At DRiWaterstone Human Capital, we have the opportunity to help a diverse roster of clients fill roles that are integral to their ability to meet their strategic goals. We are also fortunate to work with some of the best candidates in the non-profit and social impact space.
And sometimes we’re lucky enough to work with an outstanding client who is also a candidate.
Meet Gregory Dyson, Chief Operating Officer at National Community Reinvestment Coalition.
DRiWaterstone had the pleasure of working with Gregory when he turned to the team for help recruiting a Director of Innovation while with his former employer. Later, we helped place Gregory on the Board at the AARP Foundation, which “provides resources so millions of older adults living with low income can secure good jobs, get the benefits and refunds they’ve earned, and stay connected to their communities.”
We recently sat down with Gregory to catch up and learn more about his experience working with the DRiWaterstone team.
DRiWaterstone Human Capital (DRiW): Describe your role on the AARP Foundation Board?
Gregory Dyson (GD): I serve on the Audit Committee. As a new member (I’ve been there two years), coming in on the Audit Committee gave me a lens into all the work of the foundation as well as the opportunity to draw on my own expertise as an operating executive. I’m also getting a complete look into what’s going on operationally at the Foundation, which has allowed me to contribute in a more thought-provoking way to our strategic discussions.
DRiW: What was your experience like working with the DRiWaterstone team as a candidate for this role?
GD: I had worked with DRiWaterstone before, so I knew their process and that they’re very thorough. They really want the candidate to shine. One of the things they do is, they ask you to respond in an essay or to questions and they’re very clear, they are not going to go in and edit, fix grammar errors or change anything for that matter. It’s your opportunity to shine before the selection committee. And it’s a really good balance for the selection committee. On the one hand, they have DRiWaterstone overview and discussion of the candidate, and on the other they have the candidate representing themselves.
When you talk to them, it’s a conversation. They want to learn about you, and I think that makes it easier. It’s not like, “I have this question and that question.” It’s just having a conversation. And the communication throughout the process was very good. I’ve worked with other firms in the past and the process isn’t as clear. DRiWaterstone is very clear in the process. The Candidate Stewardship person will walk you through the timing. The approach is very humanistic, and it’s well organized and personable.
DRiW: What surprised you most about your experience working with the DRiWaterstone team as a candidate?
GD: That it’s not cookie cutter. When they have the initial conversation with you, they’re not fishing. They’ve done some pre-work on you before they even pick up the phone to call.
DRiW: You’ve also had the opportunity to hire DRiWaterstone as a partner – what was the role you were looking to fill?
GD: I hired them to do a Director of Innovation search [while I was with my former employer]. They unearthed candidates we’d have never unearthed ourselves, and I don’t think if I’d gone to another firm that they would have found them either.
DRiW: How did DRiWaterstone help set your search up for success?
GD: They accept, understand, and respect the uniqueness of your search. They look at what your needs are and how they can help you meet your goals. Their approach gives you the confidence that this isn’t cookie cutter. They’re not pushing just anyone forward to you, it’s: “Let me look at my network and database and talk to my team and see who we can find out there.”
Yes, they have a database, but it’s not their only tool. Are they going to find people exclusively focusing on public search engines? Probably not. But it speaks to the openness of the process. I’ve never asked them, but I think they cull their networks, talk with stakeholders, and selectively post on various boards in the public domain. This very deliberate approach helps advance diversity – age, gender, racial, experience. The way they go about conducting these searches, they’ll find the best because they’re laser focus on assembling a qualified pool of candidates..
DRiW: What advice do you have for other non-profit organizations looking to attract top talent in today’s job market?
GD: Flexibility, flexibility, flexibility. Followed by being open to new ideas and new approaches. I’ve worked with a number of search firms over the years. They’re all successful for a reason. They have their niche. But if you’re truly looking for a firm that’s going to embrace and understand your uniqueness and quirkiness and where you want to go in your career or advance the hiring within your organization, you want a firm like DRiWaterstone – one that’s going to look at you as an individual and not another candidate in the process.
If you’re on the employer side, [especially] social impact organizations and non-profits who are trying to make a difference, you want someone who’s going to take the time to learn who you are and where you’re going. If [DRiWaterstone] presents you with four or five candidates, my view is not one of those will be a weak candidate or second choice for the job. They’ll all meet the values and could succeed in the job. They will assist you to select the one that is the best fit.
Is everything failsafe, absolutely not. But they’re willing to go out on the edge and stand there with the safety hooks and make sure people don’t fall off and the process doesn’t get derailed
At DRiWaterstone, we have a successful history of working with Boards of Governors at a wide variety of organizations – from supporting strategic planning work to helping organizations recruit top talent to fill Board seats and help them reach their impact, performance and reputation goals. To learn more email us – we’d love to talk!