Patricia Porter Knows the Key to Successful Teams: Communication

At Booz Allen Hamilton, Patricia Porter and her talent acquisition teams work constantly, fiercely, and seamlessly to ensure the perfect hiring match

Patricia Porter knows that there is more than one way to achieve success. As vice president of talent acquisition at globally renowned consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton, Porter oversees teams of recruiters who all take their own approaches to finding the most talented individuals the world has to offer.

Patricia Porter Booz Allen Hamilton
Patricia Porter, Booz Allen HamiltonPhoto: James Yeager

But no matter how a recruiter tackles that challenge, Porter says, everyone has a few key traits in common: a knack for communication, an expert ability to manage chaos, and an unshakable bond with those around them.

“If you came by our office, you would see a team that looks very busy but very organized,” Porter says. “People on the phone, candidates coming in and out of interviews, people working at their desks—and it all looks smooth on the surface, but like the proverbial duck, it’s pretty chaotic underneath.”

Porter and her teams conduct anywhere from two to three thousand interviews every single month, she explains, hiring about six hundred of those candidates to fill job openings at industry-leading organizations in the United States and across the world. Naturally, this means that her teams always have a lot going on. And according to Porter, the recruiters on her teams typically handle that activity in one of two ways.

“Generally speaking, there are recruiters who ‘hunt’ and recruiters who ‘gather,’” she explains. “Recruiters who hunt focus on solving specific problems—they will search through all the profiles they can find in order to pinpoint the perfect person to match up with an opportunity—and recruiters who gather cultivate pools of talented individuals and then pull from those pools whenever they need to.

“And we need both of those types of recruiters,” Porter adds, “because sometimes one type or the other is the best fit for what the client needs.”

 

All recruiters, whether hunters and gatherers, work together to align their operations with the department’s overall strategy, Porter says. “We pride ourselves on our teamwork, on our collective ingenuity and our unflinching courage. We trust each other,” the VP says simply. “Some of us have worked here for more than ten years now, so we really do feel like family.”

And as with all families, communication is key. Porter and her teams “are constantly communicating,” she says, “with each other as well as with other teams across the company. We also spend a lot of time communicating with our clients to make sure we understand their business and how the candidates we hire are going to impact that business.”

Of course, it takes a lot of passion, a lot of patience, and a lot of scrupulous attention to detail to truly follow through on those goals, Porter notes. But those recruiters who achieve all that are able to control the chaos and become a part of something great.

“Organized chaos is kind of our thing,” Porter says with a laugh. “Everything we do, however stressful or chaotic, serves a higher purpose in setting the bar for the candidate experience, driving results for the organizations we work with, and making sure that we stay true to our reputation as one of the best places to work.”