A Tribute To A "Famillion-aire"

By Ben Gotkin It was almost a decade ago that my colleagues and I sat at the downtown DC Ritz-CarltonGary Cluff to see our boss, Gary Cluff, receive the 2004 HRLF Award for Service.  He was being honored for his years of bringing the local HR and Recruiting community together through Project SAVE, MASH, and a number of other activities he had selflessly led and participated in.  When Gary went up to receive his award, he told the audience that he saw so many familiar faces in the room that evening that he felt that evening like he was a ‘famillion-aire’.  Classic Cluff, a master at dry wit, new words and acronyms, and a sense of humility rarely seen in someone who has accomplished so much.

I got to know Gary very early in my career, and I was instantly drawn to his openness, his wisdom and the value that he saw in recruiter education and community.  In 2002, I had the opportunity to work with Gary on the DC EMA Planning Committee, and shortly after on WTPF’s Board of Directors.  But it was a day in the fall of 2003 that would change my career forever.  I received a call one day from Gary letting me know that he had approval for two new Lead Recruiter openings on his team and if I ‘knew’ (wink-wink) of anyone who might be interested.  I jumped at the chance, and it was one of the best career moves I ever made.  Gary’s been a mentor for me ever since.  When I left his team in 2006 for a leadership role at McGladrey, he endorsed the move completely.  I made a couple of moves after that, and one of my first calls for advice was always to Gary, and his advice has never led me astray.

When the opportunity to launch recruitDC presented itself in late 2009, there were several people that I approached to join my Board of Directors, but I knew that having Gary on the team was critical to our success.   Nobody else would bring the breadth and depth of experience and leadership that he would.

In a distinguished career spanning over 3 decades, Gary has been responsible for:

  • Creating the Cost-Per-Hire Survey for EMA,
  • Founding Project SAVE, which has helped countless HR/Recruiting Professionals, and others to connect and find their next career success,
  • Facilitating additional small groups with transitioning HR leaders, and top local recruiting leaders,
  • Sharing his knowledge and wisdom at local and national conference events and publications,
  • Serving our country in the Air Force,
  • Leading top performing recruiting teams at MITRE, the CIA, Contel, and Owens Corning,
  • Organizing numerous charity golf events,
  • And serving on the Boards of EMA, WTPF and recruitDC.

Gary’s been a role model to me because he showed me the importance of sharing knowledge, giving back to the community, and bringing the community together for the greater good…lessons that we all can benefit from.  He told me once that he didn’t mind having his Manager title even though he was doing the job of a Director or VP because he was provided the opportunity at MITRE to do the things in the local community that he felt were important.  Here was a man that had truly found balance in his life, between work, family, career and country.  A life to be envied indeed.

After a long, distinguished career, including a dozen years at the helm at MITRE, and 4 years on the Board of Directors at recruitDC, Gary is finally ready to retire and enjoy more time with his wife, children, grandchildren, and hopefully plenty of time on the golf course and at his oasis on the Outer Banks.  MITRE will miss Gary, as will the recruitDC Board, Project SAVE, and the recruiter community at large.  His accomplishments, career, and life have been legendary, and greatly worthy of tribute.  So thank you Gary for your time, your effort, your openness, your enthusiasm, wit and wisdom.  We hope to see you again from time-to-time, and wish you nothing but the best as you move on your next success in life!

Ben Gotkin is the Founder & President of recruitDC, and is a Principal Consultant with Recruiting Toolbox.  You can connect with Ben on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter at @bengotkin