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300 Hires for Ambatovy in Madagascar

For the Ambatovy Joint Venture RPO hiring team, it’s a huge undertaking to attract and retain people for the world-class nickel-cobalt operations in Madagascar. The project has more than 10,000 positions across its mine site, processing plant, port, and rail. Local nationals make up 90 percent of the workforce, but they also require 1,000 additional staff with specialised technical and managerial skills.

The Ambatovy hiring team understood the issues with attracting and retaining skilled expats for roles. Not only is it a difficult process to find the right people, but government requirements and permits can make it an onerous task for even the most skilled HR team.

That’s why, in 2016, they reached out to us to see how we could help them secure people for the highly-specialised technical and engineering roles, as well as superintendents and senior managers.

They asked us to take on the expat requirements through a Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) service. This way, they could stay focused on local hiring and be confident that all the expat hiring met visa and work permit requirements.

How they did it: A tailored RPO service

RPO is a strategic partnership where you delegate all or part of your recruitment function to an external provider to streamline and enhance your hiring process.

The way the Ambatovy RPO is set up with Globe means there are two main benefits for them, according to Lisa Blignaut, Project Manager for the Ambatovy RPO, Globe 24-7.

Firstly, it takes the complexity out of the sourcing function for Ambatovy’s HR team. The Globe RPO team have strong networks within the global expatriate mining community, and they handle the expat recruitment function in conjunction with Ambatovy’s Expat Affairs department.

Secondly, as part of the RPO service, Globe ensures that all expat candidates are compliant to work at Ambatovy sites in terms of visa requirements, criminal history, and medical suitability.  And the RPO ensures that the remuneration of highly skilled talent remains private and confidential.

It helps reduce time-to-hire, too.

“We get to know the hiring managers personally and what they’re specifically looking for in a candidate, both on the technical and social side,” says Lisa.

Understanding the cultural makeup of a department is critical to a successful placement. “Knowing things such as the motivations within that team, and the dynamics of the team members is important,” she explains.

“And knowing which personality types will, and will not, fit into the business helps us spot “red flags” in an application.”

Having an RPO partnership in place makes Ambatovy’s hiring decision easy and gets the right person in the role quickly.

Filling dozens of expat roles per year

So far, the RPO service with Ambatovy has recruited on average 40 expat candidates per year. This includes mine superintendents, engineering managers, and technical services roles. These roles are supported by a dedicated local workforce.

“Because we’re global, we have a strong network of expatriate candidates we can call on to find the right person. For Ambatovy’s National Talent Acquisition team, it can take months, whereas we often have a list of potential applicants in front of the hiring manager within hours,” Lisa says.

Successful RPO partnership

The RPO has been highly successful for Ambatovy. Over the past seven years, they’ve recruited more than 300 expats for their world-class lateritic nickel mine and processing facility.

It has worked so well, they recently decided to continue the partnership.

“We add significant value to their operation by gaining a deep understanding of their culture and values and we provide a continuity that can be difficult with single search recruitment or even an in-house hiring team,” says Lisa.

High staff turnover can really impact a team’s productivity—and an operation’s throughput.

Support for local hiring

The RPO also has indirect benefits for the local hiring team.

“We share our knowledge with Ambatovy’s hiring team so they can refine their recruitment strategies for sourcing local candidates,” Lisa says.

“It is a great resource for the hiring team. They can ask for help or guidance and we’re only too happy to help them develop processes to streamline their local recruitment.”

Recruiting expat talent can be a daunting process, but with the right partnership in place, the process can be smooth—and successful.

We’re proud of our continued partnership with Ambatovy. As global demand for nickel and cobalt grows, the company can be confident they will have the right people in place to meet their production targets now and into the future.


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