Future of Sourcing Digital continues to highlight leaders in the field with the series titled “Women in Global in Sourcing.” This series strives to highlight, celebrate and acknowledge women who are pioneers and leaders in the industry and who have been influential in moving the industry forward. Future of Sourcing is thrilled to welcome Tracy Scheid to the series.
Tracy is the Vice President of Operations at Workspend. She is a strategic and results-oriented leader with over 30 years of experience aligning business goals with talent acquisition strategies.
Tell us about your career path. How did you get into this field? Was it purposeful or by accident?
I started my career in the staffing industry and landed there purely by accident. I had contacted a placement firm to help me find a new job, and after interviewing with them, they hired me internally. Through the years I moved into branch and area management, and in 2006 I started in an MSP role, as a Program Manager for a very large contingent workforce program. This was in the early years of MSP/VMS, and I knew right away that this was where I wanted to be. I loved the complexity of the MSP business (and still do). Although the MSP and VMS businesses are closely tied to staffing and often bucketed in the staffing industry, contingent workforce management is really a combination of supplier management and business process management. I thrived in this environment and rose through various levels of management until I was a Vice President for a large MSP company, responsible for 52 contingent workforce programs and $2.4 billion of spend under management. I leveraged that experience to start a consulting firm with a well-respected colleague, which opened the door to my current role at Workspend, a leading organization that provides total talent solutions. It is extremely important to me to be a part of an organization with values and a focus that closely match my own. Workspend is innovative, and acutely focused on client satisfaction, with a consultative approach.
Would you follow that same path again if you had the choice?
Yes, I would choose the same path. It wasn’t a perfect journey, but I learned so much in each of my roles along the way. I had the great privilege of working with so many wonderful, talented, intelligent people and I’ve had the chance to learn from exceptional mentors. I’m an accumulation of all of those experiences, all of those learning opportunities.
What has been the single most significant development to impact your profession or area of business during your career and why?
The most profound development in staffing, contingent workforce management and total talent management is technology. Technology innovation continues to impact talent management in ways that I could have never been imagined when I first started my career. Predictive analytics and Artificial Intelligence continue to drive changes to the technology used to source and manage all types of talent.
However, the evolution of the contingent workforce itself has also been significant. When I first started my career, temporary workers were a very small part of the overall workforce. During economic downturns in the early 2000s companies started to see contingent labor as a key element in managing resource costs as they addressed peaks and valleys in business, seasonal ramp ups, and niche skill sets. The use of the contingent workforce has grown drastically since then. Companies began to recognize the need for visibility into the use, quality and cost of such a large and vital part of their workforce, and that is when contingent labor started to be seen as a commodity, and generally shifted from being managed by HR to being managed by Sourcing and Procurement.
At the same time, these organizations saw the value in engaging third party MSPs, using VMS technology to manage staffing suppliers, compliance, cost and quality. The evolution continued with the identification and use of different categories of contingent labor, including independent contractors, freelancers, statements of work and outsourced services.
Companies are now starting to look holistically at all talent, both contingent and regular full-time, in a total talent approach. The management of total talent requires complex, innovative technology that can not only report on current state, but can also position stakeholders to proactively address future needs while continuing to drive value.
What’s the biggest challenge facing your industry today - and how do you plan to solve it?
The biggest challenge facing the contingent workforce industry is how quickly the industry is changing. The contingent workforce landscape has already changed drastically in the last two decades. Most economists predict a 50/50 split between regular full-time and contingent workers within the next five years. Finding better ways to integrate all segments of the workforce and building comprehensive service and technology solutions to source and manage all types of labor will require innovation and technological advances specifically around predictive analytics and artificial intelligence (AI). Our goal is to create an integrated technology ecosystem to support total talent management, focusing on user experience, predictive analytics, data and AI.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement career-wise?
I think that my greatest achievement has been helping people advance in their career paths and achieve their career goals. As a leader, I feel that my greatest contribution is mentoring others to achieve their full potential.
What’s your biggest (as yet) unfulfilled ambition - and what are you doing to achieve it?
I am so thankful to have had the opportunities that I have had throughout my career. I really just want to continue to be a part of an organization that offers me the chance to be an innovator and thought leader and to continue to make a difference as we rise to meet the challenges of such a dynamic and vital industry.
What three words do you think your colleagues and peers would use to describe you?
Honest, because I believe that being honest and having integrity is the only way to do business and be successful.
Dedicated, because I’ve always led by example, and I work hard every day to meet deadlines and deliver to both our clients and internal team members.
Supportive, because providing support and service to our clients is my primary focus. I also believe that helping my team succeed, whether it is by taking on a task, providing guidance or encouragement, or simply listening, will always be among the most important things that I can do.
Finally, what piece of advice would you give to young women starting their careers in the field of sourcing, outsourcing and procurement?
Work hard. Trust and respect are something that you earn. People and relationships matter, so treat people with respect and kindness. Be self-aware. Never stop learning. Recognize that you can learn something valuable from almost everyone you meet. Smile…a lot. You only live once, and you spend almost every day at work, so have fun with it. Enjoy what you do, but know that you won’t always like every part of your job. Your career, like any other part of your life, is unpredictable with ups and downs. You can influence it, but you can’t always control the outcome. Do your best, be your best and enjoy the journey.