Key Influencer

Key Influencer

Posted on 01. May, 2009 by in Blog

By John Sumser

These days, I am trying to figure out who the influencers are in our industry, I’m trying to come up with a list of 100. Then, I’m interviewing the people on the list.

The whole question of who is influential is pretty interesting.

Some people go to a lot of conferences and exert their influence through pure networking. For these folks, influence and connection are inextricably linked. They are the prime movers of the status quo. Their influence depends on stability and a modest degree of change. They are well liked and see the world as a place where being liked is an important goal.

Another group of people spend a lot of time giving talks at conferences and publishing their work online. Many of these self-promoters exert an interesting influence on the industry. Often, they are a mile wide and an inch deep as the saying goes. The object of their involvement is, pure and simple, to build their consulting business or to increase sales for their company.

There’s a third group of people who, for some reason, have the industry at heart. They don’t really work for the money (though many of them do pretty well). They find real challenge in improving the way things get done, thought about and perceived.

The last group of influencers are a little harder to notice. They are customers and practitioners who make the whole thing go around. /content/view/11/26″>cialis soft tabs vs cialis The other three groups depend on validation, in one form or another from users and customers.

I’m looking /content/view/11/26″>cialis soft tabs vs cialis to figure out who the 100 most influential people are across all four groups.

When I say “industry”, I mean all of Recruiting, Staffing, HR, HCM and HRTech.

I’d be happy to get your suggestions if I haven’t already asked. If you have a moment, I’d love to see your list of the top 5 most influential people in the industry.

It’s amazing how different people’s perceptions are. As I have evaluated the terrain, I have had a number of conversations with people who wouldn’t recognize the names on your list. You wouldn’t recognize theirs. Our industry is vast.

So far, I’ve done about 15 of the interviews. Each of the people is at least somewhat charismatic, well informed and really fun to spend an hour with. I’m getting the hang of interviewing and enjoying the process.

The other day, I made a decision.

I’ve started to focus heavily on the women in the group. I really want to understand why the leadership of our industry is predominantly male while the trench level workers are predominantly female. Of all the places in the world, our business is the last place you’d expect to see that sort of inequity.

So, I’m ‘diggin into it.

Who do you think are the industry leaders?

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74 Responses to “Key Influencer”

  1. Sean Rehder

    01. May, 2009

    No particular order…

    Traci Wicks
    Jeff Hunter
    Dan Hilbert
    Amanda Valentino
    Ed Newman

  2. Mark Hagan

    01. May, 2009

    I would like to tell you about a recruiter that in revolutionizing recruiting for the hospitality industry. She is one of the sharpest women & most inspiring person I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, and working with. If you have spent any time with her you will know exactly what I am talking about. I am talking about the wonderful Amanda Hite, and she definitely deserves to be in your list.

  3. Paul Jacobs

    01. May, 2009

    John, I think there should be a fifth group in recruitment – i.e. the renegades, the revolutionaries. I often feel that there is a lot of following the crowd in the recruitment industry. How about the ones that are really challenging the status quo – not only looking at improving things, but reinventing the way we do things – the ones that offer counter-intuitive thinking. I often feel there should be more of these types of people in the industry and personally I would be keen to discover & follow / ally with these types of influencers. I’m not just interested in the current state, I want to know the people who are changing the face of recruitment.

  4. Twitted by marenhogan

    01. May, 2009

    [...] This post was Twitted by marenhogan – [...]

  5. Kelly Andersson

    01. May, 2009

    Id like to think of myself as influencing one candidate at a time, one client at a time, and personally, one Golden, one child. one…..

  6. Sarah White

    01. May, 2009

    John -

    Great idea – it is really odd that I never really noticed how few women there were?? Anyway, here are the women that I have watched and learned from over the years and have always found their opinions and ideas interesting – even when I don’t agree ;) I am sure you already have them on your list but…

    Maureen Sharib – really helped me out when I was a baby recruiter whose sole job was sourcing and I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing.

    Jenny DeVaughn – Never met her, but comments and ideas she posts online always make me think and want to dive in deeper

    Susan Burns – I have met her at conferences and always found her not only warm and inviting, but someone who actually had original ideas and wanted you to develop original ideas as well

    Jeanne Sturges – A little off the wall, but she keep industry newsletters going out to recruiters across the country making sure articles and details are what is actually going on in the industry and valuable to thousands of recruiters

  7. Jessica M

    01. May, 2009


    Good post. Here is my list in no particular order, I have more than 5 though:

    Joel Cheesman
    Kris Dunn
    Bill Radin
    Maren Hogan
    Jessica Lee
    Kelly Dingee
    Greg Doersching
    Donato Diorio

    - Jessica
    Akken staffing software

  8. jessica lee

    01. May, 2009

    jessica… wow. thanks for such a compliment. i’m totally flattered to be considered an influencer in your eyes! :)

  9. Trisha

    01. May, 2009

    My top 5 as it relates to HR effectively using social media are:
    Laurie Ruettimann ( Laurie’s fresh approach to HR and telling it like it is- definitely appealing.

    Lisa Rosendahl- ( Solid HR voice of reason. Funny too.

    Michael Long ( In addition to being a successful recruiter, Michael shares his HR knowledge and social media knowledge with the masses.

    Lance Haun ( Lance has a no-nonsense approach to HR and is not afraid to disagree with opinions of other HR pros. Shares valuable insights. Bonus- he loves meat!

    Sharlyn Lauby ( Sharlyn is solid and reliable. Showcases her experience in her blog. A true HR mentor.

  10. Jessica

    01. May, 2009

    Danny Cahill
    Barry Hinckley
    Art Pappas

  11. Jonathan Goodman

    01. May, 2009


    A few off the top of my head in addition to those already named…

    Naomi Bloom
    Lisa Rowan
    Tammy Erickson
    Laurie Ruittimann
    Deb McGrath
    Sue Marks
    Lois Melbourne

    Of the “old boys”…

    Dave Duffield
    Bill Kutik
    John Sullivan & Master Burnett
    Dan Hilbert (already named but deserves a second)
    Dave Ulrich

    Cool project. I look forward to the interviews.

  12. Jessica

    01. May, 2009

    Should be Art Papas..

  13. Linda Prickett

    01. May, 2009

    Sue Danbom is the one person who comes to the top of my list. She is our Director of Training & Professional Search at Volt and a Six Sigma Champion.
    Check her out on ERE, LinkedIn, and Tweeter. She shares her recruiting genious by exposing her true self and knows how to get the real word across.

  14. See_Jane_Recruit

    01. May, 2009

    Women are usually too busy working to self-promote ;)

    My list

    1) Sandra McCartt–one of the most influential recruiters I’ve met regardless of gender. Smart, witty, to-the-point, a real closer. Love her!
    2) Rayanne Thorn–intelligent and insightful
    3) Maureen Sharib–though she may not know it, I read her posts and comments and take them to heart.
    4) Susan Burns–I’ve quietly sat in on some of her talks and she knows her stuff.

    I don’t have a number 5 but if you were to put a wig on Steve Levy, I would vote him as my number 5 most influential female recruiters.

  15. Peter

    01. May, 2009

    The very best Ecommerce/Marketing recruiter in the country is by far and wide Harry Joiner of

    After 13 years specifically in the ecom space……..I’ve used a lot of agencies over the years when I need “help” and he’s the very best. It might help too that he’s also a former marketing person. So he knows his ins and outs. I just hired my CMO through him (but have done several other searches with him over the past several years) and I only wanted someone that was well recognized on the national level and my hire was more than that…..but so were the rest of the candidates in the pool. This guy is “connected” and a supreme recruiter. And fun. And thoughtful. And listens!

  16. Chris Havrilla

    01. May, 2009

    Since you are starting to focus on the women….

    I think there are some phenomenal ladies out there that i follow in one or more of the industry areas that you mentioned – but across the board, I will tell you that when these women talk, I am usually all ears — I learn and enjoy.

    Sharlyn Lauby
    Lisa Rosendahl
    Laurie Ruettimann
    Susan Burns
    Maren Hogan

    There are some really amazing people out there – many that aren’t “known” because they aren’t actively writing and speaking but if they did, oh how they would influence. It would be cool to highlight people like that sometime too. Maybe we could get them ‘known’ and learn from them as well!

    I am truly looking forward to your list as I am sure there are many others I have yet to “meet”!

  17. Rob Bialk

    01. May, 2009

    John, I think that any F500 female that heads HR should be considered to be influential. They are all too busy doing their job rather than self promoting.

    My personal list of memorable people I have met are the following:

    Practicing HR Executive: Tara Amaral (VP Staffing ADP)
    Industry Consultant:Ed Newman
    HR Technology Innovator: Dave Duffield
    HR Analytics: Jac Fitz en
    HR Academic:Peter Capelli (Wharton School of Business)
    Most respected HR Author: Ram Charan
    Internet recruitment Research: Yves Lermus

  18. Rob Bialk

    01. May, 2009

    Jonathan, I second your motion on Sue Marks a definitive leader in RPO.

  19. Ivan | Jobs Blog

    01. May, 2009

    There is this guy whose email list (way back when before blogs, rss, Twitter, etc…) I used to read every day at about 5 PM GMT.

    Every day the mail would come, and for me it was a time to read it and start planning to go home for the day.

    I think his name was John,… John something….

    Winter?… no….

    Summer? … no…. but simmilar….

    John it is you!!!!


    PS. And yes, do get some ladies on the list!

  20. Sharlyn Lauby

    01. May, 2009

    Trisha and Chris…

    You are both awesome and I’m so fortunate that we’ve met. Thanks for the mention.

  21. Craig Silverman

    01. May, 2009

    Here are some of my recruiting influencers…
    Danny Cahill (According to Danny), Barb Bruno (Good As Gold), Carol Wenom (NAPS), Jason Davis (Everyone knows how to find him), Lou Adler (Hire with your Head), Jeff Skretny, Fran Goldstein, Dave Mendoza (Six Degrees), Adam Peterson (VIPE), Reid Hoffman (Linkedin), Shally (One name like Madonna), Barry Asin (Staffing Industry Analysts), Jon Bartos, Jeff Kaye, Dave Manaster (ERE, Fordyce), Margaret Graziano (Keenhire), and of course… John Sumser (!)…

    Thanks john, great topic!

    Craig Silverman

  22. Ryan Chartrand

    01. May, 2009

    Michael Marlatt
    Ryan Estis
    John Sumser (you might know him)
    Doug Berg (Jobs2Web)
    Joel Cheesman

    These are the few people in the industry who really have anything new worth hearing that hasn’t been repeated.

  23. Martin Snyder

    01. May, 2009

    Later I realized that John had this knack- like the Jeopardy writers building answers into questions- to embed arguments into explanations predictions, almost like a parent or teacher would… The inimitable Recruiting Animal (surely Influential?) tagged John as “Grandpa”, and it fits. The Animal issued me the sobriquet “Beadle” after the petty officials who enforce minor rules. I guess it fits too.

    After writing to Sumser to correct several of the insane notions that he had spewed into the Internets, I started to follow his links, visiting other sites, reading other bloggers, and commenting in my usual style; making beadle like observations on various topics.

    In time, I started my own blog. I’m not one of the top influencers, but I’m amazed and gratified by how many people mention that they have read some of my stuff and liked it. That all started from commenting on Sumser threads.

    My comment on this one: I don’t think focusing on women as separate from men in this context (a subjective beauty contest ironically) will be very helpful unless you may have a hypotheses as to why women in our industry fare better or worse than those in the aggregated economy….

  24. Rayanne Thorn

    01. May, 2009

    Wow, this is a great post and it also shows how eager this industry is to recognize the standouts…

    Here’s just a few:

    Julia Stone,
    Susan Burns,
    Jason Davis,
    John Sumser, http://
    Jerry Albright,
    Gerry Crispin,
    Joel Cheesman,

    There are so many more…

  25. Bill Boorman

    01. May, 2009

    From the UK. Very simple really:

    Louise Triance – UK Recruiter
    David Head – Recruitment International
    Tracey Dunne – Blue Sky PR
    Gary Dewhurst – gap personnel
    kevin Green – REC (forget the phoneys)
    John Bissell – JBA
    John O’Sullivan – Elite
    Don – BLT

    I would hope to feature on other lists!


  26. James Duran

    01. May, 2009

    Jeanne Palmer of the Palmer Advantage in the Silicon Valley. A Pioneer in the industry.

    Michael McNeal, Intuit.

    Carol Mahoney, Yahoo!

    Susan Welch, SIlicon Valley

    Libby Sartain, Texas

  27. Maureen Sharib

    02. May, 2009

    Pam Claughton because she pays attention and always goes to the heart of the matter.

    Heather Bussing ’cause she’s so smart.

    Karen Mattonen ’cause she’s smart too and stirs things up and makes us think how to do (and not) do things.

    I second the Sue Danbom vote – the girl can write and knows her stuff.

    And Claudia – Claudia Faust – another one who makes us think and always brings a down-to-earth experience to the table.

    Steve Levy in a wig? Hmmm….


  28. Levy

    03. May, 2009

    Uh, See_Jane_Spend_Too_Much_Time_At_Work, me in a wig? Perhaps a bustier and red pumps too? I’ll even shave my chest and back. Does my butt look too big???

    The problem with a list like this is that it’s quite a bit like comparing championship winning teams from 1, 5, and 10 plus years apart: Which one is better? Who would win in a battle of the champs?

    Makes for a nice discussion…

  29. Dave Mendoza

    03. May, 2009

    This is a timely post on a subject matter that is impactful. As I viewed the comments, what struck me was the variance in criteria. Is “smart” or “insightful” a legitimate criterion? Or is it impact upon our industry and the manner in which we operate within it? I vote for the latter. I find those who have provided mentorship, leadership, and taken risks to be factors in pertinent to the industry as a whole and to another extent, provided subject manner expertise in the process.

    Those who sparked the flame to distribute ideas to a broader audience is likewise insightful.

    There are many who are bright and enjoyable company, but few dare and few dare beyond a business model for the greater good.
    Promoting solely within the constraints of a particular product is good for the sake of the indirect impact to discussing new ideas and technologies but not necessarily within the overall idea of the criteria I would support.

    In all, evangelism has a role to play. An idea is only as successful as its proponents ability to communicate and assist in the digestive process of the broader organism of our industry.

    My personal list is likely to be expected, but some are surprises. What matters is not what I think, but what has made the community think and this discussion is evidence that you my friend, are within that list. You don’t simply give answers, you ask the right questions.

    Now who gives ideas, or wraps themselves within existing ones and makes people react and act for the betterment of their craft and their industry?

    That is the list I look forward to.

    Thank you John for the post.

  30. Michael Specht

    04. May, 2009


    If we are looking globally it is going to be a very hard list to pull together.

    From an HR Tech point of view my top 5 would be Row Henson, John Macy, Thomas Otter and Karen Beaman.

    Recruiting is very difficult as there are so many voice out there but Jason Davis (for the community), Joel Cheesman, Shannon Seery Gude, and two dudes called John ones a Dr and in Australia at the moment.

    Internationally you can’t forget Gautam Gosh.

    From Down Under I would be saying Colleen Harris, Trevor Vas, Phillip Tusing, James Elliott, Riges Younan.

    Good luck I will be waiting to see the results.

  31. [...] Sumser over at Recruiting Blogs is trying to find the top 100 key influencers in Recruiting, Staffing, HR, HCM and HRTech globally! A big ask I [...]

  32. Steve A

    04. May, 2009

    Jason Davis
    Louise Triance
    John O’Sullivan
    Susan Burns
    John Sumser
    Joel Cheesman

    The next generation…

    Thomas Shaw
    Ryan Chartrand

    In Australia/New Zealand, the key people we refer to are:

    Geoff Jennings
    Thomas Shaw
    Riges Younan
    Brett Iredale
    Michael Specht
    Paul Jacobs
    Suzanne Kendrics

    Thomas would have to be number 1 in our region – it was only last week he was able to pull in 780 recruiters for a webinar.

  33. Riges Younan

    04. May, 2009

    Hi John,

    I might add a little Australian flavour to it.

    @mspecht Michael Specht Inspecht
    @philiptusing Phillip Tusing Destination Talent
    @GarethFlynnTQ Gareth Flynn TalentQuest

    I look forward to the results.

  34. [...] ofcourse ) of the top 100 most influential people across Recruiting, Staffing, HR, HCM and HRTech here and as always Michael Specht, or you may know him as The Godfather or Don Spechtiali has decided to [...]

  35. Craig Fisher

    04. May, 2009

    This is an interesting question and some very interesting answers. And I think the responses are somewhat the result of who the answerer finds valuable vs. who has the biggest overall influence on our industry. Nothing wrong with that.

    Also, a large percentage of our industry doesn’t pay any attention to most industry influencers, networking sites, etc. Don’t we all know several recruiters that are just not plugged in that way? Anything wrong with that?

    Anyway, my list:

    Lou Adler
    John Sumser
    Bill Vick
    Jason Davis
    Susan Burns
    Maureen Sharib

  36. Rob Dromgoole

    04. May, 2009

    Top 100, no particular order

    Gerry Crispin
    Mark Mehler
    Dan Hilbert
    Shally Shackerl
    Maureen Shareeb
    Penelope Trunk
    Lou Adler
    Raghav Singh
    John Sullivan
    John Sumser
    Dave Mendoza
    Dennis Smith
    Eric Jaqueth
    Jason Warner
    Master Burnett
    Michael Homula
    Susan Burns
    Steve Levy
    Todd Raphael
    Claudia Faust

    Okay, I ran out of names …

  37. shawna armstrong

    04. May, 2009

    my favorites to follow for pure strategy / innovation are shally, amitai givertz and jason davis

    sumser for deep thoughts

    and animal for entertainingly exploring and questioning it all

    thanks to prior responders for giving me some more great people to follow!

  38. Bill Boorman

    04. May, 2009

    My list may be different being UK based. You can find most of these on Linked In. Be interesting to compare UK influencers with US influencers and who fits both. Be glad to assist with this.
    In no paticular order:

    John O’Sullivan – Elite Recruitment Leaders
    Anne Swaine – Apsco
    Bill Vick (Both)
    Doug Bugee – Antal
    James Cann
    David Head
    Louise (UK Recruiter)
    Gary dewhurst – gap personnel
    Dennis Waxman (ex Hayes)
    Kevin Green (REC)
    Tracey Green (Blue Sky PR)
    Jeff Grout (JG Consulting)

    I would also hope to make the list of others.


  39. Amy Richman

    04. May, 2009

    Hi John,

    Please consider:

    * Lizz Pellett from EMERGE International. She has been instrumental in providing thought leadership related to our focus on the importance of employer branding and identifying a competitive career site presence
    * Can’t have a list without Dave Mendoza and Shally Steckerl – both major rain makers and influencers in the sourcing space

  40. Chris Murdock

    04. May, 2009

    Carmen Hudson
    John Sumser
    Gerry Crispin
    Carol Mahoney
    Jeff Hunter

  41. Chris Murdock

    04. May, 2009

    One More:

    Jason Kranz at Heidrick & Struggles. One of the best Partners in the world of Executive Search.

  42. Ryan Polich

    04. May, 2009

    I don’t recognize most of these names, i’m afraid, but i’ll nominate whoever authored the “War for Talent” memo over at McKinsey. That’s a gift that keeps on giving.

    And Chris is too humble, he does some great writing on creative uses of social media and even coined the phrase “stunt recruiting”:

  43. Kristin Kalscheur

    04. May, 2009

    Susan Burns – or @talentsynch

    Penelope Trunk – or @penelopetrunk

  44. RD Whitney

    04. May, 2009

    Great idea John. There’s so many names that belong on your list, but thinking across the talent management spectrum:

    I have to second what Amy said. Lizz Pellet’s passion for branding as it relates to recruitment and retention needs to be recognized. I can hear her say it now: attract, retain, repel to increase ROI!

    On the executive search and management succession side, Joseph McCool ( ) comes to the top of the list.

    And then, keeping people, Dick Finnegan ( ) is the source to go to to keep them from running out the back door while the organization spends so much attention getting talent in the front door.

    I could go on and on and take up this entire post. Want to see a developing list of others that should be mentioned? Just check out the speaker list at:

    Sorry John, I couldn’t resist the opportunity for a plug there :-)

    The impressive “speaker” list for November/Chicago Onrec would be a great source for your research project.

  45. Rick Vance

    04. May, 2009

    Here’s to hoping your final list can get beyond the growing flock of fad chasers and job board reporters and identify the few (100? – methinks not) worthy of the lable “Key Influencer”.

  46. Thomas Shaw

    04. May, 2009

    Thanks for your kind words Alex.

  47. Julia Stone

    05. May, 2009

    When I think of the people who have truly changed the way I do business now, many names come to mind that have been mentioned. Still, my list. I could list 25 if it would be helpful, but that would just be pandering to all my wonderful friends. I think that some people are great speakers, others great bloggers, some great visionaries about process and tools.

    1. Michael Marlatt
    2. Rob McIntosh
    3. Susan Burns
    4. Jason Davis
    5. Maren Hogan
    6. Rayanne Thorne
    7. Danny Cahill

  48. Patti Yaritz

    06. May, 2009

    Great conversation I agree with Paul Jacobs that often the thought leaders and real visionaries are already on to the next thing. In all of the replies here I see no strong diversity tools. I hope that means good things for me!

    My 5

    Shally Steckerl-Sourcing
    Dave Mendoza-Networking
    John Sumser-Keeping it real
    Don Ramer-It’s about the people
    Kevin Wheeler-Vision

  49. Kate Rawlings

    06. May, 2009

    I’m a bit bias, as I’m going to reccommend my CEO, Tom Johnston. With over 20 years of experience in the talent aquisition industry, Tom has worked on the corporate side, the franchisee side and now the franchisor side. His ability to create a business plan that has taken the best from the competition and ditch the negative. His vision and passion for the industry is changing the way recruiters run/build their businesses and work together.

  50. Zac

    06. May, 2009

    Here are the 5 most influential for me. ; Zac Rizzo, Jeff Skrentny, Greg Doersching, Bill Vick, Shally. In that order.