World Staffing Podcast #4 with Mary Martin, Vice President, Client Success at Staffing the Universe Family of Companies


Intro: This is a brand new episode of the World Staffing Podcast. The interview podcast brought to you by, where we meet with entrepreneurs, successful business owners and the greatest minds of the staffing industry. We're interested in what drives them, what inspires them. We want to know what their everyday work looks like and what keeps them up at night.

We should all learn from them and at the same time, have a good time. And this is your host, Jan Jedlinski.

Jan Jedlinski: Welcome to a brand new episode of the World Staffing Podcast, where I meet with entrepreneurs, successful business owners and the greatest minds of the staffing industry. I'm interested in what drives them? What inspires them? I want to know what their everyday life looks like and what keeps them up at night. My name is Jan and I'm the host for the session today.

I'm very excited to welcome a very special guest for today's episode. We actually met at the VMSA conference a few years back for the first time, and I was super impressed with her background. She started her career with one of the largest staffing firms in the world and had different stops along the way with MSP and VMS companies.

She's a very inspiring person and I personally look up to her. So I'm very honored to have her on the podcast today. Welcome to the World Staffing Podcast, Mary.

Mary Martin: Thank you so much. I appreciate all of those kind words and I'm so happy to be here.

Jan Jedlinski: Thanks, Mary. I have a ton of questions for you and we have a ton that we can talk about, but before we dive in, tell us a little bit about your journey and your story in the staffing Industry?

Mary Martin: Yeah, that sounds wonderful. So about 15 years ago, I started my journey within the staffing space at Tek Systems. I was brought into an office within Wisconsin and had really wonderful people that I worked with. I saw what was going on within the recruitment cycle and the pit and all of the energy that was happening.

And I just fell in love with staffing. So. Working with those individuals and learning from some really tenured folks at tech systems opened my eyes to what staffing is and could be. So I sat and on-site and onboarding for a lot of. Consultants. I help them with their HR and benefit issues. And about three months into that role, I realized that there was an emerging industry within the MSP segment.

And I worked with an individual by the name of Jesse Gunther, who was on the allegiance group services side at the time and now allegiance to global solutions. It was really a new concept. How do we manage contract labor as opposed to just recruit and fill. And so I stepped into that arena and really enjoyed working on the client side.

Having interaction with the procurement and supply chain teams at the clients that AGS was working alongside. So I did that for several years and really got a good understanding of how these contingent labor programs are structured and what they need to survive and operate. After I did that, I had really amazing connections and networks that opened up and I had moved over to a Manpower group being local to the Milwaukee area.

I realized that manpower's global headquarters are in Milwaukee. So having that in my backyard was really special. When I joined manpower about a week later, they purchased concise and tap fin. So I was legacy manpower, MSP, not necessarily tap Finn, but being a part of that alignment and that growth that was happening within the company at the time was really interesting to see. I really enjoyed working with the different groups to kind of consolidate and make a more optimized model for the market.

And what ended up happening in my operation roles, sitting on-site at customers is many times after three to five years, everything goes back out for bid. So. The industry changing MSP is sort of popping up all over the place. VMS technology is getting more and more features. I started losing programs. So instead of sitting on-site at a local company here in Milwaukee, they might have awarded it to a competitor.

And so I really wanted to try my hand at sales or sales engineering, or demoing. Being more involved on the technical side. So I had a wonderful connection at Provade VMS and they brought me in to help support their RFP process, to help support their demos. And by, you know, 2-3 years at Provade, I was doing 80%, 90% of the presentations as it related to the tool and features that Provade offered.

So Provade at that point was an Oracle based application built off of PeopleSoft. So the familiarity with Oracle products and PeopleSoft products really helped me learn and grow within that technical space specifically within the staffing industry and the contingent labor world. And I really appreciated all of the time and energy that I was able to meet those individuals and Excel as it related to the VMS Side.

Jan Jedlinski: I think we have a common, common friends, previous Provade hands thread that we both are very familiar with. So I guess you would work hand in hand with him on many different projects.

Mary Martin: Yes. And Hans was, you know, definitely a visionary is a visionary, someone that I personally look up to as an individual that sort of goes against the grain.

And I love his way of thinking that. It's not all black and white, there are areas of gray and there are gaps and there are areas that we can sort of hone in on and optimize and capitalize on. So he opened my eyes to a lot of different avenues within our industry that haven't been explored. And so, I really enjoyed working with him.

After Provade, I went to Randstad for a short period of time. Randstad is a fantastic company. They have wonderful models. They work with some of the largest clients in the marketplace. But for me, I always excelled within Mueller environments, where I had more of a voice. I was able to encourage change and with a large company, Like that it was kind of challenging.

So being at Randstad, I learned how to sell midsize MSP. So anything between $5 and $20 million, we had some really good success stories there. Worked with Field-glass and Beeline and some of the other VMS tools in the market to roll out these programs. And then I left Randstad and went to Pinnacle Group.

Pinnacle had purchased Provade years before. So I was very familiar with their organization, their leadership team, and they're owned by a fantastic woman named Nina Vaca. She is an entrepreneur and she's an advocate for diversity. And so we really aligned and connected and wonderful things happened while we were at Pinnacle, we built out the MSP practice.

We offered new services, such as services, procurement management for large corporations, fortune 500 corporations were buying our solutions and we're so pleased that we were sort of breaking into. This MSP space was a diverse vendor, because there weren't very many MSPs out there that could offer that tier one diversity credit at the time.

So after doing that for several years, this past May, I decided to look at other opportunities and I joined a company called Staffing the Universe Brands of Companies. There's several different companies within the parent organization and we focus on them. Medical Staffing, Healthcare Staffing. We did vaccination programs during the pandemic and the state of New York.

We also have industrial services that we offer providing warehouse associates to some of the largest retailers across the country, as well as Professional and Supply chain positions. So it's a staffing company that's looking to grow and looking to sort of redefine who we are in the marketplace. And I was brought onto the executive team to oversee the client success division.

And what that means is working with clients to provide market insight. Working with our clients to ensure that we're giving them all of the solutions and services that would benefit them to take them through their critical projects on the procurement side of the house. And really just elevating the brand from a consumer or customer experience.

So all of the customers that use us, if it's at an MSP or if it's direct retail to a customer, How are we creating uniformity and providing information at Intel back to our customers so that they can rely on us and count on us for additional services in the future. So that's where I am today.

Jan Jedlinski: Also. I think you have a great story.

Thank you so much for sharing that with us and, you know, with so much in depth experience in that industry over the last years, you obviously have seen different things, but when you look at the last 2 years. So to say after COVID, and now obviously still, you know, it's in pieces happening in the world.

What do you see from your clients today when you speak to clients? What are the things that may be changed over the last one and a half years from conversations or interests that you previously haven't had from customers that you have today? And what do you think is interesting for them in the next couple of years?

So what, what are you looking to provide to them?

Mary Martin: Yeah. So I'd say that this pandemic has created a lot of opportunities. It's closed a lot of doors as well. So being able to pivot and identify those areas is super important. And actually my current organization really did a great job about a year and a half ago, a year ago, being part of the New York state coalition, helping the department of health.

Going into New York and vaccinating, you know, close to 40% of the vaccinated population. So we had to sort of turn the model upside down. If we're doing, you know, warehouse staffing for a bakery across the globe or across the United States, and now there's no trucks running and people aren't able to be on the floor.

We have a lot of staff that was released, what options are there to sort of get people back to work. So I'd say that was the definite focus. And even building that out now is really exciting and interesting because we recognize that there are so many changes happening with the pandemic and the Coronavirus.

Are we going to need to administer boosters in order to get people back into the office and ensure that those companies aren't losing out on that retail space and those commercial buildings that they have. How do we get people to feel safe enough to go into the office? So providing on-site clinics, providing on-site vaccination programs is something that we also opened up and so large organizations, you know, the, the top 100 banks in the United States.

If they need people to come back to work, you should likely look at. Creating some sort of healthcare environments on-site at your office where people are able to get access to vaccines, access to healthcare. And I think that that's a benefit. That's also popping up in Wisconsin. We had to drive up north for a family weekend and a bunch of the dairy farm.

Some of the Mercury Marine type companies that specialize in selling boats are selling different things. They are giving all of these different bonuses to individuals because of the lack of available talent. But also with that, I have been seeing on-site healthcare options. So that is going to become, I think, a norm where if there's a larger organization that is looking to hire talent, not even just contingent talent, but really increase their, their brand and increase the attractiveness of an individual joining their company, healthcare on-site or health care options are really important. So I'd say that's one definite. Positive of this pandemic is seeing that people really want to feel safe. And in order to provide that safety. Organizations are taking a really hard look at how we can support our employees.

And then secondly, I've really seen a lot of push towards the creative space. I think what this pandemic also taught us, with us being sort of stuck at home quarantine. Not having a sense of community with interpersonal connection, that a lot of people have turned to connection in a different way, within different communities within, you know, on the internet, having different groups, whether it's on social media and really figuring out as an individual, what you like and surrounding yourself with people that like what you like and have a common interest.

So in that spirit, what has been done or what's going to be done within the next several years. To help bring jobs and awareness to creatives. And there's several different platforms that are popping up. There's, you know, different avenues for makeup artists and hairstylists or dancers or actors, but anyone that would be involved in, in a creative process.

If they are an influencer and have the ability to create, but maybe you don't have a university degree because they were underserved in a certain community. Are we as staffing professionals, still looking at them as viable candidates? And I think that that is a really huge area for opportunity to sort of elevate.

The creatives of talent pools, within our customers to make sure that our customers are getting access to top talent, not just the, you know, a DBA is, or the project managers or the factory line workers, but also those individuals that might have daily rates that might have their own LLC that are 10 99.

How are we getting access to them to bring them in, to help support projects? And create a better brand for our customers. So that's an area I'm really focused on and I'm loving and searching. I think that that is sort of bleeping ads right now. And a lot of companies are talking about direct sourcing or statement of work projects, and that's sort of something we've seen a lot in the contingent labor, space for many, many years, but I'm not hearing a lot.

Industry experts talk about creative talent and how they're leveraging optimization. The, you know, a process tied to those specific workers. And at the end of the day, they are contingent workers. They're coming in for a project. And so they should fall into the bucket of our industry. And I think that having our industry leaders look at that talent and how we can support our customers is going to be really important within the next three years.

Jan Jedlinski: That's very interesting, actually. And do you think that the staffing industry overall, because I agree there is you don't see among the traditional staffing firms, a lot of interaction with the creative industry. Do you think that's because staffing agencies have, in general, maybe bad brands and the creative industry tends towards going to other platforms or other sources where they work with clients and maybe even the staffing industry is missing out on all of that talent because of brand or what is your take on that?

Mary Martin: Yeah. I definitely think that that's an issue. And I think if the doors were open in a more inclusive way, that would not be the case.

But I think having a client that understands what their brand is going to attract. Attract a certain type of talent attracts a certain type of creative person or not. It's kind of a let's level set and have that conversation. So in order for a creative to be brought in, maybe there's a commercial that's being done, or there's some sort of event that's being held where they need a specialized person to come in with a unique idea and unique proposition.

If you have to go through the supply chain and you have to get contracts and go through that whole process with procurement, it can be daunting. And so how do we sort of alleviate that for those individuals and take on that burden and take on that risk to help lead them into our clients so that our clients get the best results.

And that those people can become more marketable and have that purposeful work filled life as well. So I definitely think that there's some synergies that can happen because in life and we all do this, we kind of over-complicate things. And so. You know, even with supply chain and with procurement, if there's all of these areas of red tape and obstacles in order for someone who is really created to get through and do what they need to do to accomplish their goal, they might not have the tools in order to do that.

But we. As leaders of the industry and as staffing companies do have those tools. So how do we make that outreach? How do we have those conversations? And I think we need to look at it generally generationally too, because we recognize that the newer generations that are entering the workforce. Want to have work on my own terms.

If they're specialized in one field and they can do it, you know, repeatable for several different companies, that's going to help them in their career to diversify and bring more ideas to the market. If they're a W2 of a company and they've worked for him for eight years and it's the same, you know, tasks over and over then perhaps this isn't the right avenue.

But as far as new individuals sort of entering the workforce, this younger generation, we have to be more adaptable through technology. Absolutely. But also through the cultivation and handholding to show them the right route in order to procure an award in order to get that job to show up on that day.

So there are some platforms out there doing it right now. And I do think that that's going to grow. I'm not really seeing a lot of our You know, common staffing providers or contingent labor service, you know, offerings within our marketplace, focusing on that. And I do think that that's definitely an area where we can all grow a little bit.

Jan Jedlinski: That's very interesting. And actually, you know, there's all this talk about recruiter less staffing, and how will the industry change. But when you talk about the creativity you know, it can even morph into like a talent agent model, right. Where you still, you know, can be the traditional recruiter.

That's as I said, like it's a hand-holding person for the creatives finding the right jobs and guiding them through the marketplace. And I guess obviously technology will play a big part in that. But I think a combination of redeployment, which generally in staffing is done very poorly. And having those people on different projects and managing them sort of eases it really as traditional Hollywood talent agents.

I think that's where staffing companies could really look into and, and even perhaps create a new line of business for them.

Mary Martin: Absolutely. Yeah. And I think that that's what's so exciting about our world right now is because we have had this insane change in our lives and this horrible pandemic that showed up. If we can look at that silver lining and say, who are we going to be when we emerge from this?

I think that it's going to open up a lot of different doors. And even in that same case of the creatives, you know, from the healthcare perspective or medical perspective, making sure that you know, we are providing our clients with healthcare workers in a similar fashion that we have with other pools of talent.

So I have a niece, for instance, who's a traveling nurse right now. She has two children and she is employed by one of the larger MSPs within the healthcare space. And the recruiters have been tremendous. They've helped her. She's been in California. She's been in different locations throughout the United States and she's based in Wisconsin.

But what she told me is that at the drop of a dime, her assignment can be canceled. And then she has to be sent home and find a new one. And that's been a struggle because. She has children in school and that doesn't really fit in well. So how can we, again, a staffing leader and professionals give that information back to our clients and say, we understand that you need this talent to perform these critical functions, but we also have to take into account that there are human beings that have families and have lives and need that additional support and, and communication.

To let them know when assignments are coming up and how to be redeployed. Similarly to what you just mentioned. Redeployment has been on the tip of our industry's tongue. I'd say at least since 2014 and I, I'm not seeing that it's taken off in the way that it should. And so that's another focus area and I think it all aligns really nicely within those two verticals of creative and, and Healthcare.

Jan Jedlinski: That's very interesting. Talking about creativity a little bit. And we spoke probably a year ago around, you know, a source for staffing news and media in our industry. Do you have specific places that you go to, to consume industry news? Or do you think there might be opportunities in that space to improve?

I know that there's a couple of outlets that are currently sort of leading in that space, but I know we had a conversation a while ago. There might be some opportunities and changes needed in our industry as well.

Mary Martin: Yeah, absolutely. So I think about this a lot and I am seeing more outlets pop up, but really sort of the Genesis of that conversation was thinking about the 20, 20 political election and how social media and individuals that were using the internet or using news feeds to consume their information.

Yeah. You know, it was sort of divisive and dividing people based off of, you know, what their likes and dislikes were. So in that idea, how are we, you know, sort of going to market and giving information to leaders in our space are those in our space that might be new to it. And of course you can go to staffing industry analysts, websites, you can go to art and partner's websites.

Chris Dyer. Phenomenal. He writes amazing content spend matters, does a lot of time with technology in the space. And so there's a variety of organizations out there that provide content. But there should also be some sort of medium that collects anything related to the world of work. So whether it's changes in labor laws or women returning to work after starting a family or opportunities for young, you know, young individuals to get internships at companies.

Constantly providing content in the form of a news feed or in the form of consumable digestible snippets, I think is really needed. I personally am kind of like a sneaker head and I'm into culture tied to fashion and everything that sort of involves that. Whether it's Music, Architecture etc. And there are a lot of companies out there that offer that.

If you look at Worldstar, if you look at Complex, if you look at Vice, these are all media companies and every two to three hours, they're releasing information based off of their generalized topics. And so why isn't there something like that for the world of work? I think that that is a huge opportunity.

I, you know, have brought that to a couple of different people. I think I talked to Hans about that. I talked to you about that and I would be surprised if something doesn't pop up within the next couple of years specific to that. I think it could be an amazing opportunity. I'm not, you know, in marketing or communications per se in that way.

So it's not something that necessarily I could create, but at the same time, I'd love to collaborate and sort of help build something that looks like that because it's definitely needed. If I go online and take a look every couple hours or there's a meme or there's something that's sort of getting my attention and pulling me back into.

The purposeful, you know, day to day work of our space and our industry. I think that would just be incredibly beneficial. I know on the diversity side, there are different channels like that. I think higher talent and Ashish's company is doing a fantastic job with their consciously unbiased movement. But to expand that mission a little bit more and have it not just with a focus on diversity, but a focus on the world of work and how that's changing and how we're all involved in that change would be really exciting to see.

Jan Jedlinski: Absolutely. I totally agree. And maybe let's shift gears a little bit from creativity and move into you giving us a little bit of advice. I know you've, you know, so many years in that industry and I've been talking to many founders that are now starting staffing recruiting companies. So it's a completely new generation of people that are coming into that industry. And they obviously start not with legacy applicant tracking systems or old software. It's a completely new and different way of thinking. What would you as a staffing expert, advice, someone who is starting a new staffing company today.

Mary Martin: So I would say it's extremely important to create a sales methodology and to stick to it and hold individuals accountable. Whether you go out and procure a third party company to do that with auto dialers and scripts. Obviously, we've all been contacted by individuals like that in the past. It can be looked at as pestering or, you know, as, oh my goodness, this person's calling again or whatever, but at the end of the day, how are we going to get in front of new prospects and new buyers?

So figuring out that strategy is super important and it could be that it's just leveraging the networks that you already have. So I'm a firm believer in network and treating everyone the same and having that simultaneous promotion of interest. I'm not trying to, you know, give to get, I want this to be an equal partnership and when you're not in front of someone and having that conversation and looking them in the eyes that trust and rapport it's really challenging to build.

So how are companies that are just starting, you know, out of this pandemic, going to overcome that. And I think that there's a lot of really interesting ways that they can, you know, you can look at. Again, the media company is and providing thought leadership and white papers and analysis based off of what you've seen in the market and provide information back to those prospects as a way to sort of leverage your experience and your knowledge to share back with them, or are there opportunities in other ways that maybe we haven't discovered yet?

And so I definitely think that. A lot that can be done in a focus area as it relates to that general topic.

Jan Jedlinski: Awesome. Thank you so much for that advice. That's great. We are now almost at the end of our episode today, so I would only love to know where can listeners find you, let us know, where can somebody reach out to you after they heard the episode or a website from it, from your company?

Mary Martin: Yes, absolutely. So I'm on LinkedIn. My name is Mary C. Martin. I've been in the space now post for 15, 16 years. Really appreciate the network that has been afforded to me. The individuals I've met, I can't even express How thankful I am to have met the individuals along the way, because we are constantly looking out and helping each other in a common mission.

So, one of the biggest things that I grew up with as a child, my father was a Milwaukee public school teacher for 47 years. And so he, he always would instill in me that you have to be a constant student. You have to be a constant student of your industry. You have to be eager to learn and try new things.

And so every single day I challenged myself with that. So I actively look for individuals, whether it's at the gas station, whether it's at a concert, whether it's at the airport. Where I can have that connection, because at the end of the day, I'd say my favorite feeling or favorite emotion is connection.

It's having that magnetism, having that, you know, that feeling when you talk to someone that you're connected at a deeper level, and it's such a beautiful thing. And so that's really what I'm most eager to get back to once the world, you know, kind of moves through this, this transition period. And so I would encourage anyone that's listening to really just think about what makes you happy and think about things that drive you towards your goals and stay really close to those items and find people that also have those same desires and beliefs.

Of course, we always want diversity of thought. We always want to include others in our journey. But having like-minded individuals that are positive and encouraging it will. Make your life so much happier and so much better. And so I've, I've really been blessed and thankful that that's been a part of my journey and being a servant leader and being super strong in my faith.

It's really just filled up my cup and made me super grateful that I chose this industry, you know, 15 years ago. I don't necessarily know that at the time I knew how impactful those decisions would be to join Tek Systems. But now looking back, I am so pleased that I've gone in this direction.

Jan Jedlinski: Thank you so much, Mary, for this nice word and, and a nice ending of the episode.

I really appreciate you being here today, and it was an honor to speak with you. And as usual, we would love to reconnect and record another episode probably in the next 6 or 12 months to check in and see how everything is going on your side and see what's going on. So thank you again for being here and whoever's listening.

Please reach out to Mary, via LinkedIn, if you're interested in learning more about her or just connect before about her new role as well. So thanks, Mary. And it was a pleasure to have you here.

Mary Martin: Thank you so much. It was my pleasure. And I really appreciate all you're doing for the industry. I have probably told dozens of people about the World Staffing Summit and how impactful that was in January of 2021.

I thought that that was fantastic. And so for you and your team, sort of the eagerness and the I can do it mentality is so refreshing. And I love to see that. I mean, I joke with my small boy that, you know, we can't ever give excuses. We always just have to keep moving, keep it moving forward. And I think that you and your team have done a tremendous job, bringing something to our industry that was lacking and sort of gave it a new breath of life.

So thanks so much to you and your team. And I'm excited for the next, you know, 3, 5, 10 years within our space. And I know we'll be connected throughout that time and sort of have that success shared.

Jan Jedlinski: Thank you so much, Mary. And I'll speak to you soon. Have a good day. Bye-bye

Mary Martin: Thanks. You too.

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Welcome to the World Staffing Podcast where we speak with success-full staffing owners and operators to learn about the things that keep them up at night, their success stories, learnings and failures while building a successful staffing company and their thoughts on the future of the staffing market.

In this episode, Jan meets Mary Martin, who shares her journey in the staffing industry and how COVID impacted the Industry. They also discuss remote work, its pros & cons along with the advices to new owners of staff businesses.

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