How did you get into this field. Was it purposeful or by accident?
I have always been interested in why, how and with what criteria professionals make career choices. In college and as a young professional I often heard friends and colleagues say, “this job is OK until I figure out what I want to do.” I wanted to find a way to pre-emptively help employers and candidates make great choices. Companies struggle to build workforces that can drive their business priorities while individuals struggle to forge careers based on what they are passionate about, are inherently good at or desirous of being the best at. I took on the challenge of helping companies and individuals package those preferences for successful choices.
In what ways do you feel your professional contributions have influenced or transformed the industry?
My approach to workforce management is based on that belief that technology continues to enhance the science of workforce planning and management, but people and innovative processes drive the outcomes. In 1985, I founded Advantage Human Resourcing, a staffing company that quickly grew from a start up to $100 million and expanded to provide exceptional contingent workforce management solutions. Advantage developed the concept of Hire Thinking, a methodology that created excellent performance results based on fit, motivation, experience and skills evaluated across all programs, services, placements, and compliance. As a result, Advantage had the best client and staff retention rate in the industry for over twenty years.
While most of our competitors focused on increasing the operational efficiency of temporary worker usage, Advantage viewed the market need differently, recognizing that clients were also seeking the knowledge and assistance needed to make and drive great talent choices. We were viewed as pioneers in what today is referred to as total talent management, managing all types of non-employees in a single program.
In my career I have had the opportunity to apply this approach as the leader of some of the industry’s best contingent workforce management companies including nextSource, where I serve as CEO today. At nextSource, we have further advanced the thinking regarding strategic workforce planning through the Program Agility Assessment, a proprietary methodology for ensuring alignment between corporate objectives/priorities and workforce programs. We recently introduced nextSourcing, a distinctive approach to direct sourcing that ensures continuous connections and frequent re-engagement of exceptional talent not sourced through traditional channels.
Advocacy for great workforce programs, solid organizational talent selections, and growth opportunities for professionals is exhilarating work regardless of scale, sector, and position type. I have been fortunate to promote these ideas beyond the Companies I have led by serving as on corporate boards and advisory bodies in the not for profit and public sectors, including public and private higher education, business and professional associates, and the Federal Reserve system.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges facing the industry today and what should be done to solve them?
The forces shaping talent markets have been accelerated by COVID but were well underway before and continue to be with us. The ability to pivot talent policy, practice and pay to meet talent needs during this time of scarcity is essential. Understanding that this in only the beginning of an era of worker leverage is even more important. These challenges also create opportunities for break-out growth:
- I encourage enterprises to shift their workforce planning emphasis from roles / job functions to “needed skills.” The rapid pace of simultaneous changes means that talent demands are fluid and management flexibility is essential. Redeployment of employees and engagement of contingent workers based on “skills to task matching” will be far more efficient than endlessly defining or redefining positions, conducting searches as external events occur, onboarding new individuals into organizational culture, accepting “just-in-case” redundancy or furloughing during a time of scarcity.
- Flexible engagements will continue to replace traditional “W2 employment,” as our workforces become increasingly blended (gig, contractors, consultants, independent consultants, WFH, onsite, essential, non-essential, “5 generational”, and more). This blend can slow us down through complexity, or, if planned for strategically and managed well, simplify management’s task by providing workforce flexibility, specialized talent when needed, demand elasticity and more predictable costs.
- Employment laws and regulations, many in conflict, are being continually introduced in so many jurisdictions that employers can struggle to be aware of, and adjust quickly enough, to avoid compliance risk while still maintaining the talent flexibility they need. Retaining a single compliance assurance service, fully integrated with talent acquisition, engagement and management systems, lifts the burden, improves results and helps control costs.
- Wages, while still important, are outweighed in employee priorities by other worker issues, starting with relationships with managers and the values of leaders. Effective talent management now requires more empathetic and flexible work environments, authentic diversity, ongoing learning opportunities, enhancement of personal (and portable) skills, and the willingness to hire and advance based on the probability of successful performance, rather than a traditional portfolio of job titles and credentials.
Looking at the whole of your career, what do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
The mission of nextSource – and my personal mission – is to advance the way the world connects with talent. That starts within the companies I have been privileged to lead. My greatest source of pride comes from assembling and working with a group of outstanding professionals who are committed to providing to our customers, suppliers, and partners, a personalized, intelligent approach to workforce solutions. The team’s demographic diversity drives innovation, and each day I learn more from them, enabling me to be a better leader and professional.
What three words do you feel your colleagues and peers would use to describe you?
creative force; trustworthy; forward-thinking.
What advice do you have for those who are new to the profession or considering entering the industry?
Success in this industry requires passion. There is an exceptional sense of accomplishment that comes from knowing that you helped someone launch their career or you enabled a client to build the workforce needed to take itself to the next level. When entering this industry, think broadly about the problems clients and candidates are facing, and strive to find new solutions.