Why AEVEX Saw the Need to Change its EB4 min read.
Sarah Peck, Head of Talent Acquisition at AEVEX Aerospace and VP of Programs for San Diego SHRM, provides a glimpse of how acquisition activity leads to an employer brand change…
The old adage that if your company is not moving forward, it’s standing still, means that for successful organisations, change is continual and often deliberate.
Then, of course, there are changes that happen because of fluctuations in the economy, culturally, the geo-political landscape or, most recently the complete curve ball thrown by a global pandemic. Some are mitigated by accurate forecasting and crisis management preparations while others just catch everyone off balance.
Whatever the reason, whatever the nature of the change or the pace at which it happens, it is going to impact on companies culturally – and there’s no bigger cultural change than most of your employees having to work remotely – which means your employer brand may now be out of step with the reality of your situation.
For US aerospace firm Aevex, a specialist in “full-spectrum airborne intelligence solutions” including unmanned drones and other airborne tech, merger and acquisitions activity has brought about a rethink of its employer brand and employee value proposition.
Its Phoenix Ghost ‘suicide drone’ is part of a $800m US Government package of weaponry being supplied to Ukraine.
In 2020, the firm was sold to private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners (MDP) and its partner CoVant.
Since then, under its new ownership Aevex has acquired both aircraft manufacturer IKHANA Aircraft Services, and Geodetics Inc. - provider of positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) and sensor fusion technology solutions.
Changing employer branding strategy
Which means a change to the firm’s corporate offer, new staff and, ultimately, a reassessment of its company culture. Which will have a huge impact on its employee value proposition and overall employer brand.
Aevex’s Head of Talent Acquisition, Sarah Peck, knew that changes to its employer brand strategy would be needed.
“Our old branding simply does not cut it for our new acquisitions” she says. “We were aware this would happen because the companies we’ve acquired have added capabilities and new products and services to our offerings.”
Aevex is only just starting the process of addressing the problem but has made some key moves to start building a new employer brand.
“For starters,” says Peck, “we hired a Chief Growth Officer, a talented individual to fill a role that was new to us as a company. While he’s more focused on Business Development at the moment, he is interviewing Marketing Directors to fill a much-needed gap in our roster. Up until now we have outsourced the bulk of our marketing function, and bringing that in-house and building out a marketing team is the first step on a long road to building a new brand. I am part of the interview process for the Marketing Director role, and I am paying special attention to strategy and vision as two areas of expertise that are non-negotiables.”
The pandemic - one of those curve-ball issues mentioned earlier – prevented Aevex from being as nimble as it would have liked in starting its process of change, but the wheels are turning and a full re-evalution of its employer brand is underway.
“Our reaction was not timely, but that had more to do with pressing issues surrounding Covid response and a shift in focus to maintaining operations throughout the pandemic. Unfortunately branding took a back seat to operations, and now that we are emerging from that set of problems we have the budget and capability to truly address our top priorities (besides survival). And after all, you can’t survive long term without good branding, you’d just be treading water.”
Strong Employee Value Proposition
Operating in an extremely competitive and currently booming sector, Peck is actuely aware of the need to stay relevant by attracting the best talent to bring its cutting edge military technology to the market. A strong, consistent and resonant employer brand forms a significant part of the equation.
“In my personal opinion having a strong EVP that your employees are aware of is a big piece of the puzzle. Sure, we all want the brand recognition of Coca-Cola or the logo affiliation of Nike or Louis Vuitton, but we all have to start somewhere.”
What in miltary terms might be “full spectrum dominance” in the talent acquisition market, may not be achievable, given the number of available career options, but by recognising and acting on the need for change, Peck is confident that the firm is heading in the right direction.
“Strategically crafting a solid (and reality-based) EVP is the first step to building internal buy-in for your brand, generating referrals (so critical in today’s tight job market), and eventually carrying your messaging to the outside world.”
Aevex finds itself right at the start of the process again, but Peck understand the value of a strong employer brand in creating a cohesion in the midst of corporate change.
“The issue is far from solved but I think we are laying a solid groundwork,” she believes. “It is nice knowing that there are services and consultants that we can call on if our existing framework isn’t getting it done. I don’t kid myself in thinking a couple of hires will have all the answers to our branding issues, and that’s unfair pressure to put on a new hire to boot.”
Whatever comes out the other side, in correctly reading the room, recognising the requirement to change in order to align with a new corporate direction and a fresh cohort of staff, Aevex is on the right trajectory.