Hello friendly faces! It’s that time of the week! We’re back with a new CNSMoms’ Meet a Mom spotlight brought to you in part by Mary Gifford of Gifford Law. This week we meet Lake Forest lifer, mom and CEO Camille Fetter from Talentfoot, an executive search firm that matches marketing, sales and technology talent with high-growth digital businesses. Founded by Camille in 2010, Talentfoot is making new strides in the industry having recently launched Indigo, an exclusive, invite-only C-suite membership network! Camille is sharing invaluable insight into the current job market and gifting us with career advice for working parents. Welcome, Camille!
Hi Camille. Please introduce yourself. Where are you from originally? What city do you live in now?
Hi everyone. My name is Camille Fetter. I grew up in Lake Forest and am now proud to be raising my daughter here. As a mom, Lake Forest provides the best of both worlds – easy access to Chicago to pursue my career passions, and a wonderful, friendly and warm community that allows my daughter to thrive. When I am not with my daughter you can find me at Talentfoot, the boutique executive search firm I founded in 2010 to match marketing, sales and technology talent with high-growth digital businesses.
How old is your daughter? What are her favorite things to do? Feel free to brag here.
My daughter is seven years old. She picked up my love for skiing which has been so fun to experience with her, as her mom. It’s incredible to watch her conquer her fears and find her inner-confidence skiing. I really look forward to making many more memories on the slopes together across the world! She is also an avid reader. I can honestly say that I feel such a sense of fulfillment when I see her pick up a book on her own and listen to her and her friends talk about the books they read during their book club. She is also bilingual. English is her first language, she’s fluent in Spanish and learning Mandarin at our local public school which has been a tremendous benefit I am so grateful for. I hope her love of trying and learning new things – like skiing, reading, different languages and cultures, how people of all economic classes live around the world, working alongside me to help a refugee family adjust here in America, and reading music while she picks up the guitar and piano – continues for a lifetime.
That’s incredible! What are your favorite local places to spend time with your daughter?
My daughter and I love exploring everything that Lake Forest has to offer, especially in the summer. We love going to the beach and are excited to enjoy the Lake Forest Festival and Fireworks and the Lake Forest Music Festival. There’s nothing better than being outside in the nice weather, in a location like Lake Forest, where you can feel the breeze of the lake on your face.
I also can’t wait to introduce her to pickleball this summer, a sport my highly active 70-year-old parents recently got me into; continue our love for biking, rollerblading and tennis (we take classes together and it’s one of the highlights of my week!), improve our skateboarding skills and of course play a good game of Marco Polo in the pool. We also love making the quick drive to Wisconsin to experience what makes it special like horseback riding, hiking, skiing, and boating.
We enjoy going to the city as well which we frequent as much as possible – whether to explore the Museum of Science and Industry, Shedd Aquarium, Art Institute or Museum of Contemporary Art; walk through new neighborhoods and try ethnic cuisines; attend sporting events including Cubs and Bears games; or visit the lakefront.
I’d also like to take her on one international trip each summer. The pandemic has obviously impacted our ability to do this the last few summers, but as soon as it’s considered safe we will be headed to Canada, Norden, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and beyond! What propels my desire to take her on these trips is my belief that exposure beyond her day-to-day – to different lifestyles and cultures – is critical to her development of being a kind human, who is understanding and empathetic toward all people, and wants to make the world a better place.
I agree 100%! What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
People tend to be surprised when I share that I volunteered at a crisis hotline when I was in college at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The hotline provided support for domestic violence, suicide prevention and gender and sexuality identity issues for the Denver metropolitan area. To this day, it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and one that has really rooted my approach to how I see humanity, the world, and business. I have a deep passion and purpose for changing people’s lives for the better, which for me means helping as many people as I can find their purpose.
What was your impetus for starting Talentfoot?
I truly believe that there’s an authentic why behind my trajectory in executive search. It’s a journey that started when I was very young, with an innate work ethic, entrepreneurial drive and an obsession with how to best service a customer. The journey continued through college where I volunteered for the hotline which fueled my passion for changing people’s lives, and to my first job in advertising where I realized that I was not fulfilled even though I loved the industry. I was then introduced to executive search and was soon helping people find fulfillment through their work. From that point on, I realized that executive search had been my calling all along. Soon after, I founded Talentfoot where we match the proven and exceptional talent I described earlier with high-growth digital businesses – from Series B funded startups to private equity and venture capital firms, Fortune 50 brands, advertising and marketing agencies, and SaaS providers.
How would you describe the current job market?
We are still in “The Great Resignation!” This is essentially an era where talent is flooding the marketplace and since hiring demands are not slowing down, I don’t expect it to end soon. There’s a continuous stream of organizations creating new positions. For example, 50 percent of our current job openings in digital business are completely new requisitions and 50 percent are backfills. We opened 49 jobs in the last two months of 2021 and 95 in the first two months of 2022 – a 93 percent increase! Additionally, we are seeing talent pools being diminished by 80 percent when employers have onsite expectations of five days per week in the office.
The past few years have particularly been challenging for women in the workforce, with greater job losses among women than men. What is your advice for women who are navigating the job market and would like to return to Corporate America?
There couldn’t be a better time for a parent to re-enter the workforce, regardless of how long it’s been since they worked outside the home. Talentfoot has brought several parents back to the workforce where they are seen as highly valued players who bring a different perspective to the table.
Overall, I believe that women, and men, deserve to find fulfillment through fulfilling work, and that fulfillment is increasingly becoming a requisite versus a luxury as we navigate this post-pandemic era. For women who previously lacked fulfillment with their careers, there are new opportunities out there, many of which provide unprecedented levels of flexibility, that have potential to pull at their heart strings. This flexibility comes in the form of opportunities that are fully remote, hybrid and/or offer options other than full-time work such as freelance positions with schedules that can better support the type of lives women want to lead.
There are also opportunities with organizations seeking talent who can engage with the needs of the business anywhere from 5 to 40 plus hours per week. These organizations are recognizing the rise of the gig economy which allows them to build flexible workforces and therefore more diverse teams. When you haven’t been wired a specific way in corporate America the last few years, there is a level of new thinking that comes along with that, and that’s precisely what organizations are looking for today — that’s the impetus for driving real innovation and future proofing the business.
What advice can you give to women and mothers when it comes to starting your own business?
My advice for starting a business is to approach the process with resiliency and perseverance.
I was 29 years old when I started our firm, and I will say the naivety ended up being a blessing. My passion and mission to bring a new approach to executive search and build an organization where people loved coming to work, exceeded my fears of getting started.
I soon realized, similar to life, that building a business is not black and white which is where the importance of resiliency and perseverance comes in. There will undoubtedly be days and weeks where you feel like giving up, but you adapt and work through things and then something great happens. This “cycle” never really ends, even after more than a decade of building Talentfoot, but the gratification and fulfillment from doing what I love is worth it every time.
Who are your influencers and/or mentors?
I wouldn’t be where I am today without my parents and the confidence that they instilled in me from a very young age. My parents have always been dedicated to building my confidence, whether I was trying to run my own lemonade stand as a child, or today as CEO of Talentfoot. As a result, it’s very important to me to help build confidence in others, including my daughter, my colleagues, our hiring teams and our candidates.
As part of my mission to change lives for the better, I’m committed to helping children develop confidence and for adults who have lost their confidence, helping them to regain it. Something that comes naturally to me is the ability to see the big picture, and not let challenges that I know are short-term deter me or get me down. I try to instill this thinking in others by leading from a place of inclusivity, empathy and vulnerability, and using my life experience to show that anything is possible with passion and the right mindset.
Other life lessons my parents taught me, especially when it comes to parenting, is the paramount importance of instilling kindness, respect and responsibility as children can never be reminded enough as they grow. They also prepared me for the fact that your job description changes every six months as a parent, which is something I am learning with my daughter. Parenting, by far, is the hardest job there is – the remit and responsibilities and approach and methodologies are constantly changing! Last but not least is that children will always need you, much like I still need my parents. The how/where/when they need you changes, but the job of a parent is for a lifetime.
What is on the horizon for you both personally and professionally?
As the workforce continues to evolve, Talentfoot is evolving with it to become more of a full-service talent solution partner which I am extremely excited about. In addition to executive search, we are building out our staffing, management consulting and advisory businesses, and have created an invitation only members platform for the C-suite, called Indigo, the first of its kind to leverage matchmaking, executive search and advisory services in one platform. My overall goals this year, both professionally and personally, remain the same – to maintain my sense of fulfillment. I’m grateful I have a job that provides fulfillment, which helps me feel centered and able to show up with my whole self at work and at home with my daughter.
About Our Meet a Mom Sponsor
A very heartfelt thank you to CNSMoms’ Meet a Mom sponsor, Lake Forest mom of three and owner of Gifford Law, a solo Estate Planning Firm (wills and trusts). Mary, we appreciate your support of local moms in our North Shore communities! Learn more about Mary by visiting her Meet a Mom spotlight here!