The art of attracting mainstream executives to helm cannabis businesses

(This is an abridged version of the cover story in the April issue of Marijuana Business Magazine.)

One doesn’t have to look much further than marijuana hiring managers to realize just how much acceptance legal cannabis businesses have gained among executives at mainstream companies.

“I have yet to have someone say, ‘I couldn’t work in cannabis.’ That threshold is crossed within the first 10 seconds,” Ed Schmults, CEO of Calyx Peak, a multistate marijuana operator headquartered in Massachusetts, told Marijuana Business Magazine.

Schmults himself transitioned from mainstream businesses – he previously served as CEO at FAO Schwarz and Patagonia – to the marijuana space.

Scott Wells, executive vice president of talent acquisition at Cresco Labs, a cannabis MSO in Chicago, has had similar experiences.

“I’d say less than 5% of the time, people respond and say, ‘Cannabis is too risky; I’m not interested,’” said Wells, who previously served in senior human resources roles at financial-services company Aon and management-consulting firm The Novo Group.

Though cannabis companies are managing to overcome stigmas associated with the plant, they still struggle to recruit executives with the right fit for their businesses.

Whatever phase a marijuana business might be in – startup, small, medium-sized or bigger – it could behoove a company to look outside the cannabis industry for management help.

That situation prompted the staff of Marijuana Business Magazine to huddle with industry experts to explore how to hire top leadership, including one of the most pressing topics – how to build an adequate compensation package:

Marijuana Business Magazine’s cover package on hiring also takes deep dives into:

One comment on “The art of attracting mainstream executives to helm cannabis businesses
  1. Dita VonTreis on

    The problem with people from other businesses (particularly from CPG) is that they can’t tolerate the volatility and the need to execute rather than simply write presentations about brand architecture.

    Cannabis is a cottage industry with independent stores, buyers with little experience, and tenuous cash flow. People from big corporate backgrounds often don’t understand, and when they begin to they don’t like the business.

    There are the rare few who get it, like it, and will continue. I’m one of those but see far too many who thought they were in for a quick payday and an easy ride. This space is hardly that.

    Look carefully at prospective employees, ask about their responses to unexpected change, high pressure, uncertain supply chains, and financial peril. That should give you an idea of who’s actually going to be a good hire.

    Reply

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