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Three Questions With: Courtney Bickert, Senior Consultant at DRiWaterstone – Part 2

We’re continuing our conversation with Senior Consultant, Courtney Bickert, to find out, in her own words, what drives her and why DRiWaterstone is one of North America’s top executive search firms for the non-profit and social impact sectors. 


DRiWaterstone (DRiW): Why should mission and purpose-driven organizations consider working with a firm like DRiWaterstone to fill their leadership roles?

Courtney Bickert (CB): In particular with DRiWaterstone, we are very passionate about purpose and social impact organizations. That’s why I work here. We have a true appreciation for the specific challenges that nonprofit and purpose-driven organizations face in terms of talent acquisition and retention and therefore work with our clients as partners.

Working with an executive search firm in general, you’re going to save a lot of time, and time is money. We can focus 100 per cent on finding your candidate while you’re doing however many other jobs you have to do. Also, we can help expand the pool of talent that you’re able to access because we have a database full of people who come exclusively from the social purpose sector. Our team all come out of the nonprofit and purpose sector as leaders ourselves, and we have our own networks, so we can really expand who you’ve got access to as you’re looking for talent. If you’re doing a search internally, you’re reliant on your advertising channels and your own LinkedIn, and when you bring on a firm like DRiWaterstone, we go well beyond that. Having access to a broad candidate pool is essential for bringing new experiences and perspectives into the organization and for ensuring diversity in your staff.

DRiW: How does your background in the nonprofit and social impact sector influence your approach to executive search?

CB: I have over 30 years of experience in international development and foreign affairs. A lot of that was in executive leadership roles, and it was across various functions within an organization and across many sectors. So, I bring the experience of having done the jobs that we are hiring for, and of being in the position of our clients who are hiring for these key roles.

From a client perspective, I can relate and be more of a partner in really helping them sort out what it is they really need, how they can make the arguments they might need to make to their Board to justify the salary, etc. I can be their partner in this process because I’ve done it myself. And from a candidate perspective, I’ve been in the roles they’re applying for. That enables me to ask the right kind of questions, but also to provide support as they’re thinking about finding the exact right fit for themselves.

DRiW: What do you want candidates to know about working in the non-profit/social enterprise space?

CB: The fantastic part about the sector is that you get to feel good about what you’re getting up to do every day. That is amazing. At the same time, there are a lot of challenges that you face in the social impact space that are often unique in the sense of frequently struggling with a shortage of resources and having to work beyond a specific job description because of that, really scrambling to get the resources to cover key initiatives, and more. Working in this space can be very intense in terms of effort and often emotional energy. So, it’s important to pick a place where you really, truly do care about the cause, because that’s what’s going to get you over any of the other frustrations.

Also, find places where you have the chance to find new ways to solve old problems and where there’s space to do that. Find places where there is room to grow – and that’s not always about growing into the CEO role, but it can be about finding a place where you’re going to be able to grow in what you’re doing, the types of activities you’re doing, and the things you’re responsible for.

Read part one of our conversation with Courtney.


At DRiWaterstone, we work with mission and purpose-driven organizations across the U.S. to help them build mission and purpose driven teams. We’d love the chance to work with you – reach out today and book a meeting with our team and find out how we can help.

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Depending on your industry and the role you’re looking to fill, opting for a small or mid-sized executive search firm can offer myriad of advantages – here are three from the nonprofit executive search experts at DRiWaterstone:

  • They are often experts in one industry or area.
    Smaller firms aren’t trying to be all things to all clients. Often, they have a deep understanding of one or two industries or geographies and have worked hard to develop comprehensive candidate networks in those areas. This not only means that they have the specialized knowledge to sell your role and your organization to candidates, but also that you’ll see the best, most relevant candidates for your unique opportunity.
  • They can take advantage of a team approach.
    A smaller team has a lot of advantages! Lean organization structures often result in an all-hands approach that can reap rewards for clients – with senior leaders just as engaged in each search as the junior team members, and an openness to leveraging the networks and expertise of team members across the firm to find the best possible candidates for your role.
  • They can be more agile and cost effective than larger firms.
    Lower overhead and less red tape mean that smaller organizations are often able to try new things and make in-search changes quickly, and without significantly impacting the budget. They may also have more flexibility in their process and approach, meaning that they can quickly adapt and problem solve in a way that’s unique to your needs as a client.

DRiWaterstone is a DC-headquartered executive search firm that specializes in connecting purpose and mission-driven candidates with opportunities at some of the top nonprofit and social impact organizations across the U.S.

Our executive search experts help ensure our clients have the right leaders in place – leaders who align to their purpose, and who can help take the organization and its culture to the next level. We serve a diverse group of clients in the nonprofit, association, foundation, social impact enterprise, and corporate citizenship space who are looking to have a greater impact locally, nationally, and globally. Contact us today to find out how we can help with your next search.

*This article was written with the support of ChatGPT

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