By Dave Mendoza, Partner, RecruitingBlogs.com
Today is a sourcer’s delight. Sheila Greco has always practiced
the “pass it forward” doctrine valued at “SixDegreesfromDave”. From
traditional search, competitive intelligence to research/name
generation this petite, soft spoken personality is a well known brand
in research product delivery and services to her clients. Sheila has
established herself as an industry Thought Leader within the
conference circuit as a presenter. Most recently, Sheila spoke at
ONREC this past September in Chicago, “Best Practices Combining New
Technology with Traditional Sourcing.” Today, Sheila walks us through
the process of traditional search as a practitioner, and from the
vantage point of her clients – with her recipe for successful value-
ads in pursuing and utilizing research in the long term with all the
ferver of an evangelist.
About Sheila Greco
With Sheila’s leadership responsibilities as President and Chief
Executive Officer of Sheila Greco Associates, LLC and her active role
in the overall growth and success of the company, she places her broad-
based skills and experience at the disposal of clients, candidates,
and colleagues alike. As an entrepreneur, she has gained extensive
experience in human resources to include, research, recruiting, and
competitive intelligence. As a strategic results oriented leader,
Sheila has a proven track record of building long-term and solid
relationships with clients and candidates.
Prior to launching Sheila Greco Associates in 1989, Sheila spent
several years with Goodrich & Sherwood, an executive search
company in New York City and Greenwich, Connecticut. She began her
career as a research associate and quickly climbed through the ranks
and ultimately became a Director of Executive Search specializing in
consumer packaged goods marketing and sales.
An alumna of Hartwick College, Sheila received her Bachelor of Arts
degree in Economics and Marketing. She is a member of the National
Association of Executive Females, Society for Human Resource
Management (SHRM), SCIP (Society of Competitive Intelligence
Professionals), Women in Technology International, and participated in
many events sponsored by the New York State Olympics. Sheila is also
currently Chairperson for the Amsterdam YMCA.
Q & A with Sheila Greco, CEO at SGA
Six Degrees: Tell us of your home world, Sheila
Sheila: Family has always been #1 on my list. I have
a son who I adore, a great husband and dog. Just like you Dave, I do a
lot of traveling but I will share a secret with you, it is always
scheduled in between my son’s games and school activities. He is 15
and I am proud to say I have only missed one baseball game. This is
quite an accomplishment since he plays golf, baseball, and basketball.
As I travel around the country each meeting that is set is scheduled
around my son’s activities and games. Part of my mission in life is to
NEVER miss my son’s games and school activities. He too travels as he
is part of a NIKE Basketball National AAU Team. This continues to be
part of my life too.
My philosophy is to work hard and play hard, something I live
everyday! I am a very competitive person, I guess I passed this along
to my son. I tell him and I tell all I come in contact with; when you
step on the court, baseball field, spelling bee stage, lacrosse field
(I played in College), tennis court (played in college) whatever, you
need to have a winning attitude and give 110% or don’t play at all. I
also say you win some and lose some… and you tend to learn more from
the losses that you experience. But I love to win!!
Six Degrees: How did you get your start into the Recruiting
Sheila: Networking, and being in the right place at
the right time! Some would say I was lucky in how the opportunity came
to me Dave. I started as a research associate with the Tidewater Group
in Stamford, CT and my job was to identify names for recruiters to
recruit. On my first day I was handed the Standard Directory of
Advertisers, “The Red Book” and told to identify 500 marketing names
from consumer packaged good companies and to do it quickly! Baptism by
fire….I must say! I remember my boss telling me “here’s the
telephone”, and the rest is history! When I started the Internet
wasn’t even thought about. As the year went on, I became a sponge for
knowledge, learned all about companies and how they are structured and
Six Degrees: Baptism by fire? I recall you once told me, your
Initial Thought – “Is this really a job?” You peaked my interest
Sheila, tell us more about your initial perceptions as a researcher
and overall practitioner.
Sheila: “After the handshaking and signing of papers.
I was told my role as a research associate in a nutshell was to obtain
names. I was handed the standard directory of advertisers and told to
identify 500 brand managers in one week from P&G, General Foods,
Kraft, Colgate Palmolive, General Mills, Coke, Unilever, just to name
a few. Why? Because Pepsi needs 10 brand managers yesterday.
Catholic Guilt began to set in….so I went to my boss and said “Why are
we doing this? Why are some people hesitant to give names? This is not
rocket science! I am having some difficulties here.”
She said, “I used to feel the same way, not anymore… Our job is
simple, our clients ask us to offer an opportunity and these folks can
either take advantage of it, refer someone or not!” Next without
skipping a beat she said, “How many names did you get so far?”
Six Degrees: What was your progression track as a practitioner
to establishing your own research firm?
I began my career as a financial analyst. I joined the wonderful world
of executive recruiting where my real training began. I was recruited
to a prominent executive search firm in New York City as a research
associate. I joined Goodrich & Sherwood working in Greenwich, CT
and New York City where I worked as a research associate for
approximately 14 months. Soon thereafter I was tapped on the shoulder
and told that I was ready for the next step and was promoted to a
principal. This was my true entrée’ into recruiting. As a side bar, my
first candidate ever was George Brandt, most of you know him. His
company, PrimeGenesis is a company that specializes in Executive On-
Boarding! Anyway, he was always one of my biggest advocates and I do
thank him for that. Actually he is now on our company’s Advisory Board!
In 1989, I followed my dream and started “Sheila Greco Associates”
Today, I am still passionate about what I do. I continue to work hard
and play hard. May I also add, that this wonderful Recruitingblogs.com community plays nicely into my
personality…I like to listen, learn, respond, help and build
Six Degrees: Tell us about your company, Sheila Greco
Sheila: Since I founded Sheila Greco Associates LLC
in 1989, SGA’s primary mission is to dramatically shorten the amount
of time it takes clients to find the RIGHT executives. Since 1989, SGA
has been a True Recruiting Solutions Company, specializing as a single
source provider of online data, Custom Research, Recruiting Support,
and candidate name generation to executive search and HR
professionals. We offer Customized Research & Competitive
Intelligence, (CCI), in which we partner closely with clients, helping
them identify professionals to recruit, target their best sales
prospects, understand industry trends, and find valuable intelligence
on their competitors. We provide research and customized competitive
intelligence to corporations and search firms alike. Our clients
include professionals in recruiting, business development, sales,
analysts, competitive intelligence, and corporate librarians.
SGA is known for its signature delivery product, ExecutiveTracker,
which houses the most comprehensive list of executives currently
employed at major companies – both private and public – across all
industries. SGA carefully researches and sources each passive
candidate – from the C-level executives to the hard-to-find, mid-level
decision makers. Users can view company name, location, job title and
function and other information of passive candidates based on search
criteria. Once they determine contacts that best fit the current open
position, the recruiter can purchase the complete contact record,
which includes name, phone number, email, reporting structure and a
biography, if available.
Six Degrees: I think it’s fair to say you have been an
evangelist on behalf of the “Traditional Search” niche within the
sourcing sphere of our staffing industry. You have been especially
vocal about using ‘today’s research results’ for future search
assignments. Can you elaborate?
Sheila: As I became more experienced, I began to
understand organization chart structures, titles, roles,
responsibilities and how companies differ across industry segments.
Too many recruiters solely use the Internet. I am not saying replace
what may work for you, but consider adding traditional research to
your recruiting strategy. By fully leveraging traditional research,
the standard recruiting process evolves into a strategic resource to
be used not only for the current search assignment, but for future
assignments, benchmarking and competitive intelligence.
Six Degrees: Walk us step by step through an effective
“Traditional Search” process.
Sheila: Say for example, you need to find out who the
brand managers are. Here’s the telephone and the book which lists the
names of the brands for each company. Think of it as a game. Set a
target of 10 names per call and just keep asking till they won’t give
you any more. If you can, find out who they report to and who reports
Six Degrees: In having reviewed your presentations in the
past, I think you underscore an important criteria, “Titles can be
deceiving, know the role – research it just as you would the pipeline
throughout the process.” Can you elaborate for our readers?
Sheila: Definitely, Titles can be deceiving, know the
role. We recommend researching from the top level down. In general,
Never stop asking questions and guiding the interviewee so the
information needed is obtained. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
regarding structure and team members.
More specifically, however, consider that once traditional research
and charts are completed, we recommend showing them to the client.
Allow the client to provide feedback and offer comments which may
include: “proceed, I know this person, don’t proceed, already
As the candidates are presented, I’d recommend developing a summary of
how they compare to one another – it assists the client with deciding
when to interview and for which business group. Along with resumes,
it’s ideal when you provide the client organization charts to show how
each candidate compares to their own internal staff structure. By
presenting the organization charts it enables you to intelligently
discuss why these individuals were chosen. Again, always share your
findings from start to finish!
Six Degrees: Can you walk us through a case study where you
employed traditional search strategies?
Sheila: Our client asked us to recruit a Vice
President of Merchandising. Following the steps using the tried and
true traditional research methodology, a list of approximately 100
potential candidates to call was developed and five candidates were
presented. The cost of research was 20 hours and recruiting
approximately 35 hours.
The result: we presented the client with an ultimate hire while saving
the client money. We also had built a pipeline of candidates that were
used for future searches. In addition we provided the client with an
in-depth knowledge of the competitive landscape which could be used
for future searches.
Six Degrees: As a Pioneer in our industry, what advice would
you like to share with those just joining or new to research and
1. You need to know that time is of the essence EVERY DAY. This is
crucial. Every one wants everything yesterday.
2. Do not be afraid to ask questions. It is okay to say “help me”.
Become aware of the tools the team uses and learn how to use them to
their fullest. It is also a great idea to learn how and where to go
get things yourself because you do learn more by “being in the
3. Never stop learning! Be knowledgeable, as time goes on, be the
expert and go-to person. Earn respect, do not expect it. Be thorough!
Do not take shorts cuts because in the long run it will come back to
haunt you! Take the time to do the upfront work.
4. Build relationships internally and externally! Two of my favorite
sayings are “what you do today, will help you tomorrow” and “maybe not
a candidate or client today, but maybe a candidate or client
tomorrow.” I tell everyone on my team, engage, listen, and respond.
Six Degrees: How do you see the staffing industry adjusting to
keep costs down and broaden its value?
Sheila: (1) We are seeing companies that are being
strategic, proactive and methodical as it relates to hiring. The days
of handing over 3-5 candidates for a specific rec and saying “here you
go” are over. Many hiring managers want to be part of the process and
want to be shown the research, the pipeline from the targeted
companies, how the potential qualified candidates compare and contrast
with to each other, their respective teams, and the available talent
universe. Methodical, yes… but very smart. Companies are looking for
ways to keep costs down while still recruiting top talent. By using
this methodical approach the research can be used again and again thus
creating value long term.
2. Building and keeping relationships: Company executives really want
those long term partners who can help them. Hiring managers and
recruiting professionals alike want a team approach and value the
results that it produces.
3. Today, more so then in than in the past, successful recruiters are
looked at as experts and partners. The respect has been earned and we
are now invited to have a seat at the conference table! Hiring
managers have learned to respect what it takes to find the candidates
and we have conditioned them to listen to what we have to say. A great
example is the fact that we have them understanding the value of tools
that are now available, ATS, research and recruiting tools, and online
communities. The executives are more on board with us! Great job guys
4. Lastly we are seeing many top companies across several industries
going through the exercise of making sure their internal teams are
staffed with the best in the industry. It is not surprising to have
leaders take a peek at their competitors, their staff and compare it
to their own. If necessary we are seeing them pluck the good ones from
Six Degrees: What are the value-ads in pursuing and utilizing
research in the long term?
Sheila: Dave, time and again, it’s whether the client
has the vision and tenaciousness to view the information as a resource
that can also be shared with other business groups in the
organization. Once they review how best to leverage the yield of
valuable information they see how it applies not simply to just talent
management, but also issues of diversity, future restructuring
efforts, long term strategic hiring as well as other human resources
strategies. I’m in the business of being a long-term partner, not a
transactional partner – and I’ll do my best to work with my clients in
finding multiple venues to pursue their objectives with all the value-
adds that are implicit in the research process.
Six Degrees: We always see you smiling, cheerful and happy.
When you are not working, what are you doing?
Sheila: I am always on the go … I don’t really know
another way of life. I guess I am just like my mom and dad! They
always told me if I am passionate about what I do for a living, then
it won’t be a job! So I guess that is true….after all these years, I
remain passionate about what I do. I am a workaholic and a proud
Six Degrees: Tell us something about you few know outside of
Sheila: In the summer I spend my off time on the Lake
(Lake George in upstate NY) with lots of family and friends. The more
the merrier! I enjoy fast cars and boats, as well as fishing when I
need some quiet time.
I also love to volunteer and some day when I strike it rich, I want to
be a philanthropist. Nothing makes me happier than to put a smile on
“We used Sheila’s web-based database when I was at JobPlex. Cant
remember a whole lot of specifics, but I do remember that it was very
good. Seemed to be comparable to Zoominfo, but I actually preferred
Sheila’s product a bit. I would use both pretty consistently, but
overall, very good. Hope this helps.”
Rob Daugherty, Executive Vice
President & Managing Director at Tri-Worth Solutions, in answer to
a question posted by Brian Thibodeau of Korn/Ferry Futurestep on
“Sheila is highly professional and persistent is obtaining the
information she needs. At FIND/SVP, we hired Sheila to unearth
information that we could not find through traditional channels, and
she never disappointed us.” August 6, 2007
Ann Middleman, Director of Research Services, FIND/SVP
“Sheila is whip-smart, focused on the needs of her clients, and a
natural relationship builder who always delivers on her commitments.”
July 23, 2007
Glenda Brown, Consultant/Director, Partnerships and Alliances,
Association of Executive Seach Consultants
“I have known Sheila Greco for close to 10 years and have worked
directly with her and her associates on several projects to include;
traditional search, competitive intelligence and research/name
generation. Her firm sets the standards for excellence in all of these
catagories.I am delighted to be able to endorse her work.” May 27, 2005
J. James O’Malley, Sheila’s client
“I have engaged Sheila on a number of occasions, going all the way
back to 1990. The work she has done across a broad array of subjects
has always been of very high quality, on time and beyond expectations.
She is a pleasure to work with.” February 19, 2007
Top qualities: Great Results, High Integrity, Creative
Don Rosenkoetter, client
“Sheila is extremely responsive, diligent and a great listener. Her focus is sharp and she’s able to direct her team/resources at the right point. Her team will be an asset to any HR building effort, be it recruiting for a new operation or augmenting an existing staff.” June 26, 2006
Anindya Dixit, Exec. Vice President, MMatrix, client
“I’ve worked closely with Sheila for several years. She’s a successful
entrepreneur who has built an outstanding organization and assembled a
great team that provides the highest quality work to clients. The
significant value she provides to clients is to quickly and accurately
evaluate their needs, then very effectively partner with them to
provide solutions that make their businesses better. Sheila’s energy
level is inspirational, and she’s one of the funniest people I’ve had
the pleasure to meet. I highly endorse working with Sheila.” January
Peter Malamas, Sr. VP (Current), SGA ExecutiveTracker