The Evolution of the Contingent Workforce – an Interview with John Smith, celebrating 10 years CXC Global Americas

In an interview with John F. Smith, Managing Director CXC Americas, we delve into how staffing and the contingent workforce has evolved, as well as some of the successes and challenges of starting up and running a global business in today's modern and competitive world.

CXC Americas Celebrating 10 years!

As we enter into 2020 and look to the next decade, we would like to thank our team CXC Global North America (Canada & USA) and CXC Latin America and take a moment to celebrate our shared successes in 10 years of business.

At the same time, we congratulate John Smith, Managing Director, CXC Americas on his 10th anniversary, for successfully heading up and expanding the Americas region for CXC 10 years ago. 

We have walked many paths together over the last 10 years, forged new partnerships and introduced CXC Global to the Americas. The future of work is upon us and I could not be prouder of the team and solutions we have built. Compliance is at the core of everything CXC Global stands for since our inception in 1992.  John Smith, Managing Director, CXC Global Americas

The following is an interview with John Smith, as he shares some of the challenges and successes in 10 years of business operating and expanding a global business. The interview was initially done as an audio recording, joined by a panel including CXC Americas’ Global Solutions Managers North America Jack Stone, Konner Scherry and Marketing Manager, Kathryn Hopkins.

To listen to the live audio recording of the interview, please click play on the below media player.

Interview with John Smith

John has over 20 years’ experience in contingent workforce management with an emphasis on global contractor management and compliance. Based in the USA and Canada, John is passionate about the future of work and trends affecting how contingent workers are engaged globally.  In his spare time John enjoys fishing, golf, biking a former college ice hockey player and spending time with his family.

Q – How did you get into the contingent workforce industry?

In the mid 1990’s I was managing an east coast USA company that specialized in long term corporate housing. My relationships were with HR relocation managers. One of these managers introduced me to a large USA and global staffing company who was looking for a regional manager in the New York area, my career in the contingent workforce industry began.


Q -What do you recall most from those early days for you in contingent workforce?

Talent souring was the top issue then, as it is today.  With five of our nine offices, three investment banks and MSP’s based in the New York tri-state area, we were competing for the best administrate and financial temporary workers. Our recruitment team had to create a quarter page “top of the fold”  Sunday NY Times advertisement at a cost of over $4000 a week to attract candidates. Our MSP programs were a primary supplier model, where we filled 75% of the positions and managed a pool of vendors for the niche positions we could not fill.


Q -20 years later, could you imagine how the global contingent workforce industry has evolved?

Within the contingent workforce industry there has been constant change and evolution. Talent and services procurement, of all forms, contingent, FTE, SOW are radically different and the way businesses utilize talent has changed. Today we have online talent platforms, talent pools (public & private) and traditional recruitment that allows companies to engage workers anywhere in the world. In 2002, our MSP delivery team offered to build a talent pool for a global investment bank from candidates who applied for full time roles directly with the bank but were not hired. The program featured cost savings on placements from this pool of workers who were willing to work temp to perm.  HR and procurement teams within the bank loved the concept of a program that delivered cost savings and talent who wanted to work for the bank. However late in the MSA (master services agreement) review process, the bank’s legal team would not sign off and the project never got started. Looking back today with emergence and growth of talent pools and adoption globally, this would have been a phenomenal case study and an industry first program to my knowledge. This bank today utilizes both public and private talent pools.

Q – You mention your teams a few times, how has the management of your teams evolved over the years.

Team is everything to me. I was Captain of my high school & college ice hockey teams. I learned early that no one can win by themselves and we win and lose as a team. Early in my career our focus was recruiters and sales teams. This evolved to needing MSP program staff who came from the recruiters ranks and from SAAS type companies. Today the need for technology, customer service and compliance is paramount. Our combined team today require the skills to work within varying platforms on all facets of our delivery. Domestic and global workforce laws are changing rapidly, and the emergence of the gig economy is adding new layer of compliance complication for our teams. The methods and channels of service delivery for our customers and contractors we manage has changed, along with expectations. The teams we build today for service delivery must understand all aspect of the contingent workforce industry and keep a close eye on domestic and global transformation.

Q – How do you foresee companies preparing for the “Future of Work”?

As technologies evolve, some form of AI and blockchain will be included in every human capital software. Businesses will need to adapt quickly to compete for the best talent. Talent clouds, pools and engagement platforms will enhance the time to fill positions, get contingent workers started for efficiently and ensure compliance.


Q – You get to travel for CXC often, how has this helped you, your clients and team?

I am very fortunate to be able to travel and work around the world.  In almost 10 years with CXC I have been to over 15 countries for conferences, internal and client meetings. This travel has allowed my team and I to learn the work culture and laws that govern contingent workers globally. Very few countries are alike, there are some regional similarities in Asia, Europe and Latin America which simplifies some processes for the Employer of Record (EOR) solutions. The contingent workforce industry is built on partnership and trust, you can’t successfully deliver a global service and solution from one office based in the USA and not have a global team.  Getting to know our CXC global teams and building the relationship that our Americas team does with our clients and contingent workforce partners globally, provides them the trust and assurance that their contractors whether employed, self-employed, or independent will be classified properly and treated professionally wherever in the world they work.


Q – Favorite country and why?

Thailand or Vietnam – hard to choose. I find these counties appealing based on the beauty, history, religion, people and cuisine. In these countries people must find a way to survive and it’s quite eye opening how creative some people are and what they will do for work and income. I recently saw at 3 different times in Vietnam, a 55-inch TV being delivered on the back of a motor scooter. These countries have no social welfare systems and as their economies emerge, their workforces are getting educated and better trained to have the talent and drive to succeed.


Q – What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?

While at a training seminar a year back, “You have had lot of new information and ideas to absorb, take one of these ideas and implement as soon as possible while fresh in your thoughts. “


Q – Who inspires you?

People who lead by example and respect where they came from and those who are trusted and admired by whom they work with. In business the likes of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs & Walt Disney for their vision. In sports Mark Messier, Derek Jeter and Phil Michelson.


Q – If you had your time again, what would you do differently?

Lived overseas. My family would have found great educational and cultural values. I would have learned additional languages. These international experiences, would have afforded me the opportunity to learn and understand more about the world we live and work in, as I would have returned back to the USA and brought further understanding of international employer of record requirements for our clients and partners.


Q – How do you unwind?

My family, house and activities. My 2 boys both recently graduated from college and took vastly different paths. Spending time with them on the golf course, talking hockey or baseball.  I enjoy working on my home and my cars. My dad was a “jack of all trades” military man and passed some of these traits to me. In the summertime golf, saltwater fishing, biking and baseball. Winter 100% Ice hockey and snow shoeing.


in closing, a Shameless plug for CXC:

I came to CXC 10 years ago. Dave Thomas, our current Chairman, was in Australia and wanted to re-launch CXC USA.  Dave & I have similar traits and viewed the contractor management space very similarly. I am proud of what we have built and accomplished domestically and globally for CXC. Our USA client companies, MSP’s, VMS’s and other contingent workforce companies we partner with today, value the work CXC delivers for them domestically and globally. We deliver what we promise around the world and our commitment to compliance is unequaled.

We live our CXC core values and don’t put ourselves, clients, partners or contractors at risk.  CXC over the last 5 years has become a thought leader in the contingent workforce industry and our entire company is active on social media helping people to understand and navigate the global world of work. My Americas team is top notch, 8 of the 13 staff members I manage have over 5 years with CXC. We are a work family that I highly respect and are thankful for. Lastly the CXC leadership team around today the world are some of the best people I have come across and consider all friends and colleagues. Our industry is evolving and we all as leaders push each other to evolve, achieve more and be globally conscious.


Please follow John, Jack and Konner and the CXC team on linked-in and twitterCXC global Americas are proud to be part of the CXC global group of companies, who are now in their 28th year providing global contingent workforce solutions in over 50 countries.