Recruiter's Delight: Meet Sheila Greco, Traditional Search Expertise with CEO of SGA

By Dave Mendoza

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Featured Blog Posts by Sheila:
* The Best Advice I Ever Got
* Research & Recruiting - Lingo Simply Defined

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 World?

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 loved it…obviously!

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 community plays nicely into my personality…I like to listen, learn, respond, help and build relationships.

Six Degrees: Tell us about your company, Sheila Greco Associates:

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 to them.

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 interviewed, perfect.”

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 recruiting?

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 trenches”.

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 and gals.

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 others.

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 mother too.

Six Degrees: Tell us something about you few know outside of the industry:

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 someone’s face.


“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

“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 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

“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 11, 2008
Peter Malamas, Sr. VP (Current), SGA ExecutiveTracker

Researcher's Delight

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Replies to This Discussion

Just have to say wow. Always wondered about your work as I seem to be seeing your name everywhere on the web. Thank you again to Dave for featuring another rockstar. Appreciate reading about your background and reading through your advices. Thank you. Wish you all the best ~ and look forward to meeting you one day. Best!

Sheila - It is always a pleasure to see you around at conference and I am a big fan of the product! It is great learning a little more about you and the value you place on being their for your family!

Keep up the good work!
Great advice to those who are new to the research world.
All the best in 2009, Happy Holiday's!

Another great interview, Dave!
Terrific interview, Dave - hard to go wrong interviewing Shiela Greco!

Thanks Shiela - it's great to hear about how people got their start in the business, and, to see how they've grown in the business over the looks to me like you are as passionate today as when you tackled your first "Standard Directory of Advertisers" assignment!

Great seeing you again!

Susan Kang Nam said:
Just have to say wow. Always wondered about your work as I seem to be seeing your name everywhere on the web. Thank you again to Dave for featuring another rockstar. Appreciate reading about your background and reading through your advices. Thank you. Wish you all the best ~ and look forward to meeting you one day. Best!


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