Waterstone Client Stories: Dave Dinesen, COO, MacKay CEO Forums

At Waterstone Human Capital, our focus on helping organizations build high performance cultures means that we get to work with some truly exciting organizations across a variety of industries. We are also fortunate to work with some extraordinary candidates who can help our clients meet and exceed their culture and organizational goals.

And sometimes we’re lucky enough to work with a candidate who turns into a client.

Meet Dave Dinesen, Chief Operating Officer at MacKay CEO Forums, which offers peer groups across Canada and around the world, MCF provides the highest-impact, and least time intensive member-based peer learning organization for CEOs, executives, and business owners of companies with revenue of up to $5 billion. 

Waterstone helped place Dave at MacKay CEO Forums, and since then, we’ve had the pleasure of working with him on several projects. We recently sat down with Dave to catch up and learn more about his experience working with Waterstone.

Waterstone Human Capital (WHC): Describe MacKay CEO Forums.

Dave Dinesen (DD): MacKay is a peer learning organization. We bring together CEOs in medium and large sized companies into a curated peer learning group (usually 14 CEOs with a certified chair). They come together six times a year and help each other through shared experience.

Some people don’t know what peer learning is. I think it’s easier to understand what it’s not: it’s not advice or opinion. It’s shared experience from people going through the same kinds of things you’re going through as a leader – not a competitor, but someone with a similar-sized company who can help you on your journey through shared experience.

WHC: Talk about your role as Chief Operating Officer and what that entails.

DD: I’ve really partnered with the founder, Nancy MacKay, to help scale and grow the business – to be a fresh set of eyes and experiences and help scale the company, introduce new technologies, and take it to its next level of growth.

WHC: Waterstone helped place you in that role. What was your experience working with the Waterstone team as a candidate?

DD: I wasn’t looking for a new job. I had actually retired, and was about to start some Board work and consulting; I wanted to help companies and CEOs on their journeys. Waterstone reached out to me via LinkedIn, and they wrote a compelling, clearly original message – they took the time to write a thoughtful paragraph to get through the noise. I have a fair number of followers on LinkedIn and so I get a lot of notes, but this one got through the noise, and I replied.  They very quickly got back to me with more information, which also lets you know it’s real and someone cares about this process. Then they sent me what might be the best job description I’ve ever seen, which I really appreciated because it was just so thorough.

WHC: What surprised you most about that experience?

DD: I hadn’t really interacted with Waterstone before they reached out, but there was something about the look and feel and the branding; the Most Admired language was also appealing. It just felt good to me right away. The team was also very responsive, very quick, and it was clearly original correspondence, not spam or autoreply messages. All of that gave me comfort that this was a real process.

WHC: You’ve now had the chance to work with Waterstone as a client as well. How has that been?

DD: I think the level of professionalism from the team stands out – meetings start and finish on time, they’re respectful of time, they come prepared. It’s very well run and very professional, not drawn out needlessly, and I like that.

WHC: What advice do you have for candidates or organizations looking to make a change in today’s market?

DD: We’re all wanting that top one per cent of talent to join our team, and so there’s always going to be competition. You must take the time on LinkedIn and other channels to find the right people – yes, there’s tech you can use to help shorten that search, but you still have to hunt, to read, to do the research.

Then it’s about taking that research and cracking through the noise to get their attention. And if you can do that, then be responsive – if you get an email response, you better reply in minutes not hours or days. That separates the wheat from the chaff in this market.

WHC: Looking ahead, what’s next for you and MacKay CEO Forums when it comes to the growth and culture trajectory you’re on now?

DD: I see my role as bringing MacKay CEO Forums along in its corporate journey and emerging as the category leader. It’s so needed in this day and age to surround yourself with game changers and to have the opportunity to meet new game changers who can come alongside you and help you in all aspects of your career and life in general. We’re focused on emerging as that category leader and will be putting a lot of effort into that.

At Waterstone, we partner with our clients to support the full spectrum of culture and recruitment opportunities through our Waterstone Executive Search services and the Waterstone Culture InstituteSchedule a meeting with our team today and find out how we can help you build, sustain, or transform your high-performance team and culture.