Claire Fleigel, Founding Partner, Lucy Lorenzo, Cpc Founding Partner, Elaine Beagle, Founding Partner, Ascension Search PartnersClaire Fleigel, Founding Partner, Lucy Lorenzo, Cpc Founding Partner, Elaine Beagle, Founding Partner
With the omnipresent trend of talent shortages globally, organizations face a growing problem of filling the gaping void of talent. The market is competitive, with candidates receiving multiple offers and aggressive counter-offers, paired with companies’ retention strategies focusing on retaining their existing employees. Additionally, with fewer graduates entering the STEM fields, coupled with the invasion of disruptive technologies, the lack of skilled labor is evident. Market forecasts point to more than 10 million candidate shortages by 2030. Amplifying the talent crunch further is the restriction imposed on the movement of people due to the current pandemic situation.

To aid organizations in their quest to find the best CFOs, Controllers, Finance executives, Treasury and Tax leaders, Dallas/ Fort Worth-based Ascension Search Partners delivers talent acquisition and executive search solutions, focusing on both the client and candidate requirements, creating a meaningful dialogue between the two for a fruitful partnership. With their forte in Accounting & Finance recruitment, Ascension Search Partners is skilled at narrowing in on the right talent and collaborating with organizations to onboard Director and C-level professionals in the areas of accounting, finance, reporting, tax, treasury, and audit.

In an interview with the editorial team of Manage HR, Claire Fleigel, Elaine Beagle, and Lucy Lorenzo, CPC, Founding Partners of Ascension Search Partners, discuss how their company helps their clients tap into the most qualified talent for key positions through extensive networks and intensively developed screening techniques.

Could you give us a background of your company?

Claire: Ascension Search Partners is a Dallas-based, womanfounded and owned executive search firm. With over 40 years of combined experience, our specialization is in recruiting accounting and finance executives for start-ups, high-growth, middle-market, large-cap, and Fortune 500 companies across the DFW and Greater Texas market. Collectively, the three of us have completed over 850 search assignments.

Although there are many executive search players in the market, our differentiating factor is that we are laser-focused only on accounting and finance. Yet another factor that is exceptionally unique is that the three of us, founders, have worked together for well over a decade, growing in unison with the blossoming of a very good relationship wherein we know each other’s style very well.

What are some of the challenges or pain points that Ascension Search Partners addresses?

Claire: The first would be the shortage of talent; finding and landing top talent. It takes an incredible amount of monetary focus and internal human capital to fill vacant positions, especially if a company is trying to create succession plans for their organization.

In finding the right people for our clients, we leverage our extensive networks, LinkedIn, social media, and other sources. Once engaged, when zeroing in on candidates, we conduct a multistep, thorough vetting of individuals though a variety of in person and/or media channels to determine the fit.

On the client side, we coach clients and encourage them to add market intelligence to the interview process, enabling them to be better interviewers all the way around. We push clients to add more information throughout the interviewing process that would pique a candidate’s interest in coming on board.

We also work with clients to foster a delicate balance between a “return to office,” a hybrid work environment, and allowing a remote culture.
How is your recruitment methodology different from the competition?

Claire: When we consult with clients and candidates, we are constantly listening and engaging. We are specific about what is realistic and unrealistic. We look at ways we can possibly tweak a certain position or work with the client to help them figure out exactly what is needed to fill these roles. Given our market experience, we use this to guide our clients to desired outcomes. As recruiters, we can tell a client specifically if an individual fits a job and share with them certain experiences that are most suitable for their requirements. This is a very candidate-driven market, and it’s vital to be able to attract the right candidate, looking beyond the resume.

Could you cite a few customer success stories?

Claire: There was a particular client that was targeting their IPO towards the end of the year. Unfortunately, the candidate I presented was in a personal situation that prevented him from joining at the time of the IPO due to some personal issues. Unable to relate, the client decided to move ahead in another direction. I spoke with the client and candidate separately again to know the most significant problem areas. Through communication on both sides, I created a way for these individuals to come together to flesh out those points, with the end of that meeting culminating in a mutuallybeneficial solution, and the candidate was successfully hired and has been able to have a positive impact on the business.

Our specialization is in recruiting accounting and finance executives for start-ups, highgrowth, middle-market, largecap, and Fortune 500 companies in the Dallas/Fort Worth market

Elaine: Another example was with a high-growth client who was ready to make a quick, successful hire. They sent over a new search, and I arranged an in-person meeting to better understand what they were looking for. Their requirements were very specific in terms of education and criteria, but during our meeting I focused on really understanding what problems the company was trying to solve by hiring this person. Once we understood what needed to be accomplished in this role, we counseled them to change some of the original requirements and experience needed to accomplish that. The next candidate that I submitted indeed got an offer and accepted the position helping them fill their open position quickly. This was not someone they would have had access to, had they stuck steadfastly to their original criteria.

Lucy: A third instance is related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, which is currently a very key topic for a lot of companies. This particular client wanted to make a conscious effort to hire more diverse talent. As their recruiting partner, I strategized with them on how to make this a reality. I suggested we take off all names from resumes to eliminate any unconscious bias, and any factors that would alert them, for example, the candidate’s gender or ethnic background. Once I implemented it, we were able to show a pattern of recruiting talent without DEI bias.

What does the future hold for Ascension Search Partners?

Claire: We strive to continue growing the team, bringing on experienced recruiters who display similar mindsets and approaches to the business, depth in the market, as well as individuals that will develop internally through internship programs. In the next few years, we look to extend our offerings to resume writing as executive candidates have requested in this area. One of the new additions may be a career coach that will specifically look into continual career coaching and, finally, personality testing as an additional vetting resource.