When Brianna Russ joined CEO Inc. of Charlotte, N.C., in 2012, she had no prior knowledge of recruiting or the plastics industry.
Don Cartwright, director of recruiting and a retired plastics engineer, showed Russ the ins and outs of the industry. He has taught her the plastics processes and positions within manufacturing to help her become a resource for clients and recognize the right talent.
"Over the last six years, I have been able to visit customer sites across the country and see how products that I use every day are made. … The people, technology and brilliant minds behind all of it drive my passion every day. I enjoy hearing about the new, innovative products coming to market, and I love helping people to take the next step in their career," Russ said in her Women Breaking the Mold survey. "I can bring them opportunities and companies that they may have never heard of or thought existed and make dreams come true."
Russ' current challenge at work is having to fill 21 positions in an industry where there is low unemployment and the positions are technical in nature and in "remote areas" of the country.
"That's why employers come to me, to find the purple-spotted unicorns," she said.
Russ, 33, said her greatest achievement has been helping a client fill four positions in three weeks with three candidates to select for each position.
What she said was her biggest failure — losing a client — also taught her some important lessons.
"It taught me to listen more intently to what both parties were saying, not just what I wanted to hear," she said. "I also learned that I cannot control people, but I can control the process.
"Like with any business, many processes are tried are true and when followed step by step, things don't fall through the cracks. Both lessons were hard reminders, but the hardest lessons are often the ones that you remembered," she continued.
Debby Millhouse, president and owner of CEO, has also been a mentor to Russ. She calls Millhouse "the fearless leader of CEO."
"Debby has developed a passion in me for helping people in the next stages of their career," Russ said. "She sets the mission and vision, and she helps me to achieve my goals. I can come to her with any challenge, fear or crisis, and she'll set me straight."
Russ is currently building the plastics division at CEO, but someday she would like to start her own practice.
The mold she is working on breaking is being "just a recruiter."
"I want to be a true business partner to my clients," she said. "I don't want to be one of many recruiters a company uses. I want to be the recruiter a company uses. Every day I work on being better, more responsive and doing things that other people don't want to, or won't do, in order to earn my client's business."