Talent Strategy Drives Companies: Rhonda Handke, CEO, BrightPath Advisors and Jay Hatho, SVP/CIO, SCS Engineers

Hosted by Chris Dyer, the CEO of PeopleG2 – Talent Talk Radio features engaging conversation with CEOs, thought leaders and HR executives.  Talent Talk connects professionals who deal with talent strategy and who care about talent-related issues. 

Today’s guests are Rhonda Handke, CEO, BrightPath Advisors; and Jay Hatho, SVP/CIO, SCS Engineers.  To hear the entire show, click here.


RHONDA HANDKE talent strategy

Handke is a former telecommunications operating executive of almost two decades and now CEO of BrightPath Advisors. “I struggled when I was an operating executive like most,” comments Handke. “So I formed BrightPath with that idea, focusing on three things:

  • Thinking bigger,
  • Getting results quicker, and
  • Making tangible results toward the end game, regardless of what that is.”

10,000 Hours of Strategy

Handke recalls the common business saying that it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert at any topic. Strategy is no different, she argues. Strategy is about being able to “create a distinguishable point of differentiation to win. It’s hard to do that while running a business.” That’s where BrightPath can help companies.

12 Engagement Drivers

Handke predicts that poor talent management accounts for 80 percent of a company’s issues, so talent strategy is an important piece.  She sees two drivers for this:

  • Culture – stemming from corner office, and
  • Management – stemming from first-line managers.

She cites a recent study that uncovered 12 elements correlated to employee engagement. “And almost all of them land squarely on the shoulders of first line managers,” she comments, from basics like having the tools you need to do your job to receiving praise on a weekly basis.

She points to another study, this one from Inc., which indicates that 88 percent of employees are more inspired by exceptional execution of ordinary ideas than big ideas.

What are You Reading?

Handke is reading Think Like a Freak by Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.

How Can I Connect with You? Via www.brightpathadvisors.com or via LinkedIn


In the technology industry his entire life, Hatho is now with SCS Engineers, an environmental engineering firm employing about 1,000 people across the U.S. In his role at CIO, he looks at what he can bring in from an IT infrastructure perspective to help his company be more productive.

Upon entering his other role as CTO, Hatho immediately noticed that there is great opportunity to introduce technology-based solutions to landfill operations, particularly when it comes to data gathering and data management.

He defines success in terms of how well their technology taking hold. In contrast, Hatho says the biggest challenge is going beyond the company’s landfill focus of today and applying the technology to other categories.

Seeking Input and Ownership

When it comes to company meetings and brainstorms, “I don’t want to be the smartest guy in the room,” says Hatho. During brainstorming sessions, he looks to create dialogue and ownership, commenting: “I want [employees] to buy into the strategy and vision and I want them to feel responsible for that.”   This is a responsible talent strategy, enabling buy in and giving ownership of ideas.

Even in small team gatherings, Hatho usually starts asking questions to generate insight and ideas.  For instance, he will present an initial solution to an issue and then ask for input from the team as to reasons it may or may not work.

One Day Off

Hatho recognizes that the talent market, especially when it comes to technology, remains tough. “The market is getting tighter and tighter,” he comments. At SCS, they have been able to attract good talent because they are working on something that is relatively new in the industry.  That said, the talent strategy is such that if a person is not the right fit once they get in the door, they let them go rather quickly so they don’t weigh the team down.

To keep good hires engaged, the talent strategy that he utilizes is encouraging his team to take one day a month to take a break from their day-to-day work and to play with a new technology. “It’s good for the company and good for themselves.”

What are You Reading?

Hatho just finished reading “The Work of Leaders,which outlines an process of vision, alignment and execution, also dubbed the VAE model.

How Can I Connect with You? Via LinkedIn

Remember, do what you love….and show the world how talented you can be, today.

Date: June 24, 2014