DSML is an executive search and recruitment firm with offices in Chicago and Boston. The firm specializes in recruiting for European subsidiaries in the USA and was founded by Doug Seville and today’s showcased team member, Myriam Le Cannellier. We sat down with Myriam to understand how DSML came to be, what her role is today, and how she’s cultivated a culture of transparency and tenacity.
Q: Can you share your professional background?
A: I actually stumbled into the world of recruiting a little bit by accident.
My first career was a very traditional career in marketing. I have a dual education: I have an engineering degree and then pursued a Master’s in marketing at a business school. My marketing career started in the CPG industry, working for Nestlé as a brand manager. I started in frozen products, then moved to chocolate, and finished my time there with Nescafé and Nesquik. Around this time, I married my now-husband. His job relocated from Paris to another region in France, and so did we. Unfortunately, Nestlé had no marketing positions available there. And while they offered me a sales position, it wasn’t the direction I wanted my career to go in.
I transitioned out of Nestlé for that reason and decided to try my hand at B2B marketing. I worked for Steelcase for a few years. The big shift in my career came when we decided to live abroad, in Argentina. That was the beginning of my life as a French person abroad.
Q: So, how did you get into executive search recruitment?
A: When I arrived in Argentina, I was focused on finding a job in marketing. It was not easy, but I met an executive recruiter who happened to be a Francophile. A few weeks after we met, he called me with a proposition. He shared that they had been trying to do business with French companies in Argentina for many years. Many notable French companies had a presence in Argentina then and he was realizing that without having someone with a French background on the team, that would be almost impossible. He felt my background and profile could help open doors and develop business for French companies. They were an established executive search firm and at the time, I didn’t have much to lose so I said, “Why not?” Thus began my first sortie into recruiting.
Because I had joined a larger, well-established executive search firm, I was able to learn the ropes quickly and in a hands-on way. The partners of the firm also had 20 to 30 years of experience, which was key to my fast induction. I was also able to apply a lot of skills from my first career in marketing, making the transition easier.
A few years later, unfortunately, we had to leave Argentina due to the Argentine Great Depression. We moved to the US for the first time and landed in Florida. I was eager to continue my journey in executive search. Unfortunately — between the economy and potentially just the Miami scene at the time — this proved to be difficult. During this time, I also experienced the challenges of adjusting to American culture. While it wasn’t my first time living abroad anymore, it became clear that the cultural differences between the US and France were more significant than those between Argentina and France. And while challenging, that experience gave me invaluable perspective on the experience of relocating as a European, which is a significant part of what we encounter at DSML, as we specialize in recruiting for European companies seeking to expand in the USA.
At the time, however, I used that experience to start a coaching firm, My Next Path, which focused on coaching the spouses of expatriates. I met with heads of HR at large companies with numerous expats. The premise was of interest to them, but they did not have the budget to allocate to it. So, I pivoted the business to focus on career coaching for French people in the US. Among a few different types of people I helped were those who had recently lost a job or looking for their next role and needed help navigating the hiring landscape in the US.
A few years later, I relocated to Chicago with my family. Shortly after that, I met Doug. We met for coffee, which rolled into lunch driven by great conversation. He shared a challenging search he had going on for an Italian company: the cultural difference was again proving to be significant. This planted the seed of hope for me to return to recruitment and be able to focus on the cultural differences that I felt so passionate about. Over a few meetings, we decided to give it a try and start a business together. I felt strongly about our niche positioning of recruiting for European companies in the US. I knew from my experience in marketing that our positioning would be key. No one is waiting for another normal recruiting firm. Add to that the fact that recruiting is also a very specialized industry, where some firms may only need packaging equipment executive search in Chicago or food manufacturing executive search in Chicago for example. We knew it would not be easy by any means, but we fill a real need in the market.
Q: What is your current role at DSML? How do you spend your days?
A: Naturally, my role has evolved over time. But it’s incredibly important to me to stay hands-on as we grow. We are not designing or manufacturing anything: we are a service company, a consulting company. We stand between clients and candidates; we’re in the people business. Because of that, our marketplace changes faster than other industries or businesses. Even since I began my career, the tools available to recruiters have changed immensely. So at DSML, we ensure that we are investing in upgrading our website and leveraging modern recruiting technologies and processes allowing our team to work more thoroughly and more efficiently. As the leader of a small business, I need to understand the challenges of what we do firsthand.
As DSML continues to grow, however, it’s a privilege to have a team like ours who work in an all-hands-on-deck kind of way. We have more people working on the searches, each coming from different angles. They come with their own perspective, so we have a better outcome in the end.
I also train and coach our team. We’ve developed an onboarding system in which everyone on the team plays a role in training, advising, and supporting new staff. Something that I’m quite proud of is that — except for one team member with a background in HR — everyone else who has joined DSML did not come from recruitment. Those who have joined our team have done very well in their role, which is a testament to the training we provide our team. Those who have left over the years, for relocation purposes or others, have all moved on but continued to work in recruitment or on the HR team of a company. I like that because I think they learned something during their time at DSML and they were able to build upon it.
Q: What are the core values of DSML?
A: Transparency is really at the core of what we do. This means transparency within and without. I’ve always been very transparent with the team, talking about business challenges in the past with them. But we are intent on being transparent with our clients as well, challenging them when needed and staying inquisitive. But it’s also with our executive search recruitment candidates. We try to depict roles as realistically as possible, including the challenges that some of the switches would present. This helps both our candidates and clients in the end, as expectations are managed on all ends.
Another value is commitment and passion. We are really tenacious in our work with clients, no matter how challenging a search may be. We want to succeed and often find motivation in difficulty. Our shared value of teamwork goes hand in hand with that. Even as our team has grown, everyone is on every client intake call and the first progress call. This allows us to save time in the long run that can then be dedicated to the search itself because nothing is lost in translation. We only present people that have been evaluated by several people in the team and we all have to be in agreement. That’s part of our process. In our line of work, the details are truly so important. You have to really actively listen and understand the essence of the ask to successfully match client and candidate.
Q: What do you feel is important to DSML?
A: In crafting the culture at DSML, I used all my previous experience combined, including things I’ve seen, in my work life and in my executive search experience. I considered experiences I’ve liked and that I disliked. I’ve seen arrogance and individualism. And these are things I never want to propagate at DSML. So I always tell our prospects and our clients, “You are a client of DSML, not just a client of Ricarda’s or Amandine’s.” for example. The individual is always very valued at DSML, but we win as a team. And it’s something that our executive recruiting clients can sense.
Another thing that is important is that everyone’s working styles are respected. As the team grows, we’re going to have more people with more diversity in approaches and methods. This is great and when these things are respected, it keeps things genuine. And in the business of people, that’s a top priority.
DSML is an executive search and recruitment firm in Chicago and Boston that specializes in recruiting for European subsidiaries in the USA. If your business is looking to expand into the US marketing and seeking executive search services, contact us today.