Published: 14 Dec 2017

In this sponsored feature, Jonny Montgomery, Divisional Lead for Quality at Shirley Parsons, shares how the CQI’s Competency Framework enables employers to find quality talent

Jonny Montgomery, Divisional Lead for Quality at recruitment agency Shirley Parsons, talks about the organisation’s values and explains how the CQI’s unique Competency Framework is helping employers to find and develop quality talent more effectively.

No one is closer to the quality profession than we are
I personally look after a team of quality recruitment consultants at Shirley Parsons. We’re the only recruitment consultancy I know of that specialises in quality as a profession, so our expertise is unique in that regard. We meet quality people at management and board level every day, and Shirley Parsons are looking to expand their recruitment to quality graduates.

One of the things that makes us different is that we’re so heavily involved in the professions we recruit into. The work we do with the CQI and the Competency Framework is a big part of that. It helps to inform how we recruit, as well as how our own business is run and governed.

We practice what we recruit
At Shirley Parsons we like to say that we practice what we recruit. We employ quality professionals ourselves here, including a Lean expert who joined us from an aerospace firm, a quality consultant who joined recently from a big pharma consultancy, and one colleague who’s working towards a master’s degree in strategic quality management. We also have a Kaizen board and Heijunka boards, which helps us to organise ourselves to be continually improving. Our group CEO, Paul Roebuck, has a background in Total Quality Management, so it’s coming right from the top. Our whole board are big fans of quality.

Good governance is really important to us
Our directors are living and breathing our culture every day and are often dealing with clients directly. That helps embed a culture of good governance, where everyone knows what the company’s aims and priorities are, and can put them into practice. We conduct internal audits of our work, we give our clients regular opportunities to feedback to us, and we’re very thorough when it comes to best practices in recruitment processes. As a company, we take our values of integrity, excellence, expert and teamwork very seriously. We’re very proud of our brand and the relationship we build, and we hire people who buy into what we do.

The Competency Framework is transforming how we work.
The CQI’s Competency Framework gives us the ability to recruit against competency, rather than just experience or sector. Generally, the client will specify a minimum score that they need on the 0-4 scale in all the key areas – governance, assurance, improvement and leadership. The self-assessment tool reveals exactly how a  person [or organisation] thinks about quality, which leads to higher-level conversations in interviews.

The first client we used it with, was Nuvia, which provides construction and other services for the nuclear sector. Nuvia had already embedded the Competency Framework into their quality function and recruitment process, and they needed a recruitment provider to facilitate that.

As a recruiter, you’re usually working within quite narrow requirements – things like needing people to have 10 years’ experience. But Nuvia said to us, we don’t mind where people come from, we’re judging them on their competency. It’s very different from the usual approach.

We’ve now recruited a number of people for Nuvia using the Competency Framework, including their new Head of Quality Alan Grogan, who came from the automotive sector. I’ve placed people there from all walks of life: one guy from an SME manufacturer, a woman whose background was in managing fertility clinics, another guy from an energy background. We’re pleased to say they’re all still there.

Recruiting based on competency brings real benefits for our clients
Using the CQI’s Competency Framework significantly broadens the pool of candidates for our clients. Each sector, whether it’s pharma, aerospace, auto, nuclear or other., is different when it comes to quality.  They’re all ahead or behind in different ways, which means there are advantages in going from one sector to another.

And if a client finds someone who’s really good but just lacks in a few areas, it enables them to see which areas need improving, so they can hire people and be confident that they can develop them to where they need them to be.

We’re seeing real growing interest in the Competency Framework among employers. Clients often ask about how can they roll it out into their own companies. What we find is that companies want to hire based on behaviours – things like the ability to be calm and credible in front of the board, which comes under leadership. They want people who are willing to evolve and learn.

The framework also helps people coming from outside the world of quality to understand how they might embark on a quality career, what roles are right for them and how they might develop.

The 2017 Awards ceremony

Shirley Parsons, CEO and Executive Search Consultant of Shirley Parsons Associates, at the International Quality Awards held at Merchant Taylors' Hall.