Every morning the unmistakable swishing sound of Bill’s DirectEmployers rain jacket was rivaled only by his infectious chuckle. He would ask us about our lives, families and beam about his grandchildren. Employees would frequently catch Bill sneaking a sweet treat from one of the many candy dishes throughout the office, to which he would respond with a mischievous grin as he ventured on to his next meeting or conference call.
He’d often pop into a meeting, enthusiastically sharing a project idea, or providing an update about his most recent charitable endeavor. He was a person who never met a stranger, loved his company, and relished in the moments spent with his family. So how in the world do you honor and pay respect in a way that does justice for someone like Bill?
Bill Warren had many admirable traits–generous, brilliant, entrepreneurial, kind, and much more. He was an Army veteran and a career HR professional who dedicated himself to transforming the recruitment profession. This dedication eventually led to his nickname as the “Father of Online Recruitment.” Light years ahead of his time, Bill created the first online job board, Online Career Center, that would later become Monster.com. From there, he set off to launch WOWEmployers, which later transitioned to today’s DirectEmployers Association. What started as a small group of 14 member companies and a handful of employees, would eventually grow to encompass hundreds of members and over 50 employees.
Despite the multiple accolades, plaques, awards and recognition certificates that he accumulated over the years, I would argue that Bill’s proudest accomplishment was his family. It was photos of them that he displayed most prominently throughout his office, and got prime real estate on his desk.
Outside of the office, Bill’s generosity provided many local community organizations with additional support and resources. Sponsorships, school supplies and volunteers to serve Thanksgiving dinner to those less fortunate are just a few of the many examples.
We don’t get to hear Bill’s jacket in the halls anymore, or see his prized Volkswagen Beetle in the parking lot. Honestly, he leaves a void that may never be filled. But maybe we can find solace in knowing that Bill’s influence is ever present in the organization he so vigorously pursued, and resonates with so many of us who strive to honor his legacy.
His hard work, innovative mind, perseverance, and transformational contributions made him a true icon in the HR technology world, however his love for family, friends, and giving back to the community is what made him a truly exceptional man. These are just a few testaments to Bill’s character:
“I have several great memories of Bill, but this one is one of my favorites. Bill was a diehard Indiana University fan, as am I, and there is an employee in our office who is an equal diehard fan of The Ohio State University. (That even kills me to put the word “The” in front of the name of the school, and I’m sure Bill would agree)! Anyway, this employee came to work on a Friday, our “dress casual” day, and he was wearing a quarter-zip shirt with an OSU logo on the chest. I told him he wasn’t dressed appropriately for work and would have to go home to change. Bill happened to walk down past our offices right at that moment and I told him what I had just said to one of the employees in my group and asked if he agreed. Bill, without missing a beat, said, “I most certainly do…you need to go home and change, Shannon!” I absolutely loved Bill’s sense of humor!”– Candee Chambers, Executive Director, DirectEmployers Association
“Bill and I first worked together in 1997 at Online Career Center. It was there I learned that Bill was the main influence in the internet recruiting movement. While Bill was a great husband, father, brother, uncle, and grandfather, he was also an exceptional businessman. My son was with me one day at the office, and Bill came and introduced himself, and the two of them ended up having a great conversation. After Bill walked out, I told my son it is not very often you get to meet a person who changes how an industry works and see it grow into a multibillion-dollar industry. Thank you, Bill. You will always be in my thoughts and prayers.” – Tom Eckhart, VP of Membership Development, DirectEmployers Association
“Bill was always generous both professionally and personally. When I got married, he was able to help secure the Country Club of Indianapolis as my wedding venue thanks to his membership and even paid for the food for our guests. His contribution and support has truly made it a memory I cherish.” – Hal Cooper, VP of Product Development, DirectEmployers Association
“It is so very difficult to put into words the impact that Bill Warren has had on my life but I’m going to make an attempt. I was a young mother and wife and was about 10 years into my career when I met Bill Warren. For over 10 years I was blessed to work very closely with Bill on his leadership team and I learned an extraordinary amount from him. I often say I earned the equivalent of a Harvard Degree in that time period. I learned characteristics of how to lead with integrity allowing for mistakes and recognizing the whole person.
Perhaps the best lesson I learned from Bill was the importance of giving back. He had much success throughout his career however, he always remembered his humble roots. He continued to seek opportunities to help those less fortunate than him. I witnessed and was the benefactor of so many of his philanthropic acts. One of the most powerful memories of his big heart was when he heard about a local kid who went into the marines whose family was not able to pay for the trip out to watch him graduate from basic training in San Diego, CA. Without Bill even knowing the kid or his family, he paid for their plane tickets and gave them gift cards to cover expenses while they were there. When I asked Bill why he would give so generously to someone he doesn’t even know he would say, “If we can, then we should!” This is one example of the advice and wisdom from Bill that guides my life decisions to this day.” – Nancy Holland, Executive Director, DE Serves
“Bill first and foremost was a best friend to his wife Susan and an all-around awesome family man. He was such an inspiration to those around him. He was an incredibly warmhearted man with a brilliant mind for business, and it’s because of these factors that he was able to make such a significant impact on so many lives. It’s hard to quantify just how many people were truly touched by his kindness. Bill was a fantastic person, and like many others, I am thankful I had the opportunity to know him. I genuinely expect the positive impact he had on others to continue to shine.” – Heather Hoffman, COO, Recruit Rooster
Chuck Palahniuk commented, “We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.” Thankfully for us, Bill did just that and so much more. Rest in peace, Old Homey.
Jaime Costilow is a Marketing Manager specializing in social media and communications for DirectEmployers Association.