As we approach the end of the year and enjoy the holiday seasons celebrating gratitude, giving, and new beginnings, we wanted to acknowledge and share our gratitude for our own journey to where we are, the people who’ve given so much, and yes – a large transition of our own heading into 2024.
We are thrilled to announce that Career Partners International Buffalo | Niagara, will be under new ownership and leadership heading into its 39th year of serving the WNY business community. So let’s take a look at where we’ve come from and where we’re going, together.
1985–1990: The Seeds of Change are Sewn
In 1985, Robert W. Caldwell, HR executive at Bethlehem Steel, having worked for years helping to downsize the iconic industry giant, ultimately found his position eliminated as the result of that same effort. From this unique insider’s view of a plant closing, he envisioned the need for a career transition firm in town.
In 1986, Bob founded RW Caldwell Associates with a simple yet profound mission: to provide hope and help to displaced employees throughout the region. Little did he know that this venture would set the stage for a legacy of support and resilience.
Then in 1988, Bob met Dottie Austin. That chance meeting led to Dottie joining the firm shortly thereafter, opening the door to a lifelong journey and rewarding career in service to others.
1995–2000: Joining Forces with Career Partners International
Recognizing the global impact they could make, RW Caldwell Associates joined forces with Career Partners International in 1995. This partnership marked a turning point in our ability to provide world-class career management services.
Then In 2000, Mark Weigel, with 23 years of senior-level sales and marketing experience in the food and beverage industry, found himself at a crossroads. His introduction to RW Caldwell Associates became a pivotal moment in his own career transition, taking the next big steps on his path forward.
2000–2005: An Unsung Hero is Awarded for His Efforts
Mark’s dedication and impact did not go unnoticed. In 2002, he was honored with the Career Partners International Unsung Hero Award, a testament to his commitment to the firm’s mission. This turned out to be the first of many accolades to come for Mark and Dottie’s great work.
Mark remembers this time fondly: “Bob Caldwell served on the board of CPI and was extremely active in that role. Shortly after he hired me, he asked me to utilize my 20-plus years of sales/business development experience, and start up a Monthly Sales Call for the CPI partnership. The Board of Directors was very aware that the selling process was a foreign language to many of the career consultant/HR types that populated the firms and presented a glaring void. It turned out to be an extremely popular and well-attended initiative that continued every month for several years which led to a multitude of one-on-one inquiries between sessions. It was very satisfying to provide our partners with a tangible differentiation to go to market with, and a great deal of fun for me!”
2005–2010: Bob Caldwell Formally Passes the Torch
As Bob Caldwell retired in 2007, Dottie Austin and Mark Weigel assumed the roles of Co-Principals and equal partners, steering the firm into a new era. The firm was then rebranded to Career Partners International Buffalo | Niagara, and we expanded our suite of services by creating Leadership Development and Search divisions as well, serving as natural complements to our core business.
In 2008 Dottie was appointed Chair of the Career Transition and Quality Standards Committee for CPI, and then in 2009 she and Mark earned the Career Partners International Highest Candidate Satisfaction Award – but even then, they were just getting started.
2010–2015: Accolades Abound For CPIBN
Dottie and Mark believe “Our distinction lies in your sense of belonging while you are here. It is a feeling of being part of a family dedicated to one thing – your career success. It is a sense of being with people who have walked in your shoes and are willing to get inside your head with you as we help you work your way through this most important career and life journey. It is a sense that you can trust us to guide you through this transition as much as we will trust you to embrace our unique process.”
Image: Buffalo Business First
The success of that methodology speaks for itself. Time went on, and the awards just kept coming in!
In 2013, CPIBN received the Buffalo Niagara Human Resources Association Excellence Award. Shortly after, in 2014, Dottie Austin was awarded the Career Partners International Above and Beyond Award and CPIBN received the Highest Candidate Satisfaction Award.
Dottie recalls the flurry of recognition: “Since the early days of RW Caldwell joining Career Partners – it was evident how important this relationship would be to our future success. I was first invited to meetings when CPI was in growth mode and brought those best practices back to WNY. CPI is a partnership and this organization lived the true meaning of the word. It became a marketplace of helping each other, learning and sharing and supporting each other in projects big and small throughout the world. Partners developed trust in each other and in the organization.
“CPI always set the bar high and continually measured quality and ethical practices. That is why CPI achieved the highest candidate satisfaction scores in the outplacement industry time and time again – for which I am most proud. I worked hard to promote CPI and reaped the benefits in our local market to build a reputation we can be proud of today. I met so many exceptional human beings – partners / entrepreneurs like Mark and I who only want to make a difference in people’s lives.”
2015–2020: Outstanding Leadership is Recognized
Dottie was appointed Chair of the Appeals Committee for three years beginning in 2015. Then in 2016, CPIBN received the Career Partners International Leadership Excellence in Global Outplacement Award. In 2017, Dottie was awarded a Certificate of Achievement in Global Leadership Excellence from then CPI President & CEO Doug Matthews – and again in 2018, just for good measure.
In 2019, Dottie was once again recognized with a Certificate of Achievement in Leadership Excellence in Global Outplacement by CPI and was also awarded a Certificate of Achievement in Leadership Excellence by CPI President & COO Bill Kellner. That same year Mark was appointed Chair of the Appeals Committee.
With so much success behind them, it’s no wonder Mark and Dottie were prepared for the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 – no easy feat for a business built on face-to-face relationships.
Dottie shares “When transitioning candidates embark upon their journey, it is not unusual for people to explain that they never feel they are living their career dream. I know they are not alone, as I hear that story nearly every day. We are not always defined by our job title, but we all believe that we are. When I look back at my life, I am more satisfied with my life than I ever dreamed.”
2020–Today: Welcoming a New Leader
In 2022, Lindsey Zajac joined CPIBN as VP of Talent Solutions after an impressive career as a corporate HR executive, and then helping lead and grow Ahern, Murphy & Associates, a long-established Organizational Development firm operating throughout Central New York.
Lindsey reflects on her path to leadership at CPI: “I first met Mark and Dottie in 2013 when I was the HR Manager at PepsiCo. I cultivated a great professional relationship with them and we kept in touch over the years. In 2020 we realized there were natural synergies and our areas of expertise could really complement one another. As a result, I was brought on as an employee to help build out the Leadership Development side of CPIBN. I brought the Leadership Development skills and curriculum, while Mark and Dottie provided a strong reputation and relationships with their clients. It was truly a win/win for both of us.
“During this time, Mark took me under his wing and started exposing me to all sides of the business. It quickly became clear that CPIBN was a business I believed in and could add enormous value to. At the same time, Mark and Dottie had been looking for a successor so they could continue their well-established business when they retired. Our dream to be a single-source, talent management firm that helps our clients attract, retain, develop and transition their talent has come to fruition.”
2024–Beyond: Embracing the Future
As we stand on the cusp of 2024, Mark and Dottie are ready to pass the torch to Lindsey who will propel Career Partners International Buffalo | Niagara into a new chapter of service, growth, and innovation. As she steps into the role of Owner and CEO, Lindsey’s vision for the future includes an expansion of service offerings, including more robust Talent Management solutions. She looks forward to proudly leading the most respected provider of talent management services to the Western New York community.
As for all that’s yet to come for CPIBN, Mark and Dottie shared “We know the strong, reputable, company we have worked so hard to build (our “baby”) will be in good hands as we have known Lindsey for over a decade, and we will be serving on an advisory board for a period to help support this exciting transition. The level of service you have come to know and expect from us will continue under Lindsey’s direction. We humbly ask that you will be just as welcoming and supportive as you have been to the two of us.”
A Message of Thanks
As we bid farewell to Mark and Dottie with immense gratitude for their service to WNY, and embrace the new, our journey has been defined by resilience, excellence, and an unwavering commitment to supporting individuals through career transitions. The upcoming leadership transition symbolizes not just a change in management but a continuation – and expansion –of a legacy we are extremely proud of.
We express our deepest gratitude to everyone who has been part of this incredible journey, and we look forward to the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. Here’s to the next chapter of Career Partners International Buffalo | Niagara, where hope, help, and excellence will continue to be our guiding principles.
We hope you will share warm wishes for Mark and Dottie about the impact they’ve had on you in their decades of devoted service! Please send your messages to firstname.lastname@example.org