Kelly Boykin, Senior Vice President of Global Alliances at Aquent joins TheEdge to discuss all aspects of staffing. From mentorship to leadership, to technology changing the talent acquisition and employment ecosystem, Kelly’s prowess is a key ingredient to Aquent’s global position as a market and thought leader, and her vision for the future is one you don’t want to miss.
Aquent holds the #45 spot on the 2017 Staffing Industry Analysts’ list of the ‘Top 100 U.S. Staffing Firms’ and is universally recognized as the world’s largest creative digital staffing firm, and a pioneer “leading the market of change toward a new way of thinking about creative, digital and marketing staffing.”
For the past 14 years, Kelly has held various leadership roles at Aquent – from managing sales and regions, to lines of business, with her most recent focus on managing MSP relationships. In the podcast, Kelly explains Aquent’s dedication to continued global expansion, and the critical role MSP partnerships is playing in that strategy.
Kelly also shares the Aquent definition of the company name, which means “not a follower.” Collectively, she explains, they stay ahead of industry trends, and arguably sets them, by hyperfocusing on talent and technology, and leverage both to innovate and create unparalleled opportunities for clients and candidates. Kelly shares her thoughts on the relatively slow rate of adoption talent acquisition, specifically the staffing sector of talent acquisition, has been in embracing new technology, but how the technological disruptors making their way onto the scene – like artificial intelligence, natural language processing and analytics – are catalysts for the industry, allowing early adopters to continue to innovate and transform the way companies and talent connect.
Kelly discusses her leadership style – a fine balance between humor and humility and confidence and being forthright – and the importance of being able to identify the potential in the people around you in order to provide constructive, candid feedback, and to help grow the next generation into future leaders.
Of those holding executive-level positions at Aquent, 35 percent are women – a rate Kelly hopes to only continue to grow, and still 15 percentage points above the industry average (based on the top 50 U.S.-based staffing firms). For more woman to break into the c-suite and organizations to achieve higher – and authentic – levels of diversity, Kelly, while acknowledging her good fortune in finding an organization like Aquent that encouraged and promoted female leadership, stresses the importance for companies to pull in leaders from all walks of life. A culture of mixed leadership is a company of great opportunity, according to Kelly, and it’s important, systemically, for there to be career paths without limitations for future female leaders.
Lastly, in the podcast, Kelly speaks to starting a family and why it’s not just important but critical for today’s companies to compensate fairly and promote cultures of flexibility that allow female leaders to have successful professional and personal lives. Women are making up more and more of the workforce – the majority in some industries – and clear career paths need to be paved to exit and enter as needed. Kelly recounts drop-off rates of women leaving the industry but how employment branding is changing ‘business as usual.’