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Behind the Screens: HireRight and the PBSA APAC Council

In this #BehindTheScreens interview, we speak with HireRight’s Summa McCosker, Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand, and Shawn Vaswani, Head of Account Management and Client Services in APAC about their involvement with the PBSA APAC Council.

November 9, 2022
2022-11-Blog- Behind-the-Screens-HRT-and-PBSA-APAC-Council

Founded in 2003, the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) is a non-profit trade organization comprised of over 700 member companies that are engaged in employment and tenant background screening around the world.

To help its global members better discuss local background screening trends and legislation, the PBSA created several regional councils, including the U.S. Council, the Canada Council, the Europe Council, and the APAC Council, which was established in 2010, and of which HireRight is a founding member.

In this #BehindTheScreens interview, we speak with HireRight’s Summa McCosker, Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand, and Shawn Vaswani, Head of Account Management and Client Services in APAC about their involvement with the PBSA APAC Council.

Firstly, can you please introduce yourselves, your roles at HireRight, and your history with the PBSA?

Summa: My name is Summa McCosker, and I am the Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand at HireRight. Previously, I was the owner and Managing Director of PeopleCheck, which was established in 2006. I grew PeopleCheck from a start-up micro-business to a highly successful enterprise with a strong, well-known, and respected brand and industry reputation, which led to the acquisition of PeopleCheck by HireRight in October 2019.

I have been committed to the journey of the PBSA and the international screening community for more than 14 years, and this is evident in my participation and contributions to date. Along with being a founding member of the APAC Council, I was previously the Chair of the APAC Council and have served on several PBSA groups and committees including their Global Learning Centre, the International Education Committee, and their Global Taskforce, which resulted in the globalization of the Association. I am also a former recipient of the PBSA’s Volunteer of the Month award (September 2017) and have presented at several PBSA conferences and led various PBSA webinars. I currently sit on the PBSA Board of Directors and act as Board Liaison to the APAC Council.

Shawn: My name is Shawn Vaswani and I am the Head of Account Management and Client Services in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region at HireRight, which includes the Philippines, Singapore, China, and Malaysia. I manage some of HireRight’s largest global accounts, as well as help drive growth in the region through the Account Management team, while making sure customers are provided with the best value and support in their screening programs.

I have been interested in the PBSA for a long time with regards to the expertise and influence it has in the industry, and recently applied for the APAC Chair Elect role (which serves for one year before taking up the Chair role) to see if my past five years’ experience in the industry could bring value to PBSA and its efforts in APAC. I am pleased to say my application was successful and I was officially announced as the APAC Chair Elect in September 2022.

Summa, what have you learned from your many years working with the PBSA in APAC so far?

Summa: I have been a part of the APAC screening industry since 1998 and am proud to have been able to support the growth of background screening here, in part through my contributions to the PBSA. When I founded PeopleCheck in 2006, I lacked the budget and staff to have my own internal product, legal, and marketing teams. My involvement with the PBSA was crucial to helping me gain industry confidence, insight into the industry, and valuable leadership skills that all helped me grow my business and my personal career. 

Being involved with the PBSA also gave my business and me exposure in local markets as a regional screening expert through knowledge sharing. As an inclusive organization, the PBSA has helped me develop key qualities to unite and collaborate with people of diverse backgrounds, commitment levels, and cultures. Overall, I have gained considerable knowledge about the industry from my time working with the PBSA, along with business acumen and lifetime friendships. 

I am passionate about growing the background screening industry locally (in Australia, New Zealand, and the rest of APAC), as well as globally, and believe we can learn from the more established U.S. market to bring screening into less traditional regions and industries through education on the benefits of background screening to any business.

So, Shawn, what are you most looking forward to about your new role as Chair Elect on the APAC Council?

Shawn: Primarily, I am looking forward to learning more about background screening practices within the region, to help enhance the quality of services my team and I can provide to our customers and candidates.

I hope my position as Chair Elect will provide lots of opportunities to build my network of screening professionals and collaborate with other industry service providers to help companies achieve a balance in their screening programs with regards to business requirements, compliance, risk mitigation, and candidate experience.

I am also interested in learning more about new screening technologies from across the industry and the part they are playing in the progress towards automation and optimization of some of the current practices in the region.

Summa, tell us about the session you are hosting at the PBSA APAC 2022 Annual General Meeting?

I am so excited that we are having our first face-to-face PBSA APAC event since 2019! This is a fantastic opportunity for our APAC members to re-connect, learn, and laugh together. What I love about the APAC Annual General Meetings (AGMs) is the diversity of membership and attendees – from Singapore to Sri Lanka to Sydney – we have it all! There are some great sessions at this year’s AGM to help business learn more about international markets and how to become PBSA accredited – and we have a keynote speaker from the Singapore FinTech Association. 

There will be two panel sessions at this year’s PBSA APAC AGM. The first will focus on opportunities, challenges, and threats to the background screening industry, and will feature HireRight’s APAC Managing Director, Ko Hui Yen, as one of the panelists. 

The second panel session, which I will be moderating, is titled “COVID Recovery – Smooth Sailing or Stormy Seas?” I am very fond of PBSA’s panel sessions and like to moderate them with a casual and conversational approach. I will be joined by HireRight’s Yoshi Harada, Country Manager for Japan, who is on the panel for this session, along with three other PBSA members. During the session, we will be exploring the impact of COVID-19 on our markets, industry, and businesses. Where we have been, what the future looks like, and how we have seen COVID impact the background screening industry.

Lastly, why do you think businesses become involved with the PBSA?

Summa: This is a great question and I think it can have a really varied answer. Having run my own business for 13 years, my involvement in the PBSA was initially as an extension of my marketing, product development, technology, and legal teams. When you run a small to medium-sized business, you rely on industry associations to support, connect, and inform you, as you may not have your own internal resources to focus on these areas. I think a lot of members rely on the PBSA for this reason and as the Association reaches more global markets, this will become a critical need from our global members. 

Now that I am a part of HireRight, my focus within the PBSA focus is different – it is all about being global and exploring global opportunities. I see businesses being involved in the PBSA to partner with them to unlock the potential of background screening markets outside of the established U.S. market, along with government relations activities to influence the changes affecting our market today. I think a lot will change in the coming years.

Having interacted with many other PBSA members over the years, there is no doubt that the networking opportunities offered to members are key in the industry and highly valued. I personally have been privileged to attend face-to-face PBSA events all over the world and have developed many friendships over the years. Having a network of industry contacts to share ideas and perspectives with is quite unique compared with other industries. Whether they be colleagues, competitors, or vendors, I have always found PBSA members to be helpful and collaborative, whatever the ask.

Shawn: For me, I think the value of working with the PBSA is allowing businesses to have their finger on the pulse of the ever-changing screening landscape – from changing capabilities, laws, and regulations to emerging technologies that could change the way businesses screen in the future.

The PBSA’s APAC AGM is taking place at the Marriott Singapore on November 18, 2022. PBSA members and non-members are welcome and can register online for the event on the PBSA website.

Release Date: November 9, 2022

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HireRight is a leading provider of on-demand employment background checks, drug and health screening, and electronic Form I-9 and E-Verify solutions that help employers automate, manage and control background screening and related programs.