Takeaways from Executive Forum 2016




by Robin Mee

Founder and President, Mee Derby




Themed “Past, Present and Future,” this year’s SIA Executive Forum was a spectacular mark of the staffing industry’s rapid growth in the 25 years that the forum has been running.


People are excited and enthusiastic about the state of our industry.


In his keynote address, SIA President Barry Asin traced the staffing industry’s dynamic development. One of our key metrics is temporary penetration rates, measuring what percentage of the population are working in contract roles. Right now it’s 2.4%. The industry is seeing record growth and record penetration rates across all sectors of staffing.

The world of work is changing


The Total Talent Management Panel discussed talent supply chain strategy. Independent, contract and virtual work are on the rise. Teresa Carroll from Kelly Services noted that 35% of workers in the US are independent. Kelly Services projects that Total Talent Management is 11 trillion dollar market globally.

Virtual work is taking off, as UpWork CEO Stephane Kasriel pointed out in an interview. “There’s a new global marketplace for talent that can work anywhere.”

There was another outstanding keynote by Marcus Buckingham, thought-leader, author, and management consultant, who gave great advice on leadership. “Coaching trumps feedback,” he said, “Ask your team: what are your priorities this week and how can I help?”

NASA scholar Neil Jacobstein  gave a fascinating keynote called “The Rise of Machines, AI and the Future of Work” about robotics and where are we going with artificial intelligence.

“Technology is the equalizer for small companies to compete,” said Harold Mills at the 25 Years of Staffing Industry Success keynote panel. As a small team of less than 10 recruiters, we can say that it has definitely been true for us.

The last keynote of the week was by author Jeremie Kebicek who wrote a book called 5 Gears: How to Be Present and Productive When There is Never Enough Time. It provides simple ways of managing your time that are constructive for professional and personal life. It was so instructive.

Along the way, the forum was peppered with all sorts of interesting companies that are innovative, progressive, sharing their knowledge and experience.

“In order to be outstanding, you have to stand out with a quest for learning,” said Janice Bryant Howroyd in her inspiring acceptance speech for the 2016 Peter Yessne Staffing Leadership Award.

An opportunity to connect


The Executive Forum is an amazing opportunity for all of us in the staffing industry to network and share information. There were clients, prospective clients, candidates, people we had placed but had not met in person before. The opportunity to have facetime with these people is fantastic.

We went to two fantastic dinners. One was with LinkedIn, attended by more than 30 staffing CEOs and LinkedIn executives focused on staffing and recruiting companies. It was hosted by Alyssa Merwin, Sales Director, Head of Search & Staffing, North America. This dinner was at the Capital Grille – a fun evening with great food and drink. The other dinner was honoring the SIA Global Power 100 – Women in Staffing at Frank and Albert’s – a lovely restaurant at the Biltmore Hotel, where the conference was held. It was an amazing event to be part of this group of the most accomplished women leaders in the staffing industry!

The Executive Forum can be intense because from 7am to 12pm you are all-on, constantly talking to people you know and don’t know. Over the years you develop all these friendships. You spend time with professional friends where you get to connect personally and professionally. I’ve been in this industry for 27 years. Peter Yessne, founder of SIA, was my first boss in the staffing industry. So these are relationships that we’ve all been cultivating over many years.