Quick Fire Partner check in with Dom Cara

In this month’s quick-fire Partner check in, we sit down with the man who steers our Emu ship and keeps us on track and accountable every day. Dom Cara. Dom is one of our Managing Partners and COO, and with over 25 years’ experience in the Search industry, he knows a thing or two about people, executive search and how to find that perfect business/individual match when hiring. Dom knows how to stay cool, calm and collected and is always the first to check in to see how you are going. He also doesn’t mind a dress up, which we love.

Firstly, can you tell us really quickly how Emu started and why? And was it a coincidence our three Managing Partners all have a British accent?

I’d known and worked with Ed (Michelsberg) for the best part of 16 years, and had met Luke (Marshall) separately through our children’s school. It’s fair to say we hit it off.

In early 2019 Luke was exploring options and sought me out for some advice, while Ed and I were at an interesting juncture with our own business. 

The more we all talked, the more it became evident that we shared the same values and thoughts on delivering amazing client experience. Emu was born on that premise, and is something we still share and work on improving to this day.

And to answer the second part of that question…..If you know how many English people make up the Australian Search and Recruitment industry, then it’s less of a coincidence, more like probability!

Dom, with so many years’ experience in executive search, you would have interviewed thousands of candidates, and know what to look for. When it came to recruiting for the Emu team, was there a quality or personality trait you knew each team member needed to have, regardless of their experience for the required role?

A laser focus on delivering (and enjoying delivering) their best work possible. From our Administrative support team, through to our Research and Insights function, onto our Partner group we’re all acutely aware of what it takes to delight a customer (whether internal or external). That doesn’t just mean celebrating success, but ensuring that those who leave a process early have a great experience too. 


What sets Emu apart?

While I am bias, I truly believe we’re trying to improve what has been a very traditional sector by becoming more attuned to our communities needs (clients, executive talent and our own employees).

Early on we embedded Agile to help our business become more efficient in the way we delivered internal projects, and after hearing from clients about their frustrations with traditional search processes, we decided to utlise Agile methodology for Executive Search assignments. 

So far it’s resulted in shorter delivery timeframes, more client collaboration, a more engaged talent community and clearer process visibility.

I’m also very aware of the demands we place on our team, so there’s a real focus on both personal development and health and wellbeing with our firm. We implemented an unlimited annual leave policy from Day 1, as well as regular wellbeing days where we encourage everyone to disconnect from tech for the day, and focus on something for themselves and/or their families. 

Emu is a remote-first business, why did you make the decision to set the business up like this? 

Pre-COVID it was apparent that things were changing, and just driving back from the city to the Mornington Peninsula (where I live), we were aware of the amount of downtime (3 hours per day round trip) that we’d typically lose over a working week. Therefore, if we could consolidate our F2F meetings across 2 days of the week we’d immediately become more efficient. 

Then COVID happened and everyone became remote first (at least for a while!) 

And as a leader, what do you think is the key to making it a success?

I think staying connected is imperative to making it work well. We have a couple of short ‘all in’ meetings throughout the week, but work regularly as teams or in pairs when delivering engagements, internal projects or working on ourselves through our ‘buddy’ sessions. 

What’s your current daily non-negotiable to have a successful day?

Balance. Being able to maintain your personal energy throughout the day (and week) requires forethought and planning. We were fortunate to have a Personal Energy Coach workshop with us a few months back, which was very enlightening. 

And lastly, what are you reading, watching, listening to?

Reading - ‘And away’ by Bob Mortimer.  It’s his autobiography, and as we’re from the same town (Middlesbrough) it’s got me feeling quite nostalgic. 

Watching - Films. Literally. All. Of.Them. 

Listening - The Imperfects Podcast Series, intertwined with a weekly dose of the Guardian Football Weekly.