Gerald Walsh Associates Inc
For Gerald Walsh, running an executive search and human resources consulting firm is about more than placing people in jobs. Walsh sees his company Gerald Walsh Associates Inc. as a player in building Nova Scotia’s world class workforce, and he takes that job seriously.
Walsh started his company 20 years ago. He is a professional accountant and has an MBA, but always wanted to be an entrepreneur. He started the company with the goal of providing the highest quality, results-based recruitment services available and being a trusted, reliable business partner for his clients.
“I always wanted to start my own company and the executive search focus just took shape. Not only do we help clients find talented professionals, but we provide leadership development, career transition consulting and strategic HR counsel. We specialize in senior positions, which tend to be more difficult to fill and require a more thorough process.”
Walsh says the company helps all kinds of organizations fulfill their quest for exceptional people, supports employees making life and career transitions, and guides individuals as they maximize their potential in their careers and their lives.
He adds there have been a lot of changes in the industry since 1990.
“The economy drives hiring so we’ve seen a lot of ups and downs. But Halifax consistently has an unemployment rate below most major cities in Canada, so we’re more consistent than most markets.”
Walsh explains that 10 to 15 per cent of hiring takes place using a recruiting firm. In the recruiting industry, firms specialize by the level of the professional they are placing, and Gerald Walsh Associates works mainly with mid- to senior-level professionals.
“We place executives in all sorts of positions and have a broad range of clients. We do have a strong presence in the not-for-profit sector, because we’ve done a lot of work in placing executive directors in these organizations. In many cases, we offer a lower search fee as a way of giving back to the community and helping Nova Scotia succeed.”
Walsh says changes to the workforce in Nova Scotia will prompt employers to adapt how they approach recruitment and retention. He feels employers will need to work harder to keep employees, repatriate people and welcome immigrants to the province. He also says many businesses are looking to broaden their horizons and expand their operations beyond the provincial market.
“Now is the time to take bold action. Businesses are recognizing they need to look beyond our borders to do business nationally and internationally. Nova Scotian companies do really well when they export their products and services abroad. “
Walsh says regardless of changes within the workforce, Nova Scotia will always have employers with openings, and more positions are promising to become available all the time.
“Employers are taking time to find the right qualified people for the positions, but we’re also seeing as many as four generations working together in one office. It’s a new era in human resource planning and management.”
This new era is marked by an increased emphasis on recruitment and retention, Walsh says Gerald Walsh Associates is placing more emphasis on the human resources function, expanding its services to help clients improve their HR programs. In addition to executive recruitment, the company helps clients with succession planning, performance management systems, organizational reviews and building an engaging, challenging work environment.
“People are such a variable. Employers are more focused now on developing their workforce by training them and ensuring they’re happy in their jobs. We’re working with companies to make them better places to work. We call it ‘enriched human resources.’”
Walsh believes that part of running a successful business in Nova Scotia is being socially responsible. He encourages his employees to volunteer in the community and was part of the group that started the Blue Nose International Marathon in Halifax. He also works to promote healthy business practices as part of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce.
“We’re all in this together. It’s always been part of my business philosophy that it’s critical to be out there, building the community and getting to know your colleagues. That has been a major focus with Gerald Walsh Associates, and it’s helped us grow over the years.”
As a firm, Gerald Walsh Associates regularly does pro bono and reduced rate work to help support community organizations searching for qualified employees.
“A huge part of doing business in the province is giving back to the community. I believe that if my company succeeds I have a responsibility to help others succeed. By taking this approach, we all work together to build Nova Scotia’s social and economic future.”
Walsh says he’s happy to see more talented professionals choosing to build a career in Nova Scotia. He says candidates he meets are doing their research and Nova Scotia is coming up as a destination of choice.
“I’m seeing more people consciously choosing Nova Scotia. They’re pulled by the quality of life here, as well as the natural assets. I’ve spoken with candidates who come to Nova Scotia because it’s a safe place to bring up their kids, or because they have family connections.”
The biggest thing Walsh is hearing from candidates is that their career does not have to take a step backward for them to attain a positive quality of life.
“There are plenty of world class opportunities in Nova Scotia and you get a positive work-life balance. Employers are offering great positions and comparable salaries, and people realize they can enjoy life more here. That’s what makes Nova Scotia such an attractive market.”