Monday Meeting: Juan D. Morales, managing director, Stanton Chase



Executive recruiter Juan D. Morales has helped find CEOs for such organizations as the Palm Beach Zoo, construction company Dycom Industries and land magnate St. Joe Corp.

Morales is managing director and global practice leader at Stanton Chase in Boca Raton.

Hometown: Detroit. Now I have two hometowns — Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and Stuart.

First job and what you learned from it: I started sweeping the floor and bagging the groceries at my grandfather’s grocery store when I was 14. That was in Detroit. I grew up in the family business. No job was too great, and no job was too small — sweeping the floor was just as important as running the cash register.

How has your business changed? The biggest challenge is digitalization. We’ve gone from a culture that really embodied the personal touch to more of a technical culture. We need to be very apt at communicating through mobile phones, through the Internet. That cuts across all industries. It’s a challenge staying current and staying ahead of it. Maybe we’ll Skype someone and determine that they’re qualified. But to make sure it’s a cultural fit, we meet people in person when they get to the finalist stage.

Best business advice you’ve ever received: Relationships determine results. That advice was given to me by an old mentor at United Parcel Service, where I spent about 17 years. It means that if you’re successful in your relationships, you’ll be successful in business.

Best business book you’ve ever read: “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. It has stood the test of time. But for fun, I really like reading spy thrillers.

Biggest business mistake: Not coming into search until later in my career. I should have done this earlier. I should have relied more on my instincts, which were highly entrepreneurial. I worked in two large organizations — United Parcel Service and DHL — but in very entrepreneurial roles.

Biggest challenge: Really being able to read the tea leaves in terms of the economy and where it’s going. That varies by economy, sector and locations.

Most important trait you look for when hiring: Cultural fit is the most important thing we look for. Once we determine a person is qualified, it really gets down to the finer, softer side. You can be the most qualified CEO in the world, but if you don’t fit into the local culture and the corporate environment, you’re not going to succeed.

What you see ahead for Palm Beach County: Palm Beach County seems to be seeing an influx of different types of businesses. We’ve got pharma and life sciences, with Scripps Florida and Max Planck up in the northern part of the county. And we’re becoming quite a desirable location for private equity. We have a favorable tax climate, and the schools seem to be getting better.


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