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Recruitment industry “Grandfather” turns 90

This year V John Plummer, frequently referred to as the “grandfather” of the recruitment industry is celebrating his 90th birthday and managed to get together with some former colleagues in June to celebrate.

While John was instrumental in helping set up an industry body and is well known for his readiness to be available to give advice and support to industry members, many of his former staff took the birthday celebration to confer a new title on him - pioneer for women.

In 1966, four years before Germaine Greer began to hit the feminist trail, John wrote his plan for his newly acquired company Centacom Staff where he purposefully chose to employ and empower women as they “value more collaboration, interdependence and relationships.”

He saw these qualities as essential to succeed in business and with a plan to open 50 branches around Australia he once stated that “women have the right set of skills and ability” to run each of these branches as though they were their own business. He achieved his goal.

He structured his business so each branch would have its own P&L statement and the profit would be split three ways - between the owners, the staff and the tax man.

When Centacom was sold to Adia (now Adecco) in 1988, the staff comprised of 298 women and two men. John stayed with the company until 1993.

A full 25 years after he left the company, it was amazing to see 40 former staff, many travelling from interstate and even New Zealand, arrive to celebration lunch in honour of John.

We have all walked many paths since leaving ‘the boss’. However, despite the years we recognise how much influence Centacom had on our future successes. From our first day, until our last, we all referred to him as “Mr Plummer”.

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