It’s safe to assume that most, if not all, have come across the age-old adage: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” Tiffany Crenshaw, president and CEO of Intellect Resources, founded in 1999 and specializing in recruiting and IT for the healthcare industry, can tell you first hand that life’s plan is never a predictable one, but perhaps for the lack of a better word, the right one.
Having received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Crenshaw saw in her future the streets of New York City and a life of writing and reporting, but today remains in North Carolina and runs a hugely successful recruiting firm.
“It’s a journey that didn’t make any sense at the time,” Crenshaw said, noting that eventually, “the stars aligned and it all fit together.”
After college, Crenshaw began work at a local ad agency realizing quickly that it wasn’t her place to shine. She decided she needed to take a break and with three months off she began to learn what the job search was all about. Eventually she ended up working for a company that sold printing products to hospitals. After the fast paced environment of the advertising business, this venture bored Crenshaw quickly, but was affording her a wealth of information and experience that at the time didn’t seem as significant. After two years, Crenshaw was contacted by a recruiter and soon became one herself.
“It just fit,” Crenshaw said.
Though she didn’t particularly like the company she was working for, she was gaining more experience as a technology recruiter and was soon contacted by another North Carolina company that needed someone with healthcare experience. It seemed all at once, all her experiences and strengths were coming together.
Eventually that company, led by Crenshaw, grew from 20 employees to 100 and was in a prime position to be sold. The owner, who Crenshaw describes as an “incredible business man and mentor,” came to her with the option of buying it herself and from that spawned Intellect Resources.
Intellect Resources began in 1999 as a recruiting company and a few years later in 2004, added consulting services based on client requests and needs. By 2010 they hit a huge growth spurt with revenues upwards of $30 million in a year. Their unique services under the leadership of Crenshaw, who through her journey ran the gamut of experience in both spectrums of job search and healthcare IT, gave them the edge over competitors.
Crenshaw points out four fields of practice that Intellect Resources offers clients that no other recruiting firm does: specialty consultants, full-time resources, a staffing model with “an army of people” and surprisingly what no one else does, the staging of unique hiring events to train and vet new talent.
“We certainly have competitors, but no one does all three and no one does the fourth,” Crenshaw said.
Since it’s inception, Intellect Resources’ field of competition has increased dramatically, most recently due to the Federal Government’s mandate that all health care records be digitalized. That withstanding the collective attitude of Intellect Resources is also a huge portion of their continued success.
“We possess a huge feminine quality, or rather a nurture mentality. We nurture our clients’ professional needs,” Crenshaw said. “Our clients feel and have often said, ‘Tiffany you have our backs’ and we do, we’ve got them covered.”
On top of that Crenshaw’s own personal experience scouring the job market gives her great empathy and perspective for her candidates.
“Because of the work we do with our candidates we have a deep understanding of what they do and it sets us apart,” Crenshaw said. “We have a relationship with them.”
The balanced relationships between clients and candidates on the part of Intellect Resources affords them a trust and bond that perhaps not many companies can match. When faced with a client’s need, Crenshaw said she and her team are willing to do what it takes to make it happen.
Clients who come in at the 11th hour with a need and an idea are met with a “heck yeah” attitude. Crenshaw has made it a critical part of her company’s practice to identify what their client’s needs are develop a solution.
“We grow by really partnering with our clients,” Crenshaw said. “They trust us.”
When asked what makes for effective leadership practices both inside and outside the boardroom, Crenshaw’s answer is simple: “Empowering people.”
“We get the best results with our clients if they are empowered to be successful,” she said. “My best employees, the happiest and most productive, all I have to do is empower them.”
Trust, empathy and empowerment are key proponents to Crenshaw’s success. The good-natured attitude that Intellect Resources sells is apparent on their website’s section of employee photos, many of them silly. Crenshaw’s own photo features her in a princess tiara a friend purchased for her 40th birthday because “you never wear someone else’s tiara.”
“We try not to take ourselves too terribly serious,” Crenshaw said. “We have a good sense of humor and find that overwhelmingly clients love that.”
Crenshaw’s personality is infectious and not at all hard to believe that a good number of her clients often express their want to work for her. This success hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 2013 she was named one of the 5 Female Tech Entrepreneurs to watch and placed 4th on the Forbes’ List of the 50 Fastest Growing Woman-Led Companies and continues to evolve and grow within her industry.
“The advice I wished somebody had given me in the very beginning of starting a business, is to build your business as if you are going to sell it,” Crenshaw, said. “With that in mind, you make decisions differently because you never know what might change. You find you’re cleaner on contracts and the like, everything is buttoned up and more attentive.”
Always willing to nurture, Crenshaw is a wealth of advice and information and provides great career resources at intellectresources.com as well as an informative blog for job seekers and those in the healthcare IT field. If there is anything to gain from Crenshaw’s story it’s that you never know where your road may take you, but hard work and determination will get you far, perhaps even into Crenshaw’s office.