Visionaries in Employment

I’m often asked, who are the “visionaries and thought leaders” in employment? In most professions, identifying the leaders is relatively easy. But it?s not that easy in recruiting. I have found after over 30 years in employment that we are a unique profession. Employment has no official “father or mother,” and there are few formal ways of identifying or recognizing our own thought leaders. Well, recently I had the opportunity to refine my answer to the “visionary question”. I was asked by ERE to invite a distinguished panel of visionaries to speak at their recent ER Expo 2001. After weeks of thought, I decided it would only be fair to select from individuals that I have worked directly with. I know that there are many more visionaries that I missed but these are the ones that I have found through personal experience to be extraordinary thought leaders and people that I learn from. ?Sullivan?s List of Visionaries? The organization listed in the parenthesis represents their current affiliation. Michael McNeal (PureCarbon) – Michael was the visionary who organized the team that built the world-class staffing organization at Cisco systems. He started with limited resources, at an unknown firm (at that time), but in less than five years he built a recruiting machine that has hired over 30,000 people. It is arguably now the best employment brand in the world. His approach to recruiting has a strong marketing and market research focus. He virtually invented the terms “passive job seeker” and “employment brand.” He was the first to identify the hiring process as a “graceless process” that was totally lacking in customer service. Kevin Wheeler (Global Learning) – Kevin was formerly head of recruiting and training at Charles Schwab. He emphasizes the need for forecasting the future economic environment and changing your recruiting strategy as the unemployment rate and technology change. He invented the strategy that says that if employment functions are to be effective, they must treat all applicants as “investors” (because they invest a huge amount of their time). Kevin is also secretly an expert in developing corporate universities. Randall Birkwood (Cisco) – Randall is currently the Director of Employment at Cisco Systems. There he has focused his efforts on the continual improvement of the employment process during times of rapid growth. A widely sought after speaker, he uses his visibility to further build the Cisco brand. If you want to know how Cisco does it, he’s the one to ask! Eric Lane (Icarian) – Eric was the first to pioneer the use of the Intranet in the corporate recruiting environment. As director of employment at SGI he put all employment training and policies on the web. And he had the foresight to give managers access to all of it, making him a pioneer in what we now call manager self-service. He’s the only director of employment that I know that was actually “bid on” when he decided to leave NSC. Brian Gaspar (Juniper) – If there is a “rookie” on this team, it would have to be Brian. His relative youth brings with it a healthy dose of cynicism about most historical employment practices. Brian is an expert in using technology to improve staffing processes. While at Cisco he helped design some of their best internal staffing tools and systems. He knows more about strategy, technology and where recruiting needs to be then people twice his age. He helped to develop (with McKinsey) the “six stages of HR technology ” which is the definitive “thought piece” on the future of technology in HR. A true “rocket scientist”! Gerry Crispin and Mark Mehler (CareerXroads) – Both Gerry and Mark made the huge jump from the technology void of recruitment advertising into the world of Web recruiting. In a short time they have become Web gurus. They were the first to categorize websites and develop criteria for excellence in Web recruiting. Their book, “CareerXroads,” was the first and continues to be the definitive source in “what’s hot” in Web recruiting. Addie Sullivan** (Agilent Technologies) – Addie is a behind the scenes strategist with “out of the box ideas”. She started an independent R&D function within employment, which allowed her to assess “what worked” and what didn’t work in recruiting. She has helped advise teams that developed innovative tools and strategies in the areas of competitive intelligence, best place to work branding, retention blocking strategies, WOW corporate web sites and world class employee referral programs. Most people know how things work, she also knows why! Kevin Klinvex (Select International) – Kevin is a true innovator in the “unsung” field of rapidly (and accurately) assessing candidates. Kevin was a pioneer in “one day hiring” and in measuring competencies and the quality of hire. While most on this list developed their innovations in large technology firms with massive budgets, he did it at a small consulting firm in a mostly manufacturing environment. Patrick Coulson (PureCarbon) – Patrick is a “behind the scenes” technology wizard. His work makes other people look good. He guided the technology team at SGI and later at Cisco to design the most innovative technology tools in the industry. If you have a question about where technology is going in recruiting, he has the answer. Janel Canepa (Ariba Software) – Another Cisco alum, Janel helped build their brand by offering benchmarking sessions and through extensive public speaking. Now at Ariba, she has developed truly innovative recruiting tools and strategies. And she did it with a limited budget by leveraging the resources of PR and marketing. A wise businessperson with a “take no prisoners” attitude. Hank Stringer ( – Before ASP’s and outsourcing became hot, Hank and his team were the leaders and the driving force in building outsourced web pages for other firms. In addition, he has pioneered some of the most compelling marketing and sales approaches in the industryConclusion Although not everyone could participate on the visionaries panel, most of these thought leaders did participate in some way at the ER Expo. It was truly an honor to be in the same building with so many of these thought leaders. If you ever want me to attend your event, just invite one or more of these thought leaders and I’ll be there. They are both inspirational and uncomforting (because they make you uncomfortable with where you are now). If you are in the market for a great director of employment, a consultant, a speaker, or just some great advice, you can’t go wrong with these people. My thanks to David Manaster (another innovator) and his team for bringing so many of them together. My apologies to the many thought leaders that I surely have omitted. I’ll catch you on my next list. ** My apologies for any underlying biases (Addie is my wife).

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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