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Meet Charles Bretz: Prodigal Musician, Sourcing Guru, Geocaching Family Man & Noteworthy Speaker

Posted on February 6, 2012
Filed Under Interviews, Sourcing Techniques, Sourcing Technologies | Comments Off on Meet Charles Bretz: Prodigal Musician, Sourcing Guru, Geocaching Family Man & Noteworthy Speaker

Don’t try pidgeon holing Charles Bretz … a gifted mind has many offerings.



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Charles Bretz manages Crowe Horwath’s Sourcing Team and is responsible for current needs and pipeline development in Audit & Financial Advisory, Tax Consulting, Performance (IT Consulting) and Risk Consulting. Other areas of responsibility include the Employee Referral Program, Vendor Management, Employment Advertising, Metrics & Analytic’s, Social Media for Recruiting and Recruiter/Sourcer Training. Charles is an integral part of leadership team implementing Crowe’s Jobs2Web efforts.

Charles has been a speaker at The Learning Conference 2011,” and at Sourcecon Atlanta 2012. Reading his Sourcecon bio speaks highly of how much of an impact he has made in his career over the years; “Over all, Charles has over fifteen years of experience in recruiting and sourcing, providing strategic, tactical, and competitive intelligence to both private and public sector…As a sourcing guru, Charles is sought out for his industry expertise and has written articles for Talent Management Magazine, Recruiting Trends, Baseline Magazine, and many other publications. He has done multiple radio media tours speaking on social media and military recruiting. Charles is a member of the Staffing Management Association of Greater Chicago.”

I had the good fortune of being introduced to Charles by our mutual dear friend and colleague, Michele Porfilio at the Linkedin Talent Connect Conference in Las Vegas this past October and then again at ONREC in Chicago. In the six years I have been featuring the players of note within our industry, and the unsung heroes who contribute to their successes – my readers will recognize that I have stated often, that I was impressed by the expertise, the life story, or a certain character trait. In Charles Bretz, I was given front center seats in each of our meetings to observe all three factors for a compelling reason to share the story of my colleague, as a technically astute, hands-on sourcing expert, as a family man, and as someone I call my friend. Charles can speak as passionately about how he met his wife as his classmate sweetheart, his days as a prodigal musician who purposely missed key notes for a key scholarship to turn to other pursuits, and about sourcing methodologies and processes. In each subject matter, as noted, he speaks with the same emphatic tone, and sincerity that catches your complete attention. In all things, Charles sincere and for all these reasons I can honestly state I recall poignant and mundane aspects we communicated in vivid detail. You remember Charles, and you know he remembers you – its not that kind of passing in the hall way type of familiarity, but a kindred spirit with an intellect you want to collaborate in some manner. I’ll take a chance meeting with Charles anyway I can. A voracious reader has a lot of stories to share, and if anything else, I’d like to have Charles on my trivial pursuit team. Crowe Horwath prides itself as the little engine that could in the world of the Big Four professional services industry. They achieve much by having the very best and brightest staffing organization thrive on efficiency and they have the awards and best practice presentations at an industry function near you to see why. On a personal note, I was immediately able to discern why Michele Porfilio places such high regard and depends on his contributions to make her talent acquisition roadmap a destination worth venturing to. We all know of her own prowess on the speaker circuit, but Michele has an organization to run, and we see in Charles how the wheels spin, and the gaskets seal the center of excellence they are developing for a professional services organization of their scale. Hiring the right people are the true hallmarks of leadership, and in this person, we see one more example of why she succeeds. In Charles, I know, and desire, as his team members do – to see him succeed for what he can do as well as who he is as a person. In this instance, however, I invite our Six Degrees audience to read and learn first-hand why Charles Bretz is certain to be at a stage near you in the coming years as a subject matter expert.

Crowe Horwath is a top 10 public accounting and consulting firm, growing at a double-digit pace for more than 40 years.It is a professional services firm with offices throughout the United States, including California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas. In addition to its U.S. presence, Crowe serves clients worldwide as an independent member of the Crowe Horwath International global professional services network. Crowe’s services include assurance, benefit plans, financial advisory, forensic services, performance consulting, risk consulting, tax and technology, among others. Crowe customers primarily consists of large and middle market public companies and large privately held businesses.

According to Accounting Today, SourceMedia’s publication servicing the public accounting profession in the United States, Crowe brands itself as “The Unique Alternative to the Big Four.”

Q&A with Charles Bretz

Six Degrees: Tell us of your home world, Charles.

CHARLES: Married for 13 years to Stacey Bretz. We first met in the 3rd grade and grew up a few blocks from each other. We were friends throughout school and briefly dated in High School and again after attending separate colleges for a year or so and final got back together the third and final time the day before Thanksgiving in 1995. I have two wonderful children, John (11) and Jessica (9) along with 2 loving dogs Izzie, a Kelpie which is an Australian sheep herding dog and Quincy who’s a shepherd, retriever mix and who will fetch a ball till your arm falls off.


We love to travel and camp. We started out tent camping, but a few years ago, we got tired of sleeping on the ground and we purchased a pop-up trailer a few years ago. Our next camping trip will be with friends to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, going to see and explore the west side this year as we visited the east side of the Michigan UP last year. One of our favorite family activities to do while camping, or for a day out at home, is Geocaching. Geocaching is an outdoor activity using a GPS to find hidden containers called geocaches, or caches, anywhere in the world. Caches could be as big as a bread box or as small as the very tip of your pinky and most are hidden really well in fallen logs, under rocks, bridges, park benches, basically anywhere. It’s a great, fun family activity that teaches navigation, map reading, observation and most importantly gets you outdoors. I enjoy winding down at the end of the day by reading books and magazines. I usually will read 3-4 magazines and 1 book a month.

Six Degrees: How many years have you been in the staffing industry?

CHARLES: Hard to believe but 15 years, doesn’t seem that long.

Six Degrees: How did you get started as a recruiter?


CHARLES: I started at a Management Recruiters International franchise in 1996 as a full lifecycle recruiter in Accounting and Finance. Days after September 11, 2001 the agency transitioned me into a sourcing/candidate development role for the Biotech practice which was severely lacking candidates and I fell in love with this piece of the recruiting process. I loved the challenge to find and engage talent. In 2006, I decided to transition to the corporate world and I became the first sourcer that CDW Corporation, a B2B reseller of technology products and services, hired. In February 2011, my network informed me of a great opportunity and in March I joined Crowe Horwath LLP as the Sourcing Manager for our experienced hires. The sourcing team is responsible for identifying talent for our tax, audit & advisory, risk and performance business units. Roles include accountant, auditors and IT consultants from Senior to Partner levels nationwide.

Six Degrees: What single event had the most impact on your sourcing/recruiting career?

CHARLES: I would say when I transitioned to a pure sourcing/candidate development role in 2001 at MRI. If not for that, I don’t know if I would have found the sourcing function. Sourcing was in its infancy at the time and the agency provided me time to learn and grow in my new profession.

Six Degrees: Do you have a mentor to whom you attribute your overall outlook on recruitment, capabilities, aor model your career after?

CHARLES: There are so many. Some of them may not even know it, but I would say a few of my biggest influences are Shally Steckerl, Glenn Gutmacher and more recently Glen Cathey, Mike Notaro, and Michele Porfilio. There are many more that I have not mentioned and it’s no slight to them.

Six Degrees: Tell us about your role at Crow Horwath LLP


CHARLES: Currently I’m the Sourcing Manager at Crowe Horwath LLP. I oversee the day to day sourcing team (5 sourcers), our Employee Referral Bonus Program, vendor management from a tools and resource perspective, source metrics/analytics and training. I also am involved with our employment branding and social media from a recruiting perspective.

Six Degrees: (A) What other companies’ recruiting operations do you admire or have heard are best-practice examples?

CHARLES: Being that Crowe Horwath is an Accounting & Consulting firm, I always keep an eye on what our competition is doing, so Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, KPMG. On the IT consulting side, I watch Accenture, Avanade and Protiviti to name a few. Of course Microsoft, Starbucks, Dell, Deluxe and Sodexo keep raising the bar as well.

Six Degrees: (B) In what aspects are their talent acquisition organizations mentionable in terms of best practices?

CHARLES: I would say one of the common traits they all have is that they are forward thinking and not afraid to fail. By that, I mean they are willing to try new approaches that are well thought out and they execute them for a long enough period where you can measure their impact.

Six Degrees: What recent general news story or industry trend do you feel will have an impact on your work in the future?

CHARLES: The greatest impact I see is the lack of students in the STEM curriculum in our colleges and universities. We already have a shortage of talent in these fields and with less and less students going into these professions it will only get worse. In order to compete, these highly skilled and high paying roles will have to move offshore in order for our company’s to grow and survive in the global economy.

Six Degrees: Tell us about your broader involvement within the staffing industry:

CHARLES: I’m a member of the Staffing Management Association of Chicago and I try to attend as many of their events as I can each year. This year I attended Jobs2Web Collaborate 2011, LinkedIn’s TalentConnect 2011, Onrec, and I co-presented at The Recruiting Learning conference. I’ll be presenting at SourceCon this February.

Six Degrees: Can you detail how the recession has affected your particular industry niche?


CHARLES: Since I joined the firm in March of this year, I did not see the effects that it had previously. Currently, it’s had little effect on us from a recruiting perspective. In fact, we are back to or above normal hiring for Crowe.

Six Degrees: Aside from simply the generic term “Networking” what specific efforts have you made on your own behalf, or on behalf of colleagues to broaden your opportunities. Are there specific groups, both online and in-person that have proved fruitful in extending your personal brand and job seeking prospects?

CHARLES: I try to identify 3-4 people attending each event I attend that I never have met or spoken with that I target to introduce myself to. I have a specific reason for selecting each of the people I target and why I want to expand my network with them. I also try to identify how I can provide value back to them as well so we both benefit.

Six Degrees: Given your own Trial and Error experiences as a Networker, what advice do you have for your peers on what NOT to do?

CHARLES: Realize that you cannot just take, but have to provide value back. Also, if your network reaches out, get back to them in a timely manner. Even if it’s just letting them know you got their message and need a few days to get back due to work or personal demands. Don’t be a black hole and just not respond.

Six Degrees: What is your next career goal? What do you need to do to get there?

CHARLES: Preparing myself to take my boss’s job or a similar role elsewhere. I’m not ready yet, in my opinion, so I’m learning everything I can from her and others to take myself to the next level.

Recommendations For Charles

“Working with Charles has been an absolute delight. His social media savviness and competitive intelligence gathering skill sets are key differentiators. He’s an experienced sourcer with many candidate wins under his belt. Charles is focused on producing results for his internal clients. He prides himself on being able to overcome an internal clients expectations and most of the time exceeds them. He’s a true resource to the team as he is a foundational element to the success of the entire Talent Acquisition organization.” February 24, 2011
Jen Klein, PHR, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition, CDW

“Charles is undoubtedly the most resourceful & talent sourcing specialist I’ve had the pleasure of working with during my contract at CDW. From a personal standpoint, he is a warm, friendly & genuine team player who is a delightful professional to partner with.” November 7, 2010
Leahanna Horn, Contract Recruiter, Horn Consulting Services

“Charles is extremely knowledgeable and an expert in technology and online media.” December 29, 2009
Mary Pilot, Account Manager, NAS Recruitment Communications

“I have worked with Charles now for the past 2+ years while at CDW. Charles is a consummate professional and always a pleasure to work with. He is prompt and an honest individual who can relied upon for all things related to recruitment and reporting. He is extremely knowledgeable about the industry and business trends. In addition, he is very well networked. Charles has provided me with some excellent candidates for roles I have worked on and is always open to feedback. I have truly enjoyed working with Charles, and I highly recommend him!” December 18, 2009
Jennifer Pither, CIR, Corporate Sales Recruiter, CDW Corporation

“Charles is a talented researcher and sourcer, knowledgeable about where and how to identify passive candidates. I’ve had the pleasure of working with him at CDW, where he has helped identify candidates for various positions. Charles stays tuned into the various websites and utilizes unique techniques to work his magic.” December 27, 2007
Lynn Saratore TopLinked, CDR CIR PHR, Senior Recruiter, CDW

“Charles has been able to find the proverbial “needle in the haystack” when other avenues have come up dry. He makes an effort to understand the requirements and responsibilities of the position being sourced for in order to target appropriate candidates.” December 12, 2007
Beth Lewis, Senior Technical Recruiter, CDW

“Charles has an ability to source for and find specific candidates utilizing self developed techinques. He is particularly skilled in identifying the passive applicant” December 7, 2006
Paul Kinderis, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist, CDW

“Charles was a very valuable contributor at OSG Global. He is that rare person on who one can rely. He fully understands responsibility and the necessity of supporting his team and his company. He is an unselfish contributor. Charles, an early innovator, easily ventured into and mastered new territory. He then was able to clearly communicate what he had learned to others. I found him to be dedicated, optimistic and strong of spirit. He was successful in his efforts and invaluable in the high level of success then achieved by OSG. I endorse Charles with absolutely no reservation.” December 17, 2009
Ward Larkin, Managing Director, OSG Global

“I had the pleasure of knowing Charles while working at OSG Global he was very innovative in researching and finding candidates that normally were not available by traditional means. He was very supportive and to this day a great friend.” August 28, 2008
Randy Rose, Account Executive, OSG GLOBAL

“I have known Charles for 8 years and he is incredibly talented. He is an exceptional researcher and recruiter and is able to drill down to identify passive candidates. He is constantly coming-up with new ideas to enhance his skill set.” April 6, 2006
Shena R. Barlas, Sr. Director-Executive Search, OSG Global

“Charles is an invaluable asset in my work. He is able to keep current with technology, uncover hidden candidates and constantly bring new tools and ideas to the table. He is organized and efficient – and even attempts to train me!I would highly recommend Charles!” March 30, 2006
Marybeth Haas, Director, Statistics and Analytics Practice, OSG Global

“I worked with Charles for 2+ years at OSG. His sourcing skills are exceptional and he became the go-to person in advising us on the best approaches and methods for the sourcing of potential candidates for our clients using the internet, associations, user groups, etc.. He has an excellent network of individuals in a similar role at other organizations that he can tap into on a moments notice.” July 25, 2005
Mike Madura, Recruiter, OSG Global

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