Author archives: Claudia Haque

Suzanne Hanifin awarded Dave Grimshaw Award for Volunteer of the Year

On March 10, 2019 at Mt Hood Meadows, Oregon Cancer Ski Out (OCSO) awarded Suzanne Hanifin the Dave Grimshaw Award Volunteer of the Year. Suzanne has been involved with the Oregon Cancer Ski Out for about 25 years, as both a volunteer and ski racer.

Suzanne stated “Cancer touches all of us whether ourselves or a loved one. To be able to support an organization like OCSO for about 25 years has been an honor and a privilege. It reminds me of the saying: if you want to run fast, you run alone; if you want to run far, you run with others. Together we can beat cancer.”

Suzanne went on to say “OCSO is one of the best unknown organizations in Oregon where all the dollars raised stay in Oregon. We can see the impact daily with their support of the Knight Institute, Candlelighters, Children’s Cancer Association, different hospice organizations, plus other organizations and today support the War on Melanoma.”

Now in its 31st year, Cancer Ski Out creates avenues to raise funds, provide hope and enable healing in the fight against cancer. What’s raised here, stays here! Learn more about Cancer Ski Out here.

By Christine Billett

Small Business Hiring Trends for 2019

Businesses are growing and creating more jobs. Finding qualified people to fill those positions in a booming economy is a challenge. According to a article Small business hiring trends 2019: What to focus on to stay ahead here are things you can do to make recruiting a little easier when unemployment is down.

  1. Invest in technology that requires fewer hires. Upgrading to the latest technology and equipment can help your current workforce worker better requiring less additional hires.
  2. Use HR technologies that level the playing field. Make your website mobile friendly as 70% of applicants use their mobile devices when searching for jobs. Another easy thing to do: make a video of your office space, yourself or someone from HR talking about the position. Use social media to find candidates; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Also, a career website can be useful for getting in touch with hard to reach candidates.
  3. Source for potential vs. perfect candidate. Instead of looking for the perfect candidate, sourcing for a “high-potential” candidate who is trainable may be the solution. Tailoring the job for a candidate and/or offering training are ways to make the search more successful.
  4. Do reality checks on candidates’ interest in the job. An important aspect of searching is weeding out candidates who are not a good fit. This can be accomplished through “Job-shadowing” where a candidate interacts with the team and gets a feel for the job.

Putting all or some of these ideas in place will hopefully give you a leg up the next time you need to hire.


By Christine Billett

PwC 2018 Family Business Survey Results Are Out

PricewaterhouseCooper’s released the results of their survey PwC Global Family Business Survey Results 2018. It finds family businesses to be in good health. Revenue is expected to continue growing for most family businesses.

Respondents were enthusiastic about future growth. Over 50% will take significant steps in terms of digitalization and bringing in outside resources to help run the business. Almost 40% see themselves buying and selling in other countries. Some will be involved in buying or merging with other domestic companies while others will be looking to buy or merge with non-domestic companies. Still others will significantly change their business model or earning profit from new products or services.

The survey looked at the myriad of challenges family businesses are facing.  Major challenges include digitalization, innovation, and technology.  Thirty percent of family businesses feel vulnerable to digital disruption. They’ll need to look to millennials who are tech-savvy and well educated. “Once they get these younger people, it’s important to empower and enable the disruptive generation and allow them to do their job. The family businesses that don’t embrace change probably won’t be here in 20 years’ time because they haven’t taken the steps to address these issues now. When they do, it may be too late.”

The future has some definite challenges ahead as times are changing. The leaders that embrace these challenges and run with them stand to reap the benefits in the years ahead.

Acumen partners with MEDP

Acumen Executive & Talent Search (Acumen) is proud to partner with McMinnville Economic Development Partnership (MEDP) in the search for their new Executive Director. Acumen is currently working with the MEDP Board of Directors. The search is in the initial stages with a goal of a Q1 hire.

Acumen’s Karen Anderson stated they are “experts in developing unique value propositions that market organizations powerfully, ethically, and authentically – not just to capture the highest caliber of candidate, but to market organizations to potential future investors and customers.” She added, “I am personally vested in this search, I live and work in this community. It would be a privilege to serve McMinnville and partner with this board on a shared quest for continued growth and success”.

Acumen Receives Award from PNDC

Acumen Executive Search was the proud recipient of the Pacific Northwest Defense Coalition (PNDC) 2018 Sustaining Member of the Year Award for their ongoing leadership, work on the Board and committees, assisting with transitions PNDC went through this year…and general awesomeness. The award was presented at the PNDC Annual Dinner.  Acumen’s own Suzanne Hanifin and Karen Anderson were pleased and delighted to receive it. Acumen and PNDC have enjoyed a long relationship, placing President and CEO Sarah Garrison earlier this year.


Congratulations to Suzanne, Karen and team Acumen!

OEDA Conference – Where Great People and Ideas Connect

Acumen was a proud sponsor and exhibitor at OEDA’s (Oregon Economic Development Association) Annual Fall Conference in Klamath Falls. The conference is an opportunity for Oregon’s economic development community to come together and offers pertinent information on the latest in economic development, Oregon trends, and Oregon’s economic future.

Photo depicts Acumen’s own Karen Anderson with Avery Pickard OEDA’s new Executive Director, whom Acumen helped place. Acumen took great pride in helping OEDA with this critical new position. The conference was a wonderful opportunity for the two ladies to reconnect.

Congratulation to the award winners!

OEDA’s Urban Renewal Project of the Year award goes to The Windward development in Lake Oswego and partner PHK Development!

OEDA’s Exceptional Economic Development Marketing and Promotions award goes to Edco and East Cascades Works.

Outstanding Collaborative Partnership award goes to the joint investment in Salem’s Career Technical Education Center and partners Mountain West, City of Salem, and Salem Keizer Schools.

Business Development Success award goes to Greater PDX and partners Portland General, City of Gresham, Port of Portland, and Business for the Element Six recruitment!

Developer of the Year award goes to Tom Nelson

Congratulations to Avery Picakrd, President Sarah Means, and the board for an excellent and insightful conference!


How to Conduct a Search for Your Right Search Partner

By Molly Norton

The Most Critical Component of an Executive Search Takes Place Before the Search for an Executive

 From Laszlo Bock, former SVP of People Operations at Google and author of Work Rules:

“Superb hiring isn’t just about recruiting the biggest name, top salesperson, or cleverest engineer. It’s about finding the very best people who will be successful in the context of your organization, and who will make everyone around them more successful.”


In today’s highly competitive business environment, companies cannot afford to make a less-than-optimal choice when it comes to filling mission-critical leadership. A well-suited and high-caliber hire can also have a multiplier effect on a business.

To greatly increase the probability of search success, finding and engaging the right executive search partner is the most important first step in any executive search. Ideally this partnership is forged prior to a need arising so that an organization is a step ahead of the current talent-driven market.

There are a veritable plethora of reasons why it’s critical to engage the right search partner, but here are the most important:

  • The search firm is the first exposure that your best, most ideal candidate will have to your firm. It is critical that your brand is presented professionally, sincerely, authentically, and ethically.
  • They must make candidate experience a top priority – as it reflects your organization and the way it’s viewed in the market.
  • The search firm should study and solidly understand the organizational culture and keep that as the North Star that guides the search.
  • The search firm needs to effectively sell the best candidate on the virtues of your company: its vision, its future, its culture, its mission, and its peer executive team. This can only be done with a firm that has put in the time upfront to listen, learn, and partner well with your team. These skills are essential because, again, the right candidate is going to have a multiplier effect on your business (which is a whole separate article unto itself).
  • The search firm should make your job easier, not more difficult. They must not burden you with all the work of screening an endless flood of resumes in the hopes that something might stick.100% of the resumes you receive should be from highly qualified candidates.
  • The search firm should know how to formulate tailored offers for the best candidate; this means they must understand the candidate on a deeper psychological and cultural level than just their skills and education.

Because executive searches are typically a blend of art and science, and are inherently iterative, the most successful executive search firm partnerships require deep levels of trust, candid and frequent feedback, honest and open communication, and strong commitment to ensure successful outcomes.

Top search firms have three easily recognized characteristics:

  • A proven and codified search methodology with analytical tools and high placement and long-term retention rates.
  • A thorough, up-front effort to understand your strategic vision and corporate culture, industry, technology, and organizational objectives before developing and executing on a search strategy.
  • A sincere interest in people and understanding who they are and what makes them tick.

When interviewing potential executive search firm partners, here are some qualifying questions you might consider asking:

  • Do they have expertise and a track record of success hiring talent in your specific industry? Do they understand your competitors and the industry ecosystem in which you operate? Do they understand your unique market challenges? Search firms can have broad expertise, but successful ones have sharp focus and don’t try to be all things to all people.
  • Do they have a broad, trusted network of people in your area and industry? Have they worked internationally? Anyone can reach out to people through social media, but does your firm have a trusted network that they can leverage to champion your brand?
  • Do they have strong references? Do they have a large number of repeat customers, case studies and transformative client successes?
  • Do they have an appreciation of and track record of hiring for diversity?
  • Do their search consultants have decades of experience in the business world? Have they worked as hiring managers and/or HR professionals before focusing on executive search? Do they have an understanding of particular HR laws as they relate to recruitment that will keep your firm out of legal hot water? Are their search professionals also technology and finance experts with first-hand experience in these functions?
  • What is the average retention rate for their hires and length of tenure vs the national average?
  • Do they have a strong team that works synergistically? It’s important to vet anyone who will be representing your brand in the search. After all, your search team is representing you to many high-caliber executives and must impress. They must be able to articulate, and accurately and authentically represent your value proposition without presenting as a slick salesperson. They must speak the language of your industry. Your executive search partner will be an extension of your sales and marketing team and the best search professionals will also be creating dozens of new potential customers for your product / service / brand.
  • Are they creative in how they conduct their searches or are they consistently fishing in the same spot? Are they just pulling resumes from a stale applicant tracking system (ATS)?

 Finding the right strategic search partner that meets the criteria and leverages the strategies above prior to a critical executive search will set the stage for great success.

And here’s to great success!

“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day, you bet on people, not on strategies.” ~ Lawrence Bossidy