Stephanie Maas, Partner with the Commercial Banking and Finance Team for ThinkingAhead, has been an invaluable asset to the company for almost 20 years. We talked to her about her history at the company, her thoughts on recruiting for the financial industry, and her evolving role.
Attracted to recruiting and consulting early in her career, Stephanie became a recruiter and Sales Manager with the Southwestern Company, the parent company of ThinkingAhead. However, once Stephanie and her husband started a family, her intense travel schedule gave way to a more traditional search role, and she’s managed commercial banking for the mid-Atlantic region at ThinkingAhead since 2007.
We asked her to tell us about her day-to-day responsibilities as well as some of the practices she thinks have made her so successful in the commercial banking field.
- Recruiting means lots of listening.
In recruiting, conversation is critical, and Stephanie maximizes her time on the phone with contacts every day. One-on-one discussions are important, and connecting directly with clients allows her to understand what’s really important to the professionals and employers she represents. But it’s not all planning moves and hires: much of her time is spent coaching contacts, who may decide to stay in their current role — but will remember her when it’s time to make a change.
- It’s all about making the right match.
Like many recruiters, Stephanie considers herself a matchmaker of sorts: by spending lots of time listening to clients, getting to know candidates, and researching roles and companies, she increases the likelihood of facilitating a mutually beneficial employer-employee match. She describes herself as a mediator, helping clients and candidates take the right steps in the hiring process. “Sometimes,” says Stephanie, “I feel like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, guiding everyone to the Emerald City!”
- Winning friends and influencing people.
So, what motivates Stephanie? The best reward for a successful placement, she says, is knowing that she’s improved the life of one of her candidates — and bolstered a client’s bottom line. Recruiting can occasionally be a thankless job, but Stephanie appreciates the opportunity to make a profound difference.
More recently, she’s also been invited to speak at industry events, discussing hiring issues with finance folks. “I love that I can educate businesses,” says Stephanie, “and recently, my opportunity for impact and influence is growing.” She attributes part of this success to her ability to connect and network with finance professionals, despite having no background in banking. Her takeaway? “Stay on top of industry trends if you want contacts to trust you.”
- Overcoming the “used car salesman” stereotype.
Speaking engagements and business accolades are a nice perk, but according to Stephanie, recruiting usually isn’t glamorous. The stereotype of recruiters as “used car salesmen” persists — and for good reason, since many recruiters just don’t devote enough time, energy, and care into making the right matches.
Good recruiters, however, appreciate the complexities of the job: it’s all about finding that balance between a candidate’s happiness and the precise needs a company may have. And Stephanie thinks about these issues all the time. For example, there are currently three different generations in the workforce. “How does a company attract millennials and retain them?” she asks. “How can you help baby boomers transition to retirement?”
To demonstrate what this takes, Stephanie told the story of a commercial banking client who asked her to find a head for their new regional branch. This company had previously worked with another recruiting firm, so it was only because of Stephanie’s contact there that they decided to take her on as well.
Stephanie’s targeted search kept leading her to the same person: an individual with impeccable credentials who had been doggedly pursued by other recruiters without success — he simply refused to consider the opportunity. “It wasn’t like me to be so bold,” says Stephanie, “but he was perfect for the position, so I asked him why he wasn’t interested. When he told me the pitches he’d received, I was shocked; the other firm had completely misrepresented the position!”
Once Stephanie told him what the position actually entailed, his tune changed. By looking out for both her client’s and her candidate’s interests, Stephanie was able to successfully place this individual in a role he’s since thrived in — and she’s since coordinated nearly thirty hires for that same client.
Not all recruiters are cut from the same cloth, but those that realize the importance of networking and communicating with clients make the best corporate career matches. According to Stephanie, “when you work with a dedicated search professional, this is the quality of service you get.” No used car salesmen here!