It’s very interesting watching the interest and excitement around the cannabis industry. After 15 years of recruiting in agriculture and food/beverage manufacturing, I’ve noticed that the cannabis industry has a lot of similarities and similar challenges.
Initially, as Canadian legalisation was happening, companies were forming quickly and valuations were skyrocketing. Considering the difficulty of getting customers away from existing suppliers and distribution channels, it was a little surprising the confidence there seemed to be in being able to win customers in a crowded established market.
Beer, wine and liquor clients battle tooth and nail for the taste buds and habits of their customers and face huge manufacturing, maintenance and supply chain challenges that have been developed and refined over decades. The talented sales, manufacturing, maintenance and production people these established industries use are the same talent that the cannabis industry has to compete against.
Those above may be some of cannabis direct competitors, but indirect competitors for talent are even broader. The salesperson for cannabis may be just as well suited for pharmaceutical sales. The production manager or maintenance manager in a cannabis facility can just as easily work in an automotive plant that supplies parts for GM or could work directly for a major producer like Toyota.
The war for talent always heats up when the stock market gives companies like Uber/Wework and others sky-high valuations that excite the media and job seekers. When the smoke clears, the top tier A players are often not the ones that have made moves but have stayed with their current employers. Top managers have laid out clear career paths and fought for excellent compensation for their A players and the hype of a new industry isn’t enough to make them switch.
Cannabis, like more mature industries, may have to take a long term view towards talent and likely keep top grading in their back pocket. Working with the existing talent that is available to develop and move people into high performing roles, and quietly weed out C and D players who do not make the cut.
Hope this made you smile, please comment and let us know if would make a move into cannabis or…
Kael Campbell is President and Lead Recruiter of Red Seal Recruiting Solutions, a company providing recruitment services in mining, equipment and plant maintenance, utilities, manufacturing, construction, and transportation. When he is not recruiting, Kael spends as much time as possible with family in the great outdoors and on the water. He volunteers his time as a Board Member of the Entrepreneurs Organization of Vancouver Island. You are invited to subscribe to our employer newsletter or submit your resume.