Robert Half’s Thought Leader Q&A series features insights from those who have made our company a great place to work and a premier provider of talent solutions.
This post features Robert Ziegler, a senior vice president and managing director at Robert Half, who leads business development for managed technology solutions and managed creative solutions. These managed solutions for enterprise-level projects leverage Robert Half’s highly skilled specialized staffing services and the technical and consulting expertise of Protiviti, a Robert Half subsidiary.
“Robert Half brings specialized contract talent into Protiviti-led consulting engagements, providing skilled professionals for projects on demand and for as long as they’re needed,” Robert explains. “There really is no other company out there that can provide exactly what Robert Half and Protiviti bring to the table together.”
Robert hails from Washington, D.C., but has lived in Phoenix, Ariz., for more than 15 years. He joined Robert Half in 2018 to help launch and strategically position our rapidly growing managed technology solutions offering in the global marketplace. “I have a passion for building businesses and helping people grow within their roles,” Robert says. “I recognized that I had the opportunity to do both at Robert Half.”
From 2015-2017, Robert was president and CEO of a fast-growing, publicly traded IT service management company in Phoenix. After the company was acquired, Robert, who has worked for companies around the world, including in Colombia and India, was open to exploring new challenges. When a former colleague told him about an opportunity that sounded like a strong fit for his skills and experience, he was intrigued.
That individual referred Robert to Ash Athawale, senior group managing director for Robert Half’s executive search practice. “It was Ash’s passion for Robert Half and his vision that convinced me to find out more about the role they had in mind for me.”
Robert then met with John Reed, executive vice president of managed technology solutions and managed creative solutions at Robert Half. Robert says that after hearing more about the opportunity, he thought, “If I can play an integral part in helping to grow this business, why would I not want to do it?”
Here’s more of what Robert had to share with us in our recent conversation, including what differentiates Robert Half and Protiviti as a joint provider of managed solutions, what technologies he finds most inspiring, and how he channels famous movie characters in his charitable work:
Can you explain a bit more about managed technology solutions and the benefits for businesses?
Sure. Robert Half and Protiviti work together as one to help organizations solve critical business challenges. Together, we provide consulting services, and we help deliver solutions. We can also run IT operations for companies on a day-to-day business. So, for example, if a business doesn’t want to manage its IT help desk, we can manage it for them. The most successful businesses today are letting go of noncore functions and trusting others to manage those areas for them so they can focus on what they do best.
There are several different segments and practices under managed technology solutions that cover the spectrum of technology consulting, including technology strategy and operations, cybersecurity and privacy, enterprise applications solutions, and cloud solutions — to name a few. We also have a relatively new digital consulting practice that’s led by Joan Smith, who is a managing director at Protiviti and leader of Protiviti Digital.
That practice is focused on helping companies develop and refine user experiences. And there’s a digital marketing aspect to this as well. How are companies leveraging marketing and creative services with digital technology to create customer experiences?
Our digital solutions and customer experience services address this specific area. We work with our clients to innovate, develop strategies, design programs and implement governance models for their customer experience ecosystems to help them create differentiated digital and marketing experiences for their customers.
So, just to break all this down a bit more simply, we have technology consulting, which is focused on IT fundamentals, infrastructure and systems. And we have digital consulting, which is focused on the user experience, connectivity, mobile-first strategies, and more. We can help companies bring their digital projects to life, including website design, e-commerce development, and application integration.
The managed solutions Robert Half and Protiviti provide together help companies to become and operate as modern, digital entities.
Managed solutions is a highly competitive industry. What are some ways that Robert Half and Protiviti are growing market share as relative newcomers?
We don’t typically open conversations with clients by asking them, “What keeps you up at night?”, as many companies might still do. Instead, we assure them, “We understand what keeps you up at night because we have worked with hundreds of our clients over the years — and we have recommendations for solutions to help you meet your business objective.”
We offer these recommendations based on deep research that we conduct before we even meet with a company. We are highly informed and armed with data from the outset. So, I’d say that’s one key differentiator.
Another factor is Robert Half’s ability to provide specialized talent resources on engagements and scale project teams up or down very rapidly. We know from five years of experience that this is a top reason many companies choose to work with us. In 2022, the contract professionals we assigned to managed technology solutions projects worked more than 1 million hours!
You’re clearly very passionate about your work in helping companies to evolve and advance technologically. What about technology itself? What inspires you?
I’ve always been a technology guy at heart. I like the fundamentals. I grew up professionally in software programming and internetworking and built expertise in areas like Wide Area Networking (WAN) and Metropolitan Area Networking (MAN).
As for what inspires me, it’s the possibilities created by the internet. I think it’s truly part of the fabric of our lives — and it can’t be unraveled at this point. That just fascinates me. We may not always appreciate how much information we are sharing every day, and the incredible speeds at which we are able to share it, all while the technology has gotten smaller and smaller.
Just think about the speed and computing power of a desktop computer in the 1990s compared with that of today’s mobile phones — which we can also fit in our pockets. And we all know how we feel if our internet goes down or our smartphone doesn’t have a signal.
Artificial intelligence is advancing rapidly and is in the headlines a lot lately, but one other emerging space I’m keeping an eye on is 360-degree holographic projection. I just think there is remarkable potential to use this technology to essentially “be” somewhere virtually. I think it will really draw people in and can help bring us all closer together when we can’t actually be together.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
What I enjoy the most is spending downtime with my wife and our six children. We’ve made our home in Phoenix a sanctuary — it’s like our own private destination. We love entertaining our friends and family in our home.
I also love cars and attend car shows here in Phoenix. If money were no object, I’d like to own a Lamborghini SUV, but more realistically, I think we’d buy an older Audi R8. The car we have now is a classic — a 1996 Jaguar XJS.
Charitable work is also important to my wife and me. We’re involved with the American Heart Association and St. Jude’s Hospital. Like many people, I’ve lost loved ones to heart disease. My wife and I also really admire St. Jude’s work to keep parents close to their kids while they’re undergoing medical treatments.
One other hobby I have, which I’ve also done for charity and events over the years, is cosplay. I create and wear accurate reproductions of movie character costumes. I’ve visited venues dressed up as Captain Jack Sparrow, various Star Wars characters and others. It’s a lot of fun and amazing to be a part of something where you can see how happy it makes people feel.
Follow Robert Ziegler on LinkedIn.
Meet other Thought Leaders at Robert Half, such as Jason Flanders and Ryan Sutton. And be sure to subscribe to the Robert Half newsletter for future installments of our Thought Leader Q&A series and to discover more unique stories, experiences and perspectives on the latest hiring trends.