to her presentations, or heard of fellow colleagues speak glowingly of her capabilities – needless to say I have been impressed consistently with her public figure. I can also say with pleasure that we all share our admiration for Susan’s consistent weekly live chat contributions to RecruitingBlogs.com, the Recruiting Roadshow and her upcoming session at RecruitFest in Toronto.
It must be said, that having walked the streets of Amsterdam past midnight or dined, commiserated, and having corresponded with Susan Burns, “the person,” that my admiration is far more substantial in the compelling impact she makes as both a colleague and a dear friend. Her multi-faceted personality, conviction, and brilliance as a candid, thought-provoking, socially conscious friend and colleague are ever present. She is passionate in all things in life, and it is omnipresent when she evangelizes architecture aspects of Strategic Talent Planning, employment branding, and metrics that we as an industry excel through her contributions and it is in her valued friendship, that her gifts never cease to bring value.
I applaud all her contributions in our industry – she lives and breathes “pay it forward” and it is a pleasure to know that the RecruitingBlogs Community have an opportunity to share the many value propositions Susan offers so selflessly and with such passion that Jason Davis and I so often witness on a personal level. Susan Burns is the “real deal” – and the community is richer for all she contributes. Susan, today as a friend, an advisor to SixDegreesfromDave.com, a personal mentor, and a thought leader we salute you, and it is ever so well deserved.
Q&A with Susan Burns
Six Degrees: Tell us of your Home World Susan
Susan: I find a nice balance between taking on challenging physical activities and challenging career endeavors. Yoga, hiking and travel are among my deepest passions outside of work and when I can bring them all together its ideal. Two of my favorite hikes included a 100-mile trek through Torres Del Paine National Park in Southern Chile and a trip to Peru that included hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. I’ve traveled to Mexico, Costa Rica and British Columbia for yoga retreats and find the week long immersions an incredible rebalancing to the stresses of life – even though the retreats often include 5 to 6 hours of physical yoga each day. Yoga is also part of my everyday life and an area of growing interest and commitment. In fact, I’m about to undertake a 200-hour, 3 week teacher training in the Berkshires this July. There are also many areas in which yoga philosophy and practice can carry over into enhancing business practices. The very act of being “present”, focusing on the mind-body connection, and building a sense of community are just a few areas that could add value to the business world. I’m planning on exploring these further through my yoga studies and practice.
Six Degrees: How did you get started in talent management?
Susan: When I began my career I was in general management. I managed specialty stores and then made the transition into department stores. I loved the hum and buzz of the business and, over time, as I took on assignments of increasing volume and scope the challenges of creating community within a store environment were quite enticing. In my last store manager assignment I was responsible for over $40 million in annual revenue, an employee population of over 350 and a management team of about 16. But, one thing was missing – the company invested little in development efforts and I was intellectually bored. So, I decided to take a bit of a sabbatical and go to graduate school. I actually thought I would leave retail but found I liked the interconnectedness of strategy, product and tangible results. There is something very unique about this within a retail environment and when you’re playing in high volume you can see these three come together quite quickly.
After graduate school I joined Federated Department Stores (now Macy’s Inc.). At the time Federated owned Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s and generated about $15 billion in annual sales. Initially, my role was to lead the development of a centralized college recruitment and relations strategy. Federated hired about 550 college graduates each year and another 300 as summer interns. The year was 1998 and there was a lot of change occurring because of the Internet. One of the first things I had the opportunity to do was secure support to develop a website. I think there were about 6 people on the original development team and together we mapped out the strategy for what was to become Retailology.com. The timing was right and I was fortunate to have a really talented group to work with. We saw the impact and growing value of the site in a relatively short period of time, and could demonstrate to the organization the value of being online. One of the coolest things about Retailology is that it not only benefited Federated but it also became a tool to teach students about the retail industry.
A couple of years later as Internet recruiting was growing quickly in popularity and the task of sourcing/hiring via the job boards was overwhelming, I had the opportunity to present Retailology as a strategic solution for hiring across Federated – which included hourly, management positions across every function, and college recruiting. We won the support of the divisions and quickly undertook the challenge of building 12 recruitment sites on the Retailology platform. The company had an autonomous culture and the structure and branding strategy at the time required individual branded sites. As a whole, the company hired about 110,000 people annually so this was a very cool opportunity. The change implications for this were huge – we would be moving from 100% paper-based processes to taking everything online. There were several key events that created tipping points along this journey and by the time I left Federated in January, 2006, the Retailology corporate strategy had generated over 38% of the company’s total hires and touched just about every functional area and position up to director/VP. Taking on a broader role also advanced my position with the company and allowed me to take on a greater scope of work that included employment initiatives, employment branding, recruitment technology – both selection and development, change management initiatives, recruiter education and development. The role became that of an internal consultant and over the 7+ years I was with Federated I had the opportunity to work with a number of very talented and committed colleagues.
While it was a difficult decision to leave Federated I was at a point in my career where I wanted to take on a broader challenge. I had a hunger to experience another industry, immerse myself in a global business and take on a more holistic role in talent management. I was recruited to head up global staffing for Waggener Edstrom Worldwide (WE). WE is the second largest independent PR agency. They are the PR agency of record for Microsoft and also have growing practice areas in public affairs, healthcare, and consumer. Once again, I was fortunate to work with a very talented team of recruiters. While I only stayed with WE for about 18 months, great headway was made with advising the Board on workforce/talent planning initiatives, sourcing strategies, recruiting structure and processes, and introducing CRM technology.
Do you have a mentor to whom you attribute your overall outlook on recruitment, capabilities, and/or model your career after?
Susan: There wasn’t a single event or mentor but a string of events and experiences that have influenced how I think about talent management. First, my role in store management. In retail you are uniquely dependent on talent. Whether it be the product design, assortment selection by the buyer, distribution by the planner, merchandising in-store, leading a department/selling team, or the last “12 inches” between the sales associate and the customer – its talent that makes the ultimate difference. Retail is also a business environment where you can see people’s careers move quickly. Seeing a sales associate promoted to sales manager or an assistant buyer promoted to divisional merchandise manager and eventually on to roles of increasing scope and responsibility is very rewarding!
Second, coming out of graduate school I heard the same thing time and time again from my classmates – getting through to anyone in recruiting/hr was incredibly frustrating - whether callbacks, email responses, or just answering their phones. Many of my classmates were looking to make a career transition and getting a recruiter to look at their past experience and future potential was insanely challenging. The same thing would happen on informational interviews – hiring managers only wanted people who had done the job. Well, there’s evidence that indicates taking people with the potential and placing them in new environments leads to more creative thinking, innovation, personal growth and……better business results. And, while I couldn’t impact thinking across every aspect of an organization I could make a difference in how job seekers felt about their experience.
I’ve been fortunate to have several mentors during my career. Mostly in the earlier days but that’s when I also think its most important. As I was “growing up” in retail it was at a time when mentor relationships developed more naturally. They not only helped me to understand the business at a more strategic level but to think broadly and creatively about building partnerships and getting results. Both of them were also terrific leaders and had their own unique way of building teams and camaraderie. Two of these mentors are still my closest friends today and are still the first people I turn to for guidance.
THOUGHT LEADERSHIP RECOMMENDATIONS
“Susan is smart, analytical and a great client. She knew what she wanted and was able to communicate that in an effective way. She brings original thinking and a wide network of information to any project she is part of. I have worked with Susan for several years including when she was at Macy's, Waggner and now at Talent Synchronicity. We have worked together on projects that involved selling concepts to senior management that were forward looking and not necessarily easy to get approved. Her combination of influencing skill, persistence and intelligence have led each project to a successful conclusion. She gets things done efficiently and effectively and is a good partner.” March 26, 2008
Kevin Wheeler, President/Founder, Global Learning Resources, Inc.
“Susan puts recruitment process vision to work with quantifiable results. She tackled workforce planning, recruitment process and brand issues at Federated Department Stores by developing and implementing one of the first uniquely branded recruitment websites for the retail industry which resulted in tens of thousands of hires. Susan is top notch and I would use her to handle any workforce opportunity." February 22, 2008
Hank Stringer, Principal, QTalent Partners
“Susan is a professional with a deep understanding of all three legs of the corporate HR platform: business strategy, HR process and leading-edge technology. Her depth of insight into ways to make HR a strategic business asset are both unique and extraordinary. It has been a real pleasure working with (and learning from) her.” January 7, 2005
Jeff Hunter, Senior Director, EA University at Electronic Arts
“I've worked with Susan Burns for a little over a year now and I can say that she has the most strategic, forward-thinking and fresh approach to talent acquisition out of any leader that I've worked with in the industry. I've always said that I wanted to work with someone who I could learn from, who wasn't just pushing old ideas and who would challenge me in new ways. Susan has always managed to challenge me. She has a unique way of getting you to think about things differently. Susan is also amazingly connected in the industry and the relationships she has helped me form with thought leaders has been invaluable. She is an avid reader and spots trends and innovations before most people have adopted the known innovations. The talent acquisition community has mostly agreed that finding people with passion for their field is a key performance indicator. I've met few people with as much passion for our industry as Susan. She thinks way outside the box, outside the organization and outside the industry to come up with advances in our field that are truly innovating the way organizations acquire talent. Most notable is her work with retailology.com prior to joining Waggener Edstrom and the workforce planning work she is currently designing at our organization. If you work in our industry I hope you have an opportunity to meet Susan, collaborate with her, brainstorm, have her tell you to put on your kid glasses or just have a quick brainstorm with her. I think you will find that you walk away feeling like you have learned something new.” May 16, 2007
Steve Fogarty, Talent Manager, Adidas
"Susan is a talented staffing and recruiting professional who brings a wealth of experience and expertise in the acquisition of talent and workforce planning. In her role with Waggener Edstrom, she was responsible for the global acquisition of talent and her work had a significant impact. Her passion and commitment were clearly evident and the results she guided were notable. A reduction in time-to-fill, a broad portfolio of sourcing vehicles, and several new creative staffing strategies and initiatives were all part of what Susan contributed to. Additionally, her leadership in guiding the Agency's Advisory Board through a workforce planning strategy advanced our staffing capability to positively impact the business. As a staffing industry leader she is broadly recognized for leading edge thinking and the perspective she offers to organizations and clients. Susan is smart, strategic and results-oriented. I see her as flourishing in an environment that has the management of talent as a critical business priority and where Susan can freely demonstrate her entrepreneurial and results-oriented talent."
Daniele Joudene, SVP, People Services, Waggener Edstrom
“Susan Burns is one of the most talented leaders in the talent management industry today -- smart, innovative, passionate, dedicated, and able to see and create solutions where most people can only identify challenges. Quite simply, she helped to make us better and more innovative as a company/partner, every step of the way. Our partnership in developing WetFeet Recruiter's Enterprise Interview Scheduling system, which delivered industry-first innovations in many areas, is just one example of one of her strongest personal assets: Susan gets results. The passion, energy, focus and commitment she brings to her work is simply extraordinary. What a joy to recommend her!” October 11, 2007
Gary Alpert, CEO, WetFeet Inc.…
* Email Andrew Directly
Andrew Heywood is a veteran recruiter/sourcer with corporate staffing experience at Google, Apple, and Adobe. Andrew has developed extensive International staffing experience including Japan, Korea, India, China, Zurich, London and Australia markets. In addition, Andrew has project management, and sales expertise both in domestic and international markets.
He has lived and worked in Japan for 4.5 years and gained additional international travel experience in Germany, Singapore, Philippines, Canada, and Mexico. Andrew is multi-lingual, speaking Japanese (JLPT3) and Cantonese (basic) in addition to his native English.
Andrew's specific areas of expertise include: Diversity Recruiting Best Practices, Google ATS, HRIS, Hire.com, Filefinder, Offer Work-flow (Google specific), Internet Sourcing Training, Boolean Searches, LinkedIn, Conferences, Corporate Directories, Alumni directories, Associations, proprietary database, job boards, networking, and cold calls.
Q&A with Andrew Heywood
Six Degrees: Tell us of your home world.
Andrew: I am currently single living in Northern California with my two wonderful dogs Kiseki and Surf. They are both 4.5 years old and I adopted them from the rescue organization Norsled (http://www.norsled.org/available.html). My family (father, mother, sister, brother) all live in California and I spend time with them when I can.
I am an active person who loves the outdoors and is involved with various sport activities (triathlons, hiking, yoga, badminton). I use to be a Collegiate Division I, Cross Country runner and still love to run to this day. When I am not playing a sport, I love to keep up with my Japanese and volunteer my time with the dog rescue group Norsled. I spent over 4 years living/working in Japan prior to moving back to California (Jan 2005). I have then caught the travel bug and love to explore new parts of the world when time allows.
Six Degrees: How many years have you been in the staffing industry?
Andrew: I have been recruiting for over 7 years. I spent my first 3 years working for a recruiting agency in the heart of Tokyo Japan, then following working in house for Google, Apple, and Adobe once I moved back to the United States.
Six Degrees: How did you get started as a recruiter?
Andrew: Prior to recruiting, I had just graduated from college and spent one year as an inside sales representative for MA Laboratories in San Jose California. I then moved to Japan to teach English in the country side for a year adventure before I settle down with my career. Little did I know that coming to a country on the other side of the world would open up a new career that I am very passionate about today. I had just completed my English teaching contract with the JET Program and moved back to California two months before September 11 2001. The job market had crumbled and there were no jobs in sight. I attended an alumni networking event for the JET Program (the program I taught English for in Japan) and there was a recruiting agency there trying to find young talent to go back to Tokyo and train to become a Head Hunter/Recruitment Consultant. I had no idea of what being a Head Hunter/Recruitment Consultant was all about, however I decided to take a chance and move back to Japan.
The company Access Technology Japan (ATJ), really taught me the hard nose basics of sourcing and recruiting great talent. I was recruiting sales, marketing, IT professionals and developers. This was not only my first time in this profession, however I was recruiting Japanese nationals into foreign companies in Japan (which add another level to the learning curve). At the same time, I was also developing my Japanese language skills. I have never work so hard in my life however at the same time enjoying every minute of it. There was no such thing as a 40 hour week, I would call it more of a 60 - 80 hour week including working Saturdays. The colleagues who worked with me in the office were from all parts of the world (Japan, Canada, USA, Australia, Romania, China, Taiwan, New Zealand, etc) which made the experience even more exciting. If I look back at the various challenges learning recruiting in that market, I realize how much I learned as a 23 year old getting into the business.
After ATJ, I decided to move back to California and begin my career in recruiting in the states. I ironically had more experience working in a foreign country than I did my own. When I moved back to California in January 2005, Google had just begun its growth frenzy and I had heard great things about working there. I applied and my good friend who was working in the AdSense department referred me to the staffing department. I landed a contract role where I was able to contribute to many of the emerging technical offices (China, Japan, India, Zurich, and Australia). I focused on technical positions from individual contributor to higher management. I spent a total time of 3.7 years at Google (2 years contract and 1.7 years as a permanent employee) focusing on a variety of technical roles not just for over seas offices but the Mountain View Head Quarters and YouTube San Bruno office. I also had the pleasure of working for Apple Computer and Adobe Systems during the time I was a contract recruiter. I am currently starting to work on a free-lance basis venturing into a new chapter of my recruiting career.
Six Degrees: What single event had the most impact on your sourcing/recruiting career?
Andrew: Without a doubt it would be during my first recruiting job at ATJ in Japan because it gave me the opportunity to feel the sense how much you are impacting a persons life and career. I learned so much during these years that I am using these basics to this day. A specific example of this is my experience working with a Japanese Sales Manager candidate. Although he did not accept the role I was recruiting him for due to his family situation, he told me I was one of the best recruiters he has ever worked with. It was the first deal I lost, but realized the relationship and trust I built with this person lasts a lifetime. We still keep in contact to this day and he has referred many people to me.
Do you have a mentor to whom you attribute your overall outlook on recruitment, capabilities, and/or model your career after?
Andrew: I have learned so much from many people I have worked with in Japan, Google, Apple and Adobe. It is hard for me to point out one particular person as I have had the honor of working with some top notch recruiters and people. From each experience, I take aspects I lack and try to grow from there.
Six Degrees: Tell us about your most recent gigs.
Andrew: My most recent position was recruiting technical roles for the YouTube San Bruno offices. I was located on site in San Bruno California. Google in general has a staffing organization consisting of hundreds of recruiters, although my group consisted of 5 recruiters at YouTube.
Six Degrees: (A) What other companies' recruiting operations do you admire or have heard are best-practice examples?
Andrew: I also had great experiences working for Apple Computer and Adobe Systems in their staffing organizations. Although each different in their own respect, they each have top notch teams and candidate process management.
Six Degrees: What recent general news story or industry trend do you feel will have an impact on your work in the future? Why?
Andrew: I feel the current state of the economy is definitely impacting the recruiting industry as a whole as many companies are freezing head count and laying off employees.
“HOW DOES ANDREW DO IT?”
Six Degrees: How many applicants at your present employer do you estimate are hired from your corporate website as compared to how many are hired through referrals?
Andrew: At Google, they would receive thousands of resumes a day. however not all the hires came from general applications. More came from sourcing, various events and referrals. Google takes recruiting very seriously and will use these methods to find the best talent.
Six Degrees: What is the source of the "Most Hires" collected from at your present employer? (In terms of Quantity #)
Andrew: The source of most hires would have to be through proactive sourcing and employee Referrals.
Six Degrees: What is the source of your "LOWEST COST OF HIRES" - (least amount of invested resources for the easiest hires, regardless of quality) at your present employer?
Andrew: The source of lowest cost of hire would be through general application. Google has created a great environment in which top talent proactively apply. It is truly amazing the talent that works at the company.
Six Degrees: What talent niche groups do you target and are these particular talent areas specialized under your review?
Andrew: Through out the last 4 years I have focused on various software engineering professionals (back and front end software engineers, web developers, flash developers, product management, and system operations,). Also I have a niche for hard to find roles specifically language specific for instance korean and Japanese speaking engineers.
Six Degrees: What types of training in sourcing/recruitment are available to you and have you taken advantage of?
Andrew: I feel very lucky to have worked for some great corporations here in the Silicon Valley who make a great investment in the training of their staffing professionals. I have been able to take advantage of online, seminar, and video conference training. I always strive to continue and develop my skills.
Six Degrees: What recruitment software tools do you use in your day to day recruitment activities & do they translate effectively within all of the different countries where you recruit?
Andrew: In house ATS and the internet (Blogs, Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, boolean searches, job boards, patent searches, alumni groups etc.) Some of the tools we use here in the U.S. do not translate to finding great talent directly as with other parts of the world. For example with a more private sensitive country like Japan, it is harder to do a Linkedin search to source good talent. Many people are very reluctant to put their information on the web. It is more about the referral process and face to face interaction which takes more time. Although the up and coming engineering talent often will have their own blogs or web site. They are more keen to engage in this but one will have to be able to at times understand Japanese as it may not be in English.
Six Degrees: What tools (technology or old school file folder, for example) did you first encounter early in your recruitment career?
Andrew: When I first started recruiting, I used a Japanese phone book and in house database at the agency I worked for in Japan. The first three months I worked at the company, I was cold calling (cold calling was still going on strong in that market at the time) 8 hours a day then spending the rest of my day meeting candidates at coffee shops and at the office. The tools were very limited and I also attended many conferences to meet candidates and various hang out locations. Since in Japanese culture many people go out to drink after work with co-workers, I often would go to a local bar or club to meet potential candidates. In fact, some of the people I met at these local hang outs I placed into different companies.
Six Degrees: How did your expectations of being a recruiter compare to the actual, first time you got on the phone or in the cubicle? In your opinion, how do people's assumptions about our vocation differ from reality?
Andrew: The only expectation of being a recruiter was from my sister who first started in the business when I was in college. However at the time I didn't pay attention to her line of work and just remember her always doing research for her company. I didn't find it exciting at the time and before joining the agency in Japan and was a little hesitate but had no other job option.
Six Degrees: Worst mistake, biggest goof, lousiest practice you thought would fly but didn’t…and how that was a learning experience?
Andrew: My biggest mistake when I first began recruiting was my pre-qualifying skills. It was so tough in the Japanese market to bring someone in from a cold call that I remember often times not doing a good job pre-qualifying. I learned right away how to be smarter with my efforts versus working harder.
Six Degrees: “Best practice” you are most proud of developing (now or in the past) in your recruiting career?
Andrew: One of my strengths is my customer service and relationship building skills. I believe one of the best practices I tried to leave with each opportunity is treating each candidate as if they are the only person I am dealing with. I have been commented on this often and have conducted many informal training on my style. Although very busy I always try to make each person feel specifically special trying to at least leave them with the good image of the company even if they didn't get the job.
Recommendations For Andrew Heywood
“I have known Andrew for many years. He takes great pride in matching people with the right job and takes a personal interest in their continued success and career development. I have seen many people walk up and thank Andrew for helping them years earlier.” March 18, 2009
Paul Peissner, Alliance Manager - Business Development Specialist, BMC Software
“Andrew has contributed enormously for building the engineering team for Google. He has realized great trust among line managers as a Recruiter who can actually deliver. Andrew has a very challenging assignment to hire world's top notch engineers with Japanese language qualification. Regardless of the challenge, with the three years that Andrew has worked for Google, Andrew has achieved to build a great engineering team in which the team he built is making enormous contribution to the core product development. Andrew is greatly experienced Recruiter where he can manage the entire recruiting life cycle. He has great sustainability in the way he manages candidate and client relation. He also has great interpersonal skills in the way he knows how to gain and maintain trust with candidates. I have worked very closely with Andrew at Google for two years and I highly recommend him as professional recruiter.” September 2, 2008
Tim Hayashi, Recruiter at Google Inc.
“Andrew is such a pleasure to work with. He is a sincere, genuine, hard worker who will go above and beyond what the job entails. I enjoyed working with Andrew on my team. He's one of the most polite people I have ever met and has a kind, gentle heart. Andrew is a superstar performer and I'm glad that we were able to work together.” February 11, 2008
Gina Pak (firstname.lastname@example.org), Recruiter/Coordinator, Google
“It was great working with Andrew. He always has a positive attitude and develops a great rapport with his work colleagues. Andrews works hard to get things done in time. I highly recommend him to anyone!” February 11, 2008
Dennis Ho, Recruiter at Google
“Andrew is an excellent recruiter who knows how to close the deal. He finds the candidate, gets them through the process, and gets them to accept the offer in an efficient and timely manner. He understands the importance of making the sale.” February 11, 2008
Christopher Cheung, Internet Sourcer, GOOGLE
“Andrew is an amazing recruiter. He is soft spoken but articulate. I’ve worked with Andrew at Google in different groups but we often worked together to source/recruit Japanese professionals for both Mountain View and Tokyo Google offices. Andrew gave me some great tips and resources on finding Japanese candidates. We often shared ideas and brainstormed on ways to find the Japanese Google talent. He is very smart, resourceful, responsive and friendly. I had a great time working with him and he is one of the successful recruiters that I know of at Google. You can never go wrong hiring Andrew!” February 10, 2008
Ritu Singh, Partner Solutions Organization Sourcer, Google
“Andrew is a friendly and passionate recruiter. He speaks Japanese and has good skill to recruit software engineers internationally. He works hard to hire good software engineers in Japan as well as those in U.S. who would like to work for products targeted at Japanese market.” February 9, 2008
Junji Takagi, Software Engineer, Google
“Andrew is hiring lots of Japanese software engineers in US and in Japan. He works with a certain amount of teamwork and helps me often.” January 31, 2008
Jun Inada, Engineering Recruiter in Tokyo, Google Japan…