First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
George C. Mazzella: Thank you for asking. My family and I are very fortunate as the virus hasn’t impacted us; however, we are suffering from cabin fever like everyone else. This has been a sad year on a global scale, but it has also been a great year for me personally as I recently got married. Being able to experience such a happy event in the middle of a year filled with tragedy is something that I am truly grateful for.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded The Suite.
George C. Mazzella: I originally planned to go into law enforcement after college, I was actually recruited by the FBI during my final year. It wasn’t until a couple of months before graduation that I had a change of heart and ended up falling into the world of executive recruiting. For me, it was an industry where I could rise quickly and earn enough money to build a future that would allow my then two-year-old son to have the privilege of choice that I lacked. But after several years in the space, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the industry was sorely lacking in innovation and effective tools to support peoples’ career growth. This pain point was what inspired me to found The Suite, and after building a team and testing the idea, we launched in February of this year.
How does The Suite innovate?
George C. Mazzella: Our platform was founded in order to transform the way executives manage their careers, so you could say that the entirety of our platform is an innovation. To understand specifically how we are doing this, well that’s actually pretty simple. We brought a new level of data transparency to the process to combat the current opaque model. We built tools designed to make career management simpler than ever and push our members to engage in behaviors that will help them achieve their goals. Lastly, we removed the noise of other platforms, such as ads or the constant inflow of sales outreach, from our networking features in order to focus on high quality, meaningful connections between members.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
George C. Mazzella: When the pandemic first began, the world came to a halt. Hiring stopped almost overnight, and at the executive level, it has yet to recover. The uncertainty of the pandemic has led to reduced executive churn, which in turn has reduced the number of open executive positions. The Suite is a two-sided marketplace that relies on executive hiring, so you could say that Covid was our Armageddon; however, by facing this adversity head-on, we were able to quickly evolve our platform into so much more than what we had originally imagined. As layoffs mounted, new member applications poured in, and we started to build tools and services to assist our members beyond connecting them with jobs. As a result, our business began to take off. We connected job seekers with career experts to offer job search advice and guidance. We launched networking features to let our members connect digitally through the platform and allow them to lean on one another and leverage their collective networks. We gathered compensation data from thousands of executives in order to create compensation tools that would guide our members through salary negotiations by giving them detailed a breakdown of cash/equity compensation levels across nearly every business stage, role level, and function. All of these new features were born from the absence of job activity. And now that the market is starting to recover, new jobs are being listed, and we are making quality connections between companies and our members.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
George C. Mazzella: To expand on what I touched on in my previous answer, the hiring freezes brought on by Covid should have been a death sentence for us. In fact, there were moments where I was almost sure we were finished. Luckily, I have an amazing team, and we all came together to find a solution. For us, it was about the rapid expansion of our product portfolio with little data to show demand. I mean really it was a gamble, that luckily paid off tenfold. Since expanding our offering we have seen membership skyrocket and activity on our platform is higher than we ever imagined possible for our audience. By de-prioritizing adding jobs when there were none, we were able to give the membership side of the platform the attention it needed to reach its current mass. Now that the market is opening back up, we have a broad, engaged network that is eagerly waiting for companies to list jobs.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and The Suite in the future?
George C. Mazzella: When looking back at my life, it’s hard to pinpoint a time when I wasn’t under a great deal of stress. I suppose I’ve just gotten used to it. At this point, I feel like if I wasn’t under stress, the boredom would overwhelm me. Kidding aside though, I had a son at 19 and worked two jobs to get through college while supporting him and his mother. And I still managed to graduate on time and with honors. I clawed my way through that to get to where I am now, and I lead this company with the same level of intensity and grit that it took to get me here. I believe in the team I built, and I know that as long as I have them working beside me, there is no limit to what The Suite can be.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
George C. Mazzella: We don’t really have a perfect comparison competitor to point out as there is no platform offering a similar suite of services to the audience we cater to. I suppose on the hiring side you could say that the LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Indeed’s of the world are who we are trying to disrupt. For our platform, we took a very specific niche audience (executives) and redesigned the concept of the mass-market job site to better support them. Today vertical marketplaces are rising at insane rates, taking away from the bloated horizontal incumbents. Our plan is the same as when we started: to continue to build great features that help our members advance their careers.
Your final thoughts?
George C. Mazzella: No one thought the world would be in its current state when this year began, but all we can do is keep moving forward. I have complete faith that as a nation, even more, as a species, we will overcome this. Many of the greatest technological advancements of our time were born from tragedy, and I believe that will happen again today. My team and I have big plans for The Suite, and I can’t wait to show the world what we have in store.