Why We Still Exist

06/27/2016 03.48 EST

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When Sally Stetson and I started our firm 20 years ago we were full of excitement, ambition and more than a little trepidation about the path ahead.  The saying, “We didn’t know what we didn’t know” certainly applied to us, but we were convinced that a highly consultative, responsive approach to executive search – which included a major focus on assessing the cultural fit of candidates – would be a success.  I think it is fair to say that the past 20 years have shown that our belief was correct, and we believe it is even more true today.   When you deliver professional services for a living, there are some things that are always going to be true:   The quality of the people you employ will determine the quality of the work you do for clients – which will directly define your reputation in the marketplace. There is a constant, unrelenting drift toward the commoditization of professional services. As a result, one must always be adding value to service offerings to differentiate from the rest of the pack.   The other truism in retained executive search is that someone is always predicting that you are about to go out of business.   In the late 1990s, as the Internet was on the rise, there was much discussion about whether executive search firms would become obsolete.  We didn’t.  In the ensuing years, most of our clients created sophisticated internal recruitment functions so they could recruit talent...