interview'Come take my job': How one Randstad Associate Director motivates his team
Gary SchraderAssociate Director, Professional Services
- As an Associate Director of Professional Services at Randstad Japan, Gary leads the back office permanent placement teams for HR, Accounting, Finance, Legal, Compliance and Risk. With more than 15 years of experience in talent acquisition in Japan, he has closed management and senior leadership searches for both retained and contingency requests across various industries and sectors. Gary’s passion is to help organizations find and attract the best talent for their business needs and goals. His expertise is in HR and talent management, and he is a coach and mentor for future recruitment leaders. Gary also acts as a business analyst, with skills in employer branding, high performance communication and developing and coaching great recruiters. With the assistance of Randstad, he completed the Future Executive Program at Singapore Management University, where he learned to enhance his leadership and strategic thinking skills.
Finding who you want to be
It’s not easy for anyone to become an associate director (AD) in the recruitment world, let alone thrive when they get there. For Gary Schrader, the path to becoming a successful AD at Randstad started with a clear mission and purpose.
“At first, I wanted to be a homicide detective.” Gary says, recalling his formative years growing up in Philadelphia. “I really wanted to be the guy that could walk into a chaos, assess the situation, calm everybody down, and think my way through to resolve it. Really, I wanted to improve people's quality of life.”
As a young adult in 2006, he was paying for his college degree by working in a bank, an industry where a depth of analysis and decisive problem solving are often needed. Between dreams of public service and the experience he gained in the world of finance, he ultimately decided to shift his field of study to Human Resources, realizing that he could help improve people's quality of life and assist businesses in solving challenging situations at the same time.
While wrapping up his degree, Gary studied abroad at Temple University’s Japan campus, wanting to add some international business experience to his repertoire. “While in Japan,” he says, “I learned more about business and I started to look at the bigger picture. At that time, Japan had the second largest GDP in the world, and about 70% of that is concentrated inside of about a 30 kilometer radius — Tokyo. I thought, ‘If you're fishing, go where the fish are.’”
After graduating with a wealth of experience, a focused career path, and a newfound zeal for taking on professional challenges in the Japanese market, Gary officially made the leap.
“I'm not trapped in Philly,” he recalled thinking. “I am able to get out of here and do something much bigger.”
His first job in Japan was with an online job board where he was promoted to a sales team leader and tasked with providing online recruitment solutions to more than 100 international organizations.
“Starting off at Daijob gave me a gateway to have conversations with hundreds HR people,” Gary says. “I was able to learn a lot about the field from my clients.”
It wasn’t long, though, before the world of agency recruitment would pull Gary in.
After working at Daijob as well as starting up his own talent management and candidate tracking system, he began calling recruiters to get a feel of what was in the job market for (HR) software sales since he didn’t yet consider becoming a recruitment consultant.
Gary spoke with a small boutique recruitment firm that initially reached out to him about non-recruitment opportunities, thinking they would pitch him roles that matched his resume, but he recalls the agent telling him, “You have a strong interest in HR and a large Japanese HR network, larger than our current HR database, why wouldn’t you consider becoming a specialized HR headhunter?”
As he pondered a career move, Gary returned to his core interests and mission of wanting to solve problems and improve people’s lives. He began to see that a good HR recruiter with the right motivation and skill set could deliver on both of those aims.
In 2010, Gary became a recruitment consultant and he quickly realized it was a great decision for him. Gary said, “In my first month, I thought, “I can't believe I didn't do this for my first six years in Japan.’”
‘At Randstad, there is no ceiling’
Gary was off and running in the recruitment industry, grabbing it by the horns and rising the ranks, spending seven years in executive search and expanding his back-office specialization to include corporate Finance and Accounting in addition to Human Resources coverage. Beyond just consistently billing well, the totality of his experience enabled him to support internal HR, business analysis and branding for the recruitment agencies he worked for, rounding out his skill set to one day help direct an entire division.
In 2017, Gary started to feel the proverbial career ceiling inch closer within the small boutique recruitment space. He was a consistent biller who was carving out a name for himself, but as is all too common in this industry, building a core reputation and expertise as an individual contributor in your recruitment niche for years on end can leave you searching for deeper challenges.
It wasn't long before the right opportunity would present itself.
“As I was thinking how I could continue to grow in recruitment, I came across Randstad,” Gary says. “I met an associate director at the time, and there was an unusual level of alignment that I've ever had with a line manager before.”
Gary was casually meeting with a few other firms at the time, but the mutual alignment he felt with Randstad Japan was undeniable. He knew he had found a new home base for his career. Fast forward six and a half years later, and Gary is now the Associate Director of the Professional Services Division, encompassing HR & Administration, Legal, Compliance & Risk, and Corporate Accounting & Finance, managing four teams with 25 people and still growing — all while personally billing on top.
At this point, it’s safe to say there is a lot Gary loves about Randstad.
While at the firm, he has been able to guide young recruiters and build successful teams, both things that closely align with his personal mission statement and value system that he established when he first started his career back in Philadelphia & New Jersey.
“Our hybrid working environment is well-balanced for high performers,” Gary says, “Because of an unlimited earning potential, spending extra hours to achieve or exceed my goals is more than worth it because of the bonus earnings, the opportunities to learn or develop professionally, and the intrinsic rewards that I am able to gain by coaching great people, candidates and clients. At Randstad, there is no ceiling. Approaching seven years with Randstad, I have not been able to see a limitation. The culture and environment here legitimately allows me to improve people's quality of life, in line with my mission. I'm allowed to continue to scale my business and grow my teams, and I am able to support the great people in my teams as they continue to develop and learn.”
The role of a mentor
As Gary’s career progressed from high personal billing to building a business internally while leading from the front for the next generation of recruiters, he has discovered a new way of viewing his goal of improving people’s lives.
To illustrate his point, he recalls a time when he turned a young recruiter’s early struggles around. “I had just walked in the door at Randstad and there were people telling me about a consultant on my team who was having a tough time,” he says. “ He couldn’t close a deal.”
“They told me he lost seven consecutive offers and he was worried that he wasn’t cut out for this job. Hearing all this, I remembered a stretch before I joined Randstad where I also had a losing streak. It came right after I closed 19 offers in a row throughout the previous year, with about a 95% success rate. And then that following January came. I lost a deal. And then in February, I lost three more deals. I ended up losing six in a row and it was gut-wrenching. That quarter I only billed ¥1.5 million because somebody else placed one of my candidates and we split the fee. But in the next quarter, I billed well over ¥20 million. So, did I bill over ¥20 million? Or was it more like ¥12 million and ¥12 million based on the overall work I put in?”
“Well, that's recruiting, isn't it? I'm a dog and then I'm a hero, and vice-versa, but the return on the amount of work you do almost never changes.”
After learning more details, Gary took this logic and flipped the narrative. He found that the consultant had just joined three or four months earlier and was able to reach seven offers, which was a revelation. “‘Do you understand?’ I told my colleagues, ‘He’s almost like a Mozart of recruiting, having just walked into the recruitment industry and capable of understanding about 95% of the recruiting process without experience. It’s only a matter of filling in small pieces to make up that last 5%.”
Gary sat with the consultant and discussed his deals and his process like an “autopsy” and was able to identify the things that were missing: for example, he wasn't doing in-depth interview preparation, or he wasn't following up and driving processes properly, or at times wasn't clarifying salary and starting date earlier in the process. Once these things were fixed or tweaked, the flood gates opened.
“That agent became one of our first +¥60 million billers that Randstad Professionals in Japan ever had — in the next year, which was his first full year in recruitment,” Gary says. “For me, these kinds of stories are what it’s all about. I started to see that I could help new or good recruiters realize their potential to become great recruiters.”
For Gary, the key to grooming good agents is removing all the fear that they put on themselves by showing them trust.
“Make sure that trust is sincere,” he says, “When they're not doing well, they'll beat themselves up. They don't need me to do that for them most of the time. If I can show my consultants that I am committed to something bigger and better, and we share that commitment together, that goes a long way to them wanting to be accountable. From this aspect of my job I came to understand that I can actually improve the quality of life of the people in Randstad Professionals as well as my external candidates and clients, and by doing that Randstad Consultants can improve the quality of life of the candidates that they work with as they place them with their clients. There is a massive ripple effect that I can create from here.”
“My success is built on the success of the people that are in my team,” Gary says. “I tell my consultants, ‘Come take my job. Because if you do, it will mean we’re all succeeding together.”
Click HERE to watch the video of Gary introducing his team.
Fly Eagles, fly
If you ask Gary what his ultimate future goal is at Randstad, he’ll tell you, “I want to start my career progression more toward becoming a winning sports General Manager or GM like Howie Roseman versus being a player, captain, or coach.”
Roseman is the General Manager of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles.
“I want to be a GM,” Gary clarifies. “What Howie is doing is completely transforming that organization. In a way, he's improving the quality of life for his organization and the people in Philadelphia by building the team. He's getting star players and he's working magic to make it happen. So, I feel I can do the same thing here at Randstad. I can put together a winning team by putting all the right people in the right seats. I want all of us to win by finding and surrounding ourselves with star players and high-potentials that are also highly motivated good people.”
Gary has his eyes on his mission and purpose, and he feels Randstad is the right place to achieve them. Like a football GM finding the organization that he can lead to a championship, he wants to harness his “winning ways” and lead a dominant, market-leading team of recruiters. Among his loftier goals internally is the desire to carve out several new businesses that are focused around his back-office market niche.
See, when Howie Rosmean helped deliver the first Super Bowl championship to Philadelphia, it uplifted the city and gave them something to feel proud of. For Gary, this kind of impact tracks spiritually with his lifelong goal of supporting his clients as they improve the working lives of their people, and at Randstad, he feels he has a great opportunity to do that very thing.
“I can be tough at times, but I'm also fair,” Gary says, musing about his GM mentality. “I'm candid and I'm not scared to provide direct feedback, nor receive feedback too. But it should never be seen as a criticism between us. My consultants and I will always be on an even keel. I'm a coach before I'm a manager and I'm not afraid to be hands-on. It’s an incredibly rewarding feeling to see our division succeed. Few things make me happier than when I see our people perform well and earn big bonuses in the process.”