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You Have To Have Hunger To Work Hard And Reinvent Yourself. Serial Entrepreneur Christine Marchuska On Success.

Entrepreneurship is in her blood. Christine Marchuska on success, motherhood, and life.

Courtesy of Christine Marchuska

From Wall St to Binghampton, Christine Marchuska, is an unstoppable entrepreneur. Everything she touches turns platinum. Fashion entrepreneur, check; finance guru, check; c suite, check; executive recruiting entrepreneur, check and check and new mom, HUGE check. How does she do it all? Honored to have her share her journey on my Women’s Empowerment Series. 

Your career is so fascinating and inspiring. Tell us about your career trajectory?

It certainly has been an interesting ride as I started out on Wall Street, lived through the credit crisis (barely ;-)), then became a fashion entrepreneur, followed by an executive recruiter, then back to Wall Street (hedge funds versus big banks the second time around), followed by heading up corporate investor relations at publicly traded technology companies, and now finally back to being an executive recruiter at a company co-founded by one of my best friends from growing up, our other entrepreneurial friend, and me.  I also am working on an angel fund focused on start-ups in my hometown with an investment management team that I believe will be impactful to not only the funded companies, but also the local investors and community. These roles have taken me from NYC to SF to Silicon Valley to the Boston area and back to upstate NY where I was born and raised. The different roles I have held have resulted in a real broadening of my skill set, but if you asked me 20 years ago if I thought this is where I would be now, I definitely would not have expected it.  I think my hunger to work hard and reinvent myself with the flexibility to adapt to different roles and industries has helped me the most in continuing to achieve higher career aspirations and more challenging opportunities.

What got you interested in the industry?

I became interested in executive recruiting while running my first entrepreneurial venture as a career that would bring in consistent income, utilize my people and sales skill-sets, and help candidates find jobs they really loved at reputable companies.  After having my daughter in April of this year, I realized I wanted to return back to upstate NY, where all my family lives, to give my daughter the best upbringing possible and would also need a job that provided flexibility. Additionally, I no longer wanted the corporate lifestyle (after all, I come from a family of entrepreneurs ;-)) and wanted to do something I really loved with loyal business partners that I could trust.  Interestingly enough, I was the one who suggested to my childhood friend, Oliver Miller, to try recruiting years ago and as I left the industry to go back into finance he built a long standing career in it. So essentially the stars aligned and I realized that it was time to return to staffing, but this time to do it on the terms of my business partners, Oliver Miller, Eduardo Door, and I. We now are proud to say our firm, Miller Marchuska Door & Associates (www.millermarchuskadoor.com) has placed over 200 candidates across finance, accounting, data analysis, hospitality, sales, HR, and other industries globally.  We also have three amazing interns from Binghamton University and additional consultants that help us on specific searches and projects.

What amazing projects can we expect to see in your future? What are your ideal projects in the future?

I am very passionate about helping people, especially women and minority interests, and at my last Silicon Valley Investor Relations role I helped mentor colleagues and created a women’s group at that company to promote female advancement, leadership, and diversity education.  I also helped the LGBT group roll out their program. Now, I mentor at college and universities, host teach-ins on career development and trajectory, and help consult start-ups on preparing them to raise capital. I hope to do more work like this in my future endeavors. I also am very focused on mental health, fitness, nutrition, and executive and life coaching.  So ideally projects that encompass initiatives around these areas along with utilizing my business and finance savviness would be within my wheelhouse.

How do you create work-life balance?

Hmmm that’s an interesting question, especially since I have been to so many talks on this subject, generally for women, and am still working on creating a better balance for my own life.  Since becoming a single mom and going back to being an entrepreneur, it’s questionable what kind of balance I can strike and sometimes have to actively tell myself to close my laptop. I do think living on the west coast in Northern California certainly helped me achieve a higher level of equilibrium as folks out there are pretty diligent about keeping work and life more separate.  They cherish the outdoors and are not advocates of after work events which was in stark contrast to my life in NYC. However, now being back in upstate NY with less than optimal weather year-round and an infant, it is easy to work 24/7 between being a mother and business owner if I don’t focus on making it a point to have some down time. A few tips that have helped me:

  • You have to become vigilant about putting up boundaries during your non-work hours.  
  • Make sure to get in some form of exercise every day for peace of mind and to do something for you.  I am a morning person and all through my pregnancy and after my pregnancy have never skipped a morning workout.  It literally is crucial to my sanity, stress levels, and jump starts my day.
  • Limit your work on weekends and holidays, if possible, or allow for work flexibility.  When you start a new role establish this precedent, so your fellow colleagues respect this right out the gate.  Working with my close friend on this new business venture has allowed us to both respect each others’ need for downtime.  It also allows me to spend time with my daughter and work less on certain weekdays, if needed, and then make it up on other days or weekends.  
  • And, most importantly, put your phone on silent when you go to bed.  Sleep is very important and can’t be compromised.

How do you define relationship success? What’s the best advice you have for single women?

Relationship success to me is having a partnership that is based on respect, friendship, love, compromise, and teamwork.  Relationships are far from easy, but also extremely rewarding – you just have to be ready to put in the work and really take a team oriented approach.  The best advice I have for single women is to keep an open mind with dating and meeting people – no one is perfect and we all have baggage. Be confident that there is someone out there for everyone and the right person for you will come along if you are open to it.  Lastly, know what you can live with and what your non-negotiables are – this goes back to none of us are perfect, but you also don’t want to try to fit a square peg in a round hole.

Can you share tips on how to achieve it?

Be willing to put in the work for people that are worth it.  That being said, don’t try to force something. You both have to be on the same page with the relationship and life.  Build a strong foundation based on friendship first – it’s that strong foundation that will get you through the hard times.  

What advice would you offer to those interested in getting in the industry?

I think the best way to get into the industry is to start networking and meeting with executive recruiters.  My childhood friend and co-partner and I both learned the recruiting basics at Robert Half, which provided a lot of knowledge on the industry and the gold standard in staffing.

Can you share tips on how to really get into the industry?

I think it is a combination of networking with other recruitment professionals and looking at what skills you need to get a foot in the door – and then applying to as many open recruiter/HR roles as you can.  I like Glassdoor and LinkedIn best for job searches, but that is only second to word of mouth from your network.

Where’s the future of the industry headed?

I think the industry is headed in an interesting direction, especially with how technology is playing a bigger and bigger role in the workplace.  I think there will always be a need for quality executive recruiters, but now as a business owner in this space, my partners and I are very conscientious of the need to diversify among industries as well as geographies.  We certainly have a niche within financial services, specifically with public accounting clients and candidates in Florida, New York, and the midwest, but are pleased that we have expanded outside those markets and roles to manage our overall business more effectively with less seasonality.  Also, we are cognizant that some industries are bound to evolve over time as artificial intelligence has a more prominent role in our day to day lives and this will undoubtedly affect certain jobs and markets.

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