Smooch Reynolds – Managing Partner of DHR International

All you have to do is be honest with people. Nobody is perfect.

Smooch Repovich Reynolds is managing partner of the Global Investor Relations and Communications Practice Group at DHR International, a global executive search firm. She serves clients across a broad array of industries and sizes, including pre-IPO startups and Fortune 500 corporations.

A dynamic lecturer, keynote speaker, media expert on employment issues, and frequent contributor to global professional journals and newsletters, Smooch has been featured on CNBC’s “Power Lunch,” CNN-TV, Bloomberg TV, Fox News, and myriad other programs. Her areas of expertise include investor relations, finance, communications, and brand marketing.Prior to joining DHR, Smooch was a partner in the Los Angeles office of Caldwell Partners International, served as senior vice president/chief communications officer at The Irvine Company, and she even founded her own search and management consulting firm called The Repovich-Reynolds Group.

Smooch is a graduate of the University of Southern California and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in broadcast journalism. She resides in Los Angeles.

Where did the idea for your business focus come from?

Having been a chief communications officer, human resources executive, and financial professional, I believed that channeling my broad experiences in those areas while focusing on executive search work would allow me to counsel my clients more effectively. When you have walked in the shoes of the executive role you are seeking to fill, you already understand the pressure points and critical skills required to be successful in that role — and that allows you to be a high-quality strategic adviser to a CEO and management team.

What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?

There are no typical days in the executive search profession — which is part of what I love about it. Every day presents new challenges, learning opportunities, and varied client situations in which I get to use my analytical skills and intuitive abilities to solve problems.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Being an executive recruiter means thinking quickly and in real time, so oftentimes, I generate ideas “in the moment” with clients as I advise them on specific business problems. Being a superior headhunter requires excellent critical-thinking skills and strong problem-solving skills.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The fact that economies around the world are increasingly interlocked and affect one another all the time. This is interesting on an intellectual level. I also like the Millennial generation, and while that is not a trend, I do think those professionals are really interesting and are going to have a profound affect on society and business. It is definitely a trendsetting generation.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as a search consultant?

There are several: passion and drive, strong intuitive abilities, and attention to details both large and small. I also care deeply about the well-being of the candidates with whom I interact and my client management teams.

What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?

Serving as the CMO for a regional consumer products company. I reported to a CEO who ended up misrepresenting the job I accepted — and I left a really good job to go work for her. Lesson learned: Before you accept a job, do your due diligence by looking into the character of the person for whom you’ll be working.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

Get an MBA in either finance or business, plus take my CEO’s advice when he asks me to join his management team, even if that means relocating.

As a search consultant, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Build enduring, credible relationships with clients and talent.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Early in my career as a recruiter, I clearly defined the professional brand I wanted. Doing so created the foundation for the reputation I wanted to build for myself. Once that was determined, I spent the next 25 years being relentless in all of my behaviors — especially with the counsel I provide to clients and candidates. I have always focused on building mutually respectful and credible relationships.

What is one failure you had in your current career, and how did you overcome it?

“Failure” is not a word I use in my universe because I see all things as opportunities. If things have not gone as planned, executives and colleagues need to be OK with saying, “I’m sorry, I made a mistake,” and “I don’t know that; help me learn it.”

In the early days of my career, because of a vendor mix-up, I once gave a price quote on a corporate identity program to a client that, in reality, ended up being 1.5 times less than the actual price. I picked up the phone and said, “Here is what happened, here are the two choices you can decide upon, and either direction will reflect well on your company.” The client opted to proceed with the original choice, even though at a higher price, and all was fine because I was truthful about an honest mistake.

All you have to do is be honest with people. Nobody is perfect.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I wish there were a software application that could move across all electronic tools and aggregate your address book in your phone without creating multiple versions of the same contact. Every time I turn around, the contacts in my phone are “making babies” — one contact is an email, one contact is a phone number, etc. No executive has time to edit all this, with thousands of contacts. Besides, contacts aren’t housed in a central place across devices, so I couldn’t even hire someone to edit this down.

What is the best $100 you recently spent?

Giving $100 each year to a one-armed homeless guy who washes car windows every day of the year. It makes my day to contribute to his well-being because he is so hard-working.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

I love using Excel spreadsheets as a means to organize work, whether it is the strategy behind a search assignment or a financial plan of some sort.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

“Love Works: Seven Timeless Principles for Effective Leaders written by Joel Manby. It is one of the most phenomenal leadership books I have ever read. It is written from the heart and offers a genuine framework for leading an organization. Every professional aspiring to be in a leadership role should read it and adopt the fundamental principles it contains.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

The biggest influence in my career is a former CEO for whom I worked many years ago, Tom Eidson. He recently retired from his role as the chief communications officer at Fidelity Investments. He definitely was ahead of his time as a leader — a bit of a Renaissance man.


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