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Higher Ed Leadership: Applying The “Chemistry of High Performance”

Creating a more engaged, passionate and mission-driven organization
University Business, December 2018
From left to right: Joseph Clay, VP HCM Transformation, Oracle; Pamela Stroko, VP HCM Transformation, Oracle.
From left to right: Joseph Clay, VP HCM Transformation, Oracle; Pamela Stroko, VP HCM Transformation, Oracle.

With the landscape of higher ed rapidly changing, it is crucial that institutions can compete for top faculty, staff and leadership, who are not only talented people with the right skills, but are also passionate, engaged and mission-driven.

This web seminar outlined some leadership strategies for recruiting, hiring and engaging with an institution’s employees in ways that create a more effective, higher- performing college or university. Thought leaders from Oracle described the “Chemistry of High Performance” that is so crucial to the success of any organization, and how to apply its principles to any higher education institution.


Joseph Clay
VP HCM Transformation

Pamela Stroko
VP HCM Transformation

Joseph Clay: Let’s talk about some of the challenges we see across institutions.  We see colleges struggle to control costs while scaling to support institutions that are growing and changing. Teams are being challenged to streamline processes, even though many systems are disparate and in some instances the workflow from school to school may change. You are faced with engaging new and existing talent in very competitive environments, whether it’s competitive because of where the school is located, or competitive based on the subject matters being taught. You’re also providing information to many supervisors, faculty members, staff members and leaders that will help them make decisions, certainly today and also going forward.

These are also opportunities. We know that institutions are finding ways to invest in new infrastructure, and many of your faculty members are finding ways to deploy innovative technologies in the classroom, which improves your operating markets across the different schools. Oftentimes, it starts with something simple. How do we have one version of the truth with respect to how we attract talent? Or how and why do we evaluate performance?

Bringing in new talent and developing existing top talent are critically important in any environment, and you can start doing things today that may not necessarily involve a huge investment. You need to be making faster decisions by making an investment in technology or rethinking exactly how you’re positioning talent with respect to your institution.

The Chronicle of Higher Education conducted a study a couple of years back and discovered that 61 percent of university presidents are over the age of 60. And nearly one-third of those plan to retire within the next five years. That’s important for a number of reasons. It speaks to the challenges that many senior leaders need to begin to address, in that many of the new presidents will come into the institutions from outside of higher education, and they will have a different expectation around how we plan for, engage and develop talent.

Pamela Stroko: The Bureau of Labor Statistics in October reported that we have the lowest unemployment rate in 49 years: 3.7 percent. And for the first time ever, job openings have surpassed unemployed workers. Recent data shows us that we have nearly 1 million more jobs than we have people to fill them. And current job openings are hovering around 7.2 million.

That means organizations are having a difficult time trying to find talent in the market. There is often a mismatch between the skills and capabilities required to fill the job and the availability of talent to fill open roles.  And so, when you go to the market now, it’s not just about available talent. If you put a filter on it adding in experience, knowledge and skills, the pools of talent for any job are shrinking.

With all this going on in the market, what do you do? How do you become a high-performing company? Enter: The “Chemistry of High Performance.”

It looks like a periodic table of elements. Chemistry recognizes that not every organization needs the same set of solutions. First, you need to understand your organization, and then, pull together the right ideas, resources, plans and strategies to help you win in the marketplace. For some people, that might be focusing on recruiting, culture and performance. For others, it might be workplace analytics. It’s about understanding where you are and what you need, and then pulling in the right resources for that.

How do you get this done? It’s about culture and values. You can translate values and culture through your talent engine. Values are the “what” and your talent engine is the “how.” Focus on employee experience, and understand the attitudes and behaviors that you want to create at every point in the employee life cycle. Through your talent engine, you touch everyone in your organization.

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please visit