Modernae Woman: Ema Ostarcevic, Staffing Company CEO

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By Brooke Goggans

When Ema Ostarcevic was 5 years old, her mother and three siblings packed for a two-week trip from Croatia, where they lived, to Utah, where her father was an international scout for the NBA. While they were in the United States, war broke out in the former Yugoslavia, leaving them unable to return home. “My family jokes that we’re on a suspended two-week vacation,” she says. Today, Ostarcevic is the founder and CEO of SEARCH Group Partners, a staffing and recruiting firm in Salt Lake City. She’s also a new mom to 4-month-old Alexander and is growing her company in new markets with the support of her fiancé, Ryan, who is a full-time dad. She credits her father and her ballet training for the drive and discipline that helped her start her own business at 25. She’s focused on growing a culture that empowers women, because in her world, the corner office includes a changing table and a bassinet.

How did you come to start Search Group Partners?

I always knew I wanted to own my own business, but I thought I’d probably do it 10 years from now. I’ve always been a bit of an entrepreneur at heart. I did early college when I was 15. I managed my first group of 20 people when I was 20 years old, and my whole team was 20 years older than me—and 18 of them were men. SEARCH happened organically. I was on vacation and one of the neighbors of the house where I was staying at owned a staffing company, and he opened his first company in his 20s. We were socially talking, and he said, “You should open your own firm.” At the time, I was working for Robert Half International, one of the world’s largest staffing firms and a Fortune 500 company; they have 350 offices worldwide. I had worked in their L.A. market, the Utah market and most recently was in the New York market working in their executive search practice. In this conversation, the man said, “I would back you, and I think we could round up a group of others who would be interested in backing you. Now is the time: You’re young, you’re single, you don’t have any kids, and you’re already working 80 hours a week anyway.” He pretty much talked me into it. While I’d always planned to do it, the opportunity presented itself with the right investor and financial backing, and that was really important to me. I didn’t want to start Ema’s staffing agency out of my basement. I really wanted to have the right partners and resources. I call it the right grey hairs. I fully recognize where my strengths are and where there are opportunities, and I thought, If I am going to do this, I have to surround myself with the right people to ensure that it’s successful.

Why did you choose Utah for your business?

Even though I was in New York at the time, I said that I wanted to start the company in Utah, which everyone thought was surprising. But I had managed the Salt Lake market for Robert Half before going to New York, and I saw tremendous opportunity in this market. And I have a little bit of a soft spot for Utah, and it’s an amazing place for business. It’s always on the top of Forbes lists for best places for companies, states to work in, growth states, lowest unemployment and has recently been nicknamed the “Silicon Slopes.”

Your dad was a recruiter. Do you think that influenced the business you’re in?

I think recruiting is in my DNA. I’m the talent agent for the everyday person.

You’ve said that recruiting women in executive and management positions is important to you. Why?

I’m a big believer in empowering and supporting women. I believe we achieve a lot more by supporting each other than tearing each other down or competing with each other. I believe that women can be the greatest resource for each other, and it’s something that I’m personally passionate about. Being in Utah, there aren’t a lot of women who work. In comparison to other states, there are a lot of women who stay home and there are a lot more children born per capita. There’s so many women who want to work but don’t know how or know how to get back into it after being stay-at-home moms and want to transition back into the workforce. We do a really great job of promoting, hiring and retaining women in leadership positions. I’m proud of that.

What’s your goal for the business?

I want us to be among the best staffing firms in the markets we serve. That’s why it’s about quality for us, not necessarily about size. I think what’s made us so successful is that we have an intimate relationship with our clients and our candidates. Ninety-two percent of our business comes to us from referrals. We’ve worked with companies that have the highest rate of growth, are the most innovative in the state, and we represent some of the most exclusive top talent in our market. We’re really grateful for that and the reputation we enjoy. We want to make sure that we remain true to that and expand upon that.

What would your advice for other women entrepreneurs be?

Call me! I say that jokingly, but we can be such a great resource for each other. It’s just like raising a child: It takes support. My advice would be, be humble and surround yourself with people who can help you, and be open to that support. Check the ego at the door and ask, “Who else do I need on my team, and how can I benefit from that team?” Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s no shame or embarrassment in that. If anything, that’s how you become the most successful. I’ve always believed I don’t need to make that mistake if someone else has made it.

You have a 4 month old. How has it been being a new mom and owning your own business?

Being a mom is the most amazing opportunity of my life. Everyone says your life changes when you become a parent, but I would add to that it changes for the better. Sometimes we forget to say that. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have support. My fiancé stays home with our son, and that’s a decision we made a few weeks after he was born. We made that decision because it was in the best interest of our family. Initially that was hard for me, but I remind myself that every family is different. Living in Utah, there’s a stereotype that you have to stay home with your child, and ultimately that’s not the best for me or in the best interest for my family. I joke that I’m a better mother if I work, but I really do believe that.

It’s wonderful to be in a place where you can choose what’s best for your family.

Ryan, my fiancé, has always been incredibly supportive of my career. I’ve always been incredibly lucky to have support from the men in my life. The men in my life have enabled me to be where I am today. I’m incredibly lucky to have Ryan at home. It just makes it so I don’t go to work and stress about whether my child is OK, or if he’s being taken care of. That’s made the transition incredibly easy for me. I’m also incredibly fortunate to have my own business, and I have the flexibility that a lot of people may not. I’m sitting in my office now, and there’s a baby Bjorn bouncer under my desk and a diaper caddy with diapers and wipes. I work a lot of hours, and it’s nice to bring my child into work if I need to. Sometimes when Ryan needs a break, the baby gets dropped off and hangs out at the office with me for a few hours. So I have a lot of luxuries that I think makes it a lot easier for me. There’s the flip side to this, too: I got a lot when I was pregnant, “Oh, you’re so lucky you own your own business and can take as much maternity leave as you want.” And I’d chuckle because it’s the opposite when you own your own business—you can’t take any time off. I had a 24-hour labor, and I was on the phone returning emails a good portion of it. But I do my best to make my schedule work for my family and me. I do remember that family is first: I don’t live to work, I work to live.

How have other men in your life supported you?

Growing up, my dad would say, “Trying to be a man is a waste of a woman.” My dad was a pretty well-known basketball player in Croatia, and once while still living there he made the front page of the newspaper for pushing a stroller with one of my siblings in it, and the other kids were walking alongside him. He would take us on these nightly walks, and my brother couldn’t fall asleep unless he was in the stroller beneath the tress with the sound of the ocean. The headline read—it doesn’t translate exactly but it’s closely: ‘They have their Dad wrapped around their fingers.” It was so unheard of at the time in Croatia that there would be a man pushing the stroller, taking care of his kids while my mom was at home. It was not a man’s role to care for the children, but my dad changed our diapers and took time with us and fed us. He was truly a co-parent, and I’m grateful I grew up seeing that. That was something that always stood out to me: my Dad saying be who you are. It doesn’t matter that you’re a woman, just be who you are. He led by example, and I always appreciated that about him.

Do you have a personal motto?

“Work hard, stay humble.” Humility is a virtue that has always resonated with me. Spiritually, I’ve always said, “I love god not religion.” Personally, my motto has always been, “Judge less and love more.” When I take that approach, I think I handle most situations better.

What do you do to relax?

We’re big on traveling. I’m happiest with a full suitcase and a boarding pass. A weekend at the beach does a lot for my soul and my mental health and re-energizing me. I’m a former ballerina, and I don’t get to ballet classes as often as I’d like, but I’ve developed a love for Pilates. I love cooking and spending time with my family. I moved back to Utah, and for the first time I’ve really enjoyed having the mountains be my backyard, and I’ve taken up skiing and biking. I did have to pause that with the pregnancy last year, but I’m back into that.

Tell me about being a ballerina.

Ballet is a common thing in Croatia and European countries. I was a ballerina growing up, and when I started college, I stopped dancing and started teaching. It started to be too much with a full-time career, but it is still one of the biggest blessings of my life. A lot of people will ask where my drive comes from, and a lot of it stems from ballet. It taught me discipline and hard work and a tremendous amount of respect for my instructors and team and community.

What is something, real or make believe, that you wish you had that would make your life easier?

I’m sure everyone says this: more time. I don’t know where it goes. And now having the baby, he’s growing up quicker than my eyes can adapt. I just wish there were more hours in a day.


3 Things To Consider Before Hiring Someone Smarter Than You

By Barry S. Saltzman, Fast Company

You want smart people working for you—that much is a given. But as a manager or business leader, team dynamics also take shape (or don’t) on your watch. Sometimes hiring the smartest person in the room isn’t always the best idea—not because you need to protect your ego, but because it takes more than one person’s outsize intelligence to succeed.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you’re considering bringing someone on that you consider more intelligent than you.


When you’re looking to fill a role, you need to envision how a new hire with fit into your team, not just the technical knowledge they’ll add. Based on what you know about your existing employees, is the new addition poised to act as someone’s mentor? Or will they simply work with you directly?

Consider your own needs, too. If you’re venturing out and building your own business, bringing in a business partner who can act as a mentor of sorts can be a great resource to have. In that case, you’ll probably want somebody who’s both intellectually capable and experienced. If you’re the manager of a team, you’ll likewise want someone who isn’t just smart but also brings out the best in you and the rest of your staff. Not all candidates are cut out for mentorship, no matter how smart.

“In today’s business environment, culture is crucial to the success of your business,” says Ema Ostarcevic, CEO of SEARCH Group Partners, a premier recruiting firm. “It is important to employ independent thinking and success-driven individuals who do not compromise company culture. There is value in employees who can work hard and be considerate partners in the workplace.”

It’s far from true that all highly intelligent people are egotistical, but intelligence can arguably make personality a more important factor in your decision than it might otherwise be. Figure out the type of role your prospective hire will have to play, and if a high degree of mentorship will be involved, make sure you’ve found a personality match, not just a smart worker.

Learn More


There are only so many hats you can wear before you need to bring on additional help. If you need a talented developer to build your website, then absolutely hire someone who’s an expert in that. But as a manager or hiring director, as Lisa Froelings counsels on the Huffington Post, it’s important to have some firsthand grasp of what goes into (in this case) developing a website. If you don’t understand a developer’s job and just hire the smartest developer you can find, you’re more likely to give instructions that reveal your technical ignorance. Over time, your smart new developer may lose respect for you and doubt your abilities as a manager.

So before you hire, take the time to understand—at a technical level—what goes into each role you’re trying to fill. That doesn’t mean mastering a new field altogether, of course, just being sensitive to its basic workflow and processes: What are reasonable deadlines for developers building a website from scratch? What will a marketing department need in order to get the job done?

This will help you stay clear about your own expectations and communicate your objectives effectively. The last thing you want is someone taking advantage of you because you simply don’t get what goes into their work. Sure, you want someone who’s brilliant in their field, but they’ll need to know you understand what they do—or at least try to—otherwise you risk undermining your own authority and the cohesiveness of your team.


Smart employees can help you take your business far, but intelligence becomes a problem when smart people believe they don’t need to work as hard as their peers. Just because someone has a high IQ doesn’t mean they’ll be successful. Nor does it excuse them from putting in the same amount of work as their peers.

This is especially true in the startup world, where businesses can grow fast and your employees can make or break your culture. “When we conduct interviews,” Pini Yakuel, CEO of Optimove, tells me, “we look not only for intelligence, but also for someone who has a strong work ethic and is a team player. Of course, brains and talent are a crucial part of getting the job done, but the ability to be open-minded and work well with others is often just as important as high IQ.”

This isn’t just a theoretical caveat. Some research suggests that unusually smart people aren’t any better than the general population at seeing their own flaws or accepting criticism. This can pose a real problem on teams. Hiring someone who rightly believes themselves brilliant may lead to a case of slackerism. But by the same token, your smart new hire may also struggle to constantly live up to your expectations if you push them too hard on the basis of their capabilities.

It’s important to strike a balance. You certainly don’t want to hire people below your intelligence because you feel threatened by employees who are smarter than you. On the other hand, don’t just hire smart people for the sake of hiring smart people. The best rule of thumb is simply to recognize that your job as a manager is to harmonize all types of employees in order to create a productive team. That may well mean hiring people who are smarter than you—as long as they match your culture and overall business needs, not just your technical ones.

Search Group Partners wins Inavero’s 2016 Best of Staffing® client award for the third consecutive year


SALT LAKE CITY, UT– FEB 23, 2016 – SEARCH Group Partners, a leading recruiting firm, announced today they have won Inavero’s Best of Staffing® Client Award for providing superior service to their clients. Presented in partnership with CareerBuilder, Inavero’s Best of Staffing Client winners have proven to be industry leaders in service quality based completely on the ratings given to them by their clients. On average, clients of winning agencies are nearly three times as likely to be completely satisfied with the services provided compared to those working with non-winning agencies.
Focused on helping top organizations find the right people for their job openings, SEARCH Group Partners, received satisfaction scores of 9 or 10 out of 10 from 75 percent of their clients, significantly higher than the industry’s average of 27 percent. Award winners make up less than two percent of all staffing agencies in the U.S. and Canada who earned the Best of Staffing Award for service excellence.

staff-care-wins-inavero-2016-best-of-staffing-client-award“The entire SEARCH Group Partners team is incredibly grateful to our clients for enabling us to earn this accolade for the third straight year”, SEARCH Group Partners’ Founder and CEO, Ema Ostarcevic said. “Our company is committed to exceeding our client’s expectations and the awards we have been fortunate enough to be recognized with are testament to that dedication.”

“Leaders of growing companies are more committed than ever to staying flexible in this stable yet volatile market, making staffing firms the most viable employment partnership,” said Inavero’s CEO Eric Gregg. “Finding the best staffing partner with a proven commitment to service excellence can be really tough. is the place to find the winning agencies that place talent with the skills you need in your city or state. We are very proud of the 2016 award winners.”

About SEARCH Group Partners, Inc.

SEARCH Group Partners (SGP) is a premier boutique recruiting firm, with offices in Utah and California. SGP conducts searches on a nationwide basis and provides professional talent acquisition and consulting services including: temporary, temporary-to-hire, permanent placement, executive search, on-site solutions, outsourcing, and talent development.

SGP’s customized searches and individual attention is dedicated to the following niches: Accounting & Finance, Office & Administrative, Technology, Marketing & Creative and Executive & Senior Management.

SEARCH Group Partners and staff are also the proud winners of the following awards: MountainWest Capital Network’s Utah 100 Awards– as one of 2015’s Emerging Elite Companies; Inavero’s Best of Staffing 2015 & 2014 Client Satisfaction Award; 2014 Bronze Stevie® Award in the Young Female

Entrepreneur of the Year category for Women in Business; Utah Business Magazine Forty under 40 Award winners; Utah Business Magazine 2013’s 30 Women to Watch.

About Inavero Inavero administers more staffing agency client and talent satisfaction surveys than any other firm in the world. Inavero’s team reports on over 1.2 million satisfaction surveys from staffing agency clients and talent each year, and the company serves as the American Staffing Association’s exclusive service quality partner.

About Inavero’s Best of Staffing

Inavero’s Best of Staffing® Award is the only award in the U.S. and Canada that recognizes staffing agencies that have proven superior service quality based completely on the ratings given to them by their clients and job candidates. Award winners are showcased by city and area of expertise on – an online resource for hiring professionals and job seekers to find the best staffing agencies to call when they are in need.

SEARCH Group Partners CEO to be featured on banners in Downtown Salt Lake City


thumbnailNext time you’re in downtown Salt Lake City, you might spot a photo of the founder and CEO of SEARCH Group Partners, Ema Ostarcevic.

As a company with headquarters located downtown, SEARCH Group Partners is proud to partner with the Downtown SLC Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a dynamic and diverse community. The regional center for culture, commerce and entertainment. The Downtown Alliance, the regional center for culture, commerce and entertainment, represents more than 2,500 businesses in the Central Business District. Through their banner program, organizations like SGP can produce banners to be displayed throughout the area in support of their efforts.

We are excited to see them waving proudly in the breeze. Keep your eyes peeled next time you’re downtown!

SEARCH Group Partners honored with Emerging Elite award

By Staff


SEARCH Group Partners is pleased to announce that they have been chosen from among some of Utah’s most prominent companies to be recognized at the MountainWest Capital Network’s Utah 100 Awards luncheon as one of 2015’s Emerging Elite Companies. 

The MWCN committee received a record number of entries for the 100 Fastest Growing Companies and an almost 400% increase in nominations for the Emerging Elite award.  It has been a great year for business in Utah and the entry numbers are proof of this.

The MountainWest Capital Network’s Utah 100 Award luncheon will be held on Tuesday November 3rd, 2015 at the Grand America Hotel Imperial Ballroom with an awards program and luncheon from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Additional information on the event and a full list of companies being honored can be found here

It has been an incredible year for SEARCH Group Partners. In the past twelve months they have been awarded the Inavero’s Best of Staffing® Client Award and in February, the firm’s CEO, Ema Ostarcevic, was nominated for Utah Business Magazine’s 40 Under 40. 

Thank you for your continued support and loyalty.

Report: Equal pay for Utah women nearly a century away

By Annie Knox, The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah’s bright young women have dim prospects for equal pay.

The state’s infant girls may have great-grandkids by the time they start earning as much as their male counterparts, a new report concludes. If the current rate of progress since 1959 holds steady, the gender gap will close in 2102, according to a national “women’s employment and earnings” review from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

The projected 87-year wait earned Utah a “D” and landed the state in 39th place. Other elements factored in, including the rate of women in the workplace, their pay and the likelihood they will become managers.

Those pieces form “a real linchpin of well-being for the entire state,” said Anne Burkholder, CEO of the Utah YWCA.

Utah slipped two spots from a 2004 version of the study, but earned the same letter grade as 10 years ago.

“I’m really tired of looking at Ds,” Burkholder said. “I worry that people are going to begin seeing all of this bad news coming out about women in Utah and they’re going to say, ‘We can’t do anything about that.’ And it isn’t true. It’s just the opposite. But maybe hearing this bad news over and over will help galvanize us.”

TribImproving the grade would help attract more businesses to Utah, said Ema Ostarcevic, CEO and founder of Search Group Partners, an executive recruiting firm based in Salt Lake City.

Ostarcevic, who runs an all-female management team, said she returned home from New York City to help draw more women to Utah’s high-power jobs.

“It’s not necessarily that there’s a scarcity of talented women,” she said.

But male executives are more likely to appear in news coverage, Ostarcevic added, and few women find female role models in management positions.

Still, Utah has made “great strides,” she said. Several client companies have asked her team for help recruiting and retaining female executives in the past year. “But I think there’s tremendous, tremendous room to grow.”

Burkholder agreed. “We clearly have a lot of work to do.”

The report isn’t all bad news. Among employed women, Utah has the highest rate of part-time workers, at 40 percent. That could help explain the pay gap, Burkholder said.

Here’s a look at other highlights from the report, which is based on data from the government and other sources:

On the dollar • Utah women earn 70 cents to every dollar a man earns. That’s less than the average female employee in 26 other states. Washington, D.C., took first place, with women bringing in 87 cents to every dollar earned by male counterparts. West Virginia took last place with 67 cents.

Lost earnings • In Utah, an average working woman loses enough money over a lifetime to pay for a Park City condominium — starting at about $530,000 and rising to $800,000 when only women with college degrees are considered.

Management • The most recent data available show nearly 3 in 5 Utah women are working. Despite ranking in the middle of the pack for women’s earnings, the state claims a dismal 36th place for its slice of professional and managerial jobs held by women — about 2 out of every 5.

Dead last for STEM • Female workers in Utah are four times more likely to be service workers than they are to be engineers, mathematicians, scientists or high-tech workers. Utah is at the rock bottom of the pack for its proportion of women working in jobs in STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math.

The national snapshot is one part in a larger IWPR 2015 series called the “Status of Women in the States.” Further reports due out this year are set to address topics such as poverty, safety, health and political involvement. Twitter: @anniebknox 

Five Ways To Hire Fantastic Candidates In A Shrinking Applicant Pool

By Larry Myler, For

When unemployment was hovering between 9% and 10%, job candidates were everywhere and employers could pick and choose the best people. Hiring was like picking low hanging fruit. Ask any hiring manager today and they’ll tell you, the days of receiving hundreds of qualified resumes for every job posting are over. It is fast becoming an employees’ market in many areas, and that means fewer applicants who demand better employment offers.  How do you hire great people when you have a dearth of qualified applicants?

Ema Ostarcevic, CEO of Search Group Partners, a recruiting and placement firm in Salt Lake City, Utah, reveals five secrets to making great hires when the applicant pool is dry.

  1. forbes-logoUnderstand why you need to hire new people. Is it to keep pace with business growth, or is it because of employee turnover? Growth is a good problem to have, while turnover means you should be doing better at retention. “Make it a point to keep good employees,” says Ostarcevic. Retention of your best employees is a key to avoiding bad hires. Worse than losing good people is replacing them with unqualified, incapable new employees who may be the ‘best’ you can find. This is happening all over the country. In 2014, the average US employee got a 3% raise while the average increase in pay from changing jobs was between 10% and 20%. “It is unfortunate,” continues Ostarcevic. “Companies are losing great people because they aren’t willing to step up to keep them from seeking better opportunities. Then they have to replace them and end up paying more anyway. Instead of forcing employees to change jobs to get a raise or promotion, entice your best people to stay the same way you would a great, new hire to come onboard.”
  2. Sell the strong features of your culture. The next piece of advice Ostarcevic has is to be a workplace where people want to work. “People, especially the best applicants, want to be immersed in a great culture. They want to be impressed, enticed, and appreciated.” While you certainly don’t want to over-sell your company, you do want your organization to be seen as a place where existing employees are content to stay and enjoy their work. And like sales, you want to differentiate yourself from the competition. Can you offer more open communication, better-functioning teams, flexible hours, paid time off, work-from-home options, relocation packages, or other inducements to get and keep the best people? Also, how you go about hiring says a lot about your company’s culture. “It’s important that you have the right people conducting interviews, and that they know how to interview. Every touch point between the applicant and the organization is either a selling point or a detractor.”
  3. Cast a broader net. “Employers have to be creative in expanding their search for talent. Posting on job boards will only get you so far because the best people already have jobs and may or may not be actively looking for new opportunities.” You have to go find the right people, even if they aren’t looking for you. Networks, social media, trade groups, professional associations, even existing employees can provide leads to great people you can hire away from one of those companies that only offered a 3% raise last year.
  4. Would you respond to a boring, poorly written job description? Spend some quality time on your job descriptions and public postings. “Many job postings are weak, not well thought out, and tell applicants nothing about the company,” observes Ostarcevic. “One of the services we provide our clients is helping them craft job descriptions, company introductions, and other written material for public postings. And it’s also vital to keep them short. Ninety percent of the job descriptions we work on are less than one page.” It does you no good to work hard on a great culture then post a boring, amateurish job description online that hides your organization’s best qualities. “The job and the organization should both be promoted as desirable.”
  5. Act quickly. Great people are not going to wait around for you. Nothing is more perishable than a hot hire. “We always tell our clients, ‘Don’t put candidates into a black hole.’” The traditional hiring process is often an abyss where applications disappear and are never heard from again. That’s not going to work well for employers in an employees’ market. Candidates aren’t being courted if they can‘t find out what’s going on with the hiring process, or if it takes forever to go through that process—they’re being ignored.
Larry Myler: Adjunct professor in the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology at BYU, author of Indispensable By Monday, CEO of By Monday, Inc., an innovation consulting firm. This article is available online at: 2015 LLC™   All Rights Reserved

Letter of the week: Anti-discrimination law will fuel Utah economy

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 9.23.22 PMAs someone who runs Utah’s premier recruiting firm, I find this landmark legislation that was signed into law offering housing, and particularly employment protections, to Utah’s LGBT community as a huge leap for the state as a whole.

While these protections are monumental feats in the fight for equality in The Beehive State, they will also have tremendous and lasting effects on the cultural perception of Utah and ultimately the state’s economy.

Utah’s job market is already lauded as one of the most robust in the nation. We enjoy the fourth lowest unemployment rate in the U.S.; we’re home to the hallowed Silicon Slopes and Forbes Magazine has even touted Utah as the best state to do business.

Employment protection for every single citizen no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity should also be added to list of reasons why Utah’s job market is so great.

By protecting our citizen’s right to work, we as a state are saying to our LGBT community: you’re welcome here — you belong here.

Employers and talented employees from all over the country with the same values will hopefully look at Utah and flock to our great state.

Today, more than ever, I’m proud to call Utah home.

Ema Ostarcevic
Salt Lake City

The Canine State


Salt-Lake-Magazine-Cover-Issue_Ema-Ostarcevic_SGP_May-June-2015_Going-to-the-DogsEma Ostarcevic arrives at work looking like a perfectionist professional, which she is. Chief Executive Officer of SEARCH Group Partners (SGP), a boutique recruiting firm with offices in Utah and Tennessee, this year she was named one of Utah Business Magazine’s “Forty Under 40.” In 2014, she won a Bronze Stevie Award in the Young Entrepreneur of the Year category for Women in Business. She steps into her Trolley Corners offices intimidatingly turned out in high-heeled pumps, a sophisticated up-do, and her favorite accessory: Duke, a Miniature American Eskimo dog, who is as well-groomed as Ostarcevic.

She’s not the only one in the office with a canine companion. A colleague frequently brings her Boston Terrier, Smithe, to work with her. In fact, on a given day, five tails could be wagging in the office. SEARCH has a detailed dog policy.
“We think staff morale and therefore productivity increases when people are allowed to have their dogs with them,” says Ostarcevic. “It’s relaxing.” Of course, there are rules—like, aggressive dogs are not welcome. Dogs must be toilet trained. (Three “accidents” and a dog is no longer welcome.) Dogs must be quiet, well-behaved, clean, vaccinated and insured for liability—when you think about it, that’s more than you expect from your human co-workers.

ema-dukeA dog-friendly policy like the one at SGP is becoming more and more common, as dogs move from being outdoor pets to family members. More than half of Utah households own pets, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 29.4% of which are dogs. Dogs seem to be everywhere, more respected than humans (understandable), better nurtured than many humans (arguable) and as noted above, often better-behaved. A good example of where dogs rank in our society: When James Barker was killed by a Salt Lake police officer last fall, “dozens” turned out in protest. But when a Salt Lake City cop shot Scott Kendall’s Weimaraner Geist—hundreds marched in outrage. Utah Highway Patrol’s chase after a little Pomeranian loose on Legacy Highway brought traffic to a stop—meaning the dog got more consideration than some Highway Patrolmen. (Several troopers were nearly killed this year by speeding motorists.) One of the few lauded laws from last year’s legislative session took effect Jan. 1, 2015: Cities are prohibited from prohibiting certain species of dogs. (Pit bulls unite!) A Utah dog, a 12-week-old toy rat terrier named Spot, made national news when it became the unofficial mascot of the Woods Cross Police Department—pictures of a burly uniformed policeman giving Spot a kiss went viral.

Finally, Utah the legislature took time to consider a bill proposed by South Jordan Daybreak Elementary fourth graders that would make the Golden Retriever Utah’s state pet. You might think that there were more important issues to address at the Capitol, but in today’s pet-obsessed society, dogs are people, too.
That’s why we’ve put together a selected list of Utah’s dog-friendly restaurants, top dog daycares, special dog-centric events and the latest must-have dog accessories—in short, everything you need for the good dog’s good life.
The Executive Dog

SEARCH Group Partners, Salt Lake City

“I never wanted to be one of ‘those’ dog owners,” says Ema Ostarcevic. “One of those who leave their dog at home 12 hours a day.”

So she waited to get her dog Duke, a miniature American Eskimo dog, until she owned her own business. “He’s always been a working dog,” Ostarcevic says, brushing the white dog hair from her otherwise impeccable pants (not that Duke doesn’t arrive at the office as impeccable as his owner, er, co-worker.) Ostarcevic believes her company’s pet-friendly policy is an important part of team building. “Dogs break down barriers. Everyone can find common ground talking about their dogs.” It’s an extension of her philosophy of supporting a healthy work/life balance among her employees-–which is an extension of her chosen career: finding the same kind of satisfying work for other people.

Read More: Salt Lake Magazine

SEARCH Group Partners CEO Receives Utah Business Award


sgp-magazinesIn February, Ema Ostarcevic, chief executive officer of SEARCH Group Partners, received a Forty Under 40 Award from Utah
Business Magazine. The award recognizes the best and brightest under-40 rising business professionals in the state.

Ostarcevic, who also has received speaking and entrepreneurial awards, is an employment and human resources adviser for several media, television, and publication outlets nationwide.

Read More Here: ASA Magazine | Utah Business Magazine