

2) Appropriate technical skills – New Zealand has a very small aerospace and aviation industry which presented a significant challenge in finding suitably qualified and experienced people in country. A global search was required.

3) Good cultural fit – New hires need to bring the right attitude and cultural fit. There is a significant difference between working for a large scale aerospace manufacturer and a disruptive technology start-up such as Martin Aircraft. Attitude, resourcefulness and a flexible work style were equally as important to success as the candidate’s technical skills and experience, presenting a further recruitment challenge.

Talent Hive’s Approach:

The Talent Hive’s process for delivering new employees of sufficient calibre to meet Martin Aircraft’s requirements started with consultant Marc Denholm reviewing a wide range of candidate profiles with Martin’s Director of Engineering. This process determined a talent attraction strategy and identified the most important skills and attributes to target during the campaign.

The Project RPO recruitment model deployed by The Talent Hive moves through four distinct stages, from the initial client brief and launch of marketing activity, through to the selection process of applicants, candidate notifications then the job offer and process of initiating immigration if required.

Talent Hive’s Marc Denholm says the Project RPO approach is ideal for businesses who have an immediate need for a significant number of new hires.

“This may be because of a new client win, expansion of business lines, new product development or growth into new territories.”

“In the case of Martin Aircraft, it was a perfect approach for their immediate requirements. Given the scarcity of available skills in the local market and the intensive nature of sourcing and attracting hard to find highly skilled engineers, outsourcing the recruitment enabled Martin Aircraft to focus on their core business while leaving the search, attraction, engagement and screening process to The Talent Hive.”

The work completed for Martin Aircraft included:

  • Requirements Analysis – The willingness of the key Martin Aircraft stakeholders to share and communicate their requirements enabled The Talent Hive to customise an effective recruitment framework. Being experts in their industry vertical ensured that The Talent Hive team were able to quickly grasp Martin Aircraft’s specific challenges.
  • Sourcing and Engagement – developing and implementing advertising, creating a sourcing strategy (targeting individuals, companies and locations as well as other sources), candidate mapping, handling all candidate applications, running behavioural based interviews with shortlisted candidates, completing reference checks, developing and implementing the candidate on-boarding process.
  •  Digital/Social Employment branding – Write and release blogs telling employee stories, career opportunities and why Martin Aircraft is a great place to work.
  • Continuous Improvement – The Talent Hive also carried out surveys with the new hires to check their recruitment and on-boarding experiences, and ran satisfaction surveys with the hiring managers (the results of these surveys can be seen at the end of this case study).

Insights:

The Martin Aircraft project presented a number of challenges from a recruitment perspective, primarily around the uniqueness of the business itself and the need to determine where new employees with the appropriate skillsets were most likely to be found.

Aviation manufacturers were the most obvious starting point, however the skills required to work on one specialist area of a very large aircraft are very different from those required for an early stage technology business moving into production and still refining its product offering.

Because the business is still effectively a start-up and had not previously gone through a hiring phase of this size, The Talent Hive team were very involved in helping to create recruitment infrastructure, including screening and interview material, standardised assessments and background checking as well as developing advertising and marketing collateral.

The need to recruit globally brought challenges, partly addressed by Talent Hive’s UK office. The requirement to firstly identify and attract the candidates, then shortlist, interview and select remotely before starting to work through the process of immigration to New Zealand added to the complexity.

Ultimately more than 50% of the new hires during this period were sourced from offshore locations, and the majority did not have work visas in place for New Zealand when they applied. The Talent Hive team worked closely with New Zealand based immigration lawyers to assist with the necessary requirements to bring the chosen employees into New Zealand, as well as providing support and advice to the employees and their families.

In the majority of cases the visa process took around six weeks for approvals, and the overall process took between six and eight weeks.

Employees were found from Germany, Korea, United States, UK, Russia, France and Australia using a number of different channels including LinkedIn, SEEK advertisements, niche job boards within the aviation sector and the expression of interest tool operated by Immigration New Zealand.

Talent Hive also used their own database to send out content relating to the Martin Aircraft roles, with links back to the vacancies on their website.

“One of the benefits of working with this particular client was the high level of international awareness of the Martin Jetpack, particularly amongst aviation and engineering circles,” Marc comments.

“That ‘cool factor’ definitely made it easier for us to generate interest in the roles on offer and attract the kind of pioneering candidates we were looking for.”

Martin Aircraft were delighted with the outcome of the solution The Talent Hive delivered. Martin’s Director of Engineering had this to say: “I have worked with many recruitment agencies, ran recruitment from within a company and I have to say, I was sceptical at first about outsourcing this project to a recruitment company. However, The Talent Hive really understood our requirements, the mix of talent we were searching for and the company context we were recruiting into. They were easy to work with, allowed me to focus on my core role and ultimately they were able to source and engage the right, highly skilled Engineers we required on multiple occasions. They have continued supporting the growth and talent requirements of Martin Aircraft as our technical teams, organisation structure and culture has evolved.”