Top recruiter Heather Porter shifts gears in pursuit of industrial sales leaders
by Joe Metts
Marketing Associate at Charles Aris Inc.
Executive recruitment is a sales-driven industry in which recruiters work to sell top talent on opportunities with client organizations. Some of the most successful performers in executive search have deep technical experience in the space where they now recruit. Other high achievers, equally successful, are masters of the art and science of executive recruiting.
Charles Aris senior associate practice leader Heather Porter is a dynamic mix of both. The former standout senior associate recruiter has a strong background in operations, digital marketing and sales, and is now using her interpersonal skills to further boost the business development side of Charles Aris Inc.’s Sales & Marketing functional recruiting practice.
“What I bring to the table is an understanding of how to help craft a successful business, aiding hiring authorities by identifying and landing the talent they need to achieve organizational goals,” she said. “I’ve had the unique opportunity to work with every practice leader at Charles Aris, and while the industries may be different, the sales and marketing functions stay the same.”
That acute knowledge of sales and marketing stems from a successful decade-long run with Cold Stone Creamery, an ice cream parlor franchise with more than 1,000 locations across the United States. Heather played an influential role with Cold Stone, opening numerous locations across North and South Carolina as the region’s director of operations. There, she developed a detailed understanding and deep appreciation of the sales and marketing functions.
“There were a number of times when a location would be built and opened without a committed franchisee, so my team and I would come in, operate the store and create a successful business model for someone to ultimately buy,” Porter said. “You have to know how to connect with people, build relationships that will last and ultimately generate repeat business.”
That experience certainly serves her well in the world of executive recruitment, where the ability to develop meaningful, lasting professional relationships is critical to success.
During her tenure at Cold Stone Creamery, Porter married her husband, Ben, and together they started a family. This led her to reduce work travel and took her to the Greensboro News & Record, where she assisted with the multimedia outlet’s outside sales and digital advertising efforts. A self-taught Google AdWords specialist, Porter managed a variety of online advertising campaigns for clients around North Carolina’s Piedmont Triad region.
Porter first learned of Charles Aris while providing digital advertising consultation to family friend Brian Styers, who as a vice president leads the executive search firm’s efforts in knowledge management and communications. Not long after, she accepted a role with the organization as a promising associate recruiter.
“The first year was really spent developing the tool kit,” Porter explained. “Having the opportunity to learn from everyone at Charles Aris, whether it was in the firm’s Strategy, Industrial or Private Equity practices, really helped me learn how to recruit and how to connect with people.”
Porter made an immediate connection with Charles Aris senior vice president Greg Harper, who leads the firm’s Engineering & Operations recruiting practice.
“Greg truly believed in me and my ability to learn this business,” Porter said. “He has always been a great mentor, and I am thankful to have been able to work on many of his searches over the past few years.”
Though she served as a jill-of-all-trades during her time as an associate recruiter, Porter carved out a niche recruiting leaders for client organizations in the industrial space. As she continued to excel in the organization, the time soon came for Porter to consider what her own practice might look like.
“I was always fascinated by the conversations I had with industrial executives,” Porter said. “Every phone call and relationship you develop as a recruiter is impactful, but I distinctly remember always walking away from those phone calls having learned something.”
That inspiration led her to combine her two professional passions: sales and marketing with industrial recruitment.
“While I don’t have a technical background in industrial manufacturing, what I know how to do is recruit talented individuals for the organizations in that sector,” she said. “I have the ability to listen to a client’s needs, craft a plan to find the talent that’s needed in the role, and execute that plan to identify, connect and place those individuals in my client’s organization.”
One of Porter’s best skills is her natural cadence when engaging hiring authorities and candidates alike in compelling conversations. Her ability to build an easy rapport, guide discussions and ultimately close deals has helped her rise quickly at Charles Aris, and undoubtedly will continue to serve clients and candidates well moving forward.
“What it comes down to is that I understand and identify with salespeople as they work to provide value for customers,” Porter explained. “I also love speaking to experts in the industrial space, so it was a natural pairing that occurred when I began to design my practice here at Charles Aris.”
This pairing has become a driving force in Porter’s journey to success.
“I know the function, I speak it and I have lived it. I am paid to be an expert in executive search and provide the world’s best sales and marketing leaders for my clients,” Porter said. “In time, I hope to become the go-to person when an industrial organization has a sales or marketing need. They can come to me with confidence that I’ll find the perfect fit.”
"Thanks, Charles Aris, appreciate your dedication in finding such great talent for us to select from."
— The VP of Strategic Product Management for a Fortune 30 retailer, responding to an email informing him that Charles Aris Inc.'s candidate had just accepted the retailer's job offer.