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‘You can have great technology – but without the right people, it doesn’t mean much’

18 Mar 2020

Wolf Hill Group co-founder and CEO Michael Mosunic discusses what makes a great leader stand out to him in the hiring process.

Taking on a leadership role brings significant responsibility, perhaps even more so during times of uncertainty. This means it’s important that those who pick up that mantle are aware of what’s happening with their teams and able to adapt to any changes.

To learn more about the characteristics of a successful leader, we spoke to co-founder and CEO of cybersecurity recruitment firm Wolf Hill Group, Michael Mosunic.

Mosunic has occupied several leadership roles in the areas of sales and executive recruitment. Here, he discusses how leaders need to be able to recognise and nurture talent, and what makes candidates stand out in the hiring process.

Michael Mosunic. Image: Wolf Hill Group

What is your current role and how did you get there? 

I am the CEO of Wolf Hill Group, a Slone Partners company that specialises in cybersecurity executive recruiting. I actually began my career in sales after completing my master’s degree, as I was advised by several of my parents’ successful friends who owned their own companies that sales is a great way to learn about business.

In 2005, I became partner and COO of Slone Partners, an executive search firm focused on life sciences. It was there that I first gained valuable experience in executive recruiting.

Did you study at college or complete other training?

My bachelor’s degree is in psychology. I earned a master’s in applied physiology from Columbia University and an MBA from University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. None of those degrees are focused on executive recruiting or cybersecurity, but I learned the fundamentals about executive recruiting through experience and my own personal research.

Education is wonderful as it has opened a lot of doors for me and has given me a deep understanding of the fundamentals in running a business, but nothing beats actual experience.

Has your career path been straightforward?

Definitely not. Following a brief period at Slone Partners shortly after its launch in 2000, I went into diagnostic sales where I had a very successful run, but I was offered an opportunity to return to Slone Partners in 2005 as COO and partner.

Four years later, I became part of a team that recapitalised a diagnostic company where I served as EVP of sales. After successfully selling that company in 2016, I transitioned to VP of sales for Sonic Healthcare, the third largest diagnostic laboratory in the world.

But, once again, I had an entrepreneurial opportunity to work with Adam Slone and the partners at Slone Partners, which I really wanted to pursue. We created Wolf Hill Group, a Slone Partners company, in 2019, and we focus exclusively on cybersecurity.

What, in your opinion, is the most important characteristic of a good leader?

I’m a big believer that people and culture are the most important aspects of the company. You can have great technology and processes but, without the right people, it doesn’t mean much. In that regard, if a leader only does one thing right, it’s the necessity to pick up on the signs when he or she needs to stop what they’re doing and listen to their people.

All leaders are extremely busy, but the most successful ones have an innate ability to know when their people need them. It’s not something that can be taught, but when employees and managers know that their leaders have their backs and will be there for them when they really need them, they’ll knock down walls for their leaders and accomplish amazing things.

What do you think will be the most important skills for leaders to have this year and in the future?

We live in a global economy and technology has enabled businesses across the globe to do amazing things. With AI, I believe we will see more and more automation with the ability to replace many inefficient jobs that have traditionally been handled by humans. I believe this is already posing a challenge for leaders. Leaders cannot rely on technical skills and qualifications alone.

Fast-growing industries such as AI, cybersecurity and life sciences are already outpacing the talent that is available today. Leaders will need to be able to recognise talent early on, nurture that talent and hire strategically or they will be left behind by their competition.

The best leaders are those who have adapted to the realities that these fast-growing industries are facing.

When you’re interacting with candidates, what makes someone stand out to you?

Passion. Everyone is always on the lookout for experience, but I love speaking with candidates who have a passion for what they do and who relish every opportunity in front of them.

When I speak with CEOs and investors, they are all looking for that person who they can invest in and stand behind, someone they know will be successful no matter what challenges they face. The winners everyone wants on their team are passionate about what they do, and that passion usually carries over into all areas of their lives – their family, their friends, their health, their hobbies, politics and most everything else.

Those candidates are often difficult to find, but when you find them, you really want to do everything in your power to get them placed with a great company where they will thrive, and the company will reach even higher levels of success.

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