IIeX North America 2019 Podcast Series

IIeX NA 2019 Conference Series – Laura Drews Freund – Cranbrook Search Consultants

Welcome to the 2019 IIEX North America Conference Series. Recorded live in Austin, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Laura Drews Freund, CEO and Executive Search Consultant at Cranbrook Search Consultants.

Contact Laura Online:


Cranbrook Search Consultants


There’s been a ton of consolidation in the market research space over the last year.  Dynata has done a number of acquisitions. There’s been quite a few others. Just follow MR web if you don’t know what’s happening.  All those individuals that have been displaced need jobs and, at the same time, one of the No. 1 things I hear from insights professionals inside of brands is that they’re looking to hire.  Laura with Cranbrook Search Consultants is a really good contact for you to make if you are looking for a job or you’re looking to place somebody. In her interview, we talk about tips and tricks for both finding good talent as well as making yourself very attractive for prospective hires.  So, I hope you find value here. As always, you can find her contact information in the show notes.


Cranbrook Search Consultants.  I’m here with the CEO, Laura. How are you today?


I’m doing very well.  Anxious to get downstairs.  It’s actually a pretty good setup this year: there’s multiple, separate rooms; excellent food as usual; some charging stations.  So I like the setup so far.


Yeah, I like it too.  You know they’ve got just over 100 additional participants in this year’s show versus last year, which was bursting at the seams, which I think is a big deal because it was in Atlanta historically and this is the first year they moved out of that market, which usually you’d see sort of a decrease in attendance, I would think.  


Right.  I think because they moved it out of that one in Georgia, it probably encouraged people because remember there was just that one hallway that had all the booths.


I do, yeah.  You could barely move.


Yes, I thought that was too crowded.    


Yeah, it was super…  It had the feeling of a house party.


Which isn’t bad.      


No, it’s not.  I know. I kind of liked it, to be honest, but …         


We’re kind of having a party here.  


I agree.


This is a party.


Totally.  So, you’ve been in the market research space for quite a while.




Tell me a little bit about what it is that you guys do.


So, we hire full-time, permanent professionals within the market research space.  So it can go pretty much business developers; it can be more C-level; and, generally, I would say director on up.  People don’t usually come to us for, say, analyst-level roles unless there’s ten that they need immediately.   


So it’s like scale-type thing, right, yeah, totally.  There’s a couple of different matchmaker-type service companies inside of our space, as you know.  And, of course, you know who all of them are. What is sort of the point of differentiation?


We have a value prop that I think is kind of unique.  First of all, my business partner, Matt O’Mara, was a researcher; so, he really talks the talk.


Understands the… yep.


And so, if there’s some probing that we need to do to really qualify the job, he knows how to get there from a research perspective.  So, he’s a researcher turned recruiter. I have been a market research recruiter since Day 1. I’ve never recruited for like cell phone sales people or anything like that.  So, I started out as an outside recruiter at an external firm. Then I worked for TNS for five years. Then I was recruited by GFK. So, I worked at GFK for a couple years and then back at Kantar for another couple of years.  So this is really all that I’ve done.


I mean from a journey perspective, you’re uniquely positioned to have the ears of all the major players and what sort of openings exist.  I’ve never used a recruiter, but I’ve always been fascinated with… I have from hiring people but never on the other side of it. What does that journey look like for somebody?  At what point do they start enlisting the relationship? And then, what kind of time frames are around that?     


So, usually we hear from clients when they’re kind of at their wits’ end if it’s the first time we’ve ever worked with them.  They’re exhausted. You know they’ve posted a job on LinkedIn and they’re getting massive amounts of resumes, and none of them are even close to what they need.  So the first time that we meet a client, it’s usually because they’re exhausted and beat up. And they thought they could do it. You know post a job on LinkedIn and read some resumes and hire someone.  How much easier can it be?


Right, exactly.  


That’s a tough one.  So we kind of ease them into it slowly.  We let them know that we’re here to save them time.  So our job isn’t to further congest their inbox with spraying and praying, multiple resumes.  Our job is to send them a couple that are what we think dead-on. And that seems to be like a bite of a York Peppermint Patty for them.  It’s so refreshing.


Good reference.


Thank you, in case we have any sponsors out there.  That’s always fun to kind of ease somebody’s burden that way for a first timer.  And then, I would say, after that business developers are always difficult for companies to find.  Business developers, they’re just tough for companies to recruit on their own because… multiple reasons.  It’s hard to really assess a business developer on paper. It’s really tough. And it takes some time because, as soon as you find one, they’re gone.  Business developers do not last on the market long. So there’s multiple reasons why people come to us.


What about from the other vantage point of like the business development person or executive?  Do you do executive placement as well?




Executive.  At what point should they be thinking about building a relationship with you?


Now.  Yesterday.


So, it isn’t necessary that they even have to be looking at this particular point in time?


Oh, right.  And that’s kind of interesting to get that across at conferences, right?  I’ve known some of these people here for a very long time, and I’ve had relationships with them.  So when I go up to their booth to say, “Hello,” I’m saying “Hello” as a person.   




But I am still a recruiter.  Maybe their boss is there, or they get a little nervous because they may think that I’m there to recruit them.  I’m just here to continue the relationships. It’s funny I feel like I’ve seen some of these people grow up. I’m the same age but…


Me too.  I’m definitely frozen in time.  


Right, right.  It’s just so fun to just watch people and go, “Oh, where are you now?”  “Oh, you moved there. That’s great. I saw it on LinkedIn.” It’s just a long-term relationship.  So they don’t have to be looking now. Even for the clients, they don’t have to have any recruiting needs now.  It’s just to make that connection long term.


Got it.  It makes a lot of sense.  And if somebody is interested in transitioning, what sort of time frame (I’m not asking for myself), what sort of time frame does that usually look like with you guys?   


Well, so, from a candidate perspective, it depends on if they fit the jobs that we have open.  So that’s sometimes difficult. Say, people get laid off; multiple people get laid off. They will bombard us because they should, but if we only have a certain set of jobs and they don’t fit that job right now, we can only keep them on our radar screen or put them in our database.  But, if they match what we have open, it depends on the client, but I don’t know if you can tell right now, I kind of keep things going. [She snaps her fingers.]


I definitely I’m getting that vibe from you.


I need things now.  I go right for the frosting on the cupcakes.  So I would say start-to-finish, I mean it shouldn’t take more than a month.  






Cranbrook, sorry.  


Crankbook, actually, would be a fantastic name.  


Cranbrook, that would be good.  Cranbrook, how did you guys come up with that name?  


Not mine.  My business partner, Matt O’Mara, lives near a private school in Michigan called Cranbrook


Alright, there you go.


He thought it was kind of cool.  So he came up with that name.


Perfect.  Laura, thanks for being on the Happy Market Research Podcast.  


Oh, wait.


Oh, wait, there’s more.


Yeah, now I get to ask you a question.


Oh, OK, got it.  This is fun


Let’s see. Uh, what are your three favorite words?


Oh, my three favorite words.


Oh, you know.  Have you been asked this question?


Never.  “Unflappable…”


Oh, that’s a good one.


…is one of my favorite words.  Definitely, “green.”


“Green?”   “Green?”


And probably, F***, but I’m trying to say it less.  So, that’s like part of my …


We can swear on this show?


Well, I mean I can; you can too.  So, yeah, that’s my framework of three favorite words.


I didn’t know that we could swear because [that totally changes the rules here because that is my No. 1 favorite word.  You get so much energy out.


When I was in high school, never forget.  This was more than a few years ago. I was a sophomore and I was sitting in a math class.  And a student came in. They used students to kind of like communicate in between classrooms so that administrative would send a student to talk to somebody.  I don’t know, jeez, might have been smoke signals. I sound so old now. So, they send this student in and the student said something to the effect of: “The f*** administrator wants a f*** kid to give you this f*** thing to…” Anyway, and so, he left, and the teacher just sat there and busts up laughing and goes:  “That was a perfect illustration of how many times or how many ways you could use one word.”


Right.  Noun, verb…       


Yeah, adjective. It was hilarious.  Anyway, yeah, it’s definitely been a word that…  


I love that.  So, what about your three least favorite, the words you can’t handle hearing?  It gives you the shivers.


Um, so “can’t” is a huge word for me that I’m not a fan of.


Because of how it sounds or what it means?


“Can’t” for me is like this negative darkness.  Totally, not my favorite, for sure. Other words I don’t like…   Umm, that’d be interesting. I don’t know. I’ve never actually thought about it.


I’ll tell you mine.  


Tell me.


I hate the word “pus.”  


Ew, that is a good word to hate.


I hate everything about it.  I hate the word “phlegm.”  


OK, I agree.  I’m with you. I feel terrified that you’re going to have three.


“Moist” doesn’t bother me like it bothers some people, but some people can’t stand the word “moist.”  But I can’t stand the word “succulent.”




“Succulent”, like a plant.


Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Plant, yeah, yeah, yeah.


Yeah, even though I like the word “succubus.”


“Succubus,”  which I don’t know what that means.


It’s a female creature.


Oh, it’s a female creature with tail and horns.


Yes, you’re… Yes.


She has a whip and will take your soul.




Something to the effect.  My gosh, you’re bringing me back now to my 80s D-and-D days.




Laura, if anyone wants to get in contact with you, how would they do that?


LinkedIn would be fantastic, but email would be better.  So it’s Laura@cranbrook.search.com.


That’s C R A N B R O O K.com






You got it!


OK, we’ll include that in the show notes.  Thanks for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast.  Have a great rest of your show.


Thank you so much.