Making a Meaningful Difference - Madlaina Brogt & Sally Higham

Making a Meaningful Difference - Madlaina Brogt & Sally Higham
09 May, 2023

We were honoured to welcome Madlaina Brogt, Regional Head & Recruitment Delivery, and Sally Higham, Director – Head of Talent Attraction, at Lonza, onto the EMEA Recruitment podcast.

“To see that people with a joint goal can make the impossible possible is an experience I will never forget.”

Speaking to Paul Toms from the Lonza Tower in Basel, Madlaina reveals that the last thing to make her smile was the local Swiss chocolates she received from Lonza to celebrate its 125th anniversary. For Sally, her son always brings a smile to her face; she finds it nice to step back and listen to a 13-year-old’s perspective on life.

To celebrate International Women’s Day in March, Lonza hosted a calendar of events and was even joined by a female astronaut from Houston. Sally admits that Lonza has come a long way on Diversity & Inclusion, but still has a long way to go.

As an organisation, Lonza has selected some of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – gender equality being one of them. Lonza is collaborating with hiring managers to make sure there is a diverse slate as they go through the recruitment funnel; hiring managers also need to understand why D&I is important for the organisation, the culture and the brand. D&I is a journey that never stands still, they add.

Exploring how the pair fell into a recruitment career, Madlaina shares that her plan was different originally, but she enjoys the challenge of being a recruiter and being part of Human Resources. As a recruiter, you are involved in shaping the future of the company and you need to acquire many different skillsets, she says.

On the other hand, Sally fell into the industry having started her career in advertising. She loves her role, and has even lived and worked in Asia in past positions.

Discussing how to attract and retain talent, we explore why it is important to showcase what employers can offer. At Lonza, a clear employee value proposition and strong storytelling is super important. From Global Talent Attraction, the use of programmatic campaigns helps attract talent and penetrate new markets. The use of strong experts in key roles to pipeline talent for the future and a focus on good candidate experience is also important.

During the COVID period, Lonza recruited 2,000 employees, thanks to a strong team that was driving in the same direction. During the pandemic, there was a spike in activity and innovation, and a growing need for medicines. The company’s value proposition, “making a meaningful difference,” was exactly what they could offer prospective employees during that time; the cantonal and federal authorities were also able to assist Lonza in hiring people outside the EU.

We also discuss the importance of listening and empathy. Madlaina describes the personality traits as cornerstones that give a human aspect to stakeholder management. The culture at Lonza is very strong and shaped by strategy, with a huge focus on development and retention; both listening and being empathic keep that alive.

Delving into hiring efficiently and effectively from a Global Talent Acquisition point of view, Lonza’s talent referral programme and career sites are global pillars. There are different initiatives in different countries, but there is a structure and a process in place to enable a good candidate experience, irrespective of where they apply for a role.

Exploring the true cost of the wrong hire – including wasted salaries, training time, effort and loss of productivity – we found that it can cost up to three times the annual salary of the employee.

To avoid hiring the wrong person, organisations need to understand the disconnect in both expectations and personality fit, which goes much deeper than a review of technical skills, and make any necessary changes.

Paul asks Madlaina and Sally what they are most proud of. For Madlaina, she is most proud of being able to make a meaningful difference by contributing to projects that helped overcome a global pandemic, which has fostered a great sense of belonging and motivation for her.

For Sally, growing a Talent Acquisition team and watching them deliver support for HR, people and the business has been a real joy.

The episode ends with finding out who has inspired the duo over the years. Sally credits Jay Shetty (author of Think Like a Monk), Queen Elizabeth II and Caroline Barth – the CHRO at Lonza - for her drive and determination.

Madlaina also credits Caroline for being a strong leader with a clear focus on people and culture, adding that Caroline joined Lonza at an important time during lockdown, helping inspire people and defining a strong HR strategy.

This episode is available wherever you listen to your podcasts, as well as on YouTube: 

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To find the part of the episode that most interests you, please use the timestamps below:

01:50: The last thing that made Madlaina & Sally smile
04:45: D&I at Lonza
09:00: Journeys into a recruitment & talent career
15:05: How Lonza attracts & retains employees
21:30: Recruiting 2,000 people over the COVID period
25:48: Personality traits to leverage stakeholder management skills
29:35: The importance of listening & empathy
32:00: Hiring efficiently & effectively
38:40: The cost of the wrong hire
42:40: Changes in the retention plan during COVID
49:45: What Madlaina & Sally are most proud of
53:15: Who has inspired the duo over the years?

If you’d like to connect with Madlaina or Sally, you can find them on LinkedIn.  

We’re proud to work with Operation Smile to bring you this podcast. Operation Smile provides life-changing surgery to children and adults with cleft lip and palate around the world. To find out more about their work, please visit: Operation smile

The EMEA Recruitment podcast is hosted by our Founder, Paul Toms, and our Marketing Manager, Rose Jinks.

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Do you have any feedback? Please get in touch with Rose: [email protected]