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Psirch Discusses How to Expand Diversity in Quantum Computing when Looking for Executives

Executive leaders at Psirch, an executive search company, discuss how to hire with inclusivity and diversity in mind.
By Kenna Hughes-Castleberry posted 23 Jan 2023

Because of quantum computing’s technical content, it can be difficult to expand talent pools. Currently, the quantum industry is dealing with a bit of a talent shortage, as companies are struggling to find the appropriate candidates out of the limited workforce. To help overcome this challenge, Psirch, an executive search company, uses innovative methods to find the best applicants for an executive position. “Executive searches for senior-level positions, especially those in the unique category of Quantum Technology, require both strategies and tactics to seek out candidates with the required qualifications that the client company has defined they need for a senior-level position,” explained CEO and co-founder Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire. Psirch’s parent company, Berkhemer Clayton, Inc., was founded in 1994, so they’ve been able to see the entire industry evolve into what it is today, giving them further insight into their executive search process. Because of the talent shortage, many companies struggle to also find candidates with diverse backgrounds, leading to problems of having a majority demographic within the business. To try to solve this issue, I (Kenna) spoke to several of Psirch’s leadership team, to further understand the underlying causes.

Looking Further into Expanding a Diverse Workforce

Psirch is a unique company within the quantum industry as it is 100% woman-owned. With its women leaders, Psirch can have a wide variety of perspectives when it comes to different candidate choices, as well as a quantum company’s needs. “Traditional research and outreach methods are not enough when recruiting for diverse candidates,” stated Linh Duong, Psirch Senior Associate. “It is important to connect with diverse candidates from a variety of different spaces and outlets that they feel most comfortable congregating in. [This means] seeking out referrals from leaders and networks coming from diverse communities. Accessing diverse professional networking groups and job boards and advertising the position there. These are some of the methods I’ve undertaken to increase a more diverse pool of candidates for a search.” Because of its diverse leadership, Psirch has a diverse range of networks to rely on for referrals.

For Berkhemer-Credaire, networking and referrals also play an important role: “We proactively reach out to identify diverse candidates who have the career track record that our client company is seeking,” she said. “We frequently attend or are guest speakers at, conferences, professional groups, or webinars hosted by organizations, educational institutions, and associations focused on diversity and inclusion. Always alert to meet potential candidates from all racial backgrounds, genders, and LGBTQ, this is a full-time effort on our part. I’m a frequent speaker at women’s national professional organizations, with members at the board level across corporate America, which has generated a wide network of diverse contacts. Often, we ask our diverse contacts for similarly diverse referrals in quantum.” Referrals offer a deeper level of understanding between both the potential employer and employee and allow Psirch to expand its search radius for potential candidates.

Psirch Believes a Diverse Workforce is Supported by Company Culture

While hiring diverse talent can be a challenge, maintaining these employees can be a whole other process. To help encourage a more sustainable hire as well as a smoother transition process, Psirch evaluates company and candidate culture “As part of our interview process, we determine the type of culture where the candidate would thrive,” explained Berkhemer-Credaire. “It really comes down to our own evaluation of how we assess the candidate will be an optimal fit. We do counsel client decision-makers, and boards of directors in many cases, about how to communicate effectively with the candidates once they are on board, and during the search, and how best to manage their career advancement and environment so that both candidate and company will benefit from the relationship.” Having compatible cultures not only allows both parties to feel trusted and respected by the other but may encourage more successful hires in the future.

Psirch Digs Deeper than Most

Because of its referral system and a wider range of compatibility evaluations, Psirch stands out in this expanding industry. For growing quantum computing companies, the benefit of using a company like Psirch seems significant. “Executive searches are a tremendous asset and a welcome relief for companies who lack the time, capacity, and expertise to take on the hiring process internally, especially if the role they are trying to fill is a significant one,” stated Duong. “Companies should expect to be engaged in a highly collaborative, dynamic partnership with the search team because proactive communication with regular check-ins and feedback is integral to the success and integrity of the search. Executive searches can also be a very cathartic process for the client and their stakeholders. It’s an opportunity for hopes and frustrations to be shared – honesty and transparency are welcomed and encouraged because the more insights that can be shared, the more nuanced the search can be.”

To learn more about Psirch go to visit: www.psirch.com

Kenna Hughes-Castleberry is a staff writer at Inside Quantum Technology and the Science Communicator at JILA (a partnership between the University of Colorado Boulder and NIST). Her writing beats include deep tech, the metaverse, and quantum technology.

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