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You have to find qualified candidates, train them to fit the needs of your solution portfolio and then incent them to actually stick around. Many solution providers say it's one of the most challenging facets of trying to grow their business.
Now imagine trying to find 80 of them. That's the situation large solution providers like Dimension Data find themselves in, striving for growth at the same time their needs often far outweigh available resources. Yet, somehow, they continue to grow. It's not an easy accomplishment, said executives at some $1 billion-plus solution providers.
"Our No. 1 challenge--this is trite, but it's really finding people, particularly technical talent. Not just here in the U.S. The same kind of challenges also exist in Mexico and Brazil," said Jere Brown, CEO of Dimension Data Americas. Dimension Data, with U.S. headquarters in New York, is No. 24 on the 2008 VARBusiness 500 list with $3.77 billion in sales for 2007.
To help recruit talent, Dimension Data put together a 12-week program that includes classroom and field training. The solution provider recently put 80 engineers through an IP telephony session, Brown said.
"As you're looking at recruiting, there are advantages a small company has and advantages a big company has. As a big company, we have the ability to get scalability of programs," he said. "We give [the 80 engineers] the base skills and the training to grow and develop them. It makes them more valuable to us, but it also makes them more valuable in the marketplace too."
Insight Enterprises Inc. also has to invest heavily in training and skills development programs, said Rich Fennessy, CEO of the Tempe, Ariz.-based solution provider. Insight has an eight- to 10-month training program designed to help employees become true trusted advisers to clients, he said.
"We aggressively recruit on college campuses, but in addition, you have to retain talent you have. Give them new capabilities, new opportunities for growth, so you can see that expansion of the share of wallet [with customers]."
Jim Kavanaugh, CEO of World Wide Technology Inc. (VARBusiness 500 No. 36), agrees that finding enough technical talent to grow a 10-digit-dollar company isn't easy.
"Whether it's billable engineers or presales engineers, account reps and sales managers, across the board there's a lot of demand for those individuals. There are not enough qualified, experienced individuals for those specific positions," Kavanaugh said.
Next: Choosing The Right Solution