Our recent series on SIA’s Staffing Stream: Women & The Path To Staffing’s Highest Ranks, helped spark great conversations about what factors impact women attaining C-level and board roles. Your reactions were incredible and highlighted the efforts being made by both women and men to create more equality within staffing leadership. However, we were also reminded along the way of the great women who currently hold executive roles and are setting the groundwork for more leaders in the future.
We’re launching #womenINstaffing Wednesdays to feature these women. This will be a weekly Q & A series over the next several months focused on shining the spotlight on trailblazing women within the staffing industry, sharing lessons learned from decades of experience, significant achievements, character-building failures and a close pulse on the trends that will impact the next generation of staffing leaders.
And now, to the good stuff… our first feature!
Genia Spencer, President of TeamPeople
Years in staffing: 31
Fun fact: After what was meant to be a temporary job at a healthcare staffing company after Genia’s first year at Vanderbilt, she decided to forgo a full scholarship in engineering to pursue her passion for business – and has been in the staffing industry ever since!
What keeps you excited about your role within the staffing industry?
We touch every industry. I never had to pick an industry to work in because my clients were across the board – from global financial services and healthcare organizations to a sock factory in rural North Carolina. When you’re involved in an enterprise-wide staffing relationship, you get to know their business and their industry. Most importantly, you begin to understand the impact that we make. For over 75% of the Fortune 500, staffing is one of their top 3 spend areas – this is an important industry. It’s not just a fill today or a name on the dashboard, you’re touching something that’s going to have an impact on the economy, on safety, on technology and beyond.
If you could go back to earlier in your career, what would you have done differently?
I would have taken more risks sooner. I work with a lot of entrepreneurs now and I would have pursued that direction earlier. However, my work in a large international company provided me with ways to continue to learn and diversify which I wouldn’t change. There will always be a sector of the staffing industry that is growing which creates immense opportunities in this space – and even if you think that you have a large market share, there are still relationships to build and people to connect with that can fuel more growth. It’s important to pursue different opportunities that broaden your skill set since you will be sitting at the table with very smart people. Be a voracious reader, be curious. Don’t buy into the attitude that staffing is not as much as a profession as accounting or marketing or IT. I actually had a client once say to me, “you’re pretty smart for a staffing girl.” I wanted to react with a biting response. Instead, I stepped back and used it as a motivator. Come in prepared, know their business and know the people that will help them meet their goals. Behave as a professional advisor to them. The reactive nature of our business can get in the way of continuous learning. Commit to yourself to learn something new, read a new perspective – ask questions. And about that Vanderbilt scholarship, at the time, engineering wasn’t for me and Vanderbilt didn’t have a business option. I went to work full-time for that healthcare staffing company and received my business degree from Florida Atlantic University. I also benefited from significant investments in advanced education from Randstad. The larger companies have really worked to build development opportunities into career paths. Strive to qualify for them… it is worth it. In the future, I hope to be part of the growing industry initiative to create degree programs in strategic staffing and workforce management.
Why is staffing a great career for women in leadership?
I don’t believe there is the same glass ceiling in this industry that you often hear about in other industries. The metrics of staffing are very clear. If you produce your number, you will be rewarded. People can’t hide from the transparency. This doesn’t mean that you will follow a corporate path to the top, but it creates opportunities. You are as good as the number and quality of people you put to work. But that’s the rewarding part – how many people are working because of you and how many clients you have that are meeting their goals because of you. Reflecting on the past three decades, it feels good to know that I’ve helped hundreds of people start their careers in staffing. I celebrate and enjoy watching their families grow and watching so many of them succeed in owner, president, and VP roles across the industry. What is really fun? Now I find myself interviewing the sons, daughters and even grandchildren of my former colleagues. It is a good sign for the industry when our children see staffing as a career path.
Share your stories from the staffing industry and include #womenINstaffing. Interested in being featured in a future #womenINstaffing Wednesday post, email us!
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.