The Winning Formula

Relationships over revenue: Balancing work and play equals success

Curate Partners derives its name from the Latin word “to care” (cura). Translated into the English noun version, curate means “one who looks after souls.” This people-first mentality has provided the foundation and building blocks of the Stoneham, Massachusetts-based digital and IT recruiting firm; in addition to maintaining an internal family atmosphere, its 23 employees believe that how they treat each individual partner — candidates, clients and the community — is an important differentiator and plays a huge role in Curate Partners’ success.

“[Curate Partners] was built to emphasize culture over numbers,” says COO and Managing Partner Sean Brady, “because focusing on the development and morale of our team will, in turn, lead to growth and that’s exactly the path we’ve taken.” And that mindset goes into everything they do. “Every decision made is with the overarching theme of putting people first,” says Account Executive Cathy Panah. “That is not easy to come by, especially in an industry that can be so transactional and revenue-driven.” While working at Curate Partners, Panah has seen that putting people first, and making decisions to reflect that, creates a culture where everyone strives to always do the right thing.

Recruiting Consultant Johnny Cail agrees, adding that Curate Partners takes great pride in providing a unique experience for candidates working with the firm. “We frequently have outings, dinners, picnics and really any excuse to take our consultants out and remind them that we are in this for the quality of life. Not just what job you’ve been placed in. And I absolutely love that,” Cail says.

Chasing the Purple Squirrel

Headquartered just outside Boston and with a second office in Reston, Virginia, Curate Partners was started in 2014 by five industry veterans — Dan Foley, Ron Fuccillo, Sean Brady, Chris White and Mike Giglio — who examined the future of digital and IT recruiting with a fresh and critical eye. Seizing on the notion that technology innovation and digital transformation were going to disrupt corporate America but many recruiters were neglecting to plan ahead for this, they saw an opportunity to fill a unique talent gap.

The founders set out to address flaws in the recruiting process in a rapidly changing industry, devising a new game plan to stay ahead of the technology curve and dedicate an immense amount of effort to seeking those elusive purple squirrels to match their clients’ needs.

Sticking with Its Values

From day one, the founders of Curate Partners established the “Cure8” values and have never lost sight of them:

The Cure8

  1. People first
  2. Never compromise, ever
  3. Conviction sells itself
  4. Find your passion. We found ours
  5. Life is hard. Make business easy
  6. Learn, earn and return
  7. Laugh as hard as you work
  8. To whom much is given, much is expected

Brady says the company’s philosophy has always revolved around putting people at the heart of everything they do. “I believe a lot of companies may make this statement,” he says, “but the founders and I back it up by being as authentic and genuine as possible when empowering our employees to achieve their goals both in and outside of the workspace.”

The Right Environment

Addressing what initially drew him to Curate Partners, Cail says it started with the unique interview process; he was immediately struck by the leadership’s laser focus on making sure that internal employees are happy, and that external consultants feel like their experience is very specifically catered to them. And although some of the employee freedoms they discussed seemed “too good to be true” — Cail cites as examples the unlimited PTO, no target numbers, flexibility to work from home and the ability to take consultants to lunch — he quickly realized the company was true to its word.

Cail was also impressed with the firm’s commitment to staying ahead of the technology curve, working smarter than the competition, and being cognizant of maintaining an environment that employees never want to leave. “I am a firm believer in feeling certain vibes and it just felt right. They were rigid on certain things that were very important to me,” he says.

Panah had a similar experience, saying she, too, was drawn in by the leadership team; while talking with the five partners during her interview, she says she immediately knew this was something special. She sensed they genuinely cared about the company they were building. Additionally, they asked her about her family, what she does outside of work, and what she values in life. “Nowhere else have people ever asked those questions and truly cared about the answers,” Panah says. “I can’t imagine ever leaving. This doesn’t feel like a job because the company is woven into the fabric of my everyday life.”

Pooches, Ping Pong and More

When discussing highlights of the work environment at Curate Partners and what brings her in each day, Panah quips, “Being able to bring my dog, Cooper, with me. Just kidding — but that is a perk!” Both Brady and Cail mention the steady stream of laughter throughout the cubicle-free space, along with music playing, stories being told, ping pong and even a deal gong adding to the fun family atmosphere. And, in addition to having a pet-friendly environment, the company offers perks such as community outreach opportunities, a weekly team lunch, and quarterly outings such as ski trips, beach parties, boat cruises and the Curate Olympics. “Sometimes I still need to pinch myself that my office is my office,” says Cail. “More than anything, we work very hard. But we very nearly have more fun sometimes!”

The firm has also established a mentorship program that has been tremendously successful; employees are able to work one-on-one with the executive team, explore new outlets for development and even collaborate interdepartmentally to learn multiple facets of the business and industry.

Panah feels the work-life balance is emphasized more at Curate Partners than anywhere else she’s worked. Brady adds that, indeed, the company prioritizes employees’ lifestyles and happiness through its perks. Curate’s unlimited vacation policy was designed to encourage and support family time, “reset” time and travel, he says.

Reaping the Rewards

Curate Partners is no stranger to “best-of” lists, having previously landed on SIA’s Best Staffing Firms to Work For list in 2018 and 2019, and ranking second on Boston Business Journal’s 2019 Best Places to Work list. Brady says such accolades are meaningful because “it validates that what we have created is special. … We consider this recognition even more motivation to continuously improve how we invest in our employees as individuals and in the company as a whole.”

He emphasizes that the Curate team is a living example that you can have a lot of fun and also achieve great results; its employees thrive on open communication, transparency and collaboration to achieve their goals. “The team atmosphere is really special,” Panah agrees. “We are all in each other’s corner, rooting for one another and having fun together.”

Brady tells of a holiday party where the employees surprised all the founders with a special video that they had created, in which employees described how much they enjoyed working with all the founders and how thankful they were to be a part of Curate Partners. “They literally came into the office over the weekends with the videographer to produce the video. We shared a lot of tears and laughter, that’s for sure. It was absolutely amazing and one of the most thoughtful tributes I’ve ever seen.”

And the rewards are evident in the attitudes and commitment of the Curate employees. “We keep the balance between work and play and I believe leadership has built an excellent equation to keep our internal employees eager to come to work,” Cail says. “And that is the structure of success, really.”