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Our people

As we have stressed for the past five years, we cannot make the impact we would like without having the best talent pool in the industry – people who are passionate, proactive, willing to challenge clients and who are high performers. We measure employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction in every office around the world and understand the linkages which exist between the two.

We have done well in many areas. For example, 72% of our people feel passionate about the work they do and 51% of people feel that they have at least one true mentor in the company – and the scores around these have been increasing since 2004. We also have identified gaps which we need to address, including the retention of our great mid-level people. Overall, we will spend over $15 million on training and management development this year compared to $5 million in 2002. But we still have much to do in developing the skills which our clients require and focusing on peoples' career development as much as we should.

2007 saw some great talent come into the Group. Some of that talent came through acquisitions such as Cheskin, an innovation-focused firm with deep multicultural expertise, which joined Added Value. Others, such as Michael Gazala who joined Lightspeed as its North American CEO, Paul Edwards who joined Research International as its UK CEO and Bridget Armstrong who joined Research International as its US CEO, joined at senior levels from outside our business. But we should be equally proud of our ability to appoint CEOs from within the business and to effect smooth transitions. Eileen Campbell (Millward Brown), Lynnette Cooke (Ziment), Wayne Levings (from Glendinning to MVI), Bob Meyers (from Millward Brown to Research International) are all examples of Global CEOs who have been sourced internally.

Pleasingly, we are now beginning to look at talent this way at all levels across the business, using internal job boards to try and retain as many of our talented people as possible. And it is important to say that it is not just at senior levels that we are making progress. For the past four years our businesses in South Africa have been running a graduate recruitment program with rotations across the businesses, aimed at previously disadvantaged candidates. The quality has been excellent and we have retained 75% of entrants as permanent employees.

Our infrastructure and HR information systems need to improve for us to be able to move as many people around the world and across businesses as we would like and that will be a priority for next year.