BABE #292: DINA DEMARCO - Division President, Emerging Businesses - Hueman
The Great Recession and a friendly connection led Dina to Hueman — a company that specializes in recruiting c-suite executives — where she now serves as Division President. Nearly 10 years of growth and lots of climbing up the company ladder later, Dina wears many hats while empowering her staff to achieve professional and personal goals. In a position with much oversight and moving parts, she’s candid about her intentional leadership style, and personal values — including both hard work and lots of fun — that helped get her where she is today. Read on for her story about a decade of growth, and some expert tips for hiring managers and recruiters.
Hometown: Flagler Beach, Florida
Current city: Atlantic Beach, Florida
Alma mater: University of North Florida
Degree: B.S., Communications; Master’s in Business Administration
Very first job: A surf shop in Flagler Beach
Hustle: Division President, Emerging Businesses; VP of RPO Operations, Hueman
Babe you admire and why?
This one is hard; there are so many babes I admire for so many different reasons, but right now I think Patti Smith is pretty freaking amazing. After reading her autobiography, “Just Kids,” I wanted to know more. I was in awe of her perseverance and commitment. Her lack of concern around conformity and of other people’s opinion amazes me. Both she and her works are truly original, and that so rarely happens. Also, despite how fierce her works are, she still has this sense of vulnerability; it’s a rare combination.
How do you spend your free time?
I’ve been married for just over 12 years, and I love spending time with my husband (and BFF), Jeff. We just have silly fun together. I love try to cook up something fancy with my favorite music blaring. Also, I play soccer on a women’s team and I love it. We play every Sunday and I look forward to it every week.
Favorite fictional female character?
Jane Eyre. The whole story is incredible and tragic, and just so dang good! The quote, “I would always rather be happy than dignified” pretty much sums it up for me. She is strong about her convictions.
Current power anthem?
Depends on the situation, but if I’m going into some type of competitive situation (or getting ready for boxing class) I love “Zero,” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
What would you eat for your very last meal?
A massive platter of hushpuppies.
What’s something most don’t know about you?
Despite being a big extrovert, I very much value and enjoy my downtime.
What tools and resources help you in your day-to-day work?
Classical music for focus!
Tell us about your hustle.
My role has evolved, so I am now involved in several different areas of our business at Hueman. In our recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) division, I oversee the operations and delivery for our largest partners. Under my purview, we’ll hire approximately 10,000 employees on behalf of our partners. I’m really excited about my new role as president of emerging businesses. I’ve been so involved in operations, but this role gives me exposure to a lot of new things, like budgeting, strategic growth and overall direction. I’ll oversee all of our new business lines, including our marketing-focused staffing firm, Agency a la Carte, our executive search team and our newest concept, subscription recruitment. Agency a la Carte is a well-known group in Jacksonville and I’m excited to help them take things to the next level. Plus, there is a strong marketing focus there, and I’ve always loved marketing, so I’m happy to more involved with that.
What does your typical workday look like? What types of ‘hats’ do you wear throughout the day?
Lots and lots of hats. In no particular order: The Fixer — how I can help my team solve problems are encountering, how can I remove barriers? The Challenger — How can I challenge my team and our partners to be better and push past the status quo. How can I get us to embrace change? The Innovator — What technology, trends, platforms do we need to be look at in order to stay best-in-class in service? The Accountability Partner — Making sure we are staying true to our goals and making progress as needed. The Friend and Funny Person — My most important hat. You have to love where you work in order to be great, and for me that’s all about friendship and humor, and how we can infuse those into our everyday. The Business Person — How can we grow this business and enhance our services?
What led you to pursue a career in recruiting?
I’ve been with Hueman since 2009—almost 10 years. I think very few people grow up saying they want to work in recruitment; they kind of fall into it, and that’s what happened to me. 2009 was the Great Recession, and I really wanted stability. I had a friend who was working here, and he recommended me. I started as a recruiter and worked my way up to manager, director, VP and now division president. I’ve been afforded so many opportunities because I work my tail off, I’m not afraid to take risks and I have an incredible support team at Hueman. My direct boss is the COO and he is fantastic to work for. The amount of faith he has in my abilities is awesome (and sometimes scary.)
How would you describe your leadership style?
As I’ve grown professionally, my style has changed a lot. I’ve become more comfortable with who I am. I am approachable, authentic, confident and acutely aware of my shortcomings. I used to think being a leader meant always knowing the answer and the need to always have your voice heard. But I now know a great leader needs to listen, seek to understand and let other people shine. I’ve achieved a great deal of success, and now I want to bring up others and have them feel the same pride I do. When I’m looking for colleagues, I want someone who is real. They don’t have to be the smartest person in the room; they can make mistakes and they should share those experiences and what they learned. They should be competent, hardworking and willing to take and give feedback. They also need to be light-hearted and have fun. If you don’t have fun while you’re working, you are missing out tremendously.
What advice do you have for hiring managers?
(1) People interview for skills, not a culture fit. They rely too much on a standard list of questions and forget to truly identify if the candidate has the soft skills for a role. (2) The interview is often intimidating for the candidate, instead of warm and welcoming. (3) An interview should be a conversation, with the candidate talking 80 percent of the time. One piece of advice for a hiring managers: Make the interview experience warm and welcoming for a candidate, and get to know the candidate personally and professionally.
How has being a woman affected your professional experience?
I’m fortunate in that Hueman is an incredible company, and never in my day-to-day have I ever felt that being a woman affected my professional experience. Outside of Hueman, I still run into those situations when a man assumes I’m subordinate to other men in the room and addresses questions or comments to them instead of me. In those cases, I leverage my expertise to correct that misconception quickly. Knowledge is power.
Are you involved with any side projects?
I do a lot of volunteer work. I was on the board of the Mission House for several years, and still volunteer there regularly. I was also recently diagnosed with a benign brain tumor, called an acoustic neuroma, which naturally lead me to do some research. I learned that brain tumor research is dramatically underfunded, so I want to find a way to increase public awareness of this and work more closely with some of the organizations out there.
What does your approach to work-life balance look like?
I struggle with this, because I like to work and sometimes it’s hard to turn it off. I’m good about leaving my phone at home on the weekends though—out of sight, out of mind. I do exercise a lot, and it really is a great stress reliever for me. It took me a long time to find exercises I like and will commit to, but between boxing and soccer, I’ve found it!
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” —Booker T. Washington. These are my words to live by. Be humble, be authentic, have fun, and be you! I’ll always been the women who dresses funky, references Harry Potter and probably has funky-colored hair, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be an incredible professional. You don’t have to conform to what other people think you should be.
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