Some people are fortunate to live their dreams. I, Andrea Echeverría, am one of them. I am an Executive Search Consultant with LS International and this is the story of how my dreams have unfolded over the past 15 months or so.
Struggles often precede breakthroughs
My fascination with human minds and interpersonal interactions was the reason why I pursued a bachelor’s degree in Industrial & Organizational Psychology in my native Honduras. I moved to Spain in 2017 and formally qualified myself in luxury business management and digital marketing. My passion for people remained, so I also obtained a Master’s degree in Human Resources Management & Coaching.
I loved southern Europe and wanted to live and work there. I did take up various jobs but despite my professional qualifications and proficiency in Spanish, Portuguese and English, I was not able to find the kind of job I aspired for- one in which I could make a real and lasting difference to people. Then, in early 2020, the world was quite unexpectedly struck by the pandemic. Life became even more difficult; there was also the constant stress of reading/watching news about millions of deaths across the world. I often stayed up late into the night, wondering if I had made the right choices. But the past is gone, and nobody can change it. I was still clear about wanting the kind of job in which I could make a tangible difference to people’s lives. I had given up on my childhood dream of becoming a doctor but I was determined not to do so again.
I renewed my efforts to find a position that was in line with my aspirations. Sometime in early 2021, I met Lauren Stiebing, the passionate founder of LS International, a young, ambitious and successful executive search firm that was looking for people to help it grow the business. I was so struck by her dynamism, high energy levels, and determination to transform executive search, that I expressed my willingness to join as an intern. I knew that I would learn a lot about the field, and was excited. Her professionalism and thoroughness were evident in LS International’s evaluation process, which included the SuccessFinder assessment.
I did not know much about SuccessFinder at the time, but did know that it was an expensive assessment tool. I was impressed that LS International was willing to make that kind of investment even when hiring an intern. I vividly recall thinking to myself, “Imagine how thorough their assessment must be for senior positions”. When I was briefed on my SuccessFinder scores, I was not surprised to find that my highest scores related to Human Resources and People. However, I was surprised when Bruno Lubeigt, an experienced SuccessFinder practitioner and LS International’s advisor, told me that my strongest indicators of success pointed in the direction of me being a SuccessFinder practitioner myself! At that time, I did not think much about it; my focus then was on proving myself quickly so that Lauren would hire me for a full-time role.
Learning: Unexpected hurdles will sometimes crop up in life; the key is to double down and work diligently using whatever resources are available. There is no time to be lost in self-pity or asking “why me”.
Opportunities don’t just fall into one’s laps
LS International was an organization that clearly cared for people- not just the corporate client executives it worked with, but also individual candidates. I was grateful not just to have got a job that would better utilize my HRM qualifications (and let me live in Spain) but one that gave me the opportunity to be part of a vibrant organization. For most of 2021, I learned about the Executive Search process and business. I began to appreciate the nuances of executive search and how LS International’s people-centric approach is distinct. I also honed my own skills in conducting searches for a wide range of positions in the consumer industry.
I must have done a good job, because I was promoted as Associate Consultant in a relatively short time. I got the opportunity to speak with a number of mid-level and senior executives from different consumer organizations across Europe and North America. All my conversations were virtual, because the pandemic continued to rage across many countries, including in Europe.
From my conversations, one thing was quite evident: everyone had been impacted deeply by the pandemic in their own ways. Many executives were looking for a change, but were not sure what they were looking for. They all had certain functional, market, product/segment experience. But did they necessarily want more of the same? What more were they looking for in the face of changed priorities? Was there a way to figure out if they might do better in a certain kind of role, and then look for suitable opportunities in new companies (or even industries)?
A number of thoughts swirling in my head eventually crystallized around an idea: a service by LS International to help executives answer questions such as those listed above and help them find positions that suit their aspirations better, thereby increasing the odds of their success. I bounced my ideas off Lauren and others in the team. This is how we co-created “LS Elevate Career Consultancy”, a talent development service that involved assessing each candidate’s inherent strengths using SuccessFinder, and accordingly, identifying roles/companies where they are more likely to succeed. . LS International formally launched its LS Elevate Career Consultancy service line in late 2021.
Although we had been using SuccessFinder as part of our search process even earlier, we relied on external experts. We felt that it was important to have in-house expertise in the SuccessFinder framework and tool. I was delighted when Lauren asked me to get certified as a SuccessFinder practitioner. The icing on the cake was that LS International would even pay for my certification. I had read that a good leader actively encourages and supports his/her team members to develop themselves and supports them in this journey. I was now seeing this play out in my own life! Thanks Lauren!
I was determined to complete the certification at the earliest. However, there was a lot of regular executive search and placement work to be done because the job market was opening up after two years of uncertainty and a number of restrictions. WFH had changed candidate priorities and preferences; this also altered the catchment area for some companies. Additionally, many consumer companies with visionary leadership had started to hire people with expertise in “Digital Transformation”, “Blockchain” and “Digital Supply Chains”. These were new roles for which talent was not available in other consumer companies. I soon discovered that balancing a full-time job with a professional certification is not easy. It’s not always possible to speak with executives only during standard business hours- which meant that study time during weekends was cut short.
That LS International was paying my salary and for my certification placed additional pressure on me to deliver in both areas. There is a lot of research backing SuccessFinder, so the course required me to study 400+ pages of content because good practitioners must understand the spirit as well as letter. My assignments required extensive research because understanding the basis for questions and interpreting responses cannot be taken lightly. I worked hard, but also smart, using every available opportunity to prepare. I went to the extent of carrying reading material whenever I commuted or travelled! I also started applying my learnings in small ways when I interacted with candidates; this enabled me to tie in “theory” with “practice”.
Learning: The willingness to go beyond one’s zone of comfort is vital. Fear of the unknown is natural, but must not hold you back. Do your best, and results will follow.
The fruits of hard (and smart) work cannot be denied
Six months of my hard (and smart!) work finally paid off in June 2022, when I passed the necessary exam and became a certified SuccessFinder practitioner. Naturally, I am elated at the achievement. But I am also energized by the new skills at my disposal that will help me understand candidates and assess their strengths more effectively. Not only am I equipped to interpret SuccessFinder results, but I can already see myself as a better recruiter because I am now able to pick up signals more quickly and accurately during conversations with candidates. I feel more empowered and believe that I am on my way to live my dreams.
My colleagues have already noticed a new spring in my step and a higher level of energy, enthusiasm and confidence in my voice. Even candidates with whom I have not interacted in the past have complimented me on how I guide conversations and make them feel comfortable and hence, more willing to open up. This is valuable for a recruiter because the more information recruiters can gather about candidates, the better the fit they can create between individuals and potential roles.
Learning: Certifications broaden one’s perspectives. The knowledge and skills one acquires through professional certification must be consciously applied to one’s work to get better.
The world is changing at a more rapid pace than ever before; finding a job that is in line with your strengths (and not just experience) can be rewarding in more than one way. We at LS International can help you in this pursuit, opening up new horizons for you. I truly believe that LS International can now do an even better job of identifying the best candidates for roles and thereafter, advising clients objectively on who might be the best fit based on their strengths. We can also help in administering and interpreting SuccessFinder as part of internal career development programs.
If you would like to know more about SuccessFinder, what the certification journey is all about or are looking for a new career growth opportunity, feel free to get in touch with me on my email email@example.com or by calling to +34 931 760 239.