Graig Paglieri Transcript

Clint Betts:

Graig, thank you so much for coming on, spending some time with us, and explaining kind of your views of leadership, your company, and everything in between. Maybe we start with how you became the CEO and got to the position where you are today.

Graig Paglieri:

Absolutely Clint. Well, and thanks so much for having me. Really, really a privilege to spend some time with you and chat. So I've had the great opportunity to be in leadership roles really early from the very beginning of my career, and I kind of got thrust into that by being an officer in the Marine Corps and just really, really valuing and appreciating the honor and privilege of serving others and being responsible for others' success.

So, as I moved throughout my career, I really sought opportunities like that. And about eight years ago, I was actually in a role that was more functional. I was the head of innovation for Randstad in North America, which was pretty cool. I can spin you up on that a little bit, but it wasn't what I was used to leading large teams and organizations. And my boss at the time understood that, and she gave me an opportunity to take on our tech business and our engineering business. And that probably a lot of other people might not have been ready to pull the trigger on that, but she gave me that opportunity and, over the period of the past seven or eight years, was able to build that into the organization that we have now, which requires a CEO of America. So I'm very lucky to have that.

Clint Betts:

That's incredible. And tell us what the company does and kind of who you service and all of that.

Graig Paglieri:

Yeah, absolutely. So Randstad is the biggest HR services provider on the planet, right? And when I say HR, I mean all forms of work. Everything from someone working in warehouses for Amazon to software engineers working on gen AI capabilities for one of the largest banks in the world and everything in between. And we do that in the form of contingent, temporary work. We do it in the form of permanent work where we help companies bring on people full-time. And we also do projects and outsourcing and large engagements for organizations. So that's Randstad as a whole, but we are specialized in certain disciplines, and tech and digital is one of our largest focus areas, and that's the area that I'm involved in.

Clint Betts:

That's incredible. What does a typical day look like for you?

Graig Paglieri:

Oh, man. Well, it usually starts on a plane and ends in a hotel room. Typically, this week, at least for today, I'm in my home here in Tampa, Florida. So it's a series of calls of... Today, for example, we have our monthly financial close, which can be pretty intense as we're balancing the way different costs and different allocations fall based on our performance. And then thinking through what does that mean from a forecast perspective and where we can invest or where we need to pull back based on the situation. Got some one-on-ones this afternoon with my sales executives and business leaders. And then it wraps up; I know my last call today is a collaboration around an executive forum event that we're planning a couple of months from now in San Francisco. So this is a pretty static day where I'm staying in one place, but typically, it's a lot of client interaction out in one of the cities throughout the United States or Canada.

Clint Betts:

And how do you decide where to spend your time, where to go, who to meet with? Is that just all decided for you, or is it strategic? Is it just like some days you wake up with a plan, and the day is completely different?

Graig Paglieri:

Yeah, no, I would say planning is a huge part of, I would say, my success formula as a leader. So definitely try to get out at least a couple months in advance. I'd say it's a mix of some routine or some kind of anchor activities or events that do need to happen, as well as some more spontaneous. But I also look to plan about 50% of my time being involved with clients directly, whether that's working on an engagement or helping our team servicing a client indirectly or directly. So I think that's a big factor. And so I would say it's very rarely would it be off the seat of my pants in a sense of what the day would entail.

Clint Betts:

Oh, that's good. At least you have some predictability there, which is incredible. How do you stay motivated? I mean, this sounds like a lot, and pushing through it every single day, how do you stay motivated? How do you motivate the team? I mean, how do you keep it, "Hey, let's keep rolling"?

Graig Paglieri:

I think there's definitely a calling to be in the services space. So for me, I've always been in professional services or briefly after college, my military experience, my passion is driving teams in some sort of service function in some sort of effort to advance or help another organization or people directly. So we are constantly trying to solve challenges for our customers, for our consultants, and that's really the motivation for me. Are we evolving? Are we staying ahead of different trends, whether that be in technology or in the ways of the workforce? So, just kind of that constant problem-solving, though, in that service focus is really my inspiration and what I try to impart on my teams.

Clint Betts:

As a leader, is there a singular moment or experience that stands out to you that kind changed your perspective or what it means to be a leader for you?

Graig Paglieri:

I don't think singular. I think there's been many examples, both on the positive side and the negative side, of leaders that I worked for. And I was really, really fortunate over my career to have some fantastic leaders. And I think if I had to kind of pinpoint what on the really positive side, it is that self-sacrifice; it is recognizing that the team success is more important. And I saw some of the best examples of what's possible in achievement with that type of leadership. And I think I saw that in a pattern over a few different leaders. And I think I could see the flip side of that in a couple leaders that were not the strongest. That, to me, was always the most consistent finding.

Clint Betts:

Who's a leader or an example of a leader that you admire?

Graig Paglieri:

Yeah, there's so many, obviously get that question quite a bit. I think from a historical perspective, a leader that... and I have a mentor who really put me on to this former president and American patriot and leader, Teddy Roosevelt. When you think about different inflection points, whether it's in the formation of a country, a government, civil war from a business perspective, a lot of the different changes or impacts and trends that we have, I think that period of time and the way that Teddy Roosevelt kind of just lived his life and the example he set and you talk about motivation, the different types of things that he was involved in and achieved from a political standpoint to an academic standpoint, to a military perspective. So, just thinking about the breadth and the depth of a leader like that, I often go there.

Clint Betts:

Oh yeah, Teddy Roosevelt's my favorite president as well. In fact, I don't know if you can see it, but there's a Teddy Roosevelt bust behind me.

Graig Paglieri:

Now I can see it.

Clint Betts:

How crazy is that?

Graig Paglieri:

Yeah, that wasn't a setup, either. Utah mug, but I didn't see that.

Clint Betts:

What are your thoughts? I'm sure you have to think about this a lot and just kind of the current state of the market, macroeconomic environment, even broader than that, just we got a bunch of elections coming up in the United States, of course, but in countries throughout the world this year. How often do you think about external factors like that?

Graig Paglieri:

Well, I would say, gosh, over the past couple of years, more often than I'd like, right? I think there's, in my experience, let's just say since the financial crisis and even COVID, I think the past 18 months have been the most just funky and hard to predict and just kind of expect the unexpected. And it's everything from the geopolitical unease across the entire world. It is tech trends, it's economic uncertainty, it's the election. So it just plays a part; we serve the workforce. So companies just aren't hiring as much as they were a couple of years ago, yet you see a really strong stock market, and you see other positive indicators, or you see jobs being added, but what the external factors that you mentioned and I'm mentioning, they're playing more of a significant role than ever before in my experience.

Clint Betts:

Yeah, it's a fascinating time to be a CEO because gone are the days where you can only focus on your company and what's happening internally and even just focus on your competitors and your marketplace. It feels like you have to kind of focus on everything that's going on and factor in what's going on in the world to your decision-making. I wonder what... I mean, obviously the biggest thing that everyone's trying to grapple with as a business currently is artificial intelligence, the rise of artificial intelligence. You mentioned tech trends being something that you focus on. How does that affect your industry exactly?

Graig Paglieri:

Yeah, well, it's definitely an impact, and I think it's a really good example of what I believe AI can do in a positive way to enhance productivity and really strengthen the workforce, not necessarily take away from it. And I think that's often what you read in a headline or Microsoft or big tech is making cuts, or maybe it's in manufacturing concerns around artificial intelligence replacing the workforce. I don't see that at all in our industry. We use different forms of automation, AI, machine learning to help our performers be more effective and productive in their roles. So, in the past, think about the recruiting function. So if we're finding people and we're putting them in jobs, we used to have hundreds and hundreds and if not thousands of people that were just focused on making contact with the candidate, scrubbing through their resume, making decisions on their own based on the qualification and the matching.

But even just getting to that point, there were so many steps and so many manual processes, well now we can have put people in those roles of what was a recruiter, and it's much more of a talent advisor because now all of that initial work is done through technology. So the screening and the filtering and even the engagement can occur with a velocity that a human being couldn't do and an effectiveness in many ways. So now we can focus more on the human interaction, so it's a better result for our client. It's a better result for the candidate that we're working with, and it's a better job for our person. So there's a variety of different applications on how those types of enhancements really can help our industry be more productive.

Clint Betts:

Finally, by the way, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us and give us a sense for how things are in your world. I want to be respectful of your time. We ask every guest the same question to end the interview, and that is at ceo.com; we believe the chances one gives is just as important as the chances one takes. And I wonder, when you hear that, who gave you a chance to get you to where you are today?

Graig Paglieri:

Yeah, and it's topical, too, mentioning how I got into the role of CEO for Randstad Digital for North America, and it started back in 2016, and it was the CEO of North America, an executive board member, a phenomenal role model, and leader, Linda Galipeau. And she was the one who saw something, knew I was rough around the edges, knew there were a lot of aspects of running almost a couple billion dollar revenue organization that I had never done before. The financial rigor, some of this, the broader responsibilities of running a staff, but she knew that I would figure it out. She knew she'd be able to help me and surround me with good people. And I remember it being a really rough first year, but after that, I was kind of off and running. But again, you wouldn't have hired me just by looking at the resume at the time or from a reference. She had to give me that chance, take that chance, and I definitely won't ever forget that.

Clint Betts:

That's incredible. Graig, thanks again for your time. Really appreciate it.

Graig Paglieri:

Oh, it's my pleasure. And love your program, love your show, and thanks for letting me be a part of it.


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