NWA Women in Business: Denise Natishan

by Talk Business & Politics ([email protected]) 286 views 

Residence: Rogers

Education: B.A. from Wilkes University in Pennsylvania; master’s degree from Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto

Professional background: Natishan joined Cameron Smith & Associates in 2004, and her prior experience was as partner at Thomas Mitchell & Associates in Toronto. Before that, she worked as an elementary teacher focused on kindergarten and special education in Toronto.


You are a million-dollar producer at CSA, which your boss, Cameron Smith, said is “a rare accomplishment in executive search.” To what do you attribute your success? My hope is others would say that I am a person who can be trusted, that I care, and that I take the time to understand how I can best serve the needs of my clients and people I work with each day. I believe being honest and doing the right thing has definitely paid off for me. Looking for win-win helps everyone achieve their goals. 

As a former marathon runner, I know that just when you hit mile 20 is when you feel like it is never going to end, but finishing strong means pushing through those last few miles. Reaching the finish line is a high and so is finding the right people for my clients. I also truly love what I do and that has helped me.


What have you learned during the past 12 years at CSA? I have learned that if you put your mind to do something, you can make your dreams a reality. I have also learned that everyone has a story and those stories are fascinating if you take time to listen. And most importantly, you need a team behind you to be able to be really successful.

What are you most proud of? Being able to have my mother live with me and care for her during her final years while being able to have a successful career is what I am most proud of at this moment. Thanks to Cameron [Smith] building the firm that he has, giving us the option to work remotely, providing great support, and empowering each of us, I had an opportunity to have my mother in home hospice and also have my best business year.


What women do you admire? My grandmother and my mother are two women who had a profound effect in shaping my life. Both were very strong, determined women who lived lives of greatness. They did this by the kindness and love that they showed to others. It was remarkable to watch both of them make the best of very little and be so generous and touch so many hearts. 

In terms of my career, Meg Mitchell was the person that brought me into the recruiting world and trained me [at Thomas Mitchell & Associates]. Then there is Barb Bruno who Cameron [Smith] brought in for a training session at CSA. Barb’s wisdom and encouragement have helped me take my career to the next level. 

I feel that there are so many women along the way who have touched my life and helped me develop into who I am that it would be hard to name all of them, and yet the “sisterhood” is something I truly treasure as a special blessing. 


How does health and fitness fit into your life and work? Anyone who knows me knows that I am a “health nut” and have been juicing long before it was trendy to drink cold-pressed organic juices. It has been a journey for me to find what works for me to remain healthy but I know that it is critical for me to have time to exercise and eat right in order to be able to keep the pace I do. Your health is everything, as my mother would say, and taking the time to love and care for your body is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.


If you were to write an autobiography, what would it be titled? “An Extraordinary Ordinary Life.” On the outside my life would look very ordinary and not that glamorous. However, if you looked deeper into what my life is and how I got to where I am today, you would see how extraordinary it is and how richly blessed I am. 


If you had $1 million to give, what causes would you support? I believe seniors and children need advocates to help ensure they are being treated properly. I would love to build a facility that was a place for seniors with a day care attached. I would also make sure that Circle of Life was supported.