I’m Ema O., and I’m a million different things, but the wide-lens shot is this: I’m a CEO, an ally, a mother, an advocate, an immigrant, a philanthropist, and a decidedly straight shooter.

But, let’s start at the start…

I’m a Croatian immigrant to the United States: my family came here when I was 5 and war had broken out in our country. I was a precocious kid, and I toted a bright pink suitcase everywhere with me. So—packed and ready to go as always—I moved to Utah (a place that, for better or worse, enabled us to attain the “American Dream”) with my parents and siblings. I graduated high school at 15, and attended college nice and early (me, a scholar). By the time I was 22, I was the senior director of a multibillion dollar company, and at 26, I started my own firm. I’ve been a CEO ever since, and a full travel bag is still my chosen accessory. If you can’t find me at the office, you can probably find me on a plane…I’m happiest with a suitcase and a boarding pass. Seriously. Let’s go.

My fiancé, Ryan, and I have been together for over 10 years. We haven’t done things the traditional way, but I think tradition is ridiculously overrated. We have two boys—Sasha is 6 and Avery is 3—and a small, white, fluffy Duke (he’s our miniature American Eskimo pup).


Yes, I’ve managed to find the balance between work and downtime, but I’m also an all-out hustler (sans any connotation of illegal activity). As the Founder and CEO of SEARCH Group Partners, Inc., I oversee all day-to-day leadership endeavors regarding recruitment, sales, operations, consulting, HR, acquisitions, executive searches, and strategic direction for the company. It’s a lot…but I love my work, and we’ve seen a lot of success.

I’ve won awards for both speaking and entrepreneurial efforts, and I’ve become an employment and HR advisor for numerous media, television, and publication outlets nationwide. I was named 2017’s “CEO of the Year” by Utah Business Magazine. In 2015, I made Utah’s “Forty Under 40,” and I’ve been on the cover of Salt Lake Magazine. In 2014, I was awarded a Bronze Stevie Award for Young Female Entrepreneur of the Year, and in 2013 I was one of Utah Business Magazine’s “30 Women to Watch.” And, all told, what I do is far more nuanced than speaking engagements and running a company.