Member Spotlight | Greg Ciriacks

President, Global Recruiters of West Bend

 ACG WI Member Since: 2019

Greg Ciriacks, President, Global Recruiters of West Bend
Global Recruiters of West Bend

Why did you join ACG?
I was referred to ACG by several finance executives a few years ago when I was conducting a search for a CFO in the greater Milwaukee area.  They recommended that I ask other members to connect me with reputable finance execs in the area.  I was also curious to learn more about the regional economy and wanted an opportunity to network with local executives in a more informal setting.  The other ACG members were all extremely inviting and open to share their experiences – which made my decision to join very easy! 

How has ACG WI helped you in your career?
My earlier career was predominantly in manufacturing – starting in high tech, then CPG and finally in industrial automation.  (My background was engineering and business)  This was all prior to starting GRN West Bend.  My focus nowadays is executive search – with the majority of our clients being privately-held and usually private-equity backed companies.  Joining ACG has put me in contact with executives from a broad base of industries that I wasn’t really aware of previously.  I am constantly learning about new industries and investment trends from the ACG network!  

What lessons have you learned during the pandemic that you think you will carry over in the long term?
That is a really big question.  For a bit of context - I started our firm in 2012 during the recovery from the great financial crisis and learned hard lessons about growing a business during a multi-year economic downturn.  At that time, we were mostly focused where we had strengths in Manufacturing, Industrial Automation/Distribution and Packaging.  I felt that each of them were in a long-term growth phase.

Then the pandemic started after manufacturing was already heading into a recession (2019) and taught me that no two recessions or recoveries are ever the same!  I have a fantastic team – and yet we needed to be more flexible and shift quickly to serve different market segments that were growing rapidly in the face of an unprecedented crisis.  For example, our clients were accelerating their investments into Services – expanding us for the first time into other B2B/B2C related service industries (e.g. HVAC & Plumbing) that were actively consolidating.  Flexibility, learning faster and staying tuned into the market have been great business lessons.  We took the opportunity over the pandemic to adapt our processes to any industry our clients are investing in. 

What do you think are the biggest challenges your industry will face in the next 5 years, and what actions is your business taking to position it for success in the future?
Definitely one of the greatest challenges will stem from the abrupt transition of executive positions from the Baby Boomer generation to Generation X, overlapped quickly by the emergence of millennials in a number of key leadership roles.  This is a very complex dynamic – as company culture comes directly from the stated values & visible actions of the top executive(s).  As leadership transitions, company culture will also shift and create a ripple effect with the remaining workforce.  As a result, we are improving our methods for “interviewing” top executives first so we understand what cultural values need to be carried forward by the next leadership generation(s).  Our processes always start with understanding company culture. 

Secondly, most employers are also faced with the societal acceptance (and certain advantages) of a more remote workforce.  Many employees’ expectations have changed in a dramatic and permanent way.  As much as company executives may resist this dynamic – the executives that embrace change will definitely have a competitive advantage.  We spend a lot of time coaching executives on strategies to help them attract and retain key talent.  Our advantage is that we are talking to executives on a daily basis from a multitude of different industries – and can draw timely observations that are applicable across all of them. 

My view is that top executives should focus their strategies on 2 guiding principles – one of which is how to serve more customers better now than ever before the pandemic.  The other priority should be how to embrace the culture they had before the pandemic and promote this across whatever mix of onsite and remote employees they need to serve their customer base.  Anyone hired over the past 2 years could feel alienated and have no idea what to expect!  How is their culture defined?  Take a hard look - starting with the behaviors that the top executives demonstrate.  Is the culture more focused on serving the executives – or the customers?  Get this part right, and the resulting mix of remote –vs- onsite workforce should follow.  

What do you do for fun? 
My wife and I are blessed with 4 grown children and one son-in-law.  We’ve transitioned into “empty-nesters” mode recently and are always looking for ways to spend time with family.  Basically, we are having fun when we are active.  This includes a variety of options – playing card games (bridge, pinochle, euchre, sheepshead, etc…) spending time at the lake or heading up north to visit with my parents.  My in-laws have a strong Polish heritage – so we have all learned to dance the polka.  I don’t have any musical ability but consider myself an excellent audience member when my wife and kids start singing or playing instruments.  It’s all great fun just to find a reason to celebrate together! 

Do you have any favorite vacation locations to suggest?
One is definitely New Mexico.  Early in our marriage, my wife and I moved to Albuquerque.  We had a fantastic time in the Old Town, along Turquoise trail and exploring northern New Mexico.  The climate, geography, cultures, and people are all great!  Since we lived there, we would go to the Balloon Fiesta and offer to help out on chase crews.  After a few times serving, we would get invited aboard for flights – especially later in the week.  I would highly recommend a driving tour all over the state – including the Acoma Pueblo, Santa Fe, Red River, Taos, etc…  Plan enough time to meet new people and learn!