I have a sense of anticipation in the lead up to the Staffing Industry Analysts Executive Forum in the USA. I believe it is the best conference in the world for the recruitment and staffing industry.
This year we were in San Diego, a wonderful city with a climate similar to Perth’s and located on the Mexico border. Of course, the Mexican border and other political topics are “in the room” but most seemed to be determined to have a politics free conference.
This year’s event was themed “Dare to Lead” and attracted 1100 industry leaders and suppliers. Attendance is heavily weighted to the domestic US market but there are is always a strong international contingent.
The supplier exhibition seemed even bigger than usual and the variety of products and services on display was very broad. Not surprisingly, there is a rise in service providers that have specific offerings around compliance and employment as these are ongoing headaches in the USA as they are in Europe and Asia Pacific.
More solutions are being developed to address finding and attracting scarce talent. While this is a major recruitment and business issue that all trends indicate will get worse, the cynic in me suggests many of these solutions are superficial.
The major players are really stepping up to provide great value-added services to the industry. The information willingly shared by CareerBuilder, LinkedIn and Bullhorn, just to mention three, is fantastic and genuinely adds to the source of information available to recruitment agency owners to make strategic and tactical decisions.
The concurrent sessions in the conference continue to provide a challenge, as there is always more than one session that demands attention. This year provided four streams of conference panels and presentations and an additional two “Ideas in Action” streams showcasing suppliers and their solutions. I’ve ordered the session recordings to catch up on those missed.
It is a credit to the presenters and panellists, and to the esteem with which the Executive Forum is held, that the executives of so many leading companies attend and willingly share their views.
Dare to Lead
The conference theme was reinforced in all the keynote presentations. Barry Asin, President of SIA, opened the conference discussing leadership in the industry as it relates to people, the market, and innovation. This was followed by a panel discussion with the CEO’s of On Assignment, Allegis Global Solutions, Manpower Group, and AMN Healthcare. You should have heard of these companies, they represent about US$35B in annual revenue.
Two other keynote presentations stood out.
Doris Kearnes Goodwin gave one of the most riveting storytelling events I’ve witnessed. She had the audience totally engaged in her presentation “Leadership Lessons from the Whitehouse”, drawing from her biographies of four presidents – Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Franklin Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The latter biography was the basis for the recent Abraham Lincoln film. She drew out the leadership attributes of past presidents to provide great relevance to today’s leaders.
In a completely different manner but equally as effectively, Professor Harry Kraemer from Northwester University’s Kellogg School of Management showed “values-based leaders are needed more than ever and the journey to becoming a values-based leader starts with self-reflection followed by balance, true self confidence, and genuine humility”. His book “From Values to Action” has great learnings for every manager. An inspiring presentation.
This year’s European Executive Forum will be held in London in October. Next year’s North America Executive Forum will be held in Miami in February/March 2018. And SIA’s exciting new conference, Collaboration in the Gig Economy will be held in Dallas in September.