“Myers-Holum offers our consultants many benefits our competitors and the Big Four firms do not. The ability to showcase their work, have visibility into complex engagements without the red tape, and have a lot of influence with management and clients alike. This affords opportunities for deserving incentive compensation and upward mobility.”
– Ashley Swanson, Director of Global Talent at MHI
We sat down with Ashley to find out why she personally joined Myers-Holum, what the secret is behind so much top talent joining MHI and what keeps them here.
What brought you to a career in recruiting?
Ashley Swanson – After I graduated in 2009, my goal was to move to Boston and experience the culture while launching my career. That’s where I landed in Technology Sales and enjoyed the chase it provided. I met my future husband in school and he joined me in the move to Boston. When his company transferred to Charlotte, I had an opportunity to join the staffing and recruiting industry which became my calling; I was able to marry my love for sales while helping people in their careers, which was incredibly fulfilling.
I spent two years at a global staffing firm and became their top Sales & Recruiting Professional in the Charlotte market, which then presented an opportunity for me to move into a Boutique Executive Recruitment Firm where Sadie and I met. It was one of the largest women-owned businesses in the industry, the fastest growing and most-awarded businesses over 15 years and running.
It was the right time for me to elevate into Executive Search placing experienced, high-level Marketing and Human Resources talent into niche positions. I was provided the opportunity to take the next step in my career when I decided to come to Myers-Holum to help Sadie build a recruiting organization from the ground up and elevate the company to the next level.
What makes Myers-Holum different from other firms?
Ashley – Myers-Holum has continued to experience double-digit growth since 2015. We are recruiting industry-leading talent – the caliber of talent who is also being targeted by the Big Four: Deloitte, EY, PwC and KPMG, as well as the middle-market accounting consulting firms. Myers-Holum offers our consultants many benefits our competitors and the Big Four firms do not. The ability to showcase their work, have visibility into complex engagements without the red tape, and have a lot of influence with management and clients alike which affords opportunities for deserving incentive compensation and upward mobility.
As background, in 2018 when I joined the firm, Myers-Holum had 25 employees. Our goal was to hire 10 consultants in my first year as well as lay the foundation for a robust recruiting practice. We hired 36 consultants in my first year and fast forward to August 2021, we now have over 260 employees at MHI, including a team of 12 Recruiters who are focused on our growth and path forward. In the current state of the company, we are averaging 25 new hires per month and are extremely selective in the talent that joins our firm.
Myers-Holum receives over 5,000 incoming applicants per year of which less than 50% are invited to our interview process for next steps. Our recruiters meticulously target over 17,000 profiles each year who have previously worked for the Big Four or have a proven background within NetSuite or Financial Services consulting. We operate as an “internal recruiting agency” by directly recruiting our talent so we do not have to rely on external recruiting firms in the hunt for top talent. It has been a very successful recruitment strategy, and we are looking at having 500 employees by August 2022.
What is your hiring process?
Ashley – We set a precedent for our industry by being as transparent and efficient as possible in our hiring approach with a three-step interview process. Each candidate in the process will meet with a recruiter for an initial prescreen.
Our second round interview is a management or a peer-level round to validate whether there is a behavioral fit within our organization.
Our third and final round interview is an extensive Case Study conducted at the leadership level. This is where we differentiate ourselves from the rest of our ecosystem. We learn about the candidate’s consulting process and get a deep dive into their experience by giving them the opportunity to showcase their hands-on knowledge by demonstrating their strengths. This way, we see where they fit best within the organization, and where they may need training. We find out how they operate on a day-to-day basis and whether their individual methodologies would align with Myer-Holum’s before extending an offer.
We have also built out a College Recruiting Program. We are the only Alliance Partner that is keeping up with NetSuite and Stripe growth as we invest in adding talent into the ecosystem. Through training and firsthand experience, our College Recruiting Program supplies over 50 up-and-comers per year which in turn alleviates the high demand of our partner’s. Our college-recruits become our future leaders and we invest in their careers at the start by providing the tools and resources to come onboard certified. This is a requirement since we are a “Certified Partner” and provide fast-track opportunities for them to elevate within the organization.
Additionally, we utilize a creative approach to recruiting by identifying candidates from other industries who are interested in learning a new technology platform and have a proven track record within consulting or corporate background. We have found that those who have worked in a corporate environment and know the technology of our partners, but want a more fast-paced and varied work environment can also be an excellent fit for MHI. These professionals have transferable skills and can find themselves in a refreshing, new career path with a lot more opportunity than the consulting world provides.
How did the past year with the pandemic impact Myers-Holum?
Ashley – During the pandemic, we hired 60 people, laid off zero and promoted 30 employees. Our turnover was less than a percentage point. All our employees get a six-month review where they are provided feedback on their performance and goal setting for the future, but even more importantly, we get live feedback on the company through our employees’ perspectives. In addition to employee reviews, our Talent team is involved in conducting milestone check-ins with our consultants. We have recently started conducting “stay interviews” to learn more about what is keeping our talent here and where we can improve.
With so much competition for technology-savvy consultants, how does Myers-Holum retain its employees?
Ashley – We want to know what keeps each employee happy, engaged and fulfilled, and everybody has a voice at the firm. We want to understand the good, the bad and the indifferent, and MHI Leadership is focused on being proactive in nature to retain our employees. Gathering feedback, providing a true “open-door policy” for employees, understanding the trends and knowing what we need to escalate to executives to drive positive change, is our top focus. Over time, we are putting in place indicators to measure these not just qualitatively, but quantitatively.
Part of retaining people is maintaining the highest caliber of candidates – top talent wants to work with other top talent and top brands. We also want MHI to complement their personal lives by providing a healthy work-life balance. We are achieving this while keeping up with double or triple the growth in headcount and with similar increases in revenue. We have strategic plans in place to keep our quality and reputation high – we owe that to our clients and each employee who chooses to join our amazing team.
What is one thing you are most proud of since joining MHI?
Ashley – One thing that stands out for me is that our organizational chart now reflects an incredible amount of diversity in terms of ethnicity, gender and culture. As of 2021, we have gone global and have the ability to employ skilled professionals across the world. We have delivery centers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Uruguay, the Philippines, India, Pakistan and Australia, and our expansion into new markets continues to grow. We have created a unique culture here that allows the team to be entrepreneurial while building from a company that has a strong foundation that has been around for over 40 years.