Standing out as a servant leader

Photo Caption: David Dietz, President/CEO (left) and Tania Cook, Chief Operating Officer (right)

David Dietz, president and CEO of Preference Employment Solutions, Fargo, N.D., will speak to students about reaching their potential at MSUM’s Student Academic Conference on Tuesday, April 18.

Dietz graduated from MSUM with an accounting degree in 1995, fully knowing that it was not his forte.  

After graduating, Dietz was a temporary employee for Lutheran Health Systems – a job he found through Preference Employment Solutions. He then became a recruiter for Preference. A few years later, he moved into sales, where he spent 12 years introducing himself to countless companies to learn what kind of talent they want to hire and what’s working and not working for their business. Loving this type of work, Dietz took over as president and CEO in January 2013.

The Value of an Accounting Degree

Though accounting is not his passion or strength, Dietz says his degree has been essential to succeeding in business:

“Instead of doing the day-to-day journal entries that accountants do very well, I review their statements, financial matrixes and analyses. I’m using my accounting degree more than ever.”

Dietz’s team recognizes his adaptable approach, especially as they’ve navigated workforce changes under his leadership.

Adapting to a Changing Industry

Preference Employment Solutions helps companies hire the best employees for the best jobs through contract staffing. Though workers are not with Preference for long – 90 days is on the high end for a temporary position, many of Preference’s client companies have partnered with them for 20 to 30 years, returning again and again to help fill full time, permanent positions as well as short-term vacancies.

Preference’s employees also have longevity with the company.

“About a year or two ago, the average tenure of a member on our team surpassed 10 years,” says Dietz. “So, with 19 employees, that’s 190 years of contract staffing experience on our team.”

Preference used to interview the top three to five candidates for a position and now often have just one candidate to offer an employer. While Preference used to work hard to acquire clients, they now need to be selective about their client partners. Amidst this changing employment climate, which benefits the job seeker over the hiring company, Preference’s team members practice resiliency and learn to let go of what they don’t have control over.

Leading Through Service

To do this, Dietz’s leadership team emphasizes what it means to be a “servant leader.&rdquo

“I’m thankful that our leadership team follows this mindset,” he says. “As a result, others like to work for them.”

What’s more, Preference’s 20 employees own the company. After Preference’s founder retired, Dietz sold the company to his employees so they all have a tangible stake in the business.

“I want to hire and train employees to do their jobs but also to teach them the business – get them involved at a higher level than most people get to be in their job. Treat them like they own the company, because they do. As a business leader, this has offered me an opportunity to lead and drive a culture that is unique.”

This ethos is grounded in building relationships. “We serve job seekers through a relationship. This is our culture. And when we approach business this way, it works well and creates success,” Dietz says.

Dietz encourages MSUM students to be distinctive this way – to go above and beyond to develop relationships, serve others and be “the standout person in the room.” With that in mind, he challenges students to identify how they can reach their full potential and make a difference in their communities.

He says, “I refuse to work at a company that doesn’t have the primary purpose of making the world better.”

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