A Calm Sea Doesn’t Make a Good Sailor

With a firm belief that the customer experience is today’s competitive battleground, Myke Hawkins and his team help clients navigate the choppy seas of modern workforce management

Digital disruption is changing the very definition of work, and the stakes are higher than ever as companies strive to leverage talent to gain a competitive advantage. With one-third of the global workforce now engaged in nontraditional assignments, companies must deal with cost, speed, quality, and compliance across all labor categories—whether that’s full-time employees, freelancers, independent contractors, or temporary employees. HR, procurement, and operations teams face critical and costly decisions about choosing partners who can connect them with the talent they need to move their businesses forward.

It’s a complex challenge tailor-made for Myke Hawkins and the global sales team at Kelly Services. After originating the temporary staffing industry in 1946, Kelly has continually evolved and now provides workforce and talent solutions across the globe. Hawkins, the company’s senior vice president and global sales leader, is on the front lines of that evolution.

Scout’s Honor

Growing up in Flint, Michigan, Myke Hawkins was actively involved with the Boy Scouts and eventually became an Eagle Scout—which he says had a large positive influence on his values as an adult, especially one in charge of a large company.

The scouts also contributed to his active lifestyle and love of nature. He loves fishing, camping, and exploring the outdoors with his family.

When he’s not working at Kelly Services, Hawkins also loves working on his assortment of vintage, high-horsepower cars and cranking out tunes on his electric guitar–with the amp turned all the way up.

“The workforce solutions space solves so many business and human capital problems for Fortune 1000 companies around the world in terms of how they recruit, retain, and retire their talent,” Hawkins says. “Our customers need to navigate the modern needs and preferences of workers who are more flexible and fluid than ever before. The impact of staying the same or doing nothing as the talent landscape continues to shift is a real risk that we help our customers address. So, better understanding the businesses our customers are in, uncovering their most pressing problems, and bringing a consultative, problem-solving mentality to the table is our primary focus.”

It’s a focus shared across Hawkins’s global sales team, whose responsibilities include closing some of the most complex deals in the industry with some of the largest companies in the world—along with driving continual growth in a portfolio that boasts long-term relationships with many Fortune 500 clients. “My time is spent looking at transformational growth and strengthening the company’s core to defeat competition,” he says. “The challenge is twofold: how do we accelerate top-line revenue and bottom-line profitability?” It’s a challenge that Hawkins’s team is meeting head-on, with a packed calendar of town halls and go-to-market calls, not to mention training and development initiatives that make sure sales leaders are the best coaches they can be.

To further equip his team to drive growth and serve as truly consultative partners, Hawkins introduced Kelly to the Challenger methodology through a partnership with CEB, a best practices insight and technology company. “The traditional approach of selling features and benefits no longer works,” Hawkins says, citing research confirming that today’s customers make most purchase decisions before even having a conversation with a potential provider. “The Challenger methodology flips traditional selling models upside down and puts the client at the center of it all. From my perspective, the companies best equipped to win market share in today’s environment are those that know their customer’s business inside and out and who bring commercial insight that solves business problems the customer might not even know they have.”

As a seasoned leader and lifelong sales pro, Hawkins is aware it takes more than training and tools to make a world-class sales force. It takes an engaged, energized, passionate team that knows they’re fully accountable for driving growth and that thrives on the challenge. Those characteristics describe Hawkins perfectly. “I approach each endeavor with an unwavering commitment to personal growth, an intense focus around advancing creativity and innovation, and deploying an intestinal fortitude to succeed,” he says. “I’m always pushing limits, testing boundaries, and seeking new knowledge.”

He sees a direct correlation between his sales team’s engagement and its ability to hit its growth targets for the company. “People innately want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They want to know that what they do every day is making a difference,” he explains. “Setting a compelling mission that everyone can rally around, providing line of sight to our business priorities, and inspiring our colleagues to deliver their best selves to the company and to their customers delivers growth.”

A firm believer that nothing of significance is ever achieved by one person working alone, Hawkins’s ideas about engagement and culture extend beyond his own team. He’s a big proponent of what he calls interlock: the notion that his team’s success is dependent on the success of others, and vice versa. “As a global sales leader, you’re at the intersection of top-line growth and bottom-line profitability,” he says. “You have to navigate across all domains whether that’s operational service delivery, finance, marketing, legal, or more. That means you’re in a position to influence the culture of a company and the successes of other people as you work through every part of the customer life cycle. Every discussion, meeting, and exchange of words is an opportunity to make a positive impact.”

Hawkins’s approach is paying off: his team is expanding the value they deliver to customers, capturing more market share, and posting impressive year-over-year improvements in their sales metrics. As he looks ahead to the future, Hawkins is unfailingly optimistic. “Each day brings a set of new challenges that I love because I thrive on change and ambiguity,” he says.

There’s no doubt that with the pace of change in the working world, Hawkins and his team will have opportunities to thrive for many years to come.