Quality is this IT services firm’s mantra
NueVista, an information technology staffing and consulting firm based in Oak Brook, Ill., appears in this month’s Center Stage, which features innovative staffing firms. We interviewed NueVista CEO Stuart Emanuel about his company.
Q: What helps set NueVista apart from other IT staffing firms?
A: The way we do business is a little different from most of our competition. Most of the companies we work with are not VMS accounts. We typically don’t work with accounts where we can’t talk with the users or buyers directly. We like to understand their issues and how they are using technology to solve problems. We try to help them find another solution, to make sure they have the right people doing the right jobs. We want them to see us as a value-added provider of services and not just a provider of bodies.
Q: Can you describe a specific recent innovation your company has done?
A: We’ve developed a strong following in the IT leadership space in the last couple of years. We started that service when the recession started because we thought we needed something new and fresh that would allow us to be early movers coming out of the recession and I think that’s really happened.
Q: What are your plans and goals for this year?
A: One of the things we need to accomplish this year is to educate our clients. During the recession, clients were quick to ask for price reductions. They assumed there was an excess of talented people available. But while general unemployment is still at about 9 percent, IT unemployment is probably down at around 4 percent. And I can guarantee you that those 4 percent are people who probably should not be working in IT, anyway.
Also, we’ll be looking at more service offerings. We have been looking at the health IT space to figure out where we would fit. We’re figuring out where we would fit in the “cloud” space, and we want to continue to be creative and innovative.
Q: Where do you see NueVista in the future?
A: We’ve established a nice reputation here in Chicago. I think the next step for us is to expand throughout major cities in the United States. Then we’ll take a look at some [possible mergers].
Q: To what do you attribute your company’s success?
A: A number of things. Number one, we have fairly senior sales and recruiting staff who understand business issues as well as technology issues. Some of our competitors hire kids right out of college. We don’t do that. We don’t think that’s in the best interest of our clients.
We’ve developed a strong reputation for the highest quality of service. Before we send a consultant or a contractor out on a project, we bring them into the office to learn what their personality is like and how they work best. And we look for cultural fit between that person and the client. We also do technical testing to make sure the person we place is going to stick. We think all of that’s really important — that’s what keeps them on assignments for a long time.
So we’ve developed a tremendous reputation for quality. One of the questions we ask our customers is, “When you think about NueVista, what does it bring to mind?” About 85 percent or 90 percent of the responses are “quality.”
Q: What steps have you taken to reduce turnover?
A: We’re very careful to make sure that people here are treated as family. We feel very, very strongly that it’s important for people to succeed together.
We think if people work together and help each other become successful they’ll achieve much greater things than they would if they had to worry about somebody trying to stab them in the back.
And the other thing I think is key is our compensation plan. Some companies change their plans for salespeople and recruiters every year. We don’t do that. Our plans have been the same since we’ve been in business. I think continuity is probably the most important driver of success in this business. Clients come to expect and like working with the same people on an ongoing basis.
Q: How would you describe your company’s business model?
A: As a small company we have to be innovative. There are so many companies out there that do the exact same thing exactly the same way as every other company. And there are so many companies, particularly in the VMS space, whose only value-add is that they can offer a client fast and cheap placements.
That’s just not where we want to go. So, we developed some unique practice offerings — one in the IT leadership space and another in the software quality space. We’ve hired and trained practice directors to lead with these service offerings, and that’s allowed us to present ourselves in a different way and to look at other areas within the company besides just calling on the IT management. This allows us to get into the business units. Now we’re looking at what our next practice offering is going to be, which may be in the IT health space. And, every year, we take a pretty harsh look at ourselves and say: What can we be doing differently? What could we be doing better? What should we add? What should we take away? That approach has worked well for us.
Q: How selective are you about whom you hire?
A: Extremely. For starters, when I interview a salesperson or a recruiter, I put myself in the position of the client or the talent. I’ll ask myself whether this a person I’d want calling on me every week or every month. Does this person have the credibility to convince me to buy from them, and are they polished and professional enough that I’d want to do business with them on a long-term basis? We’re particularly interested in integrity.
That’s a show stopper. If somebody seems a little too slick or isn’t completely forthright in their answers, we just won’t hire that person. We also look at their background and energy level. What environment have they succeeded in?
For example, we’re a fairly small company. If a salesperson has been successful in a huge, well-known company but has never worked for a small company before, we get concerned about that. Most of our prospective buyers don’t know us. So you can’t use our name to open doors. You have to be creative and you have to think outside the box as to how you’re going to build relationships and how you’re going to get into that company.