Tracy Rettie, CAE
Vice President, Education and Strategic Initiatives
American Staffing Association
Years at American Staffing Association: 18
Vice President, Membership and Sections
American Staffing Association
Years at American Staffing Association: 24
Fun fact: Although not technically “staffing professionals,” both Tracy and Kelly have spent the majority of their professional careers paving the way for staffing companies and staffing professionals to be more successful. They took different paths to joining the industry (read how they first connected with ASA below), and have embraced the opportunity to contribute in multiple ways over the last two decades. Personally, I’m excited to feature both Tracy and Kelly as they were influential in my own education about the staffing industry and understanding the impact on individual lives and the economy as a whole. Thanks for sharing your perspective and your tireless commitment to this industry, Tracy and Kelly!
What was your path to the American Staffing Association?
Tracy: Prior to working for ASA and learning about the staffing industry, I worked for university alumni associations and nonprofit organizations leading the charge in programming, development, recruitment, retention, and strategic initiatives. ASA was the first trade association I ever considered working for. Through research and learning about the good work of the industry from Richard Wahlquist, ASA president and CEO, I knew that I would be honored to support an industry who helps millions of individuals each year find jobs that impact their lives in so many positive ways.
Kelly: I turned to a staffing company to help find me a job upon college graduation. The owner of the firm hired me to help with her volunteer responsibilities with the National Association of Temporary Services (now the American Staffing Association). Fast-forward two years, when I was planning to relocate to the city where NATS was headquartered, I set a meeting with the organization to conduct an exploratory interview to learn which staffing firms in the area would be most beneficial in helping me find my next job. I walked out of the meeting with a job offer from Ed Lenz, currently ASA senior counsel, to be a legislative assistant for the association and the rest is history. That was 24 years ago, and I continue to love this journey!
Will you share one of your proudest career moments and why that moment is meaningful to you?
Tracy: I am very proud of all that ASA does and provides to our members and the staffing industry, as a whole. One of my personal proudest career moments is the day that ASA announced its first professional credential program, the Certified Staffing Professional® (CSP®) back in October 2003. Seeing the culmination of the many years of work and dedicated effort provided by staff, staffing professional volunteers, and legal experts who contributed to the creation of this program was exciting and fulfilling. Knowing that we created a tool that represents the gold standard in professional credentials for the industry was, and is, quite a professional achievement.
Kelly: Being an association professional affords you the opportunities to wear many hats and be part of exciting initiatives that result in extraordinarily meaningful accomplishments. It’s hard to pick just one—so bear with me because I’m very proud of the work we accomplish at ASA!
A few of my favorites include working with our members to develop best practices in safety that have now been recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Safety Council. These will serve as the foundation for a new standards program for the staffing, recruiting, and workforce solutions industry. Launching the ASA online member community, ASA Central, has allowed our members to connect with their peers, share insights, and further engage with the association. Most recently, it has been a pleasure to work with some of the most talented female executives in the industry to launch the association’s Women in Leadership program. This initiative is designed to educate the industry on the unique qualities and abilities women bring into leadership roles to create more gender-balanced organizations. Delivering value back to our members and seeing their appreciation for how ASA helps them—and the staffing industry as a whole—is very rewarding.
You’ve seen the staffing industry go through many changes. What are the key trends that you see now in staffing?
Tracy: The staffing industry continues to mold itself around client and job seeker needs, laws and regulations, technology, and the new world of work. Current trends include knowledge sharing of best practices, consultative services for clients, and exploration of how to improve services and match people with the right jobs within the construct of continual technological disruptors throughout all industries.
Kelly: Technology has certainly helped the staffing industry streamline operations, but at the same time, technology disruptors have begun to blur the future strategic direction of the industry. In addition, we see a myriad of laws and regulations that continue to challenge the industry due to its unique third-party relationships with job seekers and clients. Additional trends include the need to develop the next generation of leaders, respond to the needs of Millennials, and invest in employee engagement. ASA is working to address these key trends for our members. Helping our members sift through these changes is a core part of the ASA strategic plan.
You work with a lot of staffing leaders. What are the characteristics of the leaders that have made the biggest impression on you – in a positive way?
Tracy: The leaders in this industry are very special people. They are subject matter experts in so many elements of their industry—“Jacks of all trades”—if you will. They are passionate, extremely intelligent, dedicated, kind, and assertive. They see their careers not just as work to do, but as serving their communities by developing and cultivating opportunities for those who have skills and talent that match the needs of their clients. They see their careers also as helping clients develop a workbench of talent to remain fully staffed during busy times, and to develop future projects and services within their particular niche areas. They often share how unique this industry is—and how it deserves more recognition among job seekers, corporate America, and the general public. No one goes to school to become a staffing professional, and the ASA Staffing as a Career initiative is trying to help change that—to introduce job seekers to myriad opportunities as a corporate (internal) staffing company employee (e.g., recruiters and salespeople).
Kelly: Working for the staffing industry does allow me to interact and work with so many great leaders.
Those who have impacted me along the way are leaders who are positive and inspiring, and who empower and develop their people. I’m fortunate to work with staffing executives who are passionate, genuine, energetic—and also have a great sense of humor. They are risk takers and innovators. They aren’t afraid to fail, and admit when they do. Leaders who are passionate about helping their organization achieve a goal as well as helping each member of their team reach his or her full potential—that has made the biggest impression on me. When leaders recognize that each individual has unique strengths and they maximize those strengths, success is inevitable.
What keeps you excited about the work that you do?
Tracy: Working at ASA and having responsibilities in so many areas, including working with our amazing chapter leaders and new regional councils, educational offerings, event planning, certification, and association strategic initiatives, including partnerships with Jobs for Americas Graduates, the National Urban League, the national association of colleges and employers, and more keep me busy, motivated, energized, and engaged. It’s a great industry—you can’t help but to be pumped about it!
Kelly: Without question, our members and our internal team here at ASA are the reasons I love coming to work every day. Our members are very passionate about the work they do—they impact the lives of millions of people and provide solutions that allow business to thrive. It’s that passion and enthusiasm for the industry that challenges the ASA team to provide even greater value and services to members. It is the foundation of our culture here at ASA, and I can’t imagine anything better.
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.