Talent Trends in Private Equity: Acquisition, Retention & Building Culture in Today’s Market

In the current market, the labor dynamic is ever-changing, and organizations with the best talent strategies win. The Healthcare Technology team at Direct Recruiters, Inc. had the opportunity to interview several leaders within the Private Equity Healthcare investment space to discuss their perspectives. Industry leaders shared knowledge and helpful insight on acquisition, retention and building culture for today’s hiring landscape.

Gordon Crenshaw, Principal
Blue Heron Capital

What are the main traits/experience you look for in leaders?

As a baseline, we look for leaders with a track record of success in their prior work experience. A history of promotions and extended periods of time within the same organization are key. We orient ourselves to references more than anything, both from managers as well as the individuals that a leader managed. We like both top-down references as well as bottom-up references. Ultimately, we look for executives as leaders of people, so experience and track record of how a leader manages people and how he or she manages up is extremely important.

What are your onboarding best practices to ease the transition between companies?

We hope the new leaders of our companies get inundated with as much information as early and often as possible, participating in meetings on day 1 and integrating them into the workflow of a business. With that being said, we want that period of time to be reserved for listening and learning; a little bit of walk before you run. It is difficult not to fall into the trap with a new leader of sprinting towards some company objective or goal, but if you are hiring talented leaders, you want them to be able to weigh in on if we are even running in the right direction in the first place.

What do you think is the greatest cause for turnover?

We think the greatest causes of turnover, especially in new hires, are not some of the most obvious, like compensation or culture clashes. What we see as the greatest cause is not being crystal clear on expectations of the job requirement. It’s critical that the preparation for a new hire includes spending a significant amount of time on the job req, roles and responsibilities, as well as making sure the board and leadership team are rowing in the same direction in terms of what will be asked of a new leader or employee. We find that it is this misalignment of what a candidate believes the job is versus what it actually is that is the biggest cause of turnover.

What do you look for when partnering with an executive search firm?

The key word in the question is ‘partner.’ You have to take the viewpoint that your executive search firm is not just a service provider but someone that will work collaboratively with you to build the best organization possible from a talent perspective. At the stage we invest in (early stage, growth stage businesses), many of our leadership teams don’t have significant experience working with an executive search firm, so it is a learning process. We don’t just want our executive search firm to identify great candidates and get to an offer as quickly as possible. We want help with that initial leg work of designing and implementing an effective process. The key for us is a partnership mentality with a great executive search firm.

What is the biggest issue on your plate in regard to hiring?

Given the incredibly tight labor market we’ve been in for the past several years, access to great candidates has been a challenge, but it always will be. We live in a competitive world. For our early-stage businesses, speed is the most challenging aspect of the hiring process. Given the way we like our companies to hire, the importance of culture, the importance of clearly defining expectations of the job, and making sure we don’t miss on a new hire, it has been difficult to keep up with the pace with which people will meet a candidate and lob in an offer. Ultimately, we’re in the people business, and you win or lose based on talent. So, for us right now, speed is the most challenging aspect of the hiring market.

How to Speed Up the Hiring Process

By Celeste Gable, Marketing Coordinator

In the current candidate-driven market, the name of the game is speed. The traditional hiring process can be a long, drawn-out process that frustrates everyone involved. There are good reasons for taking your time during the hiring process like adequately comparing candidates or finding the best cultural fit. But if the hiring process takes too long, candidates might move on to other offers. It is necessary to move with speed and agility within your hiring process to keep candidates interested. As hiring experts, DRI is here to provide you with the key ways to streamline and ultimately shorten your hiring process.  

Cut out Unnecessary Steps  

It seems like a no brainer, but this first step will be crucial to streamlining your process. Take a close look at your hiring process to discover any bottlenecks or tasks that take a long time. Eliminate any unnecessary steps in your process. For example, if you have candidates fill out a 5-page questionnaire that takes an average of 5 days to return, you might want to revaluate if all the questions on the form are necessary.  

Utilize Technology  

In the midst of the pandemic, we saw an increase in digital interview tools that are still rising in popularity today. By utilizing email, text messaging, social media, and video, you can meet candidates where they are. Perhaps there are limitations on scheduling face-to-face interviews, and in that case, consider scheduling a video call. This also eliminates travel cost and time, ultimately creating a faster, simpler, more cost-efficient way to screen candidates. When you are more flexible with a candidate’s availability to communicate, you will get quicker responses and confirmed interest sooner. 

Streamline the interview process 

How many interviews is your organization putting candidates through? For entry-level and associate positions, two interviews will often suffice. For executive and C-suite positions, an additional interview may be appropriate. Much more than that and you run the risk of losing top talent. Many times, the root of the issue lies in conflicting schedules. Make sure all those involved have interview days blocked off so the process can move forward smoothly and succinctly.  

Speeding up the hiring process without losing the quality of the process will deliver long-term value to your organization. For an added value, work closely with a recruiter to assist you in attracting quality candidates for your roles. At DRI, we build a customized recruiting strategy that fits your organization. We understand that your time is valuable, so we work hard to understand your company to find you the best organizational fit. By making changes like the ones outlined above, you are guaranteed to speed up your hiring process and create an interview process that makes everyone’s lives easier.  

Returning to Work After Parental Leave

April 28, 2022

By Christy Pashkovskiy, Director of Marketing

Returning to work after an extended leave can be a tough process. Those with the luxury of family leave time after the birth or adoption of a child may be out of the office and out of their work routine for months, so the transition back can be intimidating. With preparation and managing expectations with yourself, your supervisor and your team, returning to work can be a manageable and even rewarding experience.  

Below we have outlined helpful tips for employees to make a happy, productive, and successful return to work after leave, as well as best practices for companies to assist employees in the transition back. 

Employee Return to Work Basics 

Start planning for your return to work at the end of your leave. While it may seem daunting, preparation is key to a smooth transition back to work. Below are six things to do before your first day back. 

  • Reach out to your HR department. In some situations, there may be paperwork to fill out, the need for a healthcare provider sign-off, and confirmation of the date you are starting back. Discuss any questions and/or concerns you have with your HR manager. 
  • Call your immediate supervisor. Instead of waiting until your first day back, give your boss a quick call to communicate when you will be returning, and share any changes to your schedule that may need addressed.  
  • Get in touch with members of your team. To ease yourself back into the work culture, have a few conversations with co-workers to catch up on current projects and any major changes that may have happened since you have been gone. 
  • Lock in your childcare plans. An obvious, but sometimes difficult task, deciding on the right care for your child may be one of the most important things to figure out before your return to work. Be sure to test out your options and line up back up plans. You also may need to write out important contact info for the childcare provider, and details about your child that are necessary to know (such as sleep and eating routines, allergies, etc.). 
  • Develop a plan for pumping if needed. Those who breastfeed may need to put together a plan and schedule to do so. Important points to cover with your employer are scheduled pump breaks and a private space to pump. If this applies to you, organize your intended process and make sure that you have a bag for your pump, storage for milk, water and brainstorm snacks to take into work.  
  • Go through a practice run. Maintaining a routine will help both you and your child to adjust to your return to work. Going through your new process as a trial run will give you the time to work out anything unexpected and help you develop the right routine for your family. Think about things like dinner prep and your personal work wardrobe. Anything that can be simplified will help you in the long run.  

Employee Mental Health 

Anyone who has gone on parental leave and returned to work will tell you that it has its challenges. Some adapt easier than others but being in a good mental state and getting the help you need to accomplish that is important for you to put your best foot forward.  

  • Manage expectations with your employer. Have a discussion with your boss and ask for flexibility if needed whether you need to work different hours, consider part-time or a different flexible arrangement.  
  • Reach out to others who are going or have gone through the same situation. Friends or co-workers who have also gone on leave and returned to work can be a great support system and offer helpful advice in successfully returning.  
  • Make time for yourself. If you are emotionally drained, returning to work will be even more challenging. Try to get rest when you can and take time to do something fun for yourself periodically, even if it is something small.  
  • Expect change. You may feel a range of emotions as you transition back to work. Give yourself grace and know that it may not feel the same as it did before. You will create new routines and habits that work best for you and your family.  

Employer Best Practices 

As outlined above, returning employees have likely been out of work long enough to have significant obstacles and challenges to overcome in their return. To ease the stress and have a better chance of retaining these employees, there are various steps employers can take to make their return to work a better process. 

  • Offer substantial leave. While there are numerous caveats surrounding parental leave, companies who offer an attractive leave policy have a better chance of retaining high-performing employees. A paid leave policy with plenty of time off is a great way to stand out among your competition as an employer.  
  • Communicate. Although people who are on leave may be busy with a new child, it is important for employers to check in periodically throughout leave to understand how the employee is feeling and where they are mentally. This communication should continue and increase as the return-to-work date gets closer. Even a running document of updates, new projects, team wins, and more is helpful to put together for a returning employee.  
  • Offer flexibility for those returning to work. As mentioned above, employees may be more comfortable with a flexible schedule, remote work or other work arrangements upon going back to work. Some companies even build in a transition period with returning employees working part-time for a number of weeks before going back to full-time. Employers who are understanding of new circumstances for their employees and build in flexibility will reap the benefits when it comes to retention and employee engagement. 
  • Encourage support and community. Many employees will go through a leave time period and return to work at some point in their careers. Employers can help to set up sharing groups between these employees to help them overcome challenges, exchange advice and have discussions.  

Parental leave is an important topic to consider for employees at their current organization, those searching for new roles, and the employers themselves. With time and thought, the return-to-work process can be successful for both the employee and employer. 

Benefits of Job Searching with a Recruiter

Headhunters, Career Consultants, Unicorn Finders. Whatever you call them, recruiters are in high demand as the surge of open roles overtakes the lack of talent in the candidate pool. As a candidate in this market, you’re probably receiving calls, emails, text messages, and more from various recruiters who are trying to pitch you a role they’re working on. If you’re searching for a change in your career, here are 5 reasons why you should work with a recruiter on your next job search.

Additional Opportunities

Due to the high-impact nature of their available roles, employers don’t advertise their available positions and instead elect to work with a recruiter to source potential candidates. As a job seeker, if you choose to work with a recruiter during your search, you’re more likely to have access to those prized roles.

Save Time

Finding a job can be a long, tedious, and sometimes frustrating process but by establishing a working relationship with a recruiter you can save time and energy in your job search. As recruiters, our job is to find candidates whose background and experience match our open roles. We streamline the process for you and only offer opportunities you would be well-suited for.

Expert Advice

At DRI, we pride ourselves on being industry experts. This means we understand the culture, role, and expectations of your intended employer. We’re here to coach you through your interview and negotiation process to help you land your dream role. With over 39 years of experience in interviewing, consulting, coaching, and negotiating, we can confidently offer you advice and insight to help you land your dream role.


Many times, candidates are looking for new opportunities while still employed. When you opt to work with a recruiter, you can ensure that there is little to no risk of your current employer finding out as we don’t blast your resume out where your employer could potentially find it.

Shared Interest in Your Success

When working with a recruiter, you can be sure that you both have the same goal: to place you in a job that is a perfect fit. Recruiters are invested in your success as it guarantees an accomplishment for us as well. We’re not here to waste your time as our end goal is find a career match for you.

A good recruiter will help to alleviate the stress of job searching, not add more. At Direct Recruiters, our team of recruiting experts are dedicated to helping you find the best career fit for you. If you’re interested in learning more, reach out to our team of talented recruiters today.

#BreakTheBias this International Women’s Day

March 8, 2022

By Celeste Gable, Marketing Coordinator

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition, bias is “an inclination of temperament or outlook especially a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment.” Biases, even those unconsciously promoted, are hurtful to the marginalized community that the bias represents. This International Women’s Day, #BreakTheBias invites society to stand up against judgments and stereotypes and celebrate a world of gender equality where being different is valued.

In a perfect world, once industries achieve gender balance, bias will decrease and gender gaps will close but it’s not that simple. Women account for 47.7% of the global workforce but only 27.1% of women hold leadership roles. Despite the fact that women score higher than men on 17 of the 19 most important leadership skills, according to a survey from Harvard Business Review. People tend to think that having more women present is all that’s needed to promote change, but traditional organizational structures and systems need to change to benefit everyone. Below are 3 ways to combat workplace bias to create a more inclusive company culture.

Turn the Unconscious into Conscious

Biases are so ingrained in our society and culture that many people don’t realize they are contributing to harmful stereotypes. The first step is to make people aware of how what they are saying or doing is harmful to the subject. While sometimes uncomfortable, this is an important first step in rewriting the narrative to be more inclusive. By having these conversations, (yes more than one is necessary), you empower those around you to reflect on their thoughts and actions and actively work to be more inclusive to those around them.

Control How Others View You (And How You View Yourself)

As women, we can also promote stereotypes by feeding into narratives about women in the workplace. We must combat these stereotypes with deliberate strategies to empower ourselves and others. It’s important to know your skill sets and boundaries. Knowing what you bring to the table and your self-worth can help to inspire confidence as a leader. That includes saying no. Many times, we are hesitant to say “No” due to our ingrained people-pleasing nature. To be recognized by the executive team, we overload ourselves with tasks and projects to equal or exceed our male counterparts’ contributions.

This can lead to burnout and mental health issues. According to a 2021 statistic from McKinsey, 42% of US female workers suffer from burnout, compared to only 35% of their male coworkers. Overall, burnout statistics and the rise of chronic mental illness has only intensified due to the idea of “always on” culture promoted and strengthened by the pandemic and remote working.

Find Allies and Be an Ally

Friends and mentors are important for everyone but especially for women in the workplace. Align yourself with like-minded individuals with similar goals to dismantle exclusive systems. McKinsey states that “women are twice as likely to do DE&I work, especially surrounding recruitment, and more likely to be allies to women of color compared to men.” Today, it is extremely important for people in leadership positions to inspire, mentor, and support those not in positions of power to create a more equitable and inclusive workplace culture.

Cherie Shepard, Partner and Founder of DRI’s Women’s Group shares why it’s so important to have a group dedicated to the empowerment of women.

"In conversations with the women in our organization, they share their gratitude and appreciation for having a Women's Group. It allows them to create and cultivate relationships with the women of Direct Recruiters – regardless of industry or station. The times we set aside throughout the year for our meetings and activities allow us to bond as a team, especially with a hybrid and remote workforce. This is a reminder that we are together; working to raise one another up and share in each other's successes and life events. These are the touchstones we have to remind one another that we are here for each other.”

In the end, dismantling these systems that no longer service the modern workplace is a job for men and women alike. Confront your biases, include women and POC in conversations, and work towards a common goal to create a more diverse and equitable corporate culture. This International Women’s Day, I urge you to reflect on your thoughts and actions and actively make a change to #BreakTheBias.

2022 Recruiting Trends to Win the War on Talent

December 23, 2021

By Celeste Gable, Marketing Coordinator

2021 is wrapping up quickly and what a whirlwind it has been! As we reflect on all the hiring challenges we have faced, we look towards the future and predict what trends will be happening in 2022. While each trend is uniquely adopted by any organization, below are 5 trends that Direct Recruiters is predicting will affect your hiring procedures in 2022.

It’s Still a Candidate Driven Market

As 2021 comes to an end, the lack of available candidates and the surplus of jobs will carry into the new year. Many employers need the same skillset and talents, so candidates have multiple options from many different places. This has created an opportunity for candidates to leverage better salary and benefits and employers have no choice but to comply. Recruiters and talent acquisition specialists must work harder to standout against the influx of calls, messages, and emails. In 2022, expect to see more creative recruiting tactics. This could include better sourcing tactics, more data driven marketing, or stronger brand communication. In the end, those who move quickly to secure qualified candidates will win the war on talent.

 Focus on Retention

In the last few months, we have seen an increase in The Great Resignation as many employees leave their jobs to pursue other opportunities. In an already strained labor shortage, losing these valuable employees creates an even greater issue. 2022 will ensure a renewed focus on employee engagement to increase retention and loyalty. A testament to strong company culture will be less about making the office a fun place and more about ensuring all employees feel seen and heard by their colleagues and managers. The organizations with strong values and a plan to invest in employees will succeed in the competitive market.

The Future of Ai and Automation

Even with new stresses and challenges, resilient recruiters are adapting to the ever-changing market. With the help of AI and Automation, recruiters can use more tools to access more of the available market. Using Ai tools to source, screen, schedule, and chat with candidates during the hiring process allows recruiters to draw in a larger candidate pool for the hiring managers to choose from.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are Must Haves

Employees continue to align themselves with organizations who reflect their own morals. In 2022, companies will realize that diversity and inclusion isn’t just a feel-good initiative but is central to a company’s success. According to McKinsey’s Diversity Wins report, companies in the upper quartile for ethnic and cultural diversity on executive teams were 33% more likely to have industry-leading profitability. And companies in the upper quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability and 27% more likely to have superior value creation. DE&I is becoming increasingly prioritized within organizations who are in search of people to fill roles like “Chief Diversity Officer”, and “Head of Diversity & Inclusion”. Hiring diverse candidates and being transparent in your DE&I efforts will help your company succeed in 2022 and beyond.

Remote is Here to Stay

Many companies postponed their returns to the office this past year and they’re in no hurry to return in 2022 either. Remote hiring, onboarding, and working is here to stay. By hiring remotely, you have access to a larger and more diversified talent pool by not limiting to location. You are also able to recruit, hire, and onboard candidates faster using digital supplemental materials like training videos and virtual meetings.

No matter the industry you are in, change is unavoidable. By understanding the trends that will shape the workforce in 2022, hiring managers and organizations will be in a better position to face the challenges head on.

Best Practices for Quitting a Job You Just Started

December 16, 2021

By Celeste Gable, Marketing Coordinator

Starting a new job can create mixed emotions. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed with feelings of excitement and anxiety but what happens when the excitement fades and the anxiety remains? Admitting you made the wrong choice in choosing to accept a job can be scary and finding out the job doesn’t meet your expectations can be disappointing. Before beginning the job resignation process, reflect and make sure that there are no other options. In the end, you have to move forward. Here’s how to diffuse the situation in the best way possible

Resign In Person… but also In Writing

You will need to draft a resignation letter when quitting your job for it to be considered official. When writing your resignation letter, make sure to use professional language. If you include a reason, make sure it acceptable. You should avoid criticizing comments about the company or coworkers. It is standard to give at least two weeks’ notice, however it is recommended to render a month of service before the resignation date to give your employer time to find a suitable replacement.

Have an Action Plan

Leaving a job after only a few months is tricky but sometimes it’s the best option. Make sure you have a plan in place that reflects the reality of starting the job search over. While two weeks is considered standard, a company is not obligated to keep you on or pay your notice after a short tenure. Make sure your prepared to potentially lose your income on the day of resignation.

Honesty is the Best Policy

An exit interview is standard for any resignations. These are designed to help your employer understand what happened so they can improve in the future. Be honest with your employer in a professional and respectful manner. Many times, people may choose to leave a job due to office environment, management team, or job tasks not being what was promised. Be prepared to explain why you’re leaving and offer any feedback to assist the company in the future.

Whether you have plans to stay within in the same industry or not, it’s best to avoid burning bridges. Finish the time at your job with a positive and professional attitude. Sometimes the jobs we end up with don’t meet expectations or sometimes it isn’t a good fit. It’s not illegal to quit this quickly so when you find yourself resenting your current position, its best to get back out there and keep looking. For both employer and employee, it’s better to cut the relationship off soon after discovering that it just doesn’t work.

DRI Interviews Stephanie Daley, VP of Market Expansion at Wana Brands

Medical Cannabis Practice Leader, Max Resnik, recently interviewed Stephanie Daley, VP of Market Expansion at Wana Brands, as part of our Thought Leader Interview series. Max and Stephanie discuss business acquisitions, the expedited growth of Wana Brands, cannabis misconceptions and the future of the cannabis market. Watch the full interview in the video below.

The Art of Negotiation

November 18, 2021

By Celeste Gable, Marketing Coordinator

Hiring Managers rarely make their best offer first, and candidates who negotiate their salary tend to earn more than those who don’t. Most often, people who at least attempt to ask for a higher salary are perceived more positively because they are demonstrating the skills the company is hiring them for. So where do you start? In this blog, we will outline our best tips for negotiating salary.

Do Your Research

Before beginning the negotiation process, and in most cases, before the first interview; conduct some preliminary research. There are many resources available online that can provide estimations of salaries based on role and location. If working with a search firm, the recruiter should be able to advise you on a salary range for the position you’re interviewing for. At Direct Recruiters, we offer free, downloadable Salary Guides for a variety of industries that we serve.

Don’t Talk Money Too Early

You should never ask about salary during the first interview. While we all want to earn more money, no hiring manager wants to hire someone who’s only motivation is money. In many preliminary interviews, the hiring manager may ask about your salary requirements. This where your research becomes helpful! Try to give a range that’s indicative of someone in your position and with your experience applying for this role. Your goal when negotiating is to find the balance between what you’re worth and the employer’s budget.

Sell Yourself with Confidence

As you go through the interviewing and negotiating process, remember to continuously sell yourself. Perhaps you have certain skills and experience that would eliminate the need for an outside vendor, leverage that. Justify your request with confidence. When you make request, don’t go on and on stating why its justified. Offer a short and simple explanation for why the amount is appropriate.

Negotiate Extras

If the employer is unable to adjust the salary offered, try asking for other valuable options that might not cost as much. You can try to negotiate for yearly salary reviews, sign-on or performance bonus, or more vacation days. For the best negotiating strategy, ask for a few benefits or perks you don’t want that badly. Then you can concede and agree to the employer’s terms without those added benefits if they meet all your other requests.

In an ideal negotiation situation, both parties will walk away from the engagement feeling satisfied with what they have gained. This is especially true when you’re dealing with salary negotiations. You want your employer to feel secure in the price paid for your services so that your working relationship begins on a positive note.

DRI Interviews Joe Wentzell, VP of Revenue for Cure Solutions

Max Resnik, Medical Cannabis Practice Leader at Direct Recruiters, had the opportunity to connect with Joe Wentzell, VP of Revenue for Cure Solutions, during MJBizCon in Las Vegas. Together, they discussed retail strategies in cannabis, how Joe made the industry leap and the pandemic’s impact on the space. Check out Joe’s insights in this latest Thought Leader Interview on the cannabis space.

Cure Solutions is a multi-state management company operating in the medical and adult use cannabis space. Currently operating retail, cultivation, and processing facilities in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Oklahoma.

Joe Wentzell, VP of Revenue for Cure Solutions

You came into the cannabis industry from the bicycle world. What’s it like navigating this space and how are things different?

There are some important similarities between the two industries. I came into the cannabis industry through retail and bicycle retail specifically; both industries have an extremely passionate employee and customer base who are often choosing these products to improve their health and wellbeing. And even though employees in both industries are subject matter experts, often, customers and patients are so well-informed that they can give our employees a run for their money. Recruiting, developing, and maintaining well educated and enthusiastic employees in retail is often a challenge.  My prior experience leading large specialty retail teams in the bicycle industry was helpful in navigating that challenge.

Did you experience customers trying cannabis for the first time during the height of the pandemic? What was that like?

Prior to the pandemic, we provided a physically close and high touch retail environment where our employees could answer questions and spend time with patients, especially new patients. Once all of the social distance measures were put into place, we lost a lot of that opportunity to educate. We gained a significant number of new patients during the pandemic who only knew the quick transactions of a socially distant shopping experience. It was really exciting, and I think we’ve learned about all the different ways we can reach people, whether that’s through Zoom conferencing to provide education, or through online ordering and curbside pick-up.

In Pennsylvania for example, the regulations require that the first point of contact a patient has is with a pharmacist. Pre-pandemic we were limited by how many patients could get time with a pharmacist.  When the state allowed for remote consultations we were able to double the amount of consultations each pharmacist could have in a given day.

As to patients trying cannabis for the first time during the pandemic: that has been an important theme for us throughout the pandemic. We met a lot of new patients who turned to cannabis to help them deal with some of the challenges that the pandemic imposed on us all, particularly in the early days. And one of the most important things we were able to do for these new patients was meet them where they were in their personal cannabis journeys. For instance, when talking about potency. As you know, many people believe that higher THC in a product means higher quality. But when we’re talking about patients who are new to cannabis, that’s just not true. For new patients, generally speaking, less is more. I think the worst thing you can do for a new patient is sell them a product that’s too strong, and then they have a negative experience and don’t get the relief they’re looking for, and then conclude that cannabis is not part of the solution to their challenges. 

How do you approach a customer in Ohio, who’s a patient, versus a recreational customer in Colorado? Is the strategy different?

Yes, absolutely. It’s the difference between patients and customers. You have to understand where they’re coming from, and what their needs are. They approach cannabis differently, starting with how they even find the brand or the dispensary they choose to support..

I want to note that Cure, at its heart, is a medical cannabis company, from its roots in Colorado in 2009. It's our belief that if you treat all patient / customer interactions from a health and wellness perspective, you won’t go wrong. Starting with that mindset is who we are and from there each interaction begins with understanding what the patient’s current knowledge of the products is, and what it is they are trying to achieve with the products they purchase. Getting to the essence of those questions requires people that are willing to work hard and take the time to listen to the customer. In other kinds of retail, salespeople are taught to maximize the value of every sale. But that’s not always the right thing to do, and so sometimes we have to work with new staff to unlearn that lesson. To succeed, we have to earn our patients’ trust every time they visit us. And that’s hard, but it works!

With that in mind the challenge isn't so much treating medical and recreational customers differently, it's trying to scale processes in states that have drastically different regulatory environments. To solve that problem, it requires a lot of hard work and finding small opportunities to replicate processes. There’s not as much opportunity to be efficient, therefore, It requires more time and more people to operate in each of those states than would be required in a traditional multi-state retail environment.

What do you make of where the space is today and maybe where we are at the next MJBizCon?

The pandemic marks a turning point for cannabis. To me, the fact that dispensaries around the country were immediately designated essential businesses reflected a fundamental shift in how the public and our lawmakers view this industry. Beyond acknowledging that cannabis industry workers are essential to their communities, at a time when public health was top of mind for everyone in America, access to safe, regulated cannabis was at the heart of our states' public health strategies. I think that our industry's track record of safety, compliance and patient care over the past two years have done more in service of broadening access to cannabis than any ballot measure ever has.

To my earlier point about educating new patients, going forward, I think there’s a lot of opportunity for educational platforms to help brands engage directly with patients as well as dispensary employees. And I think that the pandemic really gave us an opportunity to explore those in more detail and more rapidly than we may have done prior to the pandemic . At Cure we are now merging some of the high touch shopping experience with the efficient and convenient shopping experience that emerged during the pandemic. As a vertically integrated operator we also recognize the need to get product and brand information in the hands of many employees that may not necessarily work for one of our dispensaries but who nonetheless need to have an in-depth understanding of our products. The fact that we are here talking today shows how far we have come since the start of the pandemic.  Next year the pandemic will hopefully be in the rearview mirror and we will see the benefits of combining the lessons learned during the past two years, the growing acceptance of cannabis in our culture and in our politics. The future is bright and it’s exciting to be a part of that evolution.

You’re relatively new to the space. What would you tell someone who wants to get into this industry?

I think this space has so many opportunities for people who have experience in other worlds. There’s a lot of different ways of approaching a multitude of challenges that we face every day. Grab onto one of those challenges and come prepared with a solution for solving it. I think that if you can show you can think flexibly and bring some experience that we haven’t thought of yet in this industry, then there’s a place for you. That’s for sure.