Teresa Creech, CEO, ICon Professional Services
Years in staffing: 20
Fun fact: When Teresa started in the staffing industry, women had to wear skirts or dresses! Wardrobe expectations have certainly shifted over time – and so have the trends and technologies impacting the staffing industry. Teresa has always been attracted to the cutting edge as the industry has shifted, initially running a full desk and later taking on roles at start-up software firms, launching VMS and MSP practices for global firms and now taking on the IC and compliance space as CEO of ICon Professional Services.
Dana Shaw, President & COO, ICon Professional Services
Years in staffing: 19
Fun fact: After starting on a desk and moving into management, Dana left to follow her heart to the nonprofit sector for 3.5 years. However, she couldn’t deny the draw of the staffing industry and realized that her passion for helping people aligned with the impact she could make on people’s livelihoods via employment – calling it “giving back on steroids.” The pay upgrade didn’t hurt either! As a single mom, she embraced the opportunities and choices she had within staffing to eventually take on diverse roles within the industry, from staffing leadership to educating staffing buyers at SIA to her current role at ICon.
What’s the best advice you’ve received recently?
Teresa: The very best leaders, the very best co-workers and the best relationship managers are the people that can strike a balance between keeping an eye on the future while keeping both feet in the present. Being present is something I continue to work on in my professional and personal life. When it gets out of balance by focusing too much on the future, you lose sight of what’s happening on the ground right now and you can miss things. Getting the balance right helps you build a foundation for so many other skill sets.
Dana: Listen more than you speak – it’s a great reminder as to why we only have one mouth, but two ears and two eyes (and for those of us who talk with our hands, two of those as well)! Another quote I love is: “A vision without execution is a hallucination.” However, I’ve learned to not make radical changes or major leaps for 90 days – just observe before making the changes. There is a way to get people to accept change, and be a part of the change, by leading them through it. That’s really earned and it takes time.
If you could give advice to you as a rookie in staffing, what would you say?
Teresa: Be a little fearless. It’s sort of hard to take chances when you’re new to an industry – and this is an industry that can stand a few more risk-takers! It took me years to get comfortable doing that. Fail fast. Admit you failed and course correct. Also, recognize what’s really important. Put that lens on how you spend your time. That’s the thinking that gets you to the next place.
Dana: Do what’s right for both clients and candidates…the money will follow, but if you short-change one side or the other, you all lose. Know what’s important to you and then crusade from there: think differently, try something and if it doesn’t work, it’s okay to fail and learn how to fail. You can’t really wait for a mentor, especially in staffing. You need to ask and put yourself out there. Offer something in return. For example, “I’d love to take you to lunch once a quarter to get your advice, and if I can do anything for you, please let me know.”
Any parting thoughts for other aspiring #womenINstaffing leaders?
Teresa: Everyone needs to manage up, manage across and manage down. This requires that we pay attention to different indicators and adjusting accordingly. I very often find that some folks become married to their natural strength or comfort zone and forget about the other two. To be effective over time, you need to keep focus on all three paths. It will make for a more rewarding career.
Dana: There is so much noise about no female officers in the space. It only takes one – be the one!
Are you an industry veteran that’s excited to share your lessons with the next generation of staffing leaders? Share your insights as part of this #womenINstaffing Wednesday series. Contact me to learn more.
Confused on the hashtag (#) in the title of this series? Let me know if you’d like to join a virtual roundtable with a few other female staffing execs to discuss the power of Twitter to build your personal brand.