Jeffrey A. Joerres

Chairman, chief executive officer, and president, Manpower

Nationality: American.

Born: 1960, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Education: Marquette University, BA, 1983.

Career: IBM Corporation, 1983–1987, various management positions; ARI Network Services, 1987–1993, vice president of sales and marketing; Manpower, 1993–1995, vice president of marketing, 1995–1998, senior vice president of Major Account Development, 1998–1999, senior vice president of European Operations, 1999–2001, CEO and president, 2001–, chairman, CEO, and president.

Awards: Distinguished Alumnus Award, Marquette University, 2001.

Address: Manpower, 5301 North Ironwood Road, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53217;

■ Jeffrey A. Joerres was named president and CEO of Manpower, the world's second-largest provider of temporary employees, in April 1999 and became chairman of the board in 2001. Known as a strong proponent of job training and workforce development initiatives, Joerres was largely credited with developing Manpower's portfolio of global accounts to represent more than $1 billion in annual sales volume. Colleagues and industry insiders described Joerres as an amiable manager who emphasized open and honest communication as the key to success.


Joerres grew up in South Milwaukee and recalled that, contrary to the opinion of many, the neighborhood was not especially tough, and he thoroughly enjoyed his childhood there. The first member of his family to attend college, he graduated from Marquette University in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in business administration. He then took a job with IBM Corporation, at first installing typewriters, then moving on to computer equipment and providing other IBM services to customers. At the time, Manpower was one of his accounts; through that affiliation he first met Manpower's CEO and chairman Mitchell S. Fromstein. Joerres maintained his connection with Fromstein when he left IBM in 1987 to work for ARI Network Services as vice president of sales and marketing. Coincidentally, Fromstein also served on ARI's board.

In 1993 Fromstein offered Joerres a position at Manpower as vice president of sales and marketing. Joerres recalled that he accepted the job because he was aware of Manpower from his time at IBM and was excited about the transformations going on in the staffing industry. In an interview with Robert Mullins of the Business Journal–Milwaukee , Joerres commented, "It's a very intriguing and complex company in the way that all of us feel the passion for what they do. I looked at what Manpower stood for and I looked at where the company would go and it was very attractive" (September 24, 1999).

Joerres had joined the nation's largest private employer, which would continue to grow, filing some 800,000 W-2 forms annually by the mid-1990s. Joerres eventually rose to the position of senior vice president of European Operations, overseeing one of the company's fastest-growing areas of business. By the late 1990s, however, the company had slipped to number two in its industry behind the Swiss company Adecco, largely because the aggressive Adecco as well as other staffing companies had begun commanding market shares. Many analysts thought that Fromstein and Manpower had begun too late to tap into the growing information-technology worker market. Some stockholders had been calling for Fromstein's retirement when he decided to step down, but many were surprised when Joerres, a relative newcomer who had only been with the company for six years, was named as Fromstein's replacement in 1999.

John R. Walter was named chairman, but as president and CEO Joerres would handle the day-to-day affairs of the company. Many saw him as the dark-horse candidate who had obtained the job after the expected successor, the CFO Jon F. Chait, resigned over a dispute with Fromstein. Upon Joerres's appointment the investment analyst Judith Scott told Mullins of the Business Journal–Milwaukee , "Just the idea of having someone new at the top is going to bring renewed energy to the company" (September 24, 1999).


Yet analysts were unsure as to how Joerres would resuscitate his faltering company, whose earnings had been flat for three of the previous four years. Some industry analysts were expecting another company to make a takeover bid for Manpower. In August 1999, just four months after Joerres had taken over, the company's stock had fallen to around $22.50—less than half of its August 1997 peak of just over $50. The money manager Anthony E. Spare noted in BusinessWeek , "Either the current management fixes it, they look outside for new managers, or the company gets acquired" (August 16, 1999).

Part of Joerres's job would be to remake the company into one that focused more on revenue and market share than on profits, return on capital, and margins. For his part Joerres said he had several ideas for turning the company around: He planned to target more profitable sectors such as technology, an area in which Manpower would supply everyone from programmers to desktop-support staff. He said that he would pay more attention to the $800 million professional-services unit that he had helped build and that accounted for 10 percent of Manpower's sales. He noted that Manpower's largest market, in France, had a profit falloff of 21 percent from 1998; as such he was going to install new management there within 12 to 18 months.

To address the fact that Manpower was lagging behind competitors in supplying tech workers, Joerres decided to institute online tech-training courses that would boost Manpower's listings on the job-search Web site. Joerres agreed with analysts, however, that he could not ignore companies' other basic staffing needs. He looked far and wide to recruit workers to Manpower, targeting Native Americans, the disabled, and even church groups in its Detroit offices. Joerres's game plan included structuring executive pay based on a variety of financial returns and other performance indicators.

Before long many began to believe that Joerres was bringing Manpower around. The company's sluggish earnings improved in the second quarter of 1999, with net income rising to $31.8 million on $2.3 billion in revenue—a 21 percent increase over the same period from the previous year. The positive outlook raised Manpower's share price to over $28 a share from the $22 a share of just a few months earlier. One of Manpower's largest shareholders was quoted in BusinessWeek as saying, "He has a real focus on improving shareholder value" (August 16, 1999).


The downturn in the worldwide economy that began in the latter half of 2000 affected staffing companies worldwide. Where companies had once been unable to find enough people to fill all the available jobs, the tables had turned, with too many workers and too few jobs as employers made layoffs without rehiring. Nevertheless in 2000 Joerres increased Manpower's number of network offices to 3,700, adding 285 offices in fast-growing markets such as Switzerland, Japan, and Italy. Joerres also decided to provide recruits with free training such that they could hold various office jobs in humanresource departments. Furthermore Manpower's U.S. operations grew by 12 percent, substantially exceeding overall industry growth.

Joerres appointed Robert Lincoln as the company's first global head of human resources (HR). He assigned Lincoln the task of clearly communicating the company's strategies across the globe, taking the best practices from each country and appropriating them for use across the corporation. Joerres told Morice Mendoza of Human Resources magazine, "There is a unified culture at the core of the business. If you go to Japan, Singapore, France, or the U.S. and walk into any Manpower office, it will have the same feel and the same energy" (September 2002).

Around the same time Joerres planned and carried out several purchases, placing a growing emphasis on foreign countries such as Ireland and England, where he purchased Elan Group, a U.K. and European information-technology staffing leader, for approximately $145 million. In a Manpower news release Joerres stated, "With this acquisition, we have done more than create an IT staffing leader in the United Kingdom. We have created a springboard for the growth of our IT staffing business throughout Europe" (January 11, 2000).

In one of his biggest deals, Joerres oversaw the $488 million buyout of Right Management Consultants, the world's leading provider of outplacement services. The purchase provided Manpower with an expanded continuum of services, from screening, training, and placing workers to easing transitions for those who lost their jobs. Joerres told Joel Dresang of the Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News , "We've been seeing across the industry an acceleration in firms' requirements to be more exact in matching the talent to the business strategy quickly—which means they need to bring people in, but it also means they may need to take people out" (December 12, 2003).

Joerres's global business outlook spread to Manpower's quarterly survey of the job market. He expanded the survey across 18 countries to provide a broader international view of employers' forecast hiring intentions. The well-respected survey had been in existence since 1962, providing customers, government officials, economists, and labor-market specialists alike insight into the labor-market changes that would likely occur over coming quarters.

Company revenue for 2003 was $12.2 billion, an increase of 14.8 percent, with especially strong fourth-quarter profits— but Joerres remained troubled, as companies were holding back from hiring, even as the U.S. economy showed clear signs of recovery. Joerres told Jeremy Grant of the Financial Times , "We've got the spinnaker up, but the sail is sort of flapping at the moment" (February 4, 2004).


Joerres was typically described by colleagues and industry analysts as laid-back, gracious, and unassuming. The desire to match corporate culture with company values played a large role in the several acquisitions that Joerres oversaw as the head of Manpower; he viewed the company's many worldwide staffing entities as comprising one corporate culture. Analysts commended Joerres for his patience. When he was put in charge of Manpower, he took the time to carefully place key members of management before attempting to determine a long-term strategy for the company. He noted in the company's 2003 annual report that the "constant, disciplined focus on strengthening and improving our business is an imperative, not an option" (2004).


In 2004 Joerres continued to focus on the Manpower brand and the integrity of the business services offered by the company. He had successfully directed Manpower during a period of high unemployment and low hiring—a formidable nemesis in the staffing business. When asked how long he saw himself holding onto his job, Joerres told Grant of the Financial Times , "I've been in this job for five years, and three and a half have been in a recession. I want to stick around just to see the good times" (February 4, 2004). In addition to his duties at Manpower, Joerres served as a member of the boards of directors of Artisan Funds, Johnson Controls, and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). He was a trustee for NAM's Center for Workforce Success and served on the board of directors of the YMCA Wisconsin, Junior Achievement of Wisconsin, the Medical College of Wisconsin, the United Way of Greater Milwaukee, and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation of Milwaukee.

See also entry on Manpower, Inc. in International Directory of Company Histories .

sources for further information

Dresang, Joel, "$488 Million Deal to Give Manpower Inc. a Full Range of Employment Services," Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News , December 12, 2003.

Grant, Jeremy, "Manpower Chief Warns of Skilled-Worker Shortage," Financial Times , February 4, 2004, p. 28.

"I'm Working My Tail Off to Fix It," BusinessWeek , August 16, 1999, p. 72.

Joerres, Jeffrey, "Chairman's Message," Manpower 2003 Annual Report, .

"Manpower to Acquire Elan Group Ltd.," January 11, 2000, .

Mendoza, Morice, "HR Goes Global," Human Resources , September 2002, .

Mullins, Robert, "Manpower's New Man: Fromstein Successor to Update Pioneer Staffing Firm," Business Journal–Milwaukee , September 24, 1999, p. 25.

—David Petechuk

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