(L-R) Catalina Ganis, Alice Elliot, and Bernadette Kane at The Elliot Leadership Conference in 2009
In 1987, Catalina started her career in executive search at a New York City based hospitality firm. In 1988, Catalina joined Elliot Associates as a search consultant. In 1991, she was promoted to Director of Administration and then Vice President of Administration in 1992. During this period, Elliot Associates was experiencing unprecedented growth and expansion of field offices nationwide and Catalina was instrumental in setting the company’s policies and standards. In 1995, Catalina once again took on search and recruitment efforts as a Vice President and then Senior Vice President in 2001. In 2004, she was once again recognized for her contributions and promoted to her current position as Executive Vice President.
How has the restaurant/hospitality world evolved since you started working in the industry?
I started working in the business when it was unheard of to have a five-day work week and restaurants and hotels said there’s no way to do that without going out of business. However, fast food companies started doing it as an edge to get management talent and the other segments followed suit. It just goes to show how resilient our industry can be. This is similar to the $15 an hour wage increase that is being ratified in certain states. The industry will figure out how to comply and still make money albeit with less employees and perhaps more automation.
What is one industry trend from the last five years that fascinates you?
The fact that we can get any type of food anywhere and at any time we want. Again, this is due to technology – I love that food can be delivered whether a company has a delivery service or not. Sure, we have to pay extra but many will for the convenience.
How has technology and social media affected your role as a recruiter?
Well I started in the business when few people had answering machines on their home land lines and fax machines were just starting to proliferate so few companies had them. Cell phones were years away. Whatever technology was available, very few people could afford them at the time. We did the old fashion way, we called candidates late at night or weekends when they were home or we called them at their place of employment. Then we typed resumes on an IBM Selectric typewriter, put it in an envelope with a stamp and hoped to hear back from the client in a week or so. It was a long process but we still were able to put candidates in the right role. So now with email, a client can receive a resume in seconds so certainly this has made our job easier and faster.
What is one quality you look for in every candidate?
Drive! It doesn’t matter what a candidate’s background is, if he or she does not have the drive to get things done, they will rarely be successful. I determine this through their own personal drive (pushing themselves through challenging times or setbacks) and the ability to push others to achieve and be their best.
What is your most memorable search?
Wow, there have been many but I guess you always remember the first that you completed yourself. Back in 2000, I was contacted for a CEO role for a restaurant company and was able to place a highly regarded, industry veteran CEO for the company.
I have been here for a very long time, the longest tenured employee in the company. For me, I have been able to progress as the company has grown and moved into various recruitment and administrative roles. We are a very tight family here and have a collaborative working relationship. Alice has allowed me to have a very fulfilling work life while pushing me to not forget my personal commitments. I have three sons and because of the flexibility at Elliot, have been able to be at all their school events, sports activities, etc.