Last month the RCSA announced the appointment of a new CEO; Charles Cameron. Charles replaces Steve Granland, who resigned in late 2015.
Charles took some time out from his very busy first month in his new job to answer a few of my questions.
Ross: Welcome Charles, tell me a little about your background prior to joining the workforce on a full time basis.
Charles: I grew up on the land in North East Victoria where my father was a beef cattle farmer, winemaker and active member of the Victorian Farmer’s Federation (VFF). I learned a great deal about hard work from spending time with farm managers and labourers. This time ‘in the saddle’ engendered a very solid respect for how work impacts an individual’s life and how giving somebody an opportunity can change their self-worth. My father was always giving disadvantaged local community members an opportunity and this continues to guide my passion for work.
Your background in workplace policy is extensive. Why did you choose this area of specialisation and what has been your career progression since making this choice?
From my experience with my father’s farm I developed a keen interest in labour and workplace relations. As a result I chose to study economics at Monash University. I developed a passion for workplace policy and completed a tertiary qualification in labour law at University of Melbourne.
My first professional role was as industrial officer within the VFF and after a year I moved to the Australian Industry Group (AIG). At the AIG I became increasingly interested in contemporary forms of employment and ultimately decided to specialise in non-traditional working arrangements of which ‘labour hire’ was the most prominent.
I worked internally at IPA Personnel from 2000 to 2002 and gained great insights into how a recruitment and on-hire firm works.
In 2002 I started up Stratecom, a consultancy firm dedicated to compliance and policy work within the recruitment and on-hire industry. I approached the CEO of RCSA in 2002 to outline why I believed consistent and progressive policy would be critical to industry leadership in years to come and was contracted to provide policy and government relations advice and representation to RCSA, along with coordinating certain working groups.
In 2011 I merged Stratecom, my consulting firm, with FCB who had a great insight in to our industry, having represented RCSA in the 2005 Secure Employment Test Case in NSW. I headed up the consulting division of FCB until my appointment as CEO of RCSA.
Why did you accept the role of RCSA CEO?
My belief in the critically important role of the third party recruiter (whether called recruitment agency, labour hire firm, or something else) in Australia and the value it offers business and society.
I am passionate about the value of the services offered by RCSA members and I felt that more could be done to promote our value to government, enterprise and, importantly, the wider public.
What do you see as the major challenge for you as the incoming RCSA, CEO?
The industry is now far more than recruitment. We search, on-hire, manage, outsource, outplace, develop and so much more. One of my key challenges will be to ensure we represent the entire industry and support each segment without losing sight of the strong relationships which built the association.
Compounding this challenge is the fact that there are many stakeholders who simply don’t understand the value we offer and the way in which we contribute to economy and society.
The RCSA has many stakeholders, all of whom are demanding, vocal and rarely satisfied – how are you intending to get to know these stakeholders and understand their issues?
I have the benefit of knowing a lot about the industry which helps me understand how to engage with RCSA members and prospective members. We need to move toward a new model of member input and engagement, more based around sector and issues, rather than purely regions, as has traditionally been the case. This new model will provide the RCSA with an ability to know its members’ needs, promote their voices and understand their issues more effectively.
The RCSA has a very important role to play in lobbying Federal Governments of both political persuasions. How do you intend to approach this part of your new role?
A key element for me will be to better articulate how our members, and the industry, can provide a solution to many of the problems the government is facing. Put simply, we need to explain why the governments need us and why, under an Employment Services Industry Code they have a trusted partner yet, they need to respect us and move away from old world thinking that non-traditional work is not good work.
Membership of the RCSA is voluntary. One of the consequences of this is that only a minority of the recruitment agencies operating in Australia & New Zealand are RCSA members. What are your ideas to increase the value of RCSA membership to attract more members (and keep existing members)?
Establish a new brand for our industry which is representative of the wider industry and value contribution we offer.
Move to an account management model, rather than our current ‘one size fits all’ model of member relations.
More effectively connect our amazing supporters and sponsors with members.
Move to sector and issues-based member groups rather than a pure reliance upon regional representation
Building a workforce professionals ambassador program where our members are our voice and that we facilitate this through bolder and more confident communication to the marketplace. Give life to the ideas and innovative thinking of our members and their staff.
Introduce accreditation that allows those who are members to better define themselves against non-members.
In summary; I want to move from old-school membership thinking to new economy support and networking.
The RCSA represents members in two countries. What are your ideas to increase RCSA membership, and engagement, within the New Zealand recruitment community?
I see this as being fundamentally the same as above. I will certainly be spending more time over there. We have already held a teleconference with government representatives about why RCSA membership and input is valuable when designing a tender model. We need to sell ourselves as experts in new work, workforce management and the organisation of work.
What personal philosophies drive you each day at work?
As I get older it is funny how you start to realise that good, honest, hard work makes you happy. Promoting fairness and empathy is very important for me as well, and drives my respect for the workforce our members employ.
We need to understand the consequence our actions have for others but also understand we work in changing times and that change is often good for us.
I am incredibly passionate about the fact RCSA members have solutions to so many of the issues that come from a more volatile and dynamic economy, labour market and society and I will work tirelessly to make sure these solutions are articulated to the big three – Government, enterprise and public.
Outside of work, what are your favourite hobbies and/or leisure pursuits?
Cricket, Australian history, hiking, running and …. bugling (yes that’s right)!
Tell me something surprising about yourself that very few people would know.
I play the bugle. I also have a love of female soul singers from the 60s and 70s … played on vinyl, and often at work on a Friday afternoon. Come and join me some time.
Is there anything else you would like to say to the recruitment community reading this?
Talk to me … engage with me … let me give you voice … because I am so passionate about what you do.
Tell me stories about how you are changing people’s lives so I can tell the world how ace you are.
Thanks, Charles, I am very happy about your appointment and I look forward to seeing the impact your leadership has on both the RCSA and the wider industry.
Thanks for the opportunity to introduce myself to your readers, Ross, I really appreciate it.