Submitted by Koch Industries
When Cara Chennault-Reid flew in for her first job interview at Koch Industries’ corporate headquarters in Wichita, Kansas, she didn’t know exactly which job she was applying for, which company it was with or even where the role was based. But she was intrigued by the company and its management philosophy.
At the time, Koch was looking for strong human resources leads, so Cara prepped for all the requisite questions and potential conversations. Then she experienced something far different from what she expected.
“They called it a 'discovery interview,'” Cara recalls. “I’ve done it a million times now since joining Koch, and it’s wonderful because you look at the whole person – what they like and what they’re passionate about, rather than focusing on a very defined job and finding a very defined person to fit into it.”
That day, Cara spent time with employees from six different Koch companies who made her feel at home and got to know her as a person rather than just her work experience and educational background.
As Cara was traveling home, Koch made her an offer while she was still at the airport waiting on a connecting flight. That offer was to lead the global talent acquisition capability for Koch company INVISTA.
“I thought, I must have oversold my capabilities because I was not a talent acquisition expert,” Cara says with a laugh. “While I’d hired people my whole career, my focus had been in general HR operations. I said, ‘I don’t think I’m your gal.’ But they reassured me, ‘We’re not looking for somebody who has done this for 20 years, we’re looking for someone who can lead others and build this capability. This is what we think you’re good at, and this is the role for you.’”
Because Koch was willing to take a bet on Cara, she was willing to take a bet on Koch. She accepted the offer and moved with her family to Wichita. Fifteen years later, Cara is human resources director for all of Koch Industries, where she still has oversight of how the company hires.
Though many things remain unchanged from her own time as an applicant, the company has had to adjust some of its strategies to identify and even train untapped talent in today’s job market.
To fill its nearly 8,000 open positions, Koch looks for “contribution-motivated” individuals who aren’t just focused on their own success, but in making the business and the people around themselves better. Though the term itself is relatively new at Koch, the concept behind it is consistent with how the company has hired for years.
“In the simplest terms,” Cara says , “it’s somebody who’s coming to work every single day and wanting to make a difference, striving to make things better around them, improve their contributions and help make everyone else better.”
Another way Koch is filling open roles is through its skill development programs, which offer two different tracks for prospective employees in accounting and information technology roles.
The Koch Accounting Apprenticeship provides qualified candidates paid on-the-job training with potential to hire on for an accounting role with Koch upon completion, while Koch’s partnerships with GenSpark and Catalyte provide training opportunities for individuals wanting to become software developers.
“The global labor market has changed,” Cara says. “In the U.S., we have fewer college graduates in some disciplines than ever before, so we must be creative in finding gifted individuals who may have taken a different path. These programs open doors for nontraditional talent that have the skills and aptitudes to be successful and find meaningful work that is mutually beneficial.”
Learn more about Koch’s hiring philosophy and the Koch Accounting Apprenticeship by watching this episode of The Picture, a Koch Industries Spotlight Series, covering inspirational stories from Koch’s hometown of Wichita.
Creating value. Transforming life.
Our life’s work is to help people improve their lives by making and innovating products and services our customers value. Our focus is on delivering mutual benefit: Win-win outcomes that make life better for customers and employees alike.
Based in Wichita, Kansas, Koch Industries is one of the largest private companies in America. A diverse set of businesses and industries across the world, we work together to keep improving and exploring new ways to make life even better.
Koch companies are involved in manufacturing, agriculture, pulp and paper, packaging, consumer products, building materials, glass, automotive components, refining, renewable energy, chemicals and polymers, electronics, enterprise software, data analytics, medical products, engineered technology, project services, recycling, supply chain and logistics, global commodities trading, and investments. Since 2003, Koch companies have invested more than $150 billion in growth and improvements. With a presence in about 60 countries, Koch companies employ more than 120,000 people worldwide, with about half of those in the United States.
Stewardship in all we do.
Our approach to Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) is different than most. We believe in people and seek a system of equal rights and mutual benefit where individuals succeed by helping others succeed – and where people are empowered to improve their lives and their communities. It’s why we focus on empowering individuals to improve their lives and communities through bottom-up solutions rather than top-down imperatives.
Consuming fewer resources, minimizing waste and constantly innovating to improve our manufacturing processes and performance is essential to the way we do business – benefiting our customers, employees, investors, communities and planet.
Five environmental stewardship priorities.
With more than 300 manufacturing sites across the United States – and about 100 more globally – we’re one of America’s largest manufacturers. Every day, across those sites, we strive to create more value, using fewer resources than the day before. We do it through constant improvement and innovation – both in the products we make and how we make them, and by managing our resources in a way that benefits our customers, employees, partners, community members and society.
Philanthropy. Health and safety. Diversity and inclusion. Meaningful, rewarding careers and community outreach. These are just some of the vital priorities of social stewardship that empower each of our employees to develop, contribute, self-actualize and create value for the world while supporting communities in which we live.
Our management framework, Principle Based Management™, is based on proven principles of human progress and a deep appreciation for the dignity of every individual. Our private ownership, shared Vision, Values, compliance standards and oversight all help us focus on long-term value creation.
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