Using his system, Spence completed more than 300 leader searches with a 98 percent success rating, and he trained hundreds of managers on how to do effective interviewing.


Bob Spence Consulting

Bob Spence went to Bowling Green State University with one goal: become a minister.

Before he left, his pastor offered specific-and fortuitous-academic advice.

"Major in history and political science, since you will need the diplomatic skills," Spence was told. "Minor in business, since a church has to operate in financial solvency. And do all of that in (the) college of education. You don't preach, you teach."

Spence realized upon completion of his undergraduate degree in 1968 that he had not "heard the call."

Nearly 50 years later, Spence has influenced generations of professionals from Ohio to California, earning him the Lifetime Achievement Award.

"Bob's goal is always to leave people better than he found them," nominator John Nosse of the Nosse Consulting Group says. "He is one of those people you want to work for and, if not, work with him."

Spence taught for three years before moving onto the principal track at age 24. By 28 he was a superintendent-arguably the youngest in Ohio.

His academic path soon took him to Oklahoma and Wyoming. He admits he struggled with hiring personnel up to his quality standards.

"My first few hires were not very good," Spence says.

Spence discovered a program that used data to quantify responses and identify better applicants, which led him to develop his own program that focused on a five-step process:

• Clearly define positions.

• Define and identify good performance.

• Identify what success looks like.

• Pre-screen with phone calls.

• Conduct onsite backgrounding.

In 1987, he moved with his wife, Joan, to San Diego, where he opened Creative Leadership Consultants Inc.

"I've been in HR ever since as a consultant, primarily," Spence says.

Aging parents brought the Spences back to Ohio in 2003. Using his system, Spence completed more than 300 leader searches with a 98 percent success rating, and he trained hundreds of managers on how to do effective interviewing.

Among the companies utilizing his system are In-N-Out Burger, Brighton Collectibles, Irby Construction, Tara Materials, Hunter Industries, Evolving Systems and Rex Materials.

"What I love about Bob is that he sticks with the core fundamentals of human resources," says Ann Lund, Whitehall's director of human resources, who, like Spence, is a member of the HR Executive Forum. "Whether it's with interviewing candidates, training and development, or HR policy-related matters, he reminds us not to get caught up in the latest trend or overcomplicate the situation. His honest feedback and guidance has helped me analyze my HR challenges and make the best decision possible."

"The Lord was right when he closed the door to the seminary and opened me up to a new door," says Spence. "When I interview key administrators, I always ask, 'What is your driving purpose?' For me, it's being a helper and helping others succeed."

Finalist:Phil Freeman, Dawson

In 1966, Joseph DeCapua purchased Dawson, a local staffing firm, for $3,000 and asked Phil Freeman to help him turn around the dying business.

Fifty years later, Freeman is still at Dawson, and is now senior vice president of a company that has grown to more than $89 million in annual sales.

His continued contributions over five decades made him a finalist for the Lifetime Achievement Award.

When Freeman started, candidates still paid a fee to staffing firms that found them work. He helped Dawson revolutionize the industry by mandating employers pay the fee. During his career, Freeman has also been a leading advocate of women's rights in the workplace.

Freeman maintains notes on every employee he has ever placed as he continues to work 40-hour workweeks, being the first in the office most days and most weekends.

Freeman has helped more than 5,000 Columbus job seekers find work by coaching interviewing techniques.