Doug: I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Dane Groeneveld, CEO of PTS Advance. As the recently appointed CEO of PTS, Dane brings a high-energy and enthusiastic verve to his role. In this segment, we discussed leadership, career journeys, partnerships, and why diversity and inclusion are essential to driving business. 

Q: Doug: PTS has been a long-standing client of SmartSearch, but you are relatively new to the organization. What has your experience been like to date in working with us?

A: Dane: I have to say that I have been really impressed by the time I have been able to get with your leadership team. I also really appreciate the fact that you have developed a program that allows the customer a lot of control on how to customize the workflows. It is certainly a partnership that means a lot to me as I have entered the business and developed more sales processes and decision-making support features into the daily operating behaviors. 

A: Doug: I appreciate knowing that your experience in working with us has been productive and is helping you and your team drive business to get the results your company needs. 

Q: Doug:  Let’s talk about leadership. Tell me more about your journey to becoming CEO of PTS Advance.

A: Dane: My dad always says that there are lots of great people out there, so hard work and luck are essential ingredients to finding success. My experience is that it takes hard work, luck, and finding as many of those great people as you can to work for or with.

My career started with an entrepreneur named Chris, who I met in London when I was working at a bar in college. It was a lucky encounter as he gave me a chance to enter the world of staffing on my summer break, and I have enjoyed the industry from the first day.  

When I met my Texan wife, Clare, while on vacation surfing in California, I got another good dose of luck. Beyond giving me a lot of balance and motivation, she wanted to be back in Texas someday, so Oil & Gas was destined to be in my future. I started working towards that just as the Australasian market got busy with LNG projects, and I continued my lucky run into Houston to support some of the most complex projects and operations in the industry.   

This meant that I had the opportunity to work with some amazing bosses, colleagues, team members, and customers over the years. This interaction has encouraged me to take on new challenges on a regular basis, which provided a lot of learning opportunities. 

Then I met the Stein family, soon after relocating to California (to be closer to the surf and my Australian family). I had always set a plan to be a CEO or be living at the beach by 40, and the Stein family extended the opportunity to do both! The Stein’s, and their team had built a high-quality business since 1995. Their values were very aligned with my own, and they were very passionate about getting as many great people on the bus as we could achieve. So, we are now just over 18 months into a fantastic journey adding some really special people to the team and seeking to team up with some of the best customers in the industries that we serve. 

The title is not the important part. The opportunity to wake up every day and focus on working with these great people to find opportunities to conquer hard issues is the real buzz.  

A: Doug: That’s an interesting journey. It always amazes me to hear about the twists and turns that guide us on our career path. And I definitely agree with you about titles; they don’t mean as much if you don’t have the right people around you, supporting the business, delivering the value, and driving the company’s mission. 

Q: Doug: No doubt, technology is what powers today’s world, but one thing we as people need to understand is that technology is only as good as the people developing it and the end-users. How do you see the intersection of people and technology creating a synergistic relationship?

A: Dane: I can’t remember where I read it, but recently an article that addressed disruption through technological and social lenses really struck me. The principle was that the world has become a little too technology hungry and often overlooks how to seek solutions through the social lens. 

I operate every day in the social sphere, as do my team. So I am a big believer in using technology to augment what we do. But I genuinely believe we can get a lot more out of our teams and the work we do if we focus on synergy over automation and replacement of daily tasks, rituals, and ceremony. 

I think that great technology lets us take more time as people to interact, learn, celebrate, innovate, and challenge current models. 

Two of my biggest areas of interest right now are: 

  • How can PTS Advance team up with customers by utilizing technology to drive more learning and career pathways as industries and organizations evolve? 
  • How can we drive the next generation of talent solutions for companies that have overcome the first hurdle of using VMS technology to gain visibility and control of contingent workforce management, at the cost of some of the time, quality, and flexibility that becomes lost with arm’s length vendor relationships? 

The VMS Smart and Hiring Manager Portal solutions are key elements of your product that I am most excited about developing as we innovate and partner with customers to tackle both of these areas of interest. 

A: Doug: Glad to hear you’re finding value in our Vendor Management Software (VMS). We’re very proud of this enhancement and recognize the value it brings to agencies managing their vendors. Since SmartSearch is a software development company, we work in the technology world and live it every day; however, we also value the human side of our business. Our goal is to deliver the highest level of service to our clients, as well as evaluate potential vendors to bring our clients a best-in-breed, 360-degree applicant tracking software solution.  

Q: Doug: One topic that is of particular interest to both of us is diversity and inclusion in the workplace. I’ve written articles about this and am interested in your view on it. 

A: Dane: Diversity and Inclusion are essential. It is a competitive advantage for a company. It is energy for communities. It is innovation. It is a necessary ingredient for sustainability. It is the legacy we need to set now for our future generations. 

Returning to the social lens, we need to direct a lot more of our technology and daily activities in the workforce management industry to find ways to bring people together to transfer knowledge, share ideas, and share the wealth. If we get it right, we can rely on a happier and healthier world to enjoy living in. 

A: Doug: I agree 100 percent. Brands that don’t include diversity and inclusion in their workplace culture are missing significant business opportunities. As the war for talent increases, organizations need to cast a wide net to reach people of varying backgrounds and experiences who will bring points of view to move the needle on innovation, creativity and productivity. 

Doug: Dane, as always, it’s been great talking with you. We enjoy working with you and your team. Thank you for your on-going partnership.

Dane: Good to chat with you.