Growing Your Career in Staffing: Insights from Ryan Borra of Brightwing


Recently I had an opportunity to speak with Ryan Borra, Business Development Manager at Brightwing, as part of our Staffing Speaks Out conversation series. Ryan reflected on his experience in the staffing industry and talked about how he’s grown his career. Watch the video (transcript below) for inspiration from Ryan’s story.


Katie Tierney: Hi everyone. I’m here with Ryan Borra of Brightwing and today we’re going to talk about growing your career in the staffing industry.

Ryan Borra:  Thanks for inviting me.

KT: Tell me a little bit about your role at Brightwing and what you do.

RB: I’m the Business Development Manager for our Pittsburgh office. I manage sales and delivery.

KT: How did you get into staffing? Was it something you always wanted to do or did you find yourself in it somehow?

RB: Actually, coming out of school, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I went to Michigan and got my undergraduate degree in industrial design. I thought I was going to be going more the design and engineering route, but found myself actually working more in customer service and ERP implementation.

Funny thing is that my brother also works for Brightwing, so he’s a managing partner of the Dallas office. He would always tell me stories about Brightwing and what he did and the people that he got to meet and all the different industries he got to play in and learn about. That’s how I fell into it. Brightwing had an opening and the rest is history.

KT: Is there something happening in the industry right now that you’re closely watching? Anything that’s really captured your attention? If so, I’m curious what that is.

RB: Being here in Pittsburgh, I started off in Detroit, so Detroit’s automotive industry. Coming out of school, I fell in love with embedded systems and the active safety that was being incorporated into the automotive industry, so 8S, advanced driver systems, everything that you’re seeing as far as autonomous technology that’s being incorporated into Uber and Argo IT with Ford and Delphi Active. I find myself really following that industry and we also do a lot of work in Detroit and here in Pittsburgh, so yes, I kind of have a passion for it.

KT: I’d love to hear about one of the coolest projects that you’ve had the opportunity to work on throughout your career. Is there anything that’s really memorable or that stands out to you?

RB: Back in Detroit, we actually worked for a tier one supplier in automotive really when they were investing a lot of time and money in the embedded systems for their global electronics department. With all the technology they wanted to start developing, they were behind in staffing.

We were tasked with helping them grow their global electronics division and we placed over 30 embedded systems engineers ranging from software to hardware, test and validation, configuration, and change management. We played a really important role in that technology because they really weren’t able to do it without the people that we really helped them find.

It was really unique. We got to go onsite there, really see the technology that they were trying to develop. We do things differently where we want to be seen as more of a partner with our clients. We want to learn everything about the company, get a feel for the culture, the atmosphere, and then the growth and the positions. It was a lot of work, but very rewarding.

KT: Great. That sounds really interesting. Okay, so how about one of your toughest challenges that you’ve had to tackle? What comes to mind? I’m curious how you went about it.

RB: At Brightwing, I was brought onboard to eventually open an office for them to expand the company. What they wanted me to do is to experience every department in our business, so starting off in sourcing, moving into recruiting, account support, account management, and business development. Coming out of recruiting, moving into account support, and then also account management, for about six months, I was transitioning between the three departments.

It was hard to let go from recruiting, and then also manage my time in account support on some of our major accounts, and then also manage some of these other accounts where I was the sole account manager for it. I really had to develop my time management skills, making sure that I was investing enough time in every department to make sure that our number one goal of delivery was met.

KT: I heard that you were recognized at Brightwing’s Employee of the Year last year, and I know that most recently, you were nominated as a Rising Star for a Bullseye award, which will be presented at Engage Boston this June. What do you think have been some of the keys to your success as you’ve grown and developed in your career?

RB: I would say it’s my drive and aggression and just trying to obtain goals. My goals that I make for myself every year are not ordinary. They’re more out there. Another thing that I would say outside of my personality would be just my support system. My brother, as I said, he started off at Brightwing. He’s been a mentor to me. My family, too. They’ve been there for me. This has been a huge transition for me, and then our executive team at Brightwing. We have an open door policy. Whether I’m on the road or I’m in the office, I know I can count on them to go bother them with any question that I might have. I think that’s really what’s really helped me accomplish these things that I’ve done in the past couple of years.

KT: Okay, so I’d love to hear about your experience with Bullhorn. How has that helped you be successful in your role?

RB: I would say Bullhorn, so yes, managing tasks. Bullhorn has helped a lot with that, managing the tasks that I have, and even though primarily my role is business development and account management, I still support my team, whether that’s sourcing, recruiting, whatever they need from me. Time management really helps me there.

Also, as everyone knows in our industry, we talk to a lot of people. Every day we’re managing candidates. We’re talking and meeting new people, whether that’s on the client side or candidate side, and Bullhorn just helps me manage that, as well. This industry is all about developing relationships and maintaining those relationships, so Bullhorn as an ATS system reminds me, “Hey, it’s time to catch up with this person or reach out to them,” because it’s hard to keep track of everybody that we talk to on a daily basis and monthly basis. It’s just really helped me manage that.

KT: At the heart of it, staffing is a business that’s about people helping people. Is there a particular placement that you’ve been involved with that stands out to you?

RB: Yes. I would say going back to the project that we worked on in Detroit for the supplier, one of those placements, we were working on a position. It’s a configuration and change management position, and anybody that’s worked in embedded systems knows it’s very tough. Not many people out there know how to do that.

We searched all over. We ended up finding a candidate on the east coast that specialized in this area, and he was actually a contractor with another vendor, and they just were not treating him right. We flew him out here, took him on a tour of the city, took him around Detroit, showed him the area, and also took him to his interview. Just the connection we made with him, he really enjoyed the way we conducted our business and helped him out and maybe more just affirmed we were a partner with him, showing him the area, showing him, “This is where you could live. These are some fun things you can do around here.” That’s what he told us really separated us.

He ended up taking the position, which was great, and then we just stayed in contact with him. Even after I started working at this new job, he ended up sending us 30 plus referrals in embedded systems and we ended up placing a lot of people from him. To this day, we stay connected even though I moved to Pittsburgh. I’m always reaching out to him, seeing how he’s doing. It’s just all about networking and meeting people. It’s been a little bit outside of work and I see us more as friends now, too.

KT: Okay, so last but not least, any words of wisdom for others in your field who may be at a similar point in their career, focused on growing and getting to the next level?

RB: Yes. I actually always give this advice to new employees. I always tell them this industry has ups and downs. I always say, don’t celebrate the highs, don’t dwell on the lows. Just stay steady. Make goals for yourself, annual goals that you want to accomplish, but then break it down into quarterly, monthly, weekly, and then daily. Lastly, just have fun. This is what we’re here to do. We’re here to help people make dreams happen is what I always say. That’s advice I always like to give new employees.

KT: Thank you so much for speaking with me today, Ryan. I really appreciate the time that you took. It was great to hear more about you and your story. Thank you for sharing it with everyone.

RB: Thank you, Katie. Thanks for the invitation. I want to just thank Bullhorn and everything that it’s done for me in growing my career, and looking forward to the next five years.

Want more tips on how to grow your career in the staffing industry? Read this article featuring insights from the Vesume Group’s Jori Blumsack.

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