Movers & Shakers: Stephen McKenna, SkyWater Search Partners

  • July 6, 2014 - 2:00 PM

A look at the people behind the numbers in area business:

Stephen McKENNA skywater search partners

Title: Associate, operations and engineering recruiting practices

Age: 47

Stephen McKenna is helping companies secure engineering talent as an associate at SkyWater Search Partners, an executive search firm in Minnetonka.

McKenna said he has the experience and network to lead SkyWater’s expanding operations and engineering recruiting practices at a time of strong demand for those positions in the Twin Cities market. SkyWater’s reputation, leadership team and growth strategy for the practice areas he’s working in all helped draw him to the firm.

“SkyWater is coming off a very good year and the leadership wants to grow,” McKenna said. “The current demand in the engineering, operations and supply chain areas made the decision [to expand] rather easy.”

McKenna has 25 years of operations management, human resource management and engineering recruiting experience.

Most recently, he spent seven years as human resources and labor relations manager for Carl Zeiss Industrial Metrology, where he was responsible for recruiting and hiring candidates for engineering, operations and other technical positions in the United States and Canada.

McKenna previously managed operations for Pillsbury and Philadelphia Macaroni Co. and gained plant management experience at Michael Foods and Vicom Industries.

He has a microbiology degree from Western Illinois University.

SkyWater is a hybrid firm, doing both contingent fee and retained searches for mid- to executive-level positions in accounting and finance, information technology, sales, marketing, engineering, human resources and consumer packaged goods.

Clients range from early growth-stage companies to Fortune 500 companies.

Q: What is the engineering recruiting market like now in the Twin Cities?

A: The demand for engineering and operations talent in the market is quite strong as companies are in need of a variety of people in this field. The Twin Cities job market for candidates is also strong as we have a diverse base of manufacturing and service-based organizations in the medical, aerospace, IT and food manufacturing sectors.

Q: What appeals to you about recruiting?

A: I enjoy being the person who is in the middle of the process. I also like interacting with both the hiring managers — I’ve been one — and the candidates. To assist my clients in winning the race for talent provides personal satisfaction.

Q: How does recruiting for engineering and technical positions differ from recruiting for other fields?

A: Engineering expertise is broader than most fields and [ranges] from R&D, product development and manufacturing to applications. This creates a little longer learning curve than other disciplines.

Todd Nelson

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