Executive Recruiting with a Philanthropic Twist?

- Kristiana Tarnuzzer



…recruiting often gets a bad rap for being salesy or impersonal…then this mama came along and changed the game.  Long time friend, Dana Siomkos, former ad agency exec and mother of two, shares her story on how she left the ad agency world to birth her “third baby”, executive recruiting firm You & Them.  Have a read about how she stands out from the rest with a personal approach and their latest partnership with STOKED.

TCB: Your background is on the creative agency side.  What made you ditch that field and go off on your own to start a recruiting agency?

DS: I knew from a young age that I wanted to be in advertising. When my sisters and I played, we didn't play "house", we played "work", and wore my mom's blazers with shoulder pads -- I wanted to be Angela Bower when I grew up!  After 10 years in account management, I quit my job and helped out a recruiter friend of mine…just until I found the next “best thing".  Turns out recruiting WAS the next best thing, and I never went back. What I love is that I didn't totally abandon my career in advertising and marketing, I'm just servicing the industry from a different angle.  When I was on the agency side, recruiters got a bad rap. They still do and that's a battle I still have to fight. The brief I gave myself when I started You & Them was to be the 'anti-recruiter'.  I wanted to treat it like a brand, not just a service. I wanted to be open and share, not competitive and secretive

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…You recently made a commitment to work with the organization STOKED - can you tell us a little about STOKED and how you came to learn about them?

DS: I led an Interviewing Workshop for SheSays this year and in a room full of experienced professionals was a college intern named Atira, who just wanted to learn and get ahead of the curve. I immediately hired her as our intern and learned that she was a graduate of the STOKED program and essentially made it sound like the guiding force that caused her to be so motivated, ambitious, supportive and kind.  I took it as a sign. STOKED started as an organization that kept city kids out off the streets and into action sports like skating, surfing and snowboarding -- teaching them that when you fall in life, you always gotta get back up. 

TCB: Can you share a bit more on this new partnership and how both young talent and professionals, as well as the companies you're hiring for, will benefit?

DS: As a mother of two young girls, I've become acutely aware of the things that influence and shape children to become the adults they grow into. STOKED is a third home for their students (after school, of course!) -- a place they feel safe, welcomed, supported and encouraged to work...and play...hard. In addition to sports, they offer academic and professional mentoring, workshops, field trips and so on.  At first, I simply thought we'd donate a portion of our sales to help fund those initiatives. But after meeting the mentors and the students, it quickly became clear that we wanted to be a part of it, too. The students are amazing; so unique, smart, vulnerable and honest, they're growing up in a different world than I did with social media, political awareness, etc. While many are still in high school, we've held professional and career related workshops that fill up because the students are so anxious and excited to succeed in life. 



…What have your clients’ reactions been to this type of partnership that is, truthfully, a bit unique to the industry?

DS: We recently visited a new client to present them with our services. We talked all about our unique methodology, our impressive results, you know the shpeel, all to a lot of head-nodding. Our bit about the STOKED partnership was a final anecdote at the end of the presentation and that's when everyone in the room's eyes lit up, and that’s when they started engaging and asking questions. That was all the proof I needed to know that this industry needs this and I’m excited to give that to them. 

TCB: Refreshing!  Ok, last question…you’re a mom of two and many of our readers are also moms juggling work and life.  How do you do it –- any tips?

DS: I went into labor with my first daughter hours after sending out a launch announcement for You & Them, so I always joke that I launched my business and my family the same day.  I don't really know how to be a mom without being an entrepreneur, or vise versa. I set clear boundaries with both my kids and my Clients and I always close my laptop at 5pm to spend the entire evening with my girls, even if it means I log back on and work all night after they go to bed. It's a price I'm willing to pay to be present in their lives. Because it's my own company, I have no problem with me or my team members telling a client they can't speak at a certain time because it's their son's school pick-up or daughter's recital. It's that kind of honesty that will help us shift the dynamic away from moms feeling like their family life and obligations need to be kept a secret, so as not to be used against them. Moms are the most creative, resourceful and efficient people I know!

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Interested in how you can also help empower underserved youth to reach their fullest potential and help pave their future?  Visit https://www.stoked.org.

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