15 Feb 2024

Unveiling Unseen Brilliance: Strategies and Insights for Unearthing Hidden Talents in Your Organization

Early on in my career I worked in a large, chilled food factory - a huge labour-intensive operation with over 40 nationalities represented by the workforce on site. Many colleagues were from Eastern Europe and were typically highly educated, intelligent individuals standing on production lines.

As Site Technical Manager I had responsibility for the onsite Microbiology Lab, and we'd been advertising for a Microbiologist for weeks with no success.

It's good to talk!

One day I was helping on a new product development trial and chatting with Magda who was working on the packing line. As the machinery was tweaked and refined (as often occurs during trials) the staff stood and waited. What started as small talk with Magda developed into a detailed conversation about life back home.  She shared that she'd got a first-class degree in Microbiology and came to the UK on graduating and has been on the production line ever since.

I asked why she hadn't applied for the role I'd been advertising. She replied, "I didn't think I'd have enough relevant experience".  I replied "You absolutely have experience! You've worked on this shop floor for five years; you know how this factory works. You have the academic background. We can sort the actual lab experience with on-the-job training."

We arranged a trial, and the rest is history. Magda since forged a successful food microbiology career through that chance conversation.

Another colleague, Agi, applied for a promotion to QA Supervisor. I read her CV and discovered that prior to arriving in the UK she'd been the HR Manager of a large company. We were recruiting for an Assistant HR Manager in the organisation at the time and I passed her CV on to the HR Director. Whilst I was sad to lose her from my QA team, she got the job in HR and was able to restart her chosen career path within our organisation.

It's also important also to investigate 'hidden' skills that can be highly transferable. In my other 'job' I'm a single mother to four children. Running a family as a working mum requires a high level of organisation, delegation, and diplomacy skills. Those skills are highly valuable in the workplace. 

Another hidden gem are ex-Military personnel. Their skill set includes high discipline, high personal standards, and following instructions to the letter. This is potentially an asset to any auditing, factory hygiene team or role where compliance is critical.

3 tips to uncover hidden talent

So, what hidden talents do you have in your workforce and how do you find them?

  1. The first is through your regular team 1-2-1's and reviews. Those regular conversations where you discuss your employees progress and aspirations in the organisation.
  2. You could also undertake a talent audit with support from your HR team. Review CV's which accompanied original job applications…or undertake a talent survey of the staff. Ask the right questions – and create an environment where employees want to share their skills with you.   
  3. Finally, don't forget training. An individual who shows commitment to your organisation and has some skills is worthy of investment to help them progress into another role within your organisation.


It's important that leaders understand their team member skills and background and encourage career progression. This will ultimately result in a more motivated, skilled, and loyal team and contribute to the success and sustainability of the organisation.

More information:

Intertek Academy Training Courses

Intertek services for food businesses


Kal Bening Intertek headshot

Heather Hayward,
Food Technical Consultant, Intertek UK

With over 20 years food manufacturing experience, Heather draws on her knowledge to support our clients through various projects ranging from supporting smaller suppliers to meet retailers' food manufacturing requirements, updating a specification management system for restaurants and retail outlet allergen audits to gap analysis work, desktop traceability audits and support in generating risk assessments, policies and procedures.

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