Unintended Consequences

02/15/2017 10.46 EDT

Life sciences professionals are accustomed to traveling the world freely, and that will most likely not change. What is different for them, however, is the growing chaos and confusion caused by President Trump’s unpredictable changes to U.S. immigration policy.

The life sciences sector has continuously been one of our most robust practice areas at Salveson Stetson Group. We regularly perform searches for pharmaceutical and bio tech companies of all sizes to help them find their newest executives. Although we normally work with these organizations to recruit talent across multiple functions, there’s one specific group of people on my mind today: scientific and research professionals.   I have always described the research and development professionals we recruit as “citizens of the world.” They are highly degreed, often holding both Ph.D. and M.D. degrees, and usually have been employed and educated in several countries. While we may find these people in different places across the globe, they are all connected through the common goal of identifying new therapies for various diseases. Their conferences may look like United Nations meetings, but their focus is not on where they were born or educated; it is on treating one of hundreds of diseases that still baffle and torment the human race.   Through our work in the life sciences sector, we’ve collaborated closely with these exceptional people for many years and have formed great relationships. However, over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a change in their spirits that we’ve never experienced before. They have become cautious – even fearful – about joining an American company. When discussing relocation, they show even more hesitation. The reason for their concern is obvious; the announcement of our new President’s travel ban from a...

Why We Still Exist

06/27/2016 03.48 EDT

The point is simple – the value we bring to our clients is far more dependent on art than science.  It takes intuition, years of experience, integrity, collaboration and a host of other elements to find, attract, place and retain the best available talent for our clients.
Why We Still Exist

Another truism in retained executive search is that someone is always predicting that you are about to go out of business.

What differentiates us is that we can convince people who are perfectly happy in their successful careers to consider a new opportunity....

Predictions for 2016

01/13/2016 09.23 EDT

I’ve decided to take a pass on New Year’s resolutions for 2016 and share my predictions for what will happen in the coming year instead.
Predictions for 2016

The US stock market will go up, down and sideways. However, it will have almost no correlation to the health of our economy and will leave us with the impression that the people and institutions that make the markets move have all of the judgement, patience and emotional maturity of a spoiled 13-year-old.

I’ve decided to take a pass on New Year’s resolutions for 2016 and share my predictions for what will happen in the coming year instead....

Hong Kong Meeting

10/22/2015 02.46 EDT

I’m always struck by both the similarities and differences in our work across the globe, and I learn a great deal from our discussions of best practices, industry trends and new developments in our field.
Hong Kong Meeting

The world of retained executive search is diversifying. Many firms spoke about their executive assessment practices and the development of market mapping tools.

I’m always struck by both the similarities and differences in our work across the globe, and I learn a great deal from our discussions of best practices, industry trends and new developments in our field....

Why the Small Things Matter

07/30/2015 11.03 EDT

The most important thing to keep in mind is this – everything you do related to responding to a job opportunity and going through the process is part of how you will be evaluated.
Why the Small Things Matter

Perfecting all of the little interview details will have a big impact on your potential employers’ opinions of you.

The most important thing to keep in mind is this – everything you do related to responding to a job opportunity and going through the process is part of how you will be evaluated....

Emerging Issues in Executive Search

04/29/2015 03.16 EDT

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Last week I attended the annual Global Conference of the AESC – The Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants – in New York City.  This is the sole organization that represents the $11 billion global executive search industry.  The mission of the AESC is to serve as the voice of excellence for executive search and leadership consultants worldwide.  This year’s conference was attended by about 200 search professionals from 23 countries, and it was organized around three themes – innovation, inclusion and intuition.   I have attended this conference for many years and served on the Americas Council of the AESC, so I have a rather good sense of where our industry has been and where it is going.  Here are some observations about things that have changed – and some that have stayed the same – over those many years.   When I first began to attend this conference in the late 1990s, there were only a handful of participants from outside of the US, and a handful of women attendees as well. It was truly the land of old, white men.  This year, about 40 percent of the participants were women.  The average age was far younger, and I spent time with people from Brazil, Ireland, Dubai, South Africa, Venezuela, Canada and Belgium. In my 20 years in the executive search industry, the word “innovation” has rarely passed my lips when discussing our profession. Last week’s meeting didn’t change that.  The basic foundation of...

What I Learned About Holiday Cards This Year

01/07/2015 04.26 EDT

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I’ve been knocking around the world of work for more than 35 years now, so I feel qualified to make blanket statements and sweeping generalizations about plenty of things with only limited facts.   Holiday cards just aren’t what they used to be.   This year, I received no more than five actual holiday greeting cards.  Five years ago, I bet I got at least 40.  I don’t think I am any less popular than I was back then, and my office location hasn’t moved so I think something else is afoot – and that something is digital greeting cards.   I will just come right out and say that I think most of them are lame, not at all creative, and so politically correct that I’m not even sure what I am being wished.  For the first time this year, I received several cards that said “Happy Everything.”  I am not making this up.   The other problem with digital holiday cards is that their nature is dependent on the device on which you read them.  I received an e-card from a large public accounting firm that appeared to be a bare brown tree in a field of green.  I kept clicking on the picture on my PC but nothing happened – it remained a bare brown tree.  Never wanting to miss a chance to take a shot at the managing partner of the firm, a friend, I immediately sent him an email complimenting him on...

Managing Internal Candidates

10/06/2014 04.35 EDT

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Many of the searches we perform for clients include candidates already employed inside the client company who want to be considered for the position on which we are working.  Managing internal candidates can be tricky and sensitive, and it can have a large impact on how they feel about their employer after the search is done – regardless of whether they ended up in the job or not.   When we begin a search that includes internal candidates, the first thing we do is get an explicit agreement from our client on two things:   The object of the search is to end up with the most qualified person in the job.  This individual will have the highest likelihood for success in the role and will have the talent to make a strong contribution to the company. Any internal candidates who were considered for the role will feel positively about their experience at the end of the search, regardless of whether or not they ultimately got the job.   How can you achieve these dual objectives?  Here are five effective strategies that we have developed over the years:    Make sure you have a detailed, comprehensive and realistic job specification.  This document is going to be the bedrock for the search and the standard against which you evaluate all candidates – both internal and external.  At a minimum, it should include job responsibilities, required qualifications and critical competencies. When an internal candidate throws his or her hat...

What Really Matters When Hiring a Leader?

05/29/2014 02.45 EDT

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This post originally ran on Modern Distribution Management.  To view it, click here.   Ask anyone who runs an enterprise of any size what he or she looks for when hiring a new leader and you will get plenty of different perspectives, insights, opinions and theories.   You may also hear the opinion that critical executive competencies differ widely from industry to industry.  On the surface, it makes sense.  It seems logical that the critical skills needed to successfully lead a $200 million private distribution company in the Midwest are different that those needed to be successful in a multi-billion-dollar financial services company in London.   Turns out that might not be true.   Our firm recently participated in a global survey that asked executives the world over what they considered the most desirable attributes for a senior executive in their organization.  We heard from 1,270 business leaders around the globe.  What we found surprised us.   First of all, there were very few differences in responses from different industry sectors.  Maybe more surprisingly, there was almost no correlation between desired attributes and the part of the world in which the respondent worked.   It turns out that by a margin of more than 2:1, the ability to motivate and inspire people is considered the single most important attribute for a senior executive.   After motivational ability, the senior executive traits most valued by organizations were: strong ability to manage change, ability to identify and develop talent, and innovative...

5 Considerations When Leaving Corporate for Non-Profit

04/16/2014 03.50 EDT

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This article originally ran on Non-Profit Information.  To view it, click here.   It’s an increasingly common trend: After making their mark in the corporate world, senior-level executives want to give back by taking on a leadership role within a non-profit. The good news is that 73 percent of non-profits surveyed said they value for-profit experience in candidates, and 53 percent have significant for-profit management experience represented on their senior leadership teams.   But the transition from corporate to non-profit comes with some particular challenges. Here are the five most common that executives mulling a transition should anticipate:   1) Understand that there may be many more stakeholders involved in a non-profit – and the opinions of each matter. The biggest adjustment for corporate professionals entering the non-profit world is often the number of stakeholders involved in a non-profit – each of whom has input to share. While corporate professionals’ primary focus is almost entirely on three groups (shareholders, customers and employees), non-profit leaders must consider a significantly larger audience that could include funders, employees, elected officials, patients or clients, families of patients and clients, alumni, etc.  Successfully navigating the various relationships of the non-profit world requires a careful understanding and concern for all parties involved.   2) Be prepared for a different culture at a non-profit. The culture of a non-profit generally has a far more collaborative leadership style than for-profit organizations.  Unlike the corporate world where decision-making typically rests with one individual or a small group of executives or directors,...