Kathleen Duffy

President and CEO, Duffy Group, Inc.

I operate from a place of trust, seeing and believing the best in others, oftentimes before they do.

Why do you believe honoring achievement is important?

Honoring achievement is to regard or treat someone with admiration and respect for something they have succeeded in doing, especially after much effort. Rarely do people achieve their dreams and goals overnight — it is important to remember it takes effort and determination. I founded Duffy Group because I needed a job but I also wanted to work from home as my husband and I were trying to start a family. There was no detailed strategic plan or a financial cushion to fund the household. I had to find someone who would take a chance on me and my non-traditional approach to executive search — working in billable time rather than a percentage of the candidate’s salary. I had to adapt to new technology — the internet did not exist when I started my business. I had to navigate changes in the economy and catastrophic events such as 9/11 and the pandemic. Honoring achievement is important for our business community to build our network, seek out mentors, or tap a friendly shoulder who understands your journey. 

What insights have you gained in your career that would inspire others?

I’m teased about being “vertically challenged.” But I have learned the size of a person does not determine the belief in themselves or the confidence to pursue their dreams. Confidence is a belief in your ability to succeed — a belief that creates action. Without a healthy level of confidence, you’ll never venture out of your comfort zone. I had the confidence to start my company, but I was not sure about my ability to grow my venture. I hired someone who I thought was smarter than me and could do a better job. Ultimately, I let this person take my voice and confidence; I am often anxious anticipating the future and preparing for it. I struggle with execution, and feel uncomfortable with uncertainty or risk. I understand the demands of my job and I lead in a kinder, gentler way. Today, I stand tall. I am comfortable making decisions and am happily moving forward with my own vision, passion and self-confidence.

What can we do — now — to make a difference for young people/women in Arizona?

The best way to make a difference for young people in Arizona is to be present and listen. I am working with a young entrepreneur who is a wife, mother and homeschool teacher. We had our first meeting recently and the kids (ages 5 and 1) were in the room; she does not have a support system to watch her kids. It was chaos and I came close to suggesting we reschedule until her husband came home, but I realized she was determined to launch her business and never compromise the other duties in her life. She did not need my help with a business plan or revenue forecast. Instead, she needed me to support her dream of having it all — family and career. 

About Me:

Kathleen Duffy is president and CEO of Duffy Group, Inc., one of the most respected recruiting firms in the country. In addition to leading her now-global company and building an engaged team of recruitment leaders, Duffy gives back generously to the community. She lends her expertise to business and HR-related groups on smart hiring and retention practices; serves as a mentor for social entrepreneurs; and advocates for women through her role on 50/50 Women on Boards, a global initiative to increase the number of women in company leadership positions and by corporate boards. She works tirelessly for myriad philanthropic causes.

In Few Words

  • What was the last course, certification or training you took to improve yourself professionally? Dare to Lead
  • What would you say is a single characteristic OTHERS might attribute to you that defines your success? Kindness
  • What is the one thing you feel you could work on professionally to be a greater success? Curiosity 
  • What is the one professional skill you have that has gotten you where you are today? Networking
  • What is the single greatest issue facing Arizona today? Education is the foundation of our economy and future.

See all 2022 Women of Achievement

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