| Q&A with Deena Pierott, Founder and President, Mosaic Blueprint
What is the creation story for Mosaic Blueprint?
Malcolm Gladwell’s book “The Tipping Point” has a character who is a connector. I’ve always been one to connect people to businesses and people with other people. About five years ago, I started collecting business cards of people who are looking for jobs. I would share their information with companies that were hiring and I would assist in resume prep. A friend of mine remarked “you need to be a recruiter”.
Before stepping out there into the business owner world I worked for the City of Portland for 15 years and during most of those years I was able to expand into the diversity and inclusion space. I often tell people that you never know what an opportunity looks like – it might come dressed as something else. Well, that opportunity came dressed as a budget cut. My position was being cut. At the time, I had to make a conscious decision about my next step. Do I want to get another position with the City? Do I want to go out there and start something on faith?
I always knew I had an entrepreneurial spirit, but I was also afraid to start my own business. Afraid that it might fail, that I may not know all I need to know about running a business. Then I came across this quote while trying to make the decision: “After considering all the ways to fail, I finally took the leap of faith and found myself flying.”
After reading that quote about five times, I made the decision to start my own recruiting company. Was it a leap of faith? Yes it was. I’m a single parent, and I also take care of my Mom, whose health is failing. But I never regret the decision I made.
A lot of people ask how did come up with the name of my company, well it’s simple, I wanted to emphasize my diversity background in the name of the new company. “Mosaic” is a combination of diverse elements. My goal is to help people create a “blueprint” for success in my candidates careers. That’s how “Mosaic Blueprint” came about.
What was your career path prior to becoming an entrepreneur?
I worked in both the private and public sectors throughout my career. I worked for diverse companies like Hughes Aircraft, Mattel, Exxon, and Ogden Allied Systems. Moving to Oregon, I started working for nonprofits like the Urban League of Portland, which was a great way to get to know the community. At the City of Portland, working in the Bureau of Environmental Services was like a second home for me. In fact, besides diversity, my next love is environmental and sustainability issues.
What are the core competencies of Mosaic Blueprint?
Mosaic Blueprint has several competencies; chief among them is cultural inclusion. I want to work with companies that are looking to be inclusive of executives and professionals of color. More importantly, I want those companies to be an inclusive organization where our Mosaic candidates can thrive. I tell my clients not to conduct a major diversity recruiting effort if their house isn’t in order. Clients are important to me because that’s my bread and butter, however, my candidates' livelihood, career growth, being part of a team and most of all – being included is more important to me. So on that note, we have a global network of diversity/inclusion consultants that can work with companies on their diversity concerns and also assess what type of diversity training is needed. Diversity programs are not a one size fits all plan and for it to be truly woven into the fabric of an organization it has to authentic to that organization.
Our Clients. I truly believe in a collaborative partnerships. I really want to understand the clients I’m working with, every company has it’s own unique story it’s own culture, and I need to understand what that is in order to form a true partnership and collaboration. That helps when locating the right candidate for their opportunity.
Our Candidates. Career development is also an important piece. Helping the candidate understand the “horizontal” scope of what it is that they do, and take advantage of opportunities to cross-pollinate across functions.
Deena Pierrot serves on the Commission on African American Affairs, a group appointed by Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire to recommend policies and programs that improve service to the Black community. The group focuses on developing and advancing a legislative agenda of policy proposals that are important to the Black community. Members pictured are, from left, (back row): Rev. Dennis Payne; Winona Hollins-Hauge; Chair Oscar Eason, Jr.; Executive Director Rosalund Jenkins; and Vice Chair Earl Ford. In the front row are Dr. Michael Tate, Deena Pierott and Joseph Hooks.
How does Mosaic Blueprint identify candidates?
When I started Mosaic Blueprint, I already had a huge network. Most of the candidates I have are either people I already had a relationship with, or they come as a referral from my networks. There has been a lot of viral marketing for Mosaic Blueprint which has been fantastic, so now candidates approach us from around the globe – it’s exciting. And when we’re conducting a specific search we reach out to our networks geared for that industry, ie, Engineering, Information Technology, Human Resources, Marketing, etc. The list goes on and on.
What has been Mosaic Blueprint’s greatest challenge?
Branding Mosaic Blueprint into the mainstream has been challenging. Without a huge marketing budget, most of the marketing for Mosaic has been viral, through word-of-mouth. Getting the exposure we need in the marketplace has been a challenge.
What do you consider as the growth potential for your industry?
With the industry landscape being so competitive and global, Mosaic Blueprint is ahead of the curve by creating strategic alliances with other firms in other countries, we’re currently strengthening these alliances in Dubai and New Zealand Bottom line, companies are looking worldwide for talent. As long as we stay competitive and knowledgeable of what’s going on in a global economy, there is unlimited potential for Mosaic Blueprint.
How does your cultural background affect the way you run your business?
As an African-American woman, my culture is an asset. Historically, we’re very nurturing, creative and supportive women, yet strong as steel. We’re used to taking care of people and business. With Mosaic Blueprint, I want to ensure that my clients are part of that creative and nurturing process. We’re here to help, and we want them to know that their best interests will be taken care of.
What advice would you give to anyone who’s managing a growing company?
First off you must be a visionary and you should have a strong team around you to move that vision along, to execute it. You have to stay true to your mission – stay the course but stay agile and adaptive. You’re going to have the ebbs and flows with your business, so understanding that and learning from the mistakes you make along the way will only help you navigate through your business growth. Finally, network, network and more networking about you and your business.
What do you enjoy most about running your own business?
There’s a sense of empowerment that comes with running my own business. To finally be in a space where I can use all the creativity that I want in my business, and not have it stifled. With having my own business, I have freedom to take it in any direction I want. All the things I’ve wanted to create, I’ve been able to accomplish. I’m able to invoke my natural creative style in how the company operates, treats our stakeholders and more importantly, participate in the community.
But what brings me job and what I find spiritually fulfilling is to be able to see my son off to school in the mornings and be here when he arrives home – that’s priceless!
Colors of Influence Fall 2008