Brian Schwartz, Vice President, joined The Elliot Group in 2010 as a Search Consultant. He was promoted to his current role of Vice President in 2015. Throughout his tenure at Elliot, Brian has worked in many aspects of executive search, including emerging concepts, growth brands, Fortune 500 companies, private equity backed organizations, and family offices.

We spoke to Brian about the qualities he looks for in a candidate, as well as his favorite industry trend.

During your tenure at Elliot, you have placed a variety of positions. Do you have a favorite functional discipline to place?
Operations. Whether it be restaurants, foodservice, hospitality or retail, the dollars are made in the field, interfacing with the consumer. We’re in the people business. Operations and operators are the ones who make the machine run. Finding a strategic thinking, financially astute, people-focused (internal team development and external guest-oriented) operator is incredibly rewarding.

What was the most challenging type of search you completed?
Every search is unique with its own set of challenges. Having completed every type of search from public company, private equity-backed, high growth, turnaround, and across every functional discipline, the most challenging have been early-stage start-ups that don’t yet have proof-of-concept. We continue to perfect the blend of the art and science when identifying, qualifying and analytically vetting candidates for a role. In the case of an early-stage start-up, there’s a magic about presenting a gainfully employed candidate with no compelling reason to leave their current role on the vision and dream for the opportunity we’re representing. As we go to market as the brand extension for our clients, we’re adept at helping candidates understand the risk profile for a role and the long-term upside potential.

What is one quality you look for in every candidate?
From a qualification standpoint, I look for thoughtful, forward career momentum and the ability to articulate the ‘whys’ behind their career choices. Interpersonally, I look for kindness and respect. The way in which someone carries themselves throughout the interview and courting process is a strong indicator of how they will carry themselves once inside a new organization.

What advice do you give a candidate before an interview?
Be yourself. Be honest. Be open. Have fun. The interview process isn’t transactional. As much as clients are interviewing candidates for a role, the candidate is also interviewing the client. Culture, fit and chemistry are paramount, so try and find that right match upfront.

Do you have a favorite industry trend?
Technology is a broad term and easy answer, but it’s transformed and disrupted our industry. The main discussion ten years ago was the term “sea of sameness” to describe the lack of differentiation across brands. Brands tried to solve that through culinary innovation and the shift back to scratch-cooking. Quality food and experience is now non-negotiable.

We’ve seen more innovation and change through technology than ever before. It has changed the way in which businesses are now run. It has changed how consumers utilize brands and it has changed how brands communicate with consumers. Technology has created operational efficiencies in labor, culinary, supply chain, and real estate. Brands utilize deeper consumer analytics and insights to understand guest behaviors. We’ve seen delivery-only concepts emerge, mobile payments and self-service. Should companies be a first-mover or fast-follower?

Today’s winners are those that use technology to enhance the guest experience, not supplant it. There’s no substitute for human interaction.

Why Elliot?
We’ve thoughtfully and strategically assembled a diverse group of search consultants. Our consultants are former C-Suite human resources, marketing, operations executives, career retained executive search and talent acquisition professionals. With these diverse experiences comes a deep understanding of the consumer space from both an industry and human capital perspective. We have an unmatched ability to assemble a best-in-class team of search consultants to best fit our client needs’ and the specific nuances of each search.

Today’s winners are those that use technology to enhance the guest experience, not supplant it.
Brian Schwartz, Vice President