DSML Policies and Practices, Executive Search, Industry Experience

DSML Executive Search Recruitment Interview with Dave Schmidt

DSML Executive Search, an executive search firm with offices in Boston and Chicago, is driven to provide the best possible service to our growing client base. That’s why we are pleased to announce a new executive search recruiter to better support European subsidiaries expanding to the US.

Dave Schmidt is a highly skilled professional with years of experience in executive recruitment and will join Ricarda Osipow, Amandine Minaud, Veronique Subers, and Esteban Blettry in assisting European clients with finding well-suited executive talent.

We had the privilege of sitting down with Dave to learn more about his professional background and expertise. We are happy to share some of his introspective knowledge of professional recruitment and cross-cultural hiring strategies.


Q: Tell us about your professional background and experience. How did you get into executive recruitment?

I began my career in undergraduate admissions, where I evaluated more than 1,600 applications annually at Duke University. It was my role to coordinate with Texas, Oklahoma, and parts of California, as well as play a role in our Latinx student recruitment efforts.

I moved to Chicago in 2010 to take part in the great improv scene in the city — it had been a dream of mine for some time. I worked in retail and fundraising while exploring this challenge before ultimately returning to undergraduate recruitment and an MBA from Loyola University Chicago. At Loyola, I managed full-circle student recruitment at the John Felice Rome Center, Loyola’s campus in Italy. This was a marvelous experience I still think about to this day.

From there, I moved into executive search, first as an associate for DHR Global, then as a senior associate at Vetted Solutions.

Q: How did you come to DSML?

I was finishing up grad school at Loyola University and deciding what I wanted to do next. While considering my upcoming career move, I reached out to a few executive recruitment firms where I felt I would be a good fit. I ultimately got an offer from another firm that I pursued, but Myriam Le Cannellier, the co-founder and director of DSML Executive Search, was definitely interested in my potential.

When this opportunity came up at DSML, I jumped at a chance to hop on board — and with my multilingualism, I knew it would be a good fit.

Q: What is your current role at DSML?

I’ve been working for DSML as an executive recruiter for about two months now. It’s been a really lovely time so far, and I’m proud to say I’m absorbing tons of new information.

I love working in partnership with the rest of my team and thrive on getting started and learning on the go. I’ve had the benefit of taking on some of my other co-workers’ responsibilities so I can fill in the gaps and jump in feet-first.

Q: What languages do you speak? And how do you feel that benefits your role now at DSML?

I speak Spanish fluently, and my Portuguese and German are pretty good. Now I’m working on my French (of course), and I can read Italian, but not speak it fluently yet. I’m getting there!

Q: Most of the DSML team did not come to DSML with prior executive recruiting experience. What advantages do you feel you have with having prior executive recruiting experience?

Like anyone starting a new position, I brought valuable, transferable experience. Success would be finding out which of those skills could really add value to the environment we have at DSML.

We all bring our strengths to the workforce, no matter how much experience we have. And as DSML onboards new team members, I want to hold up my end of the bargain.

Q: What is it like to be joining a primarily female team?

I’ve had all sorts of bosses over the years: bad ones and good ones, men and women, people with children and people without. However, working for women has offered some of the best professional experiences in my career. I also think it’s made me a better worker in my field, which gives me a greater understanding of the world in which we live.

I have two kids under the age of five — and they keep me very busy. My colleagues’ skill and compassion is tremendous, and their empathy is amazing. I really value that combination in the workplace.

At this stage in my life and from what I’ve seen and learned, DSML is a rare opportunity to thrive in a space with skilled professionals.

Q: What is your area of recruiting expertise?

I got my MBA in supply chain management, so when I’m hiring for manufacturing operations, I can really geek out. I feel a natural inclination for talking with folks who work in the supply chain and manufacturing space. It’s always nice to learn new things, and chatting with people about passionate subjects brings me back to my MBA days.

Q: Do you think being an American can help with finding the right American candidate for European clients?

I certainly hope so! I might pick up on small cues or language use that contribute to the success of our team.

I also might have more common experiences to share with candidates who grew up in the US and can offer that perspective as well.

Many of the European clients we work with have extant US operations and have thoughtful and robust systems for hiring. My goal as a native English speaker is to help bridge the gap between American nuance and European expectations so we can find a great fit for both sides.

Q: Do you feel being American can help bridge the gap between client and candidate expectations?

In some ways, sure, but the entire team at DSML understands the cultural and workplace differences between the US and Europe. There are differences in the way compensation is structured, relocation support, employees’ expectations, and healthcare benefits. We want to make all our clients aware of these important considerations, and I know the whole team at DSML can speak to these cultural differences well.

Q: How have your responsibilities grown since you have been at DSML?

I’m learning new cultural nuances every single day. The ability to be a link between worlds, and connect different cultures and teams with a seven-hour time difference, is really growing me as a professional.

I guess that’s nothing new, though. When you get trained to work in a certain way, you realize you need to grow. Serving with the team at DSML has given me a chance to see the industry in a different light.

I worked primarily with American companies in each of my prior positions. Now, I’m on a French conference call every day. It’s 100% a more global process on a day-to-day basis. I have Duolingo bookmarked on my browser — and I spend time with the ‘owl’ every day.

The path of an executive search is not always linear. Sometimes we need to recorrect course or change a few details to become more efficient. I’m loving the opportunity to create nuance rather than play the ‘catch-up game’ further down the line.

Q: What are the core values of DSML?

Collaboration is the biggest one for me. It’s at another level here. It’s amazing to be able to offer this to clients as well, especially when they need clarity for their existing hiring process.

There are no bottlenecks at DSML; the left hand knows what the right hand is doing. We’ve worked for companies abroad and all over the world, and we’re staking our reputation on the fact that we can help clients build a bridge between their European headquarters and their US subsidiary.

Categorically, I don’t think any cross-cultural executive recruitment firm does it better than us.

Q: What do you feel is important to DSML?

What strikes me about DSML in the first 60 days is that it’s such a collaborative environment. It’s a situation where, unlike any other position I’ve worked before, I’m in touch with candidates, clients, and peers every day. There’s no sense of working in a tunnel, and I know what needs to be done as soon as I clock in. I also know what my colleagues are doing — we’re constantly checking in and following up with each other.

I’m learning so much from the benefit of this collaboration, and I look forward to learning even more.

Q: Over the past few years, have you seen any major changes in the executive search industry? Are there any changes that you think will stay for the long term to be permanent changes?

I started working in executive recruitment after the start of COVID shutdowns, which means I didn’t get a chance to see the industry shift as much as someone who’s been doing this for more years. That said, I have seen shifts.

The in-person component of recruiting disappeared for a while there but is starting to come back.

After the recession came the Great Resignation, and now, The Big Stay.

Two years ago, you could hear a client say: “here’s what we want, but anyone within a certain range could be interesting.” Now, the language is, “here’s what we want: period, next question.”

There’s also a minor slowdown overall in hiring; just not in every industry. For some, it remains a booming season. For others, it looks a little slower.

The expectations of American candidates have also changed a lot. People seek additional flexibility, more time off, or better benefit packages before wanting to commit. I’ve had my own personal and professional realizations in this area as well, so I get it. This means European subsidiaries expanding to the US need to consider more nuances before launching their search.

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to hire executive candidates in the US, however. We don’t want our clients to step on a minefield when they enter the US job market, which is why we work so hard to walk with them through the process of asking the right questions, following regional and local laws, and ultimately making the best possible decisions for their brand.

DSML is an executive search and recruitment firm in Chicago and Boston that specializes in recruiting for European subsidiaries in the USA. We are proud to have Dave as part of our team and are deeply appreciative of his experience in recruiting and dedication to finding the right match between client and candidate.

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