Connie Paris, Senior Vice President, joined Elliot Associates in 1994. Connie has a proven track record of delivering world-class senior-level talent both domestically and internationally. Prior to joining Elliot Associates, Connie worked in executive recruiting with a boutique search firm, where she helped grow the hospitality practice globally. She has over six years of professional management experience in restaurant operations with a national restaurant chain as well as with an entrepreneurial casual dining concept.

We spoke to Connie about executive search and how the restaurant industry has evolved over the years.

Prior to Elliot, you worked in restaurant operations. What was one of the biggest challenges you faced as an operator to keep a restaurant successful?  
The biggest challenges were the most rewarding; building and maintaining a culture of empowerment, understanding and respect for all employees, no matter what level or economic background they came from. I found that when you expect and build a culture of continuous improvement, caring, understanding and pride in the work being done, great customer service and success for the restaurants will follow.

How has the restaurant/hospitality world evolved since you started working in the industry?  
Technology inside the four walls, the Internet, and social media have all revolutionized the restaurant industry. Speed and convenience have been elevated and the dining experience has been diminishing.

What was the most rewarding search you completed?  
It probably sounds cliché, but every search completed is the most rewarding at that moment in time. However, there are a few that standout for various reasons. We recently completed a search for a CEO that was challenging. The private equity group and the founder were at odds on what they were looking for and what their non-negotiables were. Navigating between the two and being able to get them on the same path was rewarding and success followed quickly thereafter.

What is the key to finding the right candidate for a specific position?  
After determining the correct skill set required, the key then becomes, does the position fit the needs of the candidate and does the candidate fit the needs of the client.

How do you advise your clients to make a final choice between equally qualified candidates?  
Cultural fit, every time! It’s the skill set with the right personality. In addition, when deciding on a final choice, the client needs to choose the candidate whose core skill is what the organization needs to move the business forward to enhance the business objectives.

Why Elliot?  
Elliot has given me the opportunity to work with professionals whom I can learn from and that motivate me to take on new and challenging opportunities. The Elliot team consists of highly driven, knowledgeable, and successful individuals who genuinely care about each other and the work we do together. We work diligently and empowered as team members.

Speed and convenience have been elevated and the dining experience has been diminishing.
Connie Paris, Senior Vice President