As a part of our talent acquisition engagements, we ask our clients how they define “top talent” and how they would assess those traits in the interview process. Reflecting on the insightful comments we hear every day, we thought there would be great value in a new blog in which senior executives/thought leaders share their “Take on Talent.”

This is the twenty first in a series of blogs/interviews with senior executives who are thought leaders in the areas of Talent Acquisition, Career Development and Leadership who will  share their perspectives on this ever present question.


Mike Small is Sitel Group’s CEO – Americas responsible for all functional aspects of the group’s Americas’ organization: North America and Nearshore (Latin America) including Operations, Finance, HR, Sales & Solutions, Project Management, Workforce Management and Account Management.

As Chief Client Officer for Sitel Group, Mike led the Americas Account Management team to significantly improve business growth for clients and help drive strategic value across all industries and verticals.

Prior to joining Sitel Group, Small held leadership positions at VXI & SYMBIO Global Solutions, Capgemini and Hewlett Packard. His deep experience has a proven track record spanning two decades developing and leading high-quality teams within the BPO space and beyond. An award-winning services executive, Mike brings nearly 20 years of proven success in leading and advancing high-quality teams in BPO and ITO for Fortune 500 companies. He was the BPO Sales Director for HP Enterprise Services, responsible for leading HP’s sales efforts in the US and Canada. Mike also held leadership positions with MphasiS, an HP company, in Bangalore India, and he spent a decade at IBM in multiple leadership roles.

Mike is a graduate of the University of Toronto in Business and completed his MBA in Corporate Finance from Queen’s School of Business. He holds certifications in Project Management from York University and Portfolio Management from the University of Ontario and earned his PMP designation from PMI. Mike is based at the Sitel Group global headquarters in Miami.


Please share with us the top five characteristics (in priority order, first to fifth) of the most talented people you have encountered during your career, and your definition of each.           

  1. Curiosity – Complacency is not an option. Our best employees are always forging ahead, looking for the next challenge or adventure, questioning every step along the way to see how we can do better.
  2. Positive – The right attitude is essential to success – negativity rarely promotes a healthy workplace, so a positive attitude is critical in our new hires and our best talent.
  3. Creativity – We must always think outside the box to stay ahead of the curve – creative thinkers are what push our offerings over the top and ahead of the competition.
  4. Passion – Without passion, one can’t succeed – you have to care about what you’re doing and the people you’re impacting along the way.
  5. Earnestness – Employees with the sincere interest and belief in their job, or the task at hand, are driven to succeed, and thus create some of the best ideas to push us forward and keep evolving our business.


How do you communicate these characteristics to your HR and senior management team?

Open communication is essential when creating a culture of employees that will thrive in our environment and on our teams. To ensure our HR and senior management team are on the same page, I like to keep an open dialogue – this creates room for conversation about what these characteristics really look like in an employee, how to identify them in an interview and what the deal breakers may be even if a candidate seems to have all of these attributes. When we have the right alignment between our executive team, HR and senior management, we’re more likely to succeed in finding candidates that will grow with the company and become integral to the core of our business.


How do you handle challenges to the existing culture by talent you have brought in?

We are constantly developing and nurturing our culture. With our founders’ entrepreneurial DNA very much alive in our organization, embracing change is pivotal to our success for both new associates and long-tenured associates. We know change can be difficult, but by creating an environment that encourages evolution, we’re able to handle cultural challenges on a case by case basis. As an organization, we empower our associates – from the front line to the CEO – to speak up when they have an idea, an opinion or an issue. Listening to our employees, creating that open dialogue and actively showing them we’re working to solve their problems or implement their ideas is how we create a culture of empowerment and, in turn, a culture of growth. In order to keep this spirit of open dialogue and entrepreneurship alive, we must continually reevaluate the talent we need, but when our leadership teams are in agreement about the kind of employees we hire and the culture we want, that’s when we’ll succeed most.

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