September 6, 2018 – Legal marijuana is now a near $7 billion business in the U.S., which means it is only natural that we will see recruiting firms focusing on bringing talent to this booming sector. Just recently, Protis Global added Wall Street veteran Samantha Ford to its executive search and advisory firm as senior vice president of business development to head a third location which will be in the Bay Area and entirely focused on recruitment within the cannabis industry.
Ms. Ford has over 20 years of established relationships from Wall Street, and from key growth sectors nationally. She has a track record of adding value in new growth sectors, advising both corporate clients and their prospective hires on the benefits of moving into a rewarding new role with exciting companies vying for market leadership. She will leverage this experience not only at Protis, but also through Women Leaders in Cannabis, an organization that connects and provides a network of support for women in the cannabis industry.
“We are thrilled to have the expertise and deep relationships that Samantha brings to our over 23 years of delivering talent and advisory to our corporate clients in the FMCG space, primarily in the food & beverage industries,” said Bert Miller, CEO of Protis Global. “She has developed a strong foothold and understanding of the burgeoning cannabis industry in the U.S. and Canada,” he said. “This dovetails extremely well with our practice and consulting methodology, and filling critical positions for our clients as they enter new phases of growth.”
Ms. Ford has known Mr. Miller for two decades. “He’s built a fantastic business with an exceptional team,” she said. “When I realized that his deep relationships and long-term connections in food & beverage and wine & spirits could help me leverage my relationships and better serve my clients looking to rapidly scale their organizations effectively, it was a no-brainer to partner with him and the Protis Global team.”
Mr. Miller said he is excited to have a West Coast presence that builds upon his Miami and Indianapolis locations. “With our capabilities and resources, we aim to partner with fast-growing companies to help increase market share by attracting the best talent as well as advising firms on the best structure and distribution strategy,” he said.
Protis Global is an affiliate of MRINetwork, specializing in executive placement within the FMCG, hospitality, IT and banking industries.
Executive Search for the Marijuana Field
Talent deficits exist in every industry. But the marijuana field is exceptionally short on senior-level leaders who can come in and cross-pollinate their functional and industry skills sets. One search consultant, Dan Ogden, jumped on this opportunity early. The recruiting firm he founded, Delta 9 Search, is devoted exclusively to finding senior-level executives for the cannabis industry.
Before selling out the business to partners earlier this year, he served as Delta 9’s principal and practice lead. Mr. Ogden became something of a recruitment pioneer for what is expected to be a venerable, job-producing $21 billion industry within the next few years. And right now, it is short on senior-level talent who can cross-pollinate their functional and industry skills-sets. While it’s relatively easy to find staffing agencies to recruit employees for retail and junior roles in the pot industry, Delta 9 is devoted to identifying harder-to-find executive-level talent for the field.
Not everyone embraces the idea of legalized pot, and that may pose some challenges for Delta 9, Protis Global and other rivals as they establish their footing. But Mr. Ogden believes that as awareness spreads and the medical benefits, in particular, become better known, acceptance will increase. “A lot of folks have come to me and said, ‘This is great,’” Mr. Ogden said, in reference to Delta 9. “But other folks have come to me and said, ‘This is really great, but you have your work cut out for you. I hope you didn’t make a mistake.’”
Right now, what the cannabis industry needs most is time to mature, so say recruiting specialists pioneering in the field. On the one hand, there is a public perception connecting marijuana with the well-worn stoner image. Recruiters therefore believe it is going to take a bit of doing to build the perception of cannabis as a true stand-alone industry and not the realm of a bunch of hippies.
Likewise, it will take a while for the marijuana industry itself to accept executive search. Indeed, search firms focused on the sector have plenty of challenges ahead. “We are not yet at the point where the cannabis industry as a whole has recognized the value of using an external search firm,” Mr. Ogden admitted. “Elements of it have. But I think it needs a little more maturation to get to the point where it’s more of an accepted concept.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media