How Tim Brackney Is Capitalizing On The Growing Market For Agile, Blended, Borderless And Remote Workforces
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Tim Brackney is President and Chief Operating Officer at RGP (Nasdaq: RGP), a 25-plus-year-old global human capital firm helping clients match the right professional talent needed to tackle change and transformation initiatives.
As President and COO, organic growth is the top priority for Tim and RGP is poised for explosive growth in the post-COVID marketplace. The company is benefiting from a perfect storm of growth drivers: a large and expanding talent market; the biggest supply of professional talent in the industry; a scalable talent acquisition and management system to deliver that talent; and significant workplace, demographic and business model trends providing tailwinds to fan demand.
Tim outlined what he’s doing as President and COO to capitalize on this confluence of favorable market forces, customer demand and product-market fit to accelerate growth at RGP.
“A lot of people say data is the new oil, but we see talent as the new oil because if you can’t get your arms around the talent you need to transform your business, you will fall behind,” relates Brackney. “Transformation is happening at a hyper rate. Every company is stacking initiatives on top of each other, and they can’t possibly hire quickly enough to do everything they want to do. In fact, the savviest enterprises recognize this and have tapped into agile resourcing to keep pace. We offer alternative ways to use the kind of talent they need quickly.”
“COVID really sped up the evolution of the labor market and the competition for labor in the professional world in the last few years,” he continues. “Talented early-career professionals have the ability and desire to call their own shots and take control of their work experience. The choices they have between being an independent contractor and being an employee have changed and are now multiple. To be sure, employers can still attract talent that wants to work for the same company for 10 years and get the gold watch, but that demographic is dwindling rapidly. It’s getting harder to attract people to traditional work opportunities as they now want geographic flexibility and the opportunity to gain a wide portfolio of experiences over a shorter timeframe. The trend is that employers are thinking about talent almost as a human capital supply chain that is blended, agile, borderless, and dynamic. More organizations are getting comfortable putting boxes on the org chart that are filled by people that are not employees, but rather flexible resources used as needed to complete initiatives that don’t fit within a traditional employment model. If an enterprise does not have a blended workforce model using traditional employment and agile talent, they’re behind the eight ball because more and more people are going to opt for non-traditional employment – and that pace of change will continue to be relentless.”
Tim views his top job as President and COO as turning that opportunity into growth. The company has already seen double digit sales and profit growth in the last sales quarter – but he expects more upside given the scale and scope of the opportunity and the product market fit RGP has.
Realizing the full growth potential of the market won’t be easy. To succeed, Brackney and his team need to optimally allocate limited selling resources to their top customer opportunities, reengineer their commercial architecture to develop a complex buying unit and better leverage data to smooth demand and match supply to client need.
“Profitable growth is my number one priority,” according to Brackney. “It’s our north star, however, achieving it is a real balancing act. It’s one thing to say you’re focused on growth and then another to really understand the different levers that need to be pulled. Everybody has to understand both the short- and long-term aspects of profitable growth. As a public company, it’s sometimes challenging to play the long game and transform the business in a short-game world; we still have to post a score every quarter, so the key is to grow AND change.”
Tim and his team are aligning resources with opportunities across three market segments. The first is enterprise strategic accounts that have enormous cross-sell potential. The second is the mid-market, which is large and under-served, but has more volatile revenue streams. And the third is emerging accounts, which have more sporadic and episodic demand.
RGP has a huge opportunity to grow within accounts given the macro trends – remote and hybrid working, blended and agile workforces – and the number of different buyers they serve within accounts. To do so, Tim is increasing the number of strategic accounts the company targets with dedicated 1:1 account managers four-fold. Managing strategic accounts requires focus and teamwork because there is no single archetype or persona RGP targets and business opportunity can come from many different places in the Now of Work Tim describes. “In most big clients, there’s no such thing as a single function initiative,” he continues. “Generally, what we have is one raving fan who brings us in, and they could be anywhere – the Project Management Office (PMO), a business unit, in the back office in Finance or HR. And we could be brought in for one particular small need that radiates into larger ones based on the success we’ve had and our ability to demonstrate all of our capabilities. So, we get the opportunity to take the ‘Pepsi Challenge’ with our competition every day, which to us is a good thing.”
To facilitate this coverage model, Brackney’ s team has redefined their commercial architecture by better aligning account managers to developing the highest potential existing accounts, adding business development hunters to acquire new ones, and leveraging scarce and valuable advisory resources with depth of expertise to maximize account penetration and optimize scoping of opportunities.
Going forward, Tim wants to continue to refine key performance metrics, goals, and incentives to improve accountability for growth performance by better connecting what people do on a day-to-day basis with how customer lifetime value and profit growth are generated. “Accountability is a really big thing, because I am trying to get people to think differently,” says Brackney. “I’ve found that being as transparent as possible and connecting people to why the things they are doing are important to the enterprise is a good way to do that.”
“Accountability and collaboration go hand in hand,” he continues. “You can’t have one without the other. People won’t collaborate with somebody they don’t feel is accountable, so driving accountability by demonstrating to people how their performance stacks up against their peers is a way of driving a natural level of change. We can never go fast enough.”
Educating clients about the future of hybrid work, the notion of Finance and HR as a Service and the new blended workforce models RGP provisions is a priority. “The entire labor market is ripe for transformation because there hasn’t been a lot of innovation in the way companies manage talent probably since the advent of labor unions,” says Tim. “So, we need to become better storytellers in terms of helping people understand how we’re creating opportunities and value with the innovative things that we do.”
“We often use the term professional gig worker to describe what we offer just because it’s so well-known, but it does not tell the full story of the value we deliver,” he continues. “What we’re really talking about is offering people the control of being an independent consultant coupled with the strength of community and the W-2 safety net that traditional employment offers. We provide this kind of flexibility and opportunity in the professional arena, and we’ve struck that balance as well as anybody has done at scale. For example, the average tenure of an RGPer is around three years. That’s better tenure than a traditional employment model at say a big four accounting firm, where I think the average is closer to two years.”
Tim sees even more opportunity to align the people, process, and technology of growth with market opportunity by matching supply and demand algorithmically, removing friction from the commercial process and improving accountability for performance.
Allocating resources is a challenge because demand for talent is often “lumpy” according to Brackney. A big part of RGP’s business is what Tim calls “burst resourcing” needed for event-driven staffing needs such as end of period financial closes, audit support, reorganizations and mergers and acquisitions. “There’s more volatility in revenue on project work in the mid-market and emerging businesses where we may only be working with a singular initiative at a time versus a larger client that is stacking multiple projects simultaneously,” says Tim. To smooth out this volatility, he seeks to better match demand with supply, leverage digital channels on lower level and episodic staffing needs, and move to a recurring revenue model by expanding offerings such as Finance and HR as a Service.
Another big opportunity for RGP to grow profitably and optimize resource allocation is to algorithmically match demand for talent with supply. “On the demand side we have Salesforce to do funnel management and we have a catalog of global talent on the supply side of the business,” says Tim. “Today, not a lot of the matching is done algorithmically, and it should be. We’re in the process of implementing a robust applicant tracking and talent management system that interfaces with Salesforce to allow for a better matching of talent to customer need. That will be a game changer for us as it will allow for a direct and in-system match of supply and demand.”
Tim Brackney is the President and Chief Operating Officer at RGP
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