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Russell Tapped to Head Adecco General Staffing USA

The promotion comes at a key time for the firm. After setbacks that included an accounting scandal and its chairman’s resignation, Adecco is transforming its staffing business into six profession-focused areas.

January 29, 2007
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Less than a year after announcing a major shift in strategy, Switzerland-based Adecco Group promoted COO Joyce Russell to president of Adecco General Staffing USA. She becomes one of the highest-ranking female executives in the $131 billion staffing industry and will be the decision-maker for Adecco’s temporary and direct-hire staffing, a division that generates $3 billion in annual revenue.

“I never stopped to think about whether a glass ceiling existed,” says Russell, 46. “I was too busy working, and I hope to channel my energy into helping Adecco continue to prosper.”

Russell, who started as a branch manager at Adecco predecessor Adia in 1987 and was named Adecco’s COO in August 2004, is taking the reins at a critical time in the company’s 10-year history.

The company is in the midst of what Adecco Group chairman Klaus Jacob calls a new chapter following a series of setbacks from 2004 to 2005 that included lackluster financial performances, an accounting scandal and the resignation of then-chairman and CEO Jerome Caille.

A cornerstone of that overhaul, which was initiated in early 2006, entails transforming the general staffing business into six profession-focused areas: Adecco Finance & Legal; Adecco Engineering & Technical; Adecco Information Technology; Adecco Medical & Scientific; Adecco Sales, Marketing & Events; and Adecco Human Capital Solutions.

Advancing the company’s efforts in these areas will be among Russell’s primary responsibilities and a critical strategic goal for Adecco.

Los Altos, California.

Scale, both in terms of branch presence and staffing capabilities, is critical for big companies such as Adecco and key competitors Allegis and Manpower, since they service large employers like IBM. These types of clients need workers with diverse skill sets. Unless staffing companies can accommodate such demands, they run the risk of losing business, Asin explains.

Employers are spending more money to recruit temporary workers with focused professional skills, such as accountants, IT engineers and legal specialists—$51 billion compared with the $46 billion spent on general temp staffers in 2006, according to Asin. He projects that temporary legal staffing will be one of the most in-demand sectors, growing at a pace of 12 percent in 2007. The legal staffing market is $1.5 billion.

The company reported revenue of 5.3 billion euros ($6.85 billion) in the third quarter of 2006—an 11 percent increase from the third quarter of 2005. Adecco Group senior managers have indicated that this bodes well for the company in achieving its long-term revenue growth goals of 7 percent to 9 percent.

Additionally, Tig Gilliam was named country manager for Adecco U.S. & Canada and begins his duties in March. Gilliam comes from outside the staffing industry. He was global head of supply chain management services at IBM Global Business Services.

Besides extending Adecco into new lines of business, Russell will handle field operations, manage client portfolio and broaden outreach to the Hispanic market. Russell will report directly to Ray Roe, chairman of Adecco North America, until Gilliam arrives. Roe, the company’s former president, incrementally increased Russell’s responsibilities until finally ceding full control this year. He will assume control of Adecco Group operations in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Joyce’s commitment to excellence and her dedication to our clients, candidates and employees are what make her a truly invaluable asset to Adecco,” Roe said. “She will drive the growth of our business, especially in our office and industrial divisions while ensuring we remain the market leader for years to come.”

The company does not plan to fill Russell’s COO position, as she will retain those responsibilities, which include managing expenses and staffing needs for the company.

Adecco was founded in 1996 with the merger of Adia and Ecco, two large personnel service firms in Europe. The company has 6,600 offices in 70 countries and employs 33,000 workers worldwide.  The U.S., Japan, France, Great Britain and Germany are key markets for the company.

Gina Ruiz

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