A Shark’s Tale (no, not that one)

by John Reaves Whitaker, Vice President, Talent Acqusition

I’m a marketer at heart. I love the concept of branding, messaging, and the power of the perfect visual to capture a concept, idea, or event. So, along those lines, it was just over a year ago that I asked my Talent Acquisition team to submit ideas that would brand Recruiting and serve as a rallying point for us internally. I wanted an identity for the team of professionals that defined an attitude as well as a brand. There were only two rules:

  1. A “mascot” needed to be part of the submission.
  2. A 3-adjective message was needed to tie the mascot to the team.

I have a pretty creative group of folks, so multiple submissions were given. We voted as a team on our “top 3” suggestions, and then had an impartial judge (our current CMO, Jon Kaufman) make the final determination. So that’s the process we followed, right up until the time to hit “Send.” You see, we had good ideas, but not the idea. Nothing that jumped out at us as a winner.

Until kismet entered the picture. A few members of the team were cleaning out some stuff they found in our storage closet, and came upon this:

This little guy and three of his brethren were buried in some random leftovers from our move to the new Corporate Home Office in Plano, Texas. When the universe speaks, it pays to listen, so an executive decision was made and “BART” the shark became our official team mascot. The perfect visual and we already had blow-up sharks, are you kidding?

We didn’t define our 3-adjective message tied to the shark, so it could have died in the water (bad pun) right then…but again fate would not let us ignore our spirit animal. In a Senior Exec meeting, my former boss decided to announce to the team that recruiting had “named themselves – tell them what you named your team;” as I explained, someone asked, “why sharks?” – I honestly hadn’t even thought about it, but blurted out “we’re fierce, we never sleep, and if we stop moving we die.” And it’s true.

Now we saw a little momentum and decided that we really need to start running with this idea. A ship’s bell was attached outside of my office to announce when a requisition was filled. “Shark Fin” trophies were awarded at our Annual Awards ceremony. My office window was covered with a huge decal depicting a shark fin overlaying the word “TEAM.” And the memes…you can’t imagine the memes!

We had fully established an identity. But this year? This year we put ourselves on the map – the Sharks hired 104 people in June, 2017, beating any previous monthly high by 20. We were given a #SharkTank channel on the new “ONE” employee app. And thanks to the continued creative brilliance of my team, we decided to make “Shark Week” our own.

Keep your eyes (and ears) open this week as Talent Acquisition celebrates an entire week dedicated to Discovery Channel’s focus on the oft misunderstood denizen of the deep. We feel ya, shark, we too battle with some misconceptions – but once we get our teeth into you…

Nom nom nom.

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