A pal of mine – Leslie O’Connor was recently featured in Entrepreneur Magazine as being among the Top 50 Fastest Growing Woman-owned Businesses in 2007. I am very proud of her and wanted to share some of her achievements with you guys via this online interview. Enjoy…
Jim: So how are you?
Leslie: I’m doing great thanks. It’s been a busy Spring and Summer, and now we are jumping into high gear as the SourceCon date approaches.
Jim: I heard about your being cited in Entrerpreneur Magazine. Sweet!
Leslie: Thanks Jim – we actually were ranked for 2007 in the list of Fastest Growing Women-led Companies. We were just notified that we have made the INC 500 this year, but will not know our ranking until August 20th, and have once again made the Entrepreneur Magazine short list. The last two years have been high growth mode for us, and now it is time to take a breath and tweak the infrastructure to sustain the growth to date and now get ready to build again.
Jim: For the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with the article, give us an overview?
Leslie: It was a ranking of Women-led Companies throughout North America, and based their rankings on revenue growth over a four year period – from 2002-2006.
Jim: Looks like SearchWizards is growing in size, popularity and influence.
Leslie: Well – we like to think so. We just try to always do good clean business that makes sense and stays within our niche. We have grown based on our ethics and integrity – and treating people fairly. I come from a recruiting background, and have sat in the seat of Contract Recruiter. So I understand their needs and their fears first hand – and like to think that we do a good job with the “care and feeding” of an elite group of high end talent.
Jim: What’s the history behind SearchWizards?
Leslie: I started Search Wizards initially as a technical staffing agency. As the markets slowed and turned and slowed again – I picked up contract work myself to keep business rolling and allow me to grow organically. In about the mid-2005 timeframe, it become apparent to me that there were not a lot of boutique firms that were specialized completely in the areas of Talent Acquisition. I let all of my technical consultants slowly roll off and focused only in three areas of Talent Acquisition – Recruiting, Sourcing and Internet Research.
Jim: Do you think its been more of a challenge being a female CEO in this male-dominated industry?
Leslie: I don’t think so – I think the days of gender profiling are behind us. And I don’t necessarily think our industry (Talent Acquisition) is male-dominated. There some outstanding recruiters and recruiting leaders out there today that come in all shapes, sizes and genders. What you can bring to the hiring manager and the client is not specific I think that at the end of the day people want to know that you have the knowledge, integrity and common sense to stay on the edge of what is happening and facilitate change where needed.
Jim: I understand that SearchWizards was a key player in the SourceCon conference. How did the idea of SourceCon come about?
Leslie: I’ve been an early adopter of the Sourcing movement, and as it became apparent that the recruiting life-cycle was segregating to allow for much more focused areas of expertise – I was very much a proponent of Sourcing being recognized as a very unique skill set. I had attended several national recruiting conferences, and was really interested in putting together an environment that allowed the Sourcing and Research community to come together to meet with their peers, exchange stories, talk about their favorite tools and hopefully take away new relationships and new ideas that they could implement in their own organizations.
Jim: What will we see in SourceCon ’08 that we did not see in ’07?
Leslie: You will see an agenda that has 2 tracks this year – one Tactical and one Strategic. We wanted to add a track that would be beneficial to the Sourcing leadership in Corporate and Agency environments – and have assembled a great group of presenters that will be sure to share their expertise gained through the success and failures of building sourcing organizations.
Jim: As you receive inquiries about SourceCon ’08 (I hear that several have registered already), what surprises you the most?
Leslie: I am always surprised by how many really bright people there are in our industry and how much they are willing to share with their peers.
Jim: Okay, help me complete this train of thought. SearchWizards, SourceCon… what next?
Leslie: Now that is the million dollar question. There are some exciting new things happening at Search Wizards as we move into a managed service offering with our Selective RPO model that we launched on July 1st with our new website.
Jim: Its been a pleasure chatting with you. I’ll see you at SourceCon (if not sooner).
* Leslie O’Connor can be reached via her (new) website – SearchWizards.net