Author archives: Claudia Haque

Acumen Executive Search is proud to announce the successful placement of Ted Allen as Consulting Chief Financial Officer for PlusPoint Consulting.

Acumen Executive Search is proud to announce the successful placement of Ted Allen as Consulting Chief Financial Officer for PlusPoint Consulting.


About Ted Allen: Ted comes to PlusPoint with over 25 years of finance and operations experience in SaaS software, technology, Big 4 public accounting, higher education, and services organizations.

Ted has experience working for a range of different types of organizations: from small, entrepreneurial software organizations experiencing successful exits to global, publicly traded Fortune 500s.

He shared that the PlusPoint model deeply resonates with him as he enjoys the “art” of consulting, which is reliant on skilled problem-solving and identifying opportunities for optimization. He enjoys working at the intersection of finance and operations while optimizing people, processes, and technology; building efficiencies; guiding and directing transitions; and everything in between.

About PlusPoint: PlusPoint allows you to supplement your accounting and finance team by outsourcing with PlusPoint’s professionals who provide immediate support and skills in times of change or transition, as well as knowledgeable planning, executive counsel and direction over the long term.

About Acumen: Since 2007, Acumen has been the premier boutique, woman-owned Executive Search firm in Oregon with global clientele. Acumen works holistically and strategically with their clients to deeply comprehend their business and culture, to facilitate critical hires who can help solve meaningful problems. Our clients experience higher retention rates (over 3X the national average) which result in lower costs and higher productivity. Visit

Finding True Professional Fulfillment

By Megan Castleman

For the majority of today’s workforce, more waking hours are spent during the week dedicated to our professions than spent with family and friends.  For many, our professions blend into personal time as we check emails in the evenings, maybe send off a quick note we didn’t get to during the day or even take calls from a different time zone to accommodate a client.  The point is, a significant portion of our lives is focused on what and who we are professionally.  Why, then, is it so many find themselves dreading getting up in the morning, forcing themselves into the shower and on to work only to arrive back home completely depleted and devoid of energy, making it difficult to enjoy their precious family time?  Or finding themselves losing the early morning battle with that inner voice who is insistent they stay in bed, end up calling in and subsequently dealing with a horrible sense of guilt for doing so?  Or even struggling with resentment towards their employer, management or peers because they feel undervalued and unheard?

We all have rough periods of time at work.  Perhaps we have a huge client presentation due and have been burning the midnight oil for the past few weeks.  Maybe it’s tax season or we’ve been scrambling to meet the deadline for a large technology implementation resulting in long hours being fueled only by cold pizza from the breakroom.  These types of relatively short-term, cyclical exceptions happen in a lot of professions and it’s completely normal to feel worn down and even needing to take a day or two off to recoup.  What is not normal is losing the battle with that inner voice for the 3rd time this week only to realize it’s just Wednesday.  If the latter is happening to you, it is time for some serious introspection because something is amiss.  You should start by asking yourself these three questions:

  • Are you excited and fulfilled by the primary objectives of your profession?
  • Do you have a strong alignment with your employer’s culture, vision and mission?
  • Do you have access to quality leadership?

When you are in a profession you love, are closely aligned with company culture and values, and feel valued and heard by leadership, the paradigm will shift.  You will find yourself passionate about, as well as excited, energized, and fulfilled by, your profession.  You will feel strongly about your company’s values and mission, working together with your peers towards a common goal while receiving strong support from leadership.  No longer will it be a constant struggle to rouse yourself from your warm, cozy bed in the mornings and, rather than using your time in the shower bemoaning the fact you must “adult” today, you will find yourself strategizing about potential accomplishments and goals for the day.  You will be more present and engaged during family time.  You will be more productive both professionally and personally.  You will feel impactful and valued.  You will experience a deep personal satisfaction and increased professional drive.

At Acumen Executive Search, we are a group of professionals who are deeply passionate and knowledgeable about the impact of having cultural, mission, and core value alignment between our client companies’ and the leaders we help place.  This alignment is so absolutely critical, it is our number one focus from the time we begin the discovery process with our client companies, continuing with the sourcing, interviewing and recommendation of candidates, through our follow-up case studies and long-term client relationships.  We know true success only occurs with genuine alignment, we have proven it.

It can be scary to realize you are not a fit for your current company culture or in the wrong profession altogether.  Change can be difficult for all of us and coming up with a plan of action can be a daunting task.  However, there are many resources available such as career, personality and core value assessments which can help you narrow your field of choices and career coaches who can help you implement a plan of action.  Yes, it can be overwhelming to think of such significant change but the rewards are invaluable.  Do not waste any more time trying to fit the proverbial square peg into the round hole.  The ability to live your dream now is a life changer and, I strongly believe, life is way too short to spend it any other way.

Outsourcing & Company Culture

By Megan Castleman

I recently attended a seminar on using outsourcing as a strategic business tool and it provoked some thought. It is oftentimes a fiscally sound decision to outsource certain business operations or even as a short-term, cost-effective way to manage implementing important initiatives where long-term human capital would not be needed. However, I had to think of the potential effect on what I believe to be one of the most important aspects of any business – culture. Is it possible to outsource certain functions while minimizing impactful effects to company culture? I believe the answer is yes when great care is taken in selecting the right outsourcing firm while ensuring you have the right internal personnel providing oversight of the outsourced function.

–         Determine the “Why”: Understand why you need to outsource a particular function. Do you lack internal staff with the necessary expertise? Is this a one-off project that you need additional human capital resources for implementation but not for long-term maintenance? Is it more cost-effective to outsource than to pursue an internal hire? You should be come to the table with a clear understanding of the “whys” behind your decision.

–         Define your Needs: Before even starting the process of finding an outsourcing provider, you should clearly define the scope of the function for which you need outsourced assistance. For example, you need to add human capital at the executive level and have decided to use a firm like Acumen Executive Search to help. You should have a basic understanding of the job description, experience and educational requirements, and timing. A good outsource provider will be able to fine tune these details but having this basic information to start the process is essential.

–         Interview: Any outsource provider should be interviewed as thoroughly as a potential internal hire and should be able to clearly articulate its mission, core values, culture and unique value proposition. If they are not able to do so or if what they are proposing doesn’t align with your own mission, core values, and culture, then they likely are not a good fit.

–         Do your research: The internet is a treasure trove of information, both good and bad, and a great place to start your research on outsource providers. The arrival of job engines such as Glassdoor and Indeed have provided a resource for employees to post, anonymously if they choose, the good, bad and ugly of working for a certain firm. You can get a good feel for what employees think about working there and, if they are not happy, you probably won’t be either. At the very least, you can address reoccurring issues with the stakeholders to understand their awareness of these issues and how they are addressing them. You should also read any testimonials on the provider’s website and realize you can, and should, request references. This is especially key when working with providers lacking a presence on job boards. Remember, you want honest, transparent feedback to ensure the provider is the right fit.

–         Assign Appropriate Oversight: An internal staff or leadership member who has a deep understanding of all of the above points should be assigned to manage the outsource relationship. This person should be knowledgeable and empowered to make key decisions, including ending the relationship if it is not working out.

In short, outsourcing, when managed correctly, can be an invaluable tool to accomplish business initiatives in a more cost-effective, timely, strategically advantageous, and culturally sensitive manner.


Stop Lying to Job Candidates About the Role

I recently read a Harvard Business Review article, Stop Lying to Job Candidates About the Role,, by Atta Tarki and Jeff Weiss. Atta and Jeff discussed the importance of “full disclosure” to candidates. This is what we at Acumen Executive Search have been saying for years. People need to come into a position with “their eyes wide open.”

Clear expectations need full disclosure and challenges need to be openly discussed in order to know if the candidate is a good fit and if the candidate finds your organization to be a good fit.

“Too many hiring managers avoid telling candidates the truth about a job. Their logic is that if applicants find out how hard they will work or how boring the core of the open jobs are, they will walk away. This is a mistake. To hire effectively, you have to be honest about what working at your firm is like and what it takes to be successful.” states the opening paragraph.

Acumen learned early in our 12-year history that it is about asking hiring managers the hard questions to determine “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of a position AND the company.  Then it’s about asking hard questions of our candidates to determine the fit.

I recommend the article for all hiring managers. Hiring needs to be a win/win for both sides of the equation in order to have a successful employee and to have a high retention rate. Why go through the process of hiring and then have to do it again 6-months later when the candidate realizes that the position is not what they signed up for?

I also recommend the article for people looking at making a career move. It is your responsibility as a candidate to ask hard questions too and to understand expectations to determine if this is the right opportunity for you.

If you would like to learn more about Acumen, please visit

by Suzanne Hanifin

Acumen Executive Search is proud to announce the hire of Bryan Bast as CEO for Food and Beverage Innovations.

Food & Beverage Innovations’ Board of Directors was on a quest to find a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for their growing organization. Board members contacted long-time and trusted search partners Acumen Executive Search (Acumen) to locate an ideal candidate in an accelerated fashion. Understanding time was of the essence, Acumen swiftly leveraged their unique, customized 9-step search methodology and interviewed the Board Members to gain a clear understanding of the needs of the organization. Acumen next reached out to its broad network, searching for the right candidates to put forward. Acumen presented six exceptional, highly-qualified candidates from various complimentary industries for the Board to review. Although all candidates had the right industry and skillsets necessary for the job and were deemed solid cultural fits, the Board determined that Bryan Bast would be a valuable asset to the company with his strengths in sales, marketing, engineering, growing early stage companies, and expertise specific to the adult beverage industry.

About Bryan Bast: Bryan has a track record of success in the beverage industry as part of the executive team at Mirth Provisions, a leader in innovative adult beverages. Prior to his leadership at Mirth, Bryan served as Global Business Director and Head of Marketing as part of FMC’s Health & Nutrition division, recently acquired by Dupont Nutrition and Biosciences. Bryan received his MBA from Carnegie Mellon and BS in Industrial Engineering from Marquette University.

About Food & Beverage Innovations: Inventors of JEVO®, the world’s first and only automated gelatin shot maker. JEVO® ’s cutting-edge automation technology has been featured in Food & Wine, Esquire, Bloomberg, Buzzfeed, Bravo, Mashable, Inc., Huffington Post, and the Chicago Tribune. Read more about JEVO®, its history, and their offerings, go to:

Says Tom Wells, Board Member “Big thanks to all of you at Acumen.  You put several great candidates in front of us in short order and I feel great about where we landed. You have a permanent home my contacts!”

 About Acumen: Since 2007, Acumen has been the premiere boutique, woman-owned Executive Search firm in Oregon with global clientele. Acumen works holistically and strategically with their clients to deeply comprehend their business and culture, to facilitate critical hires who can help solve meaningful problems. Our clients enjoy increased retention and lowered costs due to the services we provide. Visit

Suzanne Hanifin joins Professional 50

Suzanne Hanifin recently joined the Professional 50, a network of Greater Portland’s Elite Exit/Succession professionals. Each member of Professional 50 has been endorsed by others on the list, ensuring that only highly regarded experts are included. Congratulations Suzanne.


Suzanne’s skills as a top recruiter naturally lent itself to succession planning. Over the past few years, Acumen has expanded their capabilities to support companies in transition with succession. If your company needs help creating a succession plan, contact Acumen at 503-430-0294.

The Inside Skinny on Getting Noticed.

United Professional Women Accelerating Relationships & Development is hosting “The Inside Skinny on Getting Noticed“. Recruiters are 13% less likely to click on a woman’s bio on LinkedIn, but 16% more likely to hire a woman. Does your profile stand out? Are you owning your accomplishments? Does your resume cause a recruiter or a client to want to spend more than 9 seconds (average review time)?

Join Suzanne Hanifin and Amanda Szeto April 23 at 5:30 pm to explore tips and tricks for building an effective LinkedIn profile and optimizing your resume for job hunting, board positions, consulting, or whatever your goal is.


Congrats to Scott Cooper – New MEDP Executive Director

Acumen Executive Search is proud to announce the successful placement of Scott Cooper as Executive Director for McMinnville Economic Development Partnership (MEDP).

The MEDP board was looking to replace its outgoing Executive Director and called upon Acumen Executive Search (Acumen) to help fill this crucial position. Acumen quickly implemented their unique, customized 9 step search methodology and brought forward a pool of top tier candidates.

The board ultimately chose to hire Scott Cooper. Cooper’s innovative accomplishments and exceptional understanding of economic, business, community development, and extensive involvement serving as a leader within extremely different environments set him apart as a top tier candidate and the clear choice to lead MEDP.

About Scott Cooper: Scott Cooper brings over 20 years of economic development for both small and large communities to the city of McMinnville, OR. He has previously implemented economic initiatives that created jobs, recruited new companies, expanded existing businesses, and launched a tech innovations center.

Cooper feels that there is much opportunity, both personally and professionally, in the community of McMinnville that offers a great quality of life and wonderful residents. He is eager to learn and understand the history of McMinnville and learn and work cohesively with the board for the betterment of all.

Says Cooper “The professional team at Acumen really made a difficult process go very smooth. From initial contact through the successful outcome, I felt I had a partner in the process. The efforts of the Acumen team did not stop after accepting my new position, rather they have continued to offer assistance. I could not ask for a better experience.”

About MEDP: The Partnership includes the City of McMinnville, McMinnville Water & Light, McMinnville Industrial Promotions, McMinnville Industrial Promotions, the McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce, and area businesses. To learn more about the McMinnville Economic Development Partnership, visit or find us at

 About Acumen: Since 2007, Acumen has been the premier boutique, woman-owned Executive Search firm in Oregon with global clientele. Acumen works holistically and strategically with their clients to deeply comprehend their business and culture, to facilitate critical hires who can help solve meaningful problems. Visit

by Christine Billett

Product Marketing Manager Sought to Fill Gaps and Prepare Prior To Product Launch

“Acumen was easy to work with. I felt both Amanda and Karen genuinely looked out for my welfare. They kept in touch and clearly care about me – so unexpected and so very appreciated. Acumen’s coaching was on point; they advocated well for me resulting in a win-win agreement”

– Ananda, Product Marketing Manager



An early stage, pre-launch medical device company needed an experienced Product Marketing Manager to spearhead go-to-market strategy. While awaiting certain data for an innovative yet complex hardware/software product, it provided a challenge and opportunity for solutions. The product is a game changing medical device to be used in predicting disease state pre-dispositions to position patients and providers to enjoy improved health outcomes.



Acumen’s expertise quickly led to a top-tier candidate. As the interface of engineering, product management, and marketing, Ananda feels he has been able to be a sounding board for the team and has helped with overall direction and marketing approach. The team has been able to focus on goals in order of priorities and have clarity on product deliverables. As a result, Ananda is now a part of a Clinical Studies Group where team members from multiple departments meet regularly to examine next steps in the process of product development and launch.



Ananda feels heard and valued by his company.  He finds the science of the product and the whole space he works in is both exciting and fascinating.  As such, he is currently spearheading a group “The Voice of the Customer” to prepare to partner with customers post launch by building tools to work with and train distributors.

The team began a Culture Committee late last year to bridge the lab and corporate office.  It was an initial success, with approximately 27 people show up to an inaugural event designed to bring everyone together collaboratively as one team.

“I have learned so much and have never been in such a brand spanking new environment. Such a great experience!”