Q1 Employee Spotlight


In this January edition of our Employee Spotlight, we shine a light on Steve McDonald, the Director of Business Development at Chameleon Technologies. With a career spanning over 25 years in the industry, Steve brings a wealth of experience and a unique perspective on executive searches, client relationships, and the dynamic world of technology staffing. Join us as we explore Steve’s journey at Chameleon, his strategies for success, and the exciting prospects that lie ahead for both him and the company.

What initially attracted you to join Chameleon Technologies, and how has your experience been so far?

SM: I have personally known our CEO, Melissa, since high school. We have been long-time friends, born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. I have known about Chameleon since right around its founding in 2000. I have always heard great things about the company and its staffing practices. Chameleon has always been an attraction for me with Melissa’s vision, focus, and team building efforts. I think any company you decide to join, you need to look at the CEO first and foremost. The company is solid in business practices, ethics, and its caring nature to the community.

My experiences with Chameleon have been great! I love the team we have and the balance of work and personal life. There is a lot of good team synergy, which is key in a remote work setting. It’s been fun to have a little broader exposure to other aspects of the company as well, such as full-time placements and executive search practices.

In your role as Director of Business Development, what strategies have you employed to drive executive searches, adapting to trends or shifts you have observed in the search landscape?

SM: I feel building and fostering relationships with key stakeholders is a fundamental strategy in executive search. This comes from natural experience in the industry and from working with people who have been your clients in the past. Staffing business is cyclical in that your candidates in executive search will become your clients, and your clients will eventually become your candidates. It’s important to stay close and keep in routine touch with them because the industry can change and pivot quickly, as we have seen over 2023.

I think one of the big challenges that I have been hearing from a lot of companies over the last year has been a retiring leadership team. An example of this would be one of our local companies, BECU. They have gone through a big CEO change and are turning over the great majority of their executives due to retirement.

Our most recent retained executive search assignment comes from an executive who will be retiring in 2024.

Can you share a notable success or accomplishment since joining the team in early 2023?

SM: Relationships are crucial in this business. I knew of a contact from one of my clients some years ago. While reviewing my connections in my network, I noticed that he had joined a company that I had never heard of before. He was a director at this new company, and I set up some time to catch up with him. We had a great discussion regarding his new position, and he mentioned that they were going to be looking for a CTO in an executive search. Further conversations and other stakeholder discussions followed, and we were awarded a retained CTO executive search.

How do you approach building positive relationships with clients, and what role does client collaboration play in your business development efforts?

SM: Building relationships is at the very foundation of good, long-lasting client relationships. Without relationships, you will face many challenges in this business. In my opinion, when building relationships, you should learn as much as you can about everything. It’s important to discuss things outside of just “business” conversations. What hobbies do they enjoy? Do they like to travel? Where have they been? I read a book some years back titled, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” written by Dale Carnegie. It’s a great read, and I would highly recommend it to anyone in the staffing business. People enjoy talking about what matters most to them. If you can show compassion and interest in those things that matter most to someone, you will create a special relationship. Not only will that person become a long-term client, but you will make a friend in the process, or what I would call a win/win situation.

What industries have you explored or delved into recently, and what opportunities do you see in those sectors for Chameleon Technologies?

SM: The market always seems to be changing, like what we experience in the stock market. We witness the market swing upward in a bull market and sway the other direction in a bear market. We have periods of feasting upon multiple jobs, and we have times of famine where you are competing with hundreds of others for positions. The same is also true with candidates. During times of plenty, candidates are scarce, but during periods of lower job openings, there is a lot of talent on the market, as we experienced in 2023. However, this is nothing new but a cycle that I have seen over the 25 years in this business.

Early on in my career, I went after a lot of startups, which was fun and exciting about new technologies. I came in right around the .com era of 1998, which brought in a lot of money from VC’s and Angel investors. However, with all good things, there is an end. We saw a huge implosion in the .com industry in 2000. It was a significant learning experience for me not to have all my eggs in just startups. It’s important to have a well-rounded client portfolio.

During the time of the .com implosion, I had one client that carried me through that challenging economic situation and that was a company called Quinton Instruments. They would later become Cardiac Science. They were working on heart or cardiac equipment used for the healthcare industry.

I share the above experience because I learned a lot from it. I look at companies from a different lens now than how I did back 20 years ago. Industries that I think are safe bets over the last few years are those clients who can weather economic uncertainty. Those would be healthcare, energy, finance, and transportation. It’s my feeling that Chameleon is well positioned to help support these clients in the areas of technology, finance, sales/marketing, and executive search capacities. As I discussed previously, I think we will see over the coming years a significant paradigm shift in executives from these companies as the boomer generation looks to retire.

One other key area in technology for these clients will be the power of AI. I think AI will transform many things in many sectors of the market. Some of AI’s use we can already see but it’s my feeling we are just scratching the surface on what AI will be capable of in the future. I almost see a repeat of excitement in AI to how the .com era was at the start of the new century.

In your experience, how does fostering a positive team culture contribute to success in business development, and what steps have you taken to cultivate this at Chameleon?

SM: I think having a positive team culture is everything in the staffing business. When you are working in a people-oriented business, it’s a must have. Everyone needs to be aligned on solid communication and collaboration. I think while COVID was such an ugly time for many, it brought many learning opportunities along with it. Some of those important things were the importance of teamwork, communication, and cohesiveness. It’s my feeling that business development and recruiting strive to become one together for the goal of serving the client.

Early on in my career, I had been on both sides of the desk in recruiting. I have done both recruiting and client development. I’m grateful for those experiences because it taught me how to see things not only from a client perspective but also from a candidate. Based on that exposure, I have looked to include our recruiting team in client meetings to dive deeper into the role and requirements with the client.

Can you highlight a memorable collaboration or project that exemplifies the collaborative spirit at Chameleon Technologies?

SM: I remember a Project Manager position that we were working on for one of our long-standing clients. I had been communicating closely with our recruiting lead during the process. While our recruiting lead was out of the country on vacation, our client decided to move forward with hiring one of her candidates, and we had an interview for the position. Without wanting to disrupt our recruiting lead on vacation, I reached out to the candidate directly and extended the offer to him, and he gracefully accepted. I was able to fill in and perform references for our candidate as well, which is another recruiter function. I wanted to help our recruiting lead have a memorable vacation and not have to worry about work. I think this shows the special connections and relations we have with each other at Chameleon. We are here to help and support each other.

As I reflect further on this experience, it shows the work-life balance that we have. My colleague was able to enjoy a life-changing experience in Italy while making placements. I think that is a special situation in my book.

Looking ahead, what excites you about the future of Chameleon Technologies, and what goals do you have for the team in the coming year?

SM: There is much to be excited about in Chameleon’s future! The job market has been stabilizing from the great reset of 2023 where we saw massive layoffs across the board. Not only in Technology but other industries as well were impacted. No industry seemed to escape the great reset by 2023. We have also endured very bullish interest rate hikes which put pressure on companies to cut employees. I think we will see different industries come into scope and look to partner with Chameleon over this next year such as healthcare, transportation, and energy. Another strong up-and-coming segment is green energy companies.

I think a nice and steady goal for me to contribute to our team this year is to be consistent in my meetings with clients. It’s important to be consistently engaged with them and to stay close with relationships. It will be the client meetings that will lead us to further job openings. We have some aggressive goals over this year in helping to lower the unemployment rate. I know we can do it and have all the confidence in the team we have in place. I’m also thinking this year could be a great opportunity to see our recruiting team and other areas of our company positioned for growth.