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"The movement of marketing and advertising to digital and interactive platforms will drive the demand for staff in this sector ... Job boards will become less effective and social media will increasingly play a role, although that is to be fully worked out yet. We believe specialization and depth of knowledge will be a key differentiator in the recruitment market and we are building our business accordingly."
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As Aquent's International CEO – Europe and Asia Pacific, Greg Savage contributes total strategic, marketing, financial and operational responsibility for all Aquent Business outside North America. Currently comprises 23 offices in 13 Countries in Europe and Asia Pacific. Greg has been involved with the premier recruitment Industry body in Australia — the RCSA. Greg has spoken at industry conferences all over the world including at least 20 RCSA conferences in addition to NAPS in the US and ACCESS in Canada
Q&A with Greg Savage
Six Degrees: Tell us of your home world.
I was born in Cape Town, South Africa and immigrated to Australia 30 years ago. I live on the North Shore of Sydney with my wife Bronwyn and three children Hannah (19), Nic (12) and Chris (9).
I have traveled all over the world with my job, but that does not dampen my enthusiasm for recreational travel with my family. We like to take the road less traveled and often backpack or use local transport to get a real feel for a place. That does not stop us staying at the odd five-star resort when we can afford it, but highlights in recent years include traveling by train through eastern Europe, overland through Vietnam, by mini-van through Borneo to meet the Oran Utangs,, Japan via bullet train, across Jordan and Israel with just my 12 year old Nic, and only recently by truck through Zambia, Botswana and Namibia. I find it a total release from work stress, it brings our family close together and certainly my kids have a perspective on the world not found amongst many of their friends – in a good way
We are a sporty family with my wife playing competition level tennis and my boys playing rugby, cricket and tennis. A highlight recently was the selection of my youngest son Chris in the Representative Under 10 cricket team for our district. Great celebrations. I can envisage him playing for Australia already…
Six Degrees: How many years have you been in the staffing industry?
Greg: I am a recruiting tragic. I got my very first job out of University with a Search and Selection firm, starting in January 1980, so I guess I am closing in on 30 years.
Six Degrees: What talent niche groups do you target and are these particular talent areas specialized under your review?
Greg: Digital/Interactive designers and technicians, Marketing specialists, especially online, and Print creatives
Six Degrees: How did you get started as a recruiter?
Greg: I fell into recruitment after finishing a degree in Psychology. In those days people talked about a career in “personnel management” (HR was not yet born as a title) and I went to a recruitment business to see if they could find me a job. The manager there said no client would hire someone with zero experience, but he was happy to give me a go! I worked in Executive Selection for Sales, Marketing, Finance and General Management jobs for three years. We sold search and retainers and what they called in those days “Advertised Selection” where we advertised in the press at clients’ expense. It was a great grounding and I learned how to sell value and process over price, an invaluable skill. I also learned to bluff because I was 22 when I started and most of my clients were in their 40’s. So were all my colleagues by the way. But at 25 I decided to travel in a Kombi van across Europe for six months with a friend. It was real odyssey and we visited 30 countries and travelled 25,000 miles. When the money ran out, I got a job placing accountants in Central London — Oxford Circus to be exact. It was a rough and tumble, highly competitive world, where speed was king and only the very strongest survived. I learned so much about urgency and fast matching and resilience and fast negotiation. I was then made manager of a permanent team of eight recruiters running the London West End business, which was my first supervisory role. Staying with the same company (now called Hays) I came back to Australia to run the Sydney office and was made a director of the company at age 27. IN 1987, when Hays bought our company, I left and with two others started my own business, Recruitment Solutions. We built this finance and accounting recruitment business to sales of $60 Million and offices all over Australia, finally listing the business via an IPO on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1997. I am still very proud of that business and its standards and efficiency and a testament to its quality was that dozens of our staff from those days now own and run their own successful businesses. That’s got to be a good thing right?
In 2001, I joined Aquent, the world’s largest marketing and design staffing company as Asia Pacific CEO. In 2005, I was promoted to International CEO, which includes all Aquent businesses outside North America. This covers 20 plus offices in 14 countries.
Six Degrees: What single event had the most impact on your sourcing/recruiting career?
Greg: When Hays, the UK conglomerate bought my employer, Accountancy Placements, in the mid 80’s it sparked off a chain of events that changed everything for me. The senior management team could not see ourselves as part of the new regime and we left and started our own company in 1987. This business eventually grew to one of the biggest in the country. As an owner everything changed including responsibility, risk, and financial security.
Being a Director of a public company after we listed Recruitment Solutions in 1997 was not so cool. Answering to shareholders, beholden to share price and non-executive directors, meant I only stayed the minimum time in the business after the IPO. This freed me up to join Aquent two years alter which took my career in a fresh, new and International direction
Six Degrees: Do you have a mentor to whom you attribute your overall outlook on recruitment, capabilities, and/or model your career after?
Greg: Sadly no, not one person. Certainly I have learned from many along the way and continue to do so. I often call on industry colleagues for advice and aspire to the strengths of people I know, but I have no one mentor to turn to, nor can I identify one or more people to whom I “owe it all”. I miss that fact actually.
Six Degrees: Tell us about your position at Aquent:
Greg: Aquent is the only global marketing and design staffing company. We are privately held so releasing numbers is not appropriate but we were recently nominated as the 85th biggest staffing company in the world and the largest Creative recruiter in the US. (Staffing Industry Analysts). My role is to manage the operations outside the US. This is a challenge because we are in 14 countries in Europe and APAC crossing many times zones, languages and cultural nuances. I currently manage through my team, 25 offices including 5 in Australia, 5 in Japan, 4 in greater China and 5 in Europe. Our big focus is in creative and digital contractors as well as marketing staffing. We have a strong perm business to complement the staffing operations. Staff numbers in my region peaked at 450 last year, although it’ss less than that now.
Six Degrees: What recent general news story or industry trend do you feel will have an impact on your work in the future? Why?
Greg: The movement of marketing and advertising to digital and interactive platforms will drive the demand for staff in this sector. Aquent is perfectly positioned to take the lion’s share of this market, as we have “owned” creative print staffing for more than 20 years. I also see a significant opportunity in contract staffing in the marketing arena as more companies get to understand the benefits of using a flexible model in this sector. Other changes that will impact our industry is a far more fragmented talent acquisition landscape. Job boards will become less effective and social media will increasingly play a role, although that is to be fully worked out yet. We believe specialization and depth of knowledge will be a key differentiator in the recruitment market and we are building our business accordingly.
Six Degrees: Tell us about your broader involvement within the staffing industry:
Greg: I have a long history of involvement with the peak recruitment Industry body in Australia — the RCSA. In fact I was Vice president of the RCSA for many years and sat on both the Ethics and membership committee. I was made a Life Member of the RCSA several years ago in recognition of services to the industry. I have spoken at countless industry conferences all over the world including at least 20 RCSA conferences but also NAPS in the US and ACCESS in Canada in addition to My current RCSA speaking tour. I have also spoken at several NPA conferences (some of my speaking engagements can be seen here)
Six Degrees: Can you detail how the recession has affected your particular industry niche?
Greg: The recession has had an impact on business in every country I am responsible for. Being in marketing, we may have been particularly hard hit. Permanent demand fell off markedly and temp has been affected too, but less so. We have taken the usual steps to reduce our cost base, but more importantly we are using this time to refine our processes, redesign our website, improve the customer experience and re define our strategic imperatives. As painful as the downturn has been, I am convinced we will emerge stronger than ever in the recovery. Recessions are a wonderful cleansing opportunity and the challenge is to be courageous and be prepared to innovate and refresh. Aquent cows can be lined up and slaughtered. Aquent is doing that now and its very cool.
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. Are there specific groups, both online and in-person that have proved fruitful in extending your personal brand and job seeking prospects?
Greg: Speaking at conferences has raised my profile significantly. As a result I am often asked for input from the recruitment press in Australia and elsewhere. My blog gregsavage.com.au has a high hit rate and this allows me a platform for opinions. I am recent to Twitter with only 400 followers, but I find it very powerful for driving people to my blog and my company website and also for announcing vacancies in my own business. As at least 80% of my followers are in marketing or recruitment, it’s a powerful audience. LinkedIn works for me too, but I have not been strong on actively seeking connections. People find me however and the network I have is very nicely defined within my area of interest.
Six Degrees: Worst mistake, biggest goof, lousiest practice you thought would fly but didn’t -- and how did that convert itself into a valuable learning experience?
Greg: Oh dear. Many and varied. Probably the one that stands out most was when, in the hurly-burly world of placing accountants in the 80’s, when speed was more important than quality, I sent the resume of a young accountant TO HER OWN EMPLOYER. It was embarrassing and damaging and it shook me very much indeed. I have paid attention to detail on stuff I sent out ever since. I also once asked a client on what I thought was our first meeting whether he knew much about (my company). He replied that I had placed him in a job several years before. Embarrassment plus!
In management, I have tried many things that have not worked but I firmly believe in still trying lots of stuff. Innovation and change is critical.
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?
Greg: I am not a networking expert, but online I would advise people not mix their personal with their business networking. I have a face book account but I have no clients or colleagues as friends. I actually have friends and family as friends! This allows me to share personal stuff with the right people and not bore them with business matters. Linked in and twitter however is for networking and I think it important to keep them very targeted. Don’t chase connections or followers for numbers sake. Make sure you connect with people you want to do business with (or who are key influencers) or who can help you access people you want to business with. Don’t be frivolous in the social media conversations, don’t spam. Remember manners and politeness. Give as much as you take.
Six Degrees: What is your next career goal?
Greg: I want to lead Aquent to preeminence in marketing and design staffing across every market in the world where talent and clients need our service, and where we can sustain a highly profitable business. I want to lead a company that is innovative and dexterous, and where people are changed for the better by working here.
I have no desire to take on more responsibility because what I have on is enough to stretch the most capable of individuals and certainly enough to stretch me, every day.…
raig Campbell. It is a pleasure to feature today someone with as varied contributions and personal appeal as Craig. He has been a talent acquisition leader with 15 years of experience creating strategic talent programs including, but not limited to sourcing, recruitment marketing, college, diversity and workforce analytics. Craig attributes his success to having worked with world class companies such as Manpower International, Microsoft, Amazon.com, Starbucks Coffee Company and most recently MGMMIRAGE. These experiences have afforded Craig a depth and breadth of recruiting insight and best practices across these various industries. If you ask Craig the secret of his success, he will tell you he owes it to his years having an opportunity to showcase effective internal consulting skills, a strong bias for innovation and an ability to connect the dots between business strategy and talent strategy. Jason and I first met Craig in Las Vegas at the Recruiting Roadshow and he has been a ceaseless advocate for our efforts towards building community. I am a fan and a friend, and I see Craig going places as far as his imagination allow him, and I see no limits to that end - only fresh beginnings.
Q&A with: Craig Campbell
Six Degrees: Tell us about your home world, Craig.
Craig: I have a smart, hot girlfriend and I’m the father of beautiful 11-year-old daughter. As of late, I’m really upgrading my daddy skills because my daughter is now a pre-teen and has started wearing a training bra - HELP!
I love to devour good books that are mostly non-fiction. A few of the more recent I’ve read are “A Sense of Urgency by John p. Kotter; a re-read of “The DIP” by Seth Godin, “CrowdSourcing” by Jeff Howe and I’m bouncing around the chapters of Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. My favorite book is called A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from inner City to The Ivy League by Ron Suskind.
I’m a sports fan, but not avid because I prefer playing vs. watching. I played college basketball, which deeply influenced my sense of team, my desire to win and some of my approach to recruiting. I’ve dabbled in martial arts over the years, Tae Kwon Jo, Jujitsu and even tried mixed martial arts some years back. I decided to quit the MMA that after a co-worker upon seeing a few bruises on me, came into my office one day and said to me “I know the first rule is that there isn’t one, but are you in a fight club?” I thought it was pretty funny, but a couple of months later I experienced what they call a rear naked choke and didn’t sleep that night because I thought my throat would swell and cut off my breathing. To be clear, I wasn’t naked when this happened, it’s just non technical name for it...lol. Anyway, after that, lets just say I sought out other hobbies and decided to watch UFC from the sofa. I’m a “geek” and would consider myself a very early adopter of new hardware and software technology of all kinds and In case you were wondering, I’m a Mac with PC roots from my days at Microsoft. I love metaphors and my favorite one right now is one that I read in a guest blog post on cheezehead. Paraphrasing: You have to ask yourself - are your recruiting solutions painkillers or vitamins. I might extend that and add placebos. I’m a fan of painkillers
Six Degrees: How many years have you been in the staffing industry?
Craig: I’ve been in recruiting for about 15 years and done everything from professional, college, diversity, workforce analytics and branding. I got started by being a recruiting champion when I was working in the insurance industry. It wasn’t my fulltime job, but when they would invite my out to the events, the engagement, the process and end game came very naturally to me and shortly thereafter, I started to explore this profession called with recruiting, which I didn’t really know existed.
The most exposure I had to recruitment was my experience of being recruited for sports in high school, which did and still does influence my recruitment style today. One of the cool things about my summary of experience is that I’ve been able to scale across different industries and functions from temp to perm, software engineers to ecommerce to retail and most recently hotel casinos. I’m primarily a recruiting programs guy, eg. Sourcing, employee referral, college diversity, etc. and my best work zone is start-up, turnaround or growth challenges vs. maintenance.
Six Degrees: What single event had the most impact on your sourcing/recruiting career?
Craig: I think the event that had the most impact on my recruiting career was while I was at Microsoft during the dotcom era. It was fierce direct competition and I loved it. I was a senior member of the college recruiting team and we were as many as 500+ college candidates a year and it seemed as if there was a new start-up attacking our talent pool every week. These were the days when college students were getting huge cash signing bonuses, BMW leases and other crazy tactics to close the best and brightest.
The bottom line is that it was such a sweet intersection of systematic logic; creativity, candidate experience and the tenacity to win that sealed my love for the game of recruiting. What I’m proud of in that experience, is that so many of the individuals that my teammates and I hired during that time went on to become high performing leaders in the organization.
• I would also reference MGMMIRAGE. First and foremost it’s Vegas baby! It was very unique set of challenges that mostly revolved around solving for
• the sweet spot of high touch and high volume
• how to differentiate your employer value proposition in an extremely hyper competitive market in one geographic location
• managing hiring manager complacency around attracting the hourly job seeker
• External factors of housing foreclosures
• Successfully developing and managing the employer value proposition against the perception of the lifestyle of Vegas
These were really juicy, highly engaged challenges that many times were a moving target and I think will continue to be a moving target. It gave me the opportunity to dig deep into these challenges end to end at the property level and collective as an organization. The internal consulting and change management skills were truly battle tested. I think Las Vegas has a ton of runway for recruiting solutions.
Do you have a mentor to whom you attribute your overall outlook on recruitment, capabilities, and/or model your career after?
Craig: I give extra props to the recruiting philosophy and talent mindset at Microsoft during my time there. However, I attribute my overall outlook on recruitment, capabilities to the collective recruiting community more so than any one individual. In addition I tend to be influenced by the parallels of many non-recruiting professions. The just in time (JIT) product delivery models of Dell and Wal-Mart, the brands of Nike and Apple, the customer service/experience delivered by Starbucks and Nordstrom’s, the Porters 5 Forces for strategy and the recruiting prowess and discipline of schools like USC, North Carolina and Duke
Six Degrees: Tell us about your daily duties
Craig: I’ve typically managed small SWAT teams and my primary responsibilities have been focused on the following areas:
Strategy: Utilizing the best workforce analysis to customize and prioritize talent needs Identify the most compelling and relevant employer brand messages
leverage technology to build recruiting capacity.
Sourcing: (professional, college, diversity) Make it my business to know where candidates live, work, and play and I take us there: physically and virtually . Develop and tap into deep and complex social networks
Recruitment Marketing: Build talent channels in the same way the business builds supply chains.Translate the voice of your brand to help candidates understand why they should work for you.
Six Degrees: (A) What other companies' recruiting operations do you admire or have heard are best-practice examples?
Craig: As of late, I’ve been following and really like the execution of Sodexo. Their presence and execution of recruiting in the social media space has been impressive. They are also doing a great job at segmenting and customizing content for their respective talent pools such as military, diversity, college and alumni. The most impressive thing about there ability to launch, execute and leverage these tools is that it requires end to end support and buy in when not everyone “gets it.” Having spent most of my career in big corporations, its not always easy to get these types of strategies and tactics off the ground in the early adoption stage. Shout out to Arie Ball and the Sodexo talent acquisition team.
I would also call out EA and how they’ve led the way in how they leverage a CRM approach vs. core ATS, In addition to that, I like the way in which they use events to transfer the virtual relationships into in person engagements. Shout out to Cindy Nicola and Sean Rehder of Talent Logistics on that work.
Six Degrees: What recent general news story or industry trend do you feel will have an impact on your work in the future? Why?
Craig: As fundamental an effective as it has been for many companies, Employee referrals will continue to have an impact on my work and the industry. Generally, I don’t believe it’s been optimized. Although recently there are some yet to be proven tools on the market that leverage social networking platforms like facebook, linkedin, etc…I think there is huge runway in the employee referral channel.
Six Degrees: List/detail speaking events, awards, publications, where you have you represented your company:
Craig: I have spoken at ERE, NACE and Diversity Best Practices, but no awards to mention.
Six Degrees: What is your next career goal? What do you need to do to get there?
Craig: My next career goal is to build and lead a start-up or turnaround recruiting function that literally leverages the best practices of business strategy, technology, marketing and customer service instead of an aspiration. I the main things that I need is an organization and team with a strong sense of urgency, an entrepreneurial spirit, reasonable resources and the right capabilities appropriately aligned and lastly trust and autonomy. Game on…
Recommendations for Craig
“Craig is a true professional in Human Resources. He is an excellent strategist who thinks outside of the box to develop creative initiatives and processes. Craig has an unique understanding of the importance of "branding" within Human Resources and business in general. His valuable experience and thinking is emphasized with his ability to quickly develop credibility through executive presence and influence skills. I would sieze the opportunity to work with Craig again in the future. He will be an asset to any organization that thinks strategically about Human Resources.” December 15, 2008
Michelle (Bray) DiTondo, VP Human Resources, MGMMIRAGE-New York-New York
“I had the pleasure of getting to know Craig through my teams support of his initiatives - looking back, we learned something new (and important) in every interaction. He has the ability to take very complicated, large scale situations and quickly identify the most critical, though often subtle, details. Then, after creating and analyzing multiple potential solutions, effectively communicates to any level of audience which is the best and why. Craig is strong from strategy to execution, and from C-level to individual contributor. If you're building a team, make sure you have Craig on yours!” October 25, 2008
Mike Inman, Corporate Strategic Sourcing, MGM MIRAGE
“I have working with Craig on several recruiting events, diversity events as well as business planning. In each case, Craig has demonstrated great passion with the ability to generate good ideas. He was very thorough in his work and laid out plans that allowed the group to move forward in a positive direction.” October 7, 2008
Cordell Jones, Lead Program Manager - Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft
“Craig has been a huge asset to our company both from a leadership standpoint as well as supporting our talent initiatives. Craig has brought business intelligence and insights which have been "game changers" for our business. I hope to have the opportunity to continue to work with Craig in the future.” July 3, 2008
Mark Avery, Director Strategic Sourcing, MGMMIRAGE
“Craig is someone who creates a vision, explains the vision, and then delivers the vision. Coming from an exceptional background of work experience, Craig continues to push and to lead his employers in the "talent economy" in new and innovative ways.” June 16, 2008
Sean Rehder, Talent Management Consultant and Developer, MGM MIRAGE
“Craig brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. Over the years he has provided me with great advise and support. He is well connected in the recruiting industry and is always willing to share his knowledge with others. I would welcome the opportunity to work with him. Cody” May 25, 2008
Cody Horton, SPHR, Talent Acquisition Manager, Dell
“Without a doubt, Craig gets "it". He truly understands how recruiting impacts business not just from a hiring perspective but from a "bottom-line" perspective. He is extremely creative when it comes to the business of recruiting and sourcing strategies. I am looking forward to working with Craig again in the future.” May 22, 2008
Shea Putnam, Partner and Branch Manager, Coolhires
“Craig is a polished, confident staffing professional with a plethora of knowledge in all areas of the staffing industry. He is able to use his marketing and strategic thinking along with creativity to bring new meaning to outdated programs and processes. His ability to look at the staffing industry out of the box, from a consumer level rather than an employee level, enables him to create innovative programs that are far reaching within an organization. He is a charismatic and engaging speaker who is able to deliver high level information in corporate vernacular or “see spot run” fashion. He has been an enlightening person to work with.” May 21, 2008
Lauren Burke Bennett, Consultant, MGM MIRAGE
“Craig, has been an valuable resource to me. He offers wise counsel and is a big thinker who has helped me identify actionable solutions to staffing challenges (ATS, employee referral program, sourcing strategies, etc.) Craig's quickly understands complex problems and offers thoughtful, clear and insightful solutions. Whenever, I have an idea I want to brainstorm and/or challenge, Craig is the first person I call.” May 21, 2008
Jojuane Porter, Manager, Recruitment Process, Tools and Metrics, Kohl's Department Stores
“Craig is a dynamic professional that has a tenacity to uncover every stone until he locates the ideal result. He possesses the incredible ability to multi task, think out of the box, leverage hard to find resources, and initiate projects with long term benefits to both stakeholders and sponsors within the organization. Moreover, Craig continually brings concepts and ideas that are generations ahead of current corporate models, including time, cost and quality value propositions. Craig offers a relentless approach to extraordinary achievement. I believe that he is a valuable contributor to the MGM MIRAGE enterprise.” May 20, 2008
Lance Greeninger, Div. Corporate Recruiting & Human Resource Initiatives, MGM MIRAGE
“Craig has the ability to not only create a vision, but to see that vision through right down to the tactical level and foresee any operational impact the vision may have on different verticals within the organization. Knowing this, Craig will reach out to these stakeholders and involve them at the beginning stages in order to achieve the critical buy-in to foster the success of the vision/project. Bottom line, Craig brings vision, foresight and attention to detail to MGM MIRAGE.” May 20, 2008
Andrew Heckert, Manager, Strategic Sourcing, MGM MIRAGE
“Craig is a talented,creative, and smart staffing professional. He has the ability to access situations quickly and put together programs and solutions that not only work well, but can scale and be reproduced. He's responsive, proactive and a great person to work with. I'd work with Craig again and I highly recommend him.” May 20, 2008
Jerry Montgomery, Recruiter, Amazon.com…