08 December 2017

Robert van Stokrom: The (recently ex) RCSA President reflects

Two weeks ago Robert van Stokrom stepped down having completed four years as President of the RCSA (Australia & NZ) and a further six years as a board member.

I managed to gain a short window of Robert’s time to put a few questions to him about this time as RCSA President and a few current industry issues.


Ross: In our Q&A four years ago, upon assuming the RCSA presidency, you stated that your aim as President was to “….firmly establish the RCSA as the association that is regarded as Australia’s expert on employment, skills, the workforce and workforce management. The RCSA will facilitate and inform Australian business and Government to adapt to changing skill and labour force requirements.” What is your assessment of the progress made by the RCSA towards this aim during your time as President?

Robert: I think it is plain to see that we have increased our profile significantly in so many areas. We have a voice at the table in many Government groups; we are consulted on industry matters far more than we ever have. There is still an element of politicking in the industry with the unions not able to get in step with the rest of developed world economies. This will take time but is slowly changing.

The fact is, we are a preferred choice for many employers as experts. Our rebranding has helped identify our industry’s major activity by introducing the word Staffing.

What’s still to be accomplished and what’s required to accomplish it?

We need to change our thinking as leaders in this industry; we have established the Next Generation Collective to help with this. We need to listen and act on what our newer entrants into the workforce want.

Establishing this initiative is only the start. I am confident that with the election of Sinead Hourigan as our new President and Matt Sampson as the leader for the NGC, things will happen.

Labour licensing is upon us – what can owners do to prepare themselves for the new reality and how is the RCSA helping with this transition?

We have already planned education sessions on the Labour Licensing Laws. Unfortunately they are now thrust upon us despite the efforts of Charles Cameron our CEO to encourage a harmonised national Industry Code. It must be understood that these licences are simply some sizzle as State Labour governments have bowed to union pressure. There is very little Steak in the legislation. The catalyst for change will be the RCSA accreditation program.

Should recruitment technology platform providers (eg Sidekicker) that are, in effect, providing a recruitment service to end users, be joining the RCSA and abiding by the RCSA Code for Professional Conduct? Why or why not?

Yes they should, as they provide a similar service. They will be a part of our future, as competitors and allies. We need to accept the change, embrace these platforms and provide the same guiding principles as traditional members.

SEEK has upset plenty of recruitment agency owners in the past year or so. Is SEEK a friend, a foe or neither? Should the industry be concerned or just let the free market sort it out?

So what is the answer here? It’s an interesting one. My opinion, and it’s not entirely supported by some of my industry colleagues is that we need to embrace SEEK. They have been a part of our industry for a long time. It’s not always been a smooth road but I believe now more than ever they want to travel the journey together with our industry.

Sure they are trialling some new technologies that cut across some of our members businesses but that’s the competitive world we live in. As technologies evolve some of this enables businesses to pursue diversification; we all do this so why shouldn’t SEEK? We all know how dinosaurs ended up. Our businesses will constantly be challenged, always have and always will be. Embrace the changes, move and prosper.

What measures of organisational health would you point out to indicate that the RCSA is in a stronger positon than it was four years ago?

I am very proud to have been at the helm the last 4 years in particular. We have an amazing CEO who has increased the profile and respect of the Association; we have a brand new team at National HO and we have a new Principal Partner in Prime Super who totally understand our business and are providing great benefits for all members. We have also undergone a constitutional reform that will see a more agile and representative board for the future.

What do you hope your major legacy is as President?

I think that most in my position would say that they want to leave the ship in better shape than when took over as captain. I think my most significant legacy is the strength, diversity, curiosity and courage of our new board.

What are your professional plans for 2018?

I am focussing on our business DFP Recruitment. We have enjoyed some exceptional success and judging by our results in the current year, 2018 looks like a huge year for us. We have some exciting business plans that will consume much of my time.

I am also considering some other board positions not linked to the recruitment industry.

What are your personal plans for 2018; any movie roles on the horizon?

Ross, you know I like to be kept busy and squeeze all I can from life. I intend to spend more time with my family and our gorgeous 10 grandchildren. I am looking forward to racing my historic race car more, playing in our band and tinkering with my growing car collection. Leonie and I are also planning some more adventure travels.

Thanks Robert, for taking the time to answer my questions and congratulations on what you have accomplished in the ten years you have been a member of the National Board; all the best for 2018.

Thanks Ross, it’s been my pleasure.

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