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Jacki Leonard is a strategic leadership professional with a focus on defining and implementing business strategies that surpass expectations. Expert in mentoring, coaching and developing teams to achieve their ultimate potential and exceed company goals. Hands-on approach to business development, working with account managers to develop strong client relationships and ensure value is being added. Strong business managment experience with focus on budget/P&L and corporate goals.

Her specialties include Team leadership, Critical Thinking Skills, Training & Development, Managed Service Programs, Recruiting Strategy Development & Execution, Strong Client Relationships, Business Development, P&L Management

Q&A with Jacki Leonard

Six Degrees: Tell us of your home world.

I have the great fortune of living in one of the most amazing cities in the world, San Francisco. I relocated her 14 years ago from Seattle, Washington, another great city. I live in a cottage in the heart of the city and enjoy all the friends and family who come to visit (although, I do wish I had a bigger house ). My cat, Riley, spends most of hers day sunning herself on the deck –that is, when we have sun. This city offers a great balance for me – it is very fast paced, lots of hustle and bustle but there are also many great things to do outside –like Golden Gate park –one of my favorite things to do on the week-ends…take a long walk in GG park –either to the museums or to the ocean.

I’d have to say my greatest interest and one of the reasons I work so hard, is to be able to travel. I’ve been privileged with visiting much of Europe but some of my favorite places are; Prague, Moscow, Stockholm, Paris, Copenhagen, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. I can’t think of a prettier place than the Amalfi Coast! Who knows where my next adventures will take me, but be assured –they’ll be some place amazing.

Six Degrees: How many years have you been in the staffing industry?

JACKI: I’ve been in the staffing industry for 19 years (for those of you doing the math, I started when I was 12 )

Six Degrees: How did you get started as a recruiter?

JACKI:Funny story how I began my career in this industry. I had just moved to Seattle and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for work. I registered with Adia (now Adecco) and they sent me on a one week receptionist position for a shipping company. I had come from the restaurant business prior and was running at about a hundred miles an hour, so sitting at a desk waiting for the phone to ring was really painful. After my 1 week gig there I registered with Volt. They immediately offered me a temp job in-house to do some project work; one thing turned into the next and before you knew it, I was hired as a recruiter assistant. I quickly progressed up the later and was promoted to recruiter after 2 months.

Six Degrees: What single event had the most impact on your sourcing/recruiting career?

JACKI: That’s a tough one. I can’t think of a single event but I did learn early on that building your network and staying in touch with people is a key part of your success. I can’t tell you how many times a past candidate has turned up as a potential client someplace…and I was always thankful that I had treated them with respect.

Also, there are so many great tools available to recruiters today but none better than referrals (in my opinion)…so, keeping those relationships going is huge!

Do you have a mentor to whom you attribute your overall outlook on recruitment, capabilities, and/or model your career after?

JACKI: I’d have to say I have a couple of mentors. Margie McKay was the Senior Vice President that I worked under for the last 14 years of my career. She was incredibly innovative, took risks and was willing to give those that she trusted and believed in, chances. Margie taught me that a good leader/manager is someone who has developed a strong team around them. She focused on ensuring that our recruiting practices were solid – we did what we said we would do. We provided exceptional service to our clients and our candidates….you treat everyone with respect. It’s a basic concept but one that I think is often forgotten.

My other mentor would be Debbie Crandall. She was my manager for 2 years at Volt and is now the CEO of Parker Staffing in Seattle, WA. Debbie is a very astute business woman. She is driven, motivated and passionate about what she does. She had a big influence on me as she pushed me to get out of my comfort zone –try new things, be creative and take risks. I am a much stronger and better recruiter, sales person having worked with both Debbie and Margie.

Six Degrees: Tell us about your job

JACKI: Most recently I worked as a Regional Manager for Volt Workforce Solutions in the Bay Area. I was responsible for the development and profitability of 6 branch offices and 3 on-site managed programs by setting strategic priorities, driving sales/service expectations, designing recruiting strategies and coaching/developing staff. Our area of specialty was; Administrative, Sales/Marketing, HR, Acct/Finance, Customer Service, Assembly/production.

I also was responsible for a team of Professional Search Recruiters who focused on Technical, IT, HR, Sales/Mktg and Acct/Finance.

Six Degrees: (A) What other companies' recruiting operations do you admire or have heard are best-practice examples?

(A) There are so many companies out there that continue to excel at recruiting; it is hard to just identify one or two. I think the best one’s continue to progress, use new tools and technology and don’t rest on their laurels. I would have to say that Microsoft and Google continue to be creative in their approach.

(B) In what aspects are they superior?

JACKI:Creativity, thinking outside the norm and continuing to see the value in proactively building their pipeline.

Six Degrees: What recent general news story or industry trend do you feel will have an impact on your work in the future? Why?

JACKI: Social media by far! We have entered a new era in the way we do business, communicate, look for work, network etc…..It is moving and changing so quickly. It is fun to see companies embracing this approach and jumping on the bandwagon to attract top talent via the various outlets. Another area that I see continually growing is the use of videos in the hiring process, whether as part of the resume presentation (video introduction) or as a cost and time savings approach for initial interviews. Budgets are extremely tight now and will continue to be…even when things improve, which they will, I believe companies will still be conservative in many areas –and travel costs will most likely be one of them. The use of video technology will continue to be an efficient way of not only interviewing their candidates but building and keeping their pipeline warm for future needs.

Six Degrees: Tell us about your broader involvement within the staffing industry.

JACKI: Over the years I’ve been involved with various networking group and associations –such as SHRM, NCHRA, CSP, and SF chamber of commerce – all very good associations. Additionally, I try to attend as many business conferences as possible to network and learn from the experts. Most recently I attended the Professional Business Women’s Conference in San Francisco. This event was kicked off by Peter Lencioni –who wrote the management books – ‘5 Dysfunctions of a Team’, ‘Death by Meeting', He was a really great speaker with amazing insight and passion for what he does. This event had had more HR/Recruiting professionals speaking than I’ve seen in the past. It was great to get the corporate perspective on how they are using social media to attract talent and how they are handling the downturn in the economy. They are all doing more with less…which has been the theme for the past 9+ months. But everyone was very optimistic and preparing for a healthier 2010.

Six Degrees: Can you detail how the recession has affected your particular industry niche?

JACKI: The industry I was in has been hit quite hard…staffing companies are typically the first to feel the recession coming on and the first to see its recovery. There have been quite a few reductions in force, which many companies needed to do in order to stay financial stable and strategic in their approach.

Six Degrees: Aside from simply the generic term “Networking” what specific efforts have you made on your own behalf, or on behalf of colleagues to broaden your opportunities.

JACKI: I’ve been using LinkedIn a lot lately to connect with other professionals throughout the area. I’ve found most people are extremely receptive and willing to help and provide information when they can. I think reaching out to as many people within the type of work your are looking to get into is one of the best resources out there.

Six Degrees: Given your own Trial and Error experiences as a Networker, what advice do you have for your peers on what NOT to do?

JACKI: Be careful not to ask for a ‘favor’ or help right off the bat. People don’t know you yet….they need to see/know ‘what’s in it for them’ too…..networking takes patience and persistence

Six Degrees: What is your next career goal? What do you need to do to get there?

JACKI: My ideal position would be to get into the Corporate side of the business. Work as a Staffing Manager, Talent Acquisition Manager within a mid-large company. I know my background and experience in the staffing industry will transition quite nicely.

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Thanks for sharing Dave! I have worked for Jacki for years at Volt and must add that she is an AMAZING leader and FABULOUS professional mentor. I've seen first hand her ability to positively affect both corporate profits and her team's professional success. One truly gifted person and a great addition to RBC!!!!

Dave you continue to ROCK!!!!!

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