Leading a Team Across 50 Countries: A Q&A with Janette Marx

Janette Marx

CEO, Airswift

Janette Marx is the Chief Executive Officer of Airswift. Airswift is a global workforce solutions company focused in the energy, process and infrastructure industries. Janette has a passion for investing in the development of people to help everyone achieve their aspirations. Throughout her career, she has championed new initiatives including diversification strategies, sales, and recruitment growth improvements and operational efficiencies.

As the COO of Airswift since 2014, Janette is tasked with working with a team of 7,000 people across 50 offices. At the heart of her role, she believes “Wherever you go around the world, the experience you receive from Airswift should be captured by the high values we drive through our services organization.” RIX spoke to Janette about building an organization that delivers on this core belief and how she overcomes the innate challenges of doing so on a global scale.


RIX: When joining Airswift as COO, what were some of the biggest shifts you had to make as a leader to move from leading a domestic team to a truly global team spanning many time zones and locations?

Janette Marx: Leading a global team and working across multiple countries and continents makes you aware of all the differences in cultures. Shifting my communication style to ensure I was heard and understood in different locations was critical to driving our initiatives successfully.  Some of the key differences between various countries are with employment law, overall work practices, expectations on similar jobs, and acceptable reward systems.


RIX: What element was the most difficult to conquer at first?

JM: In my first year, I was living on a plane, traveling to a number of our offices.  Work/life balance became a large challenge as most of my travel time was spent over the weekends to maximize my time in the offices and with customers.  I’m on so many long-haul flights and, surprisingly, I found that one of my hidden talents is overcoming jet lag.  Comes in handy for a role like this!


RIX: In your role as COO, what are the most critical projects getting your attention right now? Is this consistent with your 2017 focus or did you shift based on the current state of the business?   

JM: At Airswift, we set our strategic priorities at the beginning of each new year.  We measure ourselves against those priorities throughout the year and then decide if it was accomplished or if we need to evolve the priority and carry it forward to the next year.  In 2017, we needed to close out our final integration projects from the merge, which we did.  In 2018, we are focused on productivity, people and culture, growing our direct hire business, global mobility and diversification.  


RIX: Throughout your career, what are the biggest shifts you have seen in the industry overall that excite you? What has stayed consistent – that also excites you?

JM: When I started in this industry, I was recruiting and making placements out of card applications stuck in shoe boxes.  I’ve seen a lot of change from the fax machines with thermal paper to the automated way we run our industry now.  Automation and technology have played a huge role in keeping our industry exciting.  The part of recruitment that is always consistent, is the people.  We change people’s lives by offering them better opportunities for work. Helping others succeed and giving them the power to make a change is always exciting.


RIX: How has technology changed the way you do your job?

JM: Beyond what I mentioned above, I use technology to help steer the company.  The dashboards and information that I have at my fingertips helps drive real-time decisions in my day-to-day role.  Technology also facilitates better communication channels, both internally and externally.  Technology is ever evolving and as we further embrace AI and automation, I expect big changes in our industry.