Candidate Recruitment: Curtis Hughes, Managing Partner of C5 Insight and Karen Morris, Vice President of Talent Acquisition for Mavenlink

Hosted by Chris Dyer, the CEO of PeopleG2 – Talent Talk Radio features engaging conversation with CEOs, thought leaders and HR executives.  Talent Talk connects professionals who care about candidate recruitment and other talent related issues.


Today’s guests are Curtis Hughes, Managing Partner of C5 Insight; and Karen Morris, Vice President of Talent Acquisition for Mavenlink. 

Hughes and Morris speak intelligently on the distinct benefits and challenges of being in a startup or mid-sized business, from attracting to retaining talent.  Candidate recruitment is a key factor in maximizing success.  To hear the entire show, click here

CURTIS HUGHEScandidate recruitment

A self-described “technologist turned entrepreneur,” Hughes worked for a number of Microsoft partners as well for the Department of Defense post-9/11 overseas. He currently works with C5 Insight, the third firm he has co-founded. C5 Insight is a team of consultants that help organizations do more than just implement technology solutions.

“Good Cheese Comes from Happy Cows”

While his company has been recognized for its fast growth, Hughes does not discount the early “ups and downs and successes and failures.” He believes putting people first is the key to growth. “One of our guiding principles is to be servants first to our colleagues than to our clients,” shares Hughes. As C5’s marketing director reminds him, “Good cheese come from happy cows.” Another key success factor is both being open to and recognizing all sorts of opportunities, from candidate recruitment to business development opportunities.

This service-orientation is at the heart of C5 Insight’s culture. In addition, the culture is defined by “working hard and playing hard” in equal measures.

In their 5-hour interview process, the team looks for candidates who are selfless, accountable and have a good sense of humor.  This type of candidate recruitment is an integral part of knowing that the hire will be a success.

Family is Foundational

At C5 Insight, Hughes would love to see more focus on leadership development. For him, fostering leadership in his team means modeling leadership to them. This has held true in Hughes’ own life. For him, his family is his single biggest influence, having taught him hard work ethic, gratitude for others, humility, and strong sense of right and wrong. He describes family as “your foundation that all the other leadership…is built on top of.”

What are You Reading?

Hughes and the C5 Insight team is reading Give and Takeby Adam Grant.

How Can I Connect with You? Via

KAREN MORRIScandidate recruitment

Currently the VP of Talent Acquisition and Management at Mavenlink, Morris says she “really started enjoying my career” when she discovered executive recruiting, leaving a career in the loan business behind.

After a decade as an executive recruiter, Morris took the role with Mavenlink, a company she came to know well as a former client of hers. She describes the transition as going from a battleship, where any movement happened slowly, to a sailboat, where navigating the business is a daily process.

Battleship to Sailboat

In a startup environment, Morris says “When you are there, you are making a difference…Every month means something.” She derives a great sense of value from actually seeing the difference she is making. “The wind and water is felt a lot differently on a sailboat than on a battleship,” continues Morris, so an all-hands-on-deck approach is critical. “Every contribution is important. There is no fluff. Everyone has a role to play.” So when it comes to candidate recruitment, Morris asserts, “We’d really like you to be a very good rower.”

Unifying Culture

With offices in San Francisco and Irvine, it can sometimes feel like two distinct cultures because the candidate recruitment might differ based on geographic location.  Nodding to the dizzying talent environment in the Bay Area, Morris is proud of their average 18 months of tenure for software engineering roles, which she describes as “dog years” in that category. To help unify the culture, the CEO recently gathered both offices in Monterey for 2-day summit to align around core values, driven by input from each employee. That said, “There will be some uniqueness by definition across both locations.”

Talent Horsepower

Morris strongly emphasizes that talent must fit the startup environment. This is “not just a job or paycheck.” Talent needs to understand the startup philosophy and the SaaS space. To get the right talent in the door, she believes both current employees and LinkedIn are strong tools. Morris also draws on her executive recruiting background and her ability to listen closely to prospective talent to help identify the best match. As she now works with recruiters herself, especially in the technology space, she observes, “There is a lot of noise,” and some recruiters are using the “spaghetti on the wall syndrome” by throwing lots of candidates at her, whether they are the right fit or not.  This type of candidate recruitment might not be beneficial to all companies.


Morris asserts that 95 percent of the workforce is just looking for an “attaboy.”  Communication is key, and while they try to get around to each employee as much as possible, it becomes more difficult as Mavenlink grows. Mavenlink is working on implementing more regular stand-up meetings on what’s positive, what’s negative and what’s mediocre.

What are You Reading?

Morris is reading The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor, a simplistic viewpoint on the power of being happy right now.

How Can I Connect with You? Via and see her profile.

Remember, do what you love….and show the world how talented you can be, today.

Air Date: April 29, 2014