Susan Donohoe, Chief Program Officer, TechServe Alliance
Years in staffing: 15
Fun fact: Susan initially joined the staffing industry through her work with NACCB’s Open Door Education Foundation which aimed to promote STEM jobs to youth, while introducing them to the wide range of opportunities that exist as an IT consultant. As NACCB (National Association of Computer Consultant Businesses) evolved to TechServe Alliance over time, Susan’s responsibilities also expanded to include lobbying, building TechServe’s educational programming and leading efforts for their annual conference which is the premier event for IT and Engineering staffing firms in the United States.
I’ve been lucky to know Susan for nearly a decade and have personally benefited from her career insights and unique perspective into the staffing industry – from conversations about taking risks in my own career to picking her brain on the trends that she hears from countless discussions with industry executives and more. In this blog, I’ve asked her to share a little bit of both (career lessons and staffing insights) so others can benefit as well! Thanks again, Susan, for everything you do for this industry!
Reflecting on the past 15 years, can you share a couple of your proudest moments?
A passion for education is what led me to the staffing industry so I was proud to expand on this years later to help launch a certification program for recruiters and account executives to further their careers and differentiate in our space. This was a huge initiative for TechServe, and one I believe will have a lasting impact as we help individuals and companies fight against commoditization. Another educational initiative that I’ve been proud to lead is our annual conference. It’s been exciting to see the event mature over the years and become a must attend event for IT and engineering staffing leaders. The conference has become more sophisticated over time as we focus on providing diverse speakers and quality content, meanwhile continuing valuable traditions that create community and networking, like the annual women’s luncheon that started over a decade ago.
What do you know now that you wish you would have known earlier in your career?
I wish I knew how fast things have to change and how fluid you need to be. That wasn’t the way it was when I first started. You could do things a little bit slower, and now you have to do things really fast. However, that means that you need to be able to fail quickly and be comfortable with that. Don’t be so preoccupied with the consequences. By taking on massive projects in my career, I’ve benefited from trying many different things with some being wildly successful, and some not. And I’ve learned to be comfortable with either outcome.
What’s the best advice you’ve received recently?
It goes back to taking risks: Do things that make you a little bit uncomfortable and challenge yourself so you don’t get bored. For example, early in my career, I wasn’t very comfortable public speaking. However, over time, I’ve intentionally put myself in uncomfortable situations and took on more opportunities to address a crowd to increase my comfort level.
What is the most exciting part of working in the staffing industry ecosystem?
We’re always looking at data to help inform decisions and strategies, but staffing is still a people business at the core. The main reason I’ve stayed in this industry and at TechServe so long is because of the people. You get to meet diverse professionals from all over the world with interesting backgrounds, from medical doctors to salespeople. It’s also exciting looking back at how the industry has matured over the last 15 years. In the past, if you were a good salesperson you could open a staffing firm and create a nice lifestyle business. But, as the contingent workforce spend has increased exponentially at many companies creating more demand for staffing services, the business approach has changed and many executives evolved alongside their businesses, while some decided to leave. It had to get more sophisticated in a very short period of time with MSPs, VMSs, etc. This industry does need quality and delivery provided by these services, but in the end, I stay energized that this remains a people business.
What do you believe are the most critical issues facing the industry and TechServe right now?
Commoditization of the industry is a huge issue. TechServe is working to help our members showcase their differentiators and create stronger companies. Our team is dedicated to partnering with the industry to provide services, data and education to elevate the space. The talent shortage is also a significant challenge that we’re facing as an industry. TechServe is looking at ways to maximize the talent that we have in the US, while working on the H1-B visa issue that we’ve lobbied on for years. The pace that new technology and resources are emerging is something that we also keep a pulse on to help companies understand what’s available as they work towards becoming a more efficient business.
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.