Get to know Clearpoint and staff through our Clearpoint Voices Q&A Interview sessions.
Charelle Webb, Vice President
James and Charelle Webb founded Clearpoint in 1999. Clearpoint has three divisions: Clearpoint Technology, Clearpoint Creative, and Clearpoint Professional.
Q: Congratulations on Clearpoint celebrating it's 15th anniversary this year. Tell us about what you set out to do when you started the company?
James: I worked for other staffing and consulting companies, and I grew weary of the lack of work life balance, so I told Charelle it was time to start Clearpoint in 1999. Even though we had a new baby and our first mortgage, she agreed! Not only that, she offered to leave her career in Engineering to run the back office. My hope was that over time, other recruiters and consultants would want to come to Clearpoint, so we've been intentional in our actions to make Clearpoint an "employer of choice". We try hard to make Clearpoint a place people love to work.
Charelle: A big part of that is taking every opportunity we can to demonstrate respect to our clients, to our candidates, and to our employees. Everyone who has worked long enough anywhere has their own war stories, and we had both worked long enough to accumulate some zingers. Fortunately, I had also had the opportunity to work with amazingly gifted and kind people in my first career, and I wanted to honor the legacy that they passed on to me.
Q: What is your vision for the next 15 years?
James: Keep doing our thing. There is really nothing I'd rather be doing, except maybe piloting a formula one race car. If team Ferrari comes a calling, watch out! Seriously though, getting people jobs is very rewarding. Outside of maybe being a surgeon, I don't think there is anything I could do that has a more profound impact on folk's lives than to help them get a new or better job. Every day is a new adventure.
Charelle: You know, when I was in my twenties, I was really into 1, 5, and 10 year planning, and I was really good at that. But I have learned that my life goes better when I just do the best that I can every day. When I wake up in the morning and think "Where can I be useful today?" or "What can I give today?" those are the days that go the very best. I know that opportunities will come during the next 15 years. I think if we just do our best every day to use the gifts we have and honor the people we meet, we will be ready for those opportunities.
Q: What challenges do you see the staffing and recruiting industry facing currently?
James: I think the Affordable Care Act is going to rock a lot of our competitors' worlds. Margins are already razor thin and a lot of firms are not compliant with the ACA. Since our inception, we've always offered medical insurance, and we've always paid a large portion of it, so for us it may level the playing field. From paid medical, matching 401(k), Green Envelopes (EAP), profit sharing, and more, I am proud that we offer a lot of benefits that our competitors can't match.
Charelle: One of the most disturbing things I have seen, which I am happy to say I believe is getting better, is the desire to treat people as a commodity. The idea that what a person brings to a client or to a culture is devoid of any soul, and can just be boiled down to a skill set is very two-dimensional. Companies that have this mentality are missing out on what it means to really develop a team, really work toward something bigger than just the sum of the parts.
I do see our clients continuing to move in a better direction. This is why it is so important at Clearpoint that our account managers and recruiters have the opportunity to partner with our clients and candidates. When we can understand the culture of a company, the spirit of a department, or the motivation of a potential employee, we get to participate in a unique synergy. That's fun!
Q: Many of the staff mentioned the unique culture at Clearpoint. Tell us about that.
James: Treat others like you want to be treated is the basic Christian tenet.
I hate meetings. So, knowing that the producers working with us feel the same way, we only have one meeting a week and we try to keep even that down to 30 minutes.
We use parts of the Agile "Scrum" meeting methodology, which seems to work pretty well to keep a pulse on the business. Go ahead to Wikipedia and look up Agile Scrum. I did when I heard one of our software architects mention it years ago.
Charelle: I've never worked in another staffing agency, so I can't compare Clearpoint to any other staffing company. We do our best to provide a great work environment, work-life balance, and plenty of opportunities to express our gratitude. We believe in every member of our staff, and we find it a privilege to work with such a professional team.
Q: What is something surprising that your clients and employees might not know about you?
James: We are both elders in the church, and Charelle and I both counsel summer church camp.
Also, we are both huge nerds. We love Star Trek, Star Wars, and Stargate, and we hate that they cancelled Firefly. We collect comic books, fossils, rocks, and minerals from all over the world. I know½.nerds! We are currently brainwashing the kids with Star Trek: The Next Generation. Resistance is futile.
Charelle: I'm an avid reader, but so busy that I failed abysmally to read much last year. So this year, my resolution is to read 52 books. They don't have to be classics, or even very good, just 52 of them. So far my favorites this year have been The Orchid Thief, The Last Anniversary, and World War Z.
Q: Do you have a favorite recruiting story to share?
James: People would not believe the stories we hear in recruiting. Although I've grown more immune to the shocked feeling when I hear the next crazy story, I never for a second think I've "heard it all". The moment you think that, someone WILL surely surprise you. It's not always a bad surprise, though. My favorite recruiting story to share is when I got a call from a former Clearpoint contractor who was working for another vendor at a new client. The end client had just severed ties with his vendor and told him to pick whoever he wanted to payroll him, and he chose Clearpoint.
Charelle: The day we were in a staff meeting in our lobby, just before Christmas, and one of our new off-site employees dropped by on his lunch hour to bring a big basket of cookies. He had written a letter to say thanks to his account manager and recruiter. He had been out of work for a while, and his first paycheck from us had come in time to prevent some serious financial strife. He was grateful to us for helping him to find work, but that is just what we do. He was the one who had the skills that our client needed, and his kind words still make me feel good.
Q: What question did I not ask that I should have?
James: Any parting thoughts? They say "Behind every Great man stands a Great woman." My version of that is a little different - "Beside every Decent man stands an Amazing woman."
As anyone who knows us both can attest, Clearpoint is what it is today after 15 years because Charelle is a great business partner.
Charelle: The one question that most people ask us is "How do you work with your spouse?" I love working with James. I have tremendous respect for his ability to connect with clients and to support our employees, to make difficult decisions and to lead by example. Each of our gifts is marvelously complementary. As with many couples, one of us is an extrovert and one an introvert, one detail-oriented and one better at "the big picture". We were made for each other, and working together at Clearpoint is simply a part of that.
Clearpoint is the staffing partner of choice for many of Houston's top employers. Companies trust us to fill open technology and creative positions with talented professionals because of our successful track record, years of experience, and extensive network of amazing talent.www.clearpointco.com
Clearpoint is a staffing agency for jobs in information technology, marketing, creative, and other professionals. We do business by building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with our employees and clients.