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Feature Friday: Be Genuine, Make Connections

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

Elaine Priesman’s energy and sincere interest in getting to know you is the first thing you notice when meeting this exciting and impressive businesswoman. For Elaine, it all comes down to building connections and relationships with people, which she successfully incorporates into her professional life.

Brittany Berrodin, the Marketing Specialist for the Professional Division, had the great opportunity to speak with Elaine and discuss her strategies for success and the joy she continues to find in her position.

Brittany Berrodin: How did you find yourself at BGSF and what is your current role?

Elaine Priesman: I started with Donovan & Watkins in 2006, and we were purchased by BG in 2015, so I guess I’m coming up on fourteen and a half years. I’m a senior business development manager. I do some recruiting wherever I can help our recruiting team, but I primarily focus on our business development.

BB: What is your approach to business development?

EP: I am very focused on making connections with our clients. Repeat customers that we’ve done business with through the years, I continue to stay in touch with, but I’m always out there developing new opportunities, meeting new people, doing a lot of networking, making really good connections. I think that’s one of the things I’ve enjoyed so much, is meeting so many new people and continuing those relationships over the years, following them when they leave their roles and maybe join some other companies as well. So, business development is something that I’ve done my entire career, and I love it, I just love making connections with people. 

BB: Do you enjoy the recruiting part as well, being able to still do that?

EP: I do. I enjoy both sides, but I really focus on solving problems for our clients in their roles within their companies. At the same time, I love helping people make a connection and changing their life by helping them join a new company, start a new career. I really started out in recruiting because I think it’s just a great place to start before you move into any type of business development, and business development is something that you can’t be fearful of. You just have to keep pushing forward, because every company doesn’t need you all the time, but I need their connection. I need to stay in touch with them, whether it’s a good time for us to do business or not. So, I do love recruiting because I love getting to know people, but I can do that on the client-side as well. 

BB: So, you’re very much a people person it seems.

EP: Yeah! I guess I kind of feel like everybody’s my friend. Or if they’re not, they should be. So, I just have this great desire to know people’s stories, how they got to where they are. If it is somebody that’s sitting in a CFO role, how they reached that, because we all know that everybody starts out in the same place. So I try to stay connected through some of my networking groups, I reach out to just random people and see if I might have something in common with them, or start off by saying, “You know, I think we might have met in the past, I can’t really remember where, but I saw that you had mentioned something on LinkedIn.” Or “You went to the University of Oklahoma and I thought we might connect.” I don’t have any hesitation with calling people randomly. I do have a large contact list of people that I am always reaching out to, congratulating them on their new roles. I use social media to find out where people are, and then I find their phone numbers and I just call them and just try to connect that way and stay connected. Sometimes I reach out to people asking them how they can help me, how I can help them, or just how we can be a valuable resource to each other. Sometimes it’s not even work-related, I just try to find some common ground with everyone.

BB: Do you have any specific goals for Donovan & Watkins?

EP: I think our DonWat goals really start with everyone’s personal goals. We have a really tight-knit group. We’ve worked together for a long time, so our goal is to continue to build our brand. We have brand recognition in the Houston area, and later, of course, we opened up our Dallas branch. Our goal is really to continue what we do and build our brand and make more connections with people and just offer some really great solutions in a lot of different areas. Now that we are partnered with our other brands, we hope that these opportunities moving forward will secure more cross-sell opportunities, but really the focus would be on just offering more services to our clients.

BB: Have sales blitzes helped you in achieving this goal to bring more services to your clients?

EP: So, all of our blitzes have been opportunities for us to learn. Because we were so focused for so long on accounting and finance as our own subject matter expertise, all of the blitzes have given us opportunities to just learn something new. We might not have been calling on some of those clients in the past or focused on areas of education outside of what we could do for them in accounting and finance. A good example would be some of the work that we did at Rice University and University of Houston, but we would not have normally been calling on people in admissions or people in other areas of the organization. We would have probably just focused on our accounting people. So, all of the blitzes, and especially I think in the education, just allowed us to introduce ourselves to other hiring managers that we might not have tried to really reach in the past. 

BB: How has working with other brands in BG helped DonWat to grow internally?

EP: I think in the past, we wanted so much to focus on our own areas of expertise because those are where we obviously feel confident. We’re more comfortable in an area that we have been working in for so long. The blitzes and these opportunities to work with our additional brands have been a huge learning curve, I think, for all of us, but we love that. We love learning something that we hadn’t been exposed to before. I think it takes a little bit of time, but I think now, we’re really starting to get more comfortable with what our partner brands are focused on as well. We can’t be the experts in everything, but it’s been a great education for all of us to learn a little bit more about what they’re doing so that we can help each other and just continue to grow all of our BG brands. 

BB: Do you think that this gives BG an edge over the competition or other companies that are trying to sell the same thing but maybe don’t have our resources?

EP: I think we have a huge opportunity because BG offers so many different services. I hear all the time from clients that they would really like one resource that can handle everything for them. I think that’s what really gives us an edge. That we can really handle everything that our clients are looking for, from our real estate development clients, our IT areas, our light industrial areas, and all of our professional groups. There are very few companies out there that can offer all of the services and be good at them. You don’t want to go out there and say you can do everything when you honestly can’t. I think when I started my career, I used to tease some of my teammates and say, “Just say yes, and then we’ll figure out 

Elaine Priesman is a  Sr. Business Development Manager & Senior Recruiter with Donovan and Watkins, having joined the firm in 2006 and resides in Houston, Texas.  With over 15+ years in recruiting and business development, Elaine specializes in the areas of Accounting, Finance, HR & Legal.  Elaine has successfully built a network of notable clients and candidates and continues to meet personal and company goals achieving  Diamond Club Award status each year. She has worked with individuals and industry leaders within the financial services, manufacturing, insurance, oil & gas, non-profit, and many service related industries. Prior to her success in the employment industry, Elaine previously held the position of Regional Director/Vice-President of Money Mailer Marketing where she established and directed the marketing/sales of a direct mail and internet marketing service company. She was responsible for all start-up operations for the SE Texas region, including direct sales, marketing, and administration of all sales activities. Elaine was consistently ranked in the top 10% in sales as part of a national team of over 400 franchisees. Elaine is an active member of many charitable and professional organizations and is an Alumni of the University of Oklahoma…Boomer Sooner!

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