The Executive Forum Comes of Age

Next month we will gather for the 21st Staffing Industry Executive Forum. In June 1992, when the first Executive Forum launched, I was fresh out of business school and newly placed at Adia Services as head of strategic planning. With no Google or Internet to look to for information about the industry, the announcement about the first Executive Forum was like a breath of fresh air.

Peter Yessne, Staffing Industry Analysts’ founder, saw that temporary employment was really part of something bigger — an industry focused on a three-way relationship involving an employer, an employee and a third party. That led to an industry definition that expanded to include permanent placement and search, as well as outplacement and staffing leasing/professional employee organizations (PEO).

The staffing industry has changed in many ways since then. There are a whole new range of services; with an explosion of interest in recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), managed service provision, payrolling and independent contractor compliance services coming to mind as areas that were low on the radar screen back then.

We’ve also seen change in the Executive Forum in the number and diversity of the types of staffing firms that participate. Additionally, global expansion is high on the radar screen for staffing firms of all sizes and the diversity of forum attendees and topics reflects that. Finally, while there were few suppliers in attendance at that first Executive Forum, today we see a broad array of highly sophisticated suppliers with cutting-edge technology. This final change is evidenced this year with the introduction of our new “Tech Day@ Executive Forum.”

For all that has changed, much remains the same. At its heart, staffing is a simple business. If you understand your clients’ needs and are able to find great candidates to meet those needs, you can’t go wrong. And it’s also still a people business. While technology abounds, the Executive Forum and the industry still invest considerable time focusing on managing, motivating and connecting people. Moreover, the conference is still organized to deliver on the needs of the senior executives and leaders who drove the growth of the industry through the last 21 years and will chart the course into the next 21.

This blog posting is excerpted from an article due to be published in the March 2012 issue of Staffing Industry Review magazine.

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