Leslie Vickrey, CEO & Founder, ClearEdge Marketing
Years in staffing: 18
Leslie’s desire to move closer to family resulted in her first job within the staffing industry – but not the proximity to her family that she had imagined! Leslie took a role running marketing for the tech division of Interim Technology (which became Spherion) headquartered in Chicago to be closer to her sister, brother-in-law and newborn niece in Milwaukee. In a twist of fate, Leslie’s brother-in-law got transferred with Aerotek a few weeks later! Although her family moved, she has embraced Chicago and the staffing industry ever since.
I’m honored to feature Leslie Vickrey in the final #womenINstaffing Wednesday of the year. I’ve interviewed 36 outstanding women in staffing for this series over the last 6 months, but few I’ve had the privilege to work for directly or know personally. This one’s different. Leslie has been instrumental in my own development and career path within the staffing industry. Before joining ClearEdge, Leslie was a mentor of mine that always made time to share advice and encouragement despite her packed schedule. She stood as a shining example of the great women that were in the staffing industry, even if they were outnumbered, and inspired me to stay in this space. Fast forward a few years and Leslie gave me the opportunity to join ClearEdge, encouraging me to take risks and bring new ideas that would stretch me personally and the company. This series is truly the result of Leslie giving me the flexibility and resources to seize opportunities. Thanks for everything you’ve taught me thus far, Leslie. And now to share some of your wisdom with others!
What’s the best advice you’ve received recently and why?
I’m hooked on the principle of radical candor. It essentially combines providing feedback (very candid feedback!) that shows you care personally, while challenging directly. It’s one of the most difficult skills to perfect, but it’s critical in business and life in general. Feeling comfortable giving feedback in a way that isn’t personal will better the person on the receiving end. I want to avoid any surprises when having difficult conversations – and by giving guidance along the way, there shouldn’t be any surprises. We’re adopting this philosophy as a company.
I also love: If you don’t ask, you won’t get yes. We’re so afraid of rejection we avoid asking for things. But if you don’t ask, you won’t get yes!
Reflecting on your career in staffing, what’s your proudest moment?
The success of ARA, an organization I co-founded over three years ago to attract, retain and advance women in technology. We all know there’s a shortage of tech talent and a lack of women in tech. The desire to address these two challenges were the spark to form a group which specifically focuses on addressing both. Now, five cities later and over 2,000 women engaged in the program, ARA is helping the industry not only attract new talent, but also keep its talent and advance women at the same time. The past year has been particularly rewarding as we’ve started winning industry awards and recognition for our efforts. What makes it that much more rewarding is that fact the the awards are based on real-life stories of women finding success in their own careers.
What do you wish you would have known as a rookie in the staffing industry?
I think it’s important, regardless of your role in staffing, to know what it’s like to be in recruiting and sales, on the frontline of working with candidates and clients. If you’re going to help companies with their go-to-market strategy and building their brand, it’s important to really “know” the intricacies of the business and industry.
What keeps you excited about the staffing industry?
There will always be a need for finding great talent. That said, the ways in which we find, attract and retain said talent is constantly changing and evolving. I love the challenge of coming up with creative ideas that help clients evolve their thinking to do things in a new way that takes their business to new levels. The staffing industry isn’t exactly known for investing in traditional marketing, but I wouldn’t call what we’re doing traditional at all. And I love it!
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.