For those who know me, you know I’ve been a fan of SHRM’s CEO Johnny Taylor since before he was SHRM’s CEO. The first time I ran into Johnny was on the speaking circuit when he was an HR Leader, in the corporate world, and we spoke at the same conference.
My initial impression of Johnny was, “Who the hell is this guy!? He’s an amazing speaker!” Johnny is a smart, confident, dynamic speaker, and leader, so I thought it was a great hire when SHRM hired him as CEO. Plus, he was a “real” HR person! There have been some folks who have thrown him shade over his tenure, but I think the majority of the SHRM membership has actually liked how he has pushed to elevate the HR function during his tenure.
This week iCIMS, a leading applicant tracking system and talent acquisition platform for enterprise organizations, announced that Johnny Taylor was joining their board. Here’s a bit from Johnny in the press release:
“I’ve been closely following iCIMS for years and have been consistently impressed,” said Taylor. “I am proud to be joining the iCIMS team. No other company has demonstrated how well it understands what talent professionals and business leaders require to succeed, and iCIMS is leading the market and its customers to success in the new world of work.”
Taylor was selected as a board member through Vista Equity Partner’s independent board program, which leverages the firm’s network to source qualified board candidates for its portfolio companies.
Why should we care about this move?
CEOs of large organizations frequently take board seats at other big organizations. So, this isn’t surprising. I think the one surprise SHRM members might ask themselves is, why would Johnny, the CEO of the world’s largest HR organization, take a board seat with an HR/TA Technology vendor? Couldn’t that be viewed as a conflict of interest? I mean companies like iCIMS, and their competitors, spend millions of dollars with SHRM each year in sponsorships at SHRM conferences and other virtual events.
What if he took a board position with Workday or Oracle, would that be considered a conflict? I don’t know. Like I said above, Johnny is a smart guy, I’m sure he could get a paid board seat at almost any F500 company. I do also think this move speaks to Johnny’s increased attention within SHRM of Talent Acquisition professionals overall. When I first became a SHRM member in 2001, Talent Acquisition pros were the red-headed stepchildren of HR and we didn’t feel very welcome in SHRM. That has changed drastically over recent years.
From the iCIMS standpoint, this is a brilliant hire. Dynamic, smart people, with that kind of network and leverage, are hard to find, it’s a definite big win for them. Hire? Yes, it’s a hire. This is a paid position. People at that level don’t join boards to make themselves look cool on their LinkedIn profile! Johnny brings with him exceptional insight of hundreds of thousand SHRM members that will be super valuable to iCIMS.
This does beg the question, is Johnny getting ready to leave SHRM? It has been rumored over the past couple of years that he had bigger aspirations and plans than “just” being the CEO of SHRM. I say “just” because that job is a pretty great job, but he definitely has the resume and the intangibles to secure even bigger positions and make even more money. In my opinion, it would be a big loss for SHRM, as he’s by far the best CEO they have had in decades. Again, I know a bunch of folks who will disagree with that statement, but SHRM is in a far better position today than at any single point in the past twenty years as an association.
iCIMS and its CEO, Steve Lucas, have definitely been one of the most aggressive TA tech companies in the marketplace as of late. Product growth, tech acquisition, and increasing talent at a rapid pace over the past two years, it’s very interesting times for them. Make sure you keep an eye out, I hear they have some big things coming in April. If you haven’t demoed them lately, it might be time to get an update and see a different iCIMS than you’ve seen in the past.