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Launching Talent Beyond Borders: Lessons from NASA’s ex HR Chief

In our most recent The View From The Top show, host Brian Friendman spoke with Brady Helms, ex-Deputy Head of HR at Nasa. His experiences recruiting and training astronauts have valuable implications for mobility leaders launching talent around the world. Here are some key insights from their conversation:

Look Beyond Borders for the Best Talent

NASA received over 18,000 astronaut applications globally and rigorously evaluated them. While assessing technical competencies, they also focused on strengths like cross-cultural agility. Mobility leaders should cast a wide net for international assignments, evaluating both hard skills and soft skills like cultural adaptability.

Support Employees’ Transitions Across Cultures

Astronauts extensively train on relating to international crew members they’ll live with in space’s tight quarters. This cultural coaching is essential for globally mobile employees too. Brady stressed that tensions emerged among American and Russian astronauts when geopolitics on Earth intervened. Mobility teams must similarly help expatriate workers bridge cultural divides.

Address the Human Aspects of International Roles

NASA provides support systems for anxious astronaut families during missions. Mobility leaders should account for human needs of employees on foreign assignments, especially in locations with elevated safety risks or separation from loved ones. Engaging with workers’ families smooths transitions.

Foster Collaboration for Success Abroad

“No one individual accomplishes anything at NASA. It’s always a team,” Brady said.

Global teams demand collaboration too. Mobility functions can champion cooperative cultures through mentorship, recognition and leadership development across borders.

NASA sets an ambitious vision and pursues it through strategic HR practices. Mobility leaders can learn from their commitment to finding the best global talent, deeply understanding local cultures, addressing human needs and enabling global cooperation. With these lessons from NASA’s playbook, we can successfully launch employees to new heights around the world.

You can watch the complete discussion here.

Don't forget to tune in for this weeks show "A Seat at The Table". 

Michelle Curran
Created on 6-11-2023