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In the Nick of Time
Enterprise Minnesota’s 2017 Esteemed Colleague—our MVP—helps manufacturers address the skills gap by developing their leaders
By Bob Kill
September 2017
Bob Kill, Enterprise Minnesota president and CEO
(Bob Kill, president and CEO, Enterprise Minnesota)

Probably an under-reported aspect of Minnesota’s skills gap is that not only manufacturers are facing the prospect of losing an increasing number of experienced and valuable employees to retirement, and having to replace them with a dwindling pool of younger prospects who have neither sufficient skills or, often, the desire to acquire them.

We all know that for every manufacturer in Minnesota’s economy there are two others that rely on those manufacturers for a meaningful part of their revenue. In some way or another, they sometimes face the same challenges.

We’re one of them.

Enterprise Minnesota’s consultants have been helping manufacturers grow profitably for almost three decades. Some of our more experienced and most effective employees have worked here for almost that entire span of time. And guess what! Some of them have retirement fully on their radar.

The increased urgency for us is that as a consultancy, our “product” is our people. I confess that the prospect of not being able to build our bench with the next generation of employees who share the expertise and the high standards of our current folks in the past has given me more than a little heartburn.

But I’m happy to say that if anything, we’re evolving even stronger, as you’ll see in the pages of this magazine. For one, in just one month, we added three very strong new consultants. For another, in the past year we added Abbey Hellickson, a dynamic and creative professional to head our Leadership and Talent Development consulting services.

Abbey, who is the author of this month’s cover story, is so strong and effective that after just one year on our staff, she was recently named Enterprise Minnesota’s “Esteemed Colleague” during our annual rewards and recognition event, making her essentially our MVP, selected by a vote of her coworkers.

Abbey helps manufacturers engage their workforce, maximize productivity, improve company culture, and strengthen their leadership teams. Drawing on a wealth of experience in talent and leadership development, she enables companies to drive performance at all levels of their organizations and develop the effective leaders they need to build and sustain profitable growth.

Her timely attitude is that manufacturing executives can address a myriad of HR issues—the skills gap being just one, a big one—by internally and intentionally developing their leaders. She says, for example, that most manufacturers can depict the brand they use to market and sell their products (even if it isn’t part of a formal strategy), but many haven’t yet considered their “employment” brand, how they market the company to current and future employees.

Abbey’s advice has become one of our hottest services. And we’re glad she’s here. Chances are, you will be too.


Bob Kill is president and CEO of Enterprise Minnesota

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