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Spencer Stuart headhunter jumps ship to Heidrick & Struggles

Posted by: Diane Brady on January 14, 2009

Here is a news item from my colleague, Aili McConnon:

Even though executive recruiting giant Heidrick & Struggles announced in December it would reduce its global headcount by 10-15%, the Chicago-based firm is still doing some hiring and capitalizing on the downturn to lure top talent from rivals.

John Wood, a partner at privately-held firm Spencer Stuart, is moving to publicly-held Heidrick & Struggles. At Spencer Stuart, Wood, 55 did 85 CEO searches in the last 10 years, and helped place Douglas Conant, the CEO of Campbell Soup, William L. McComb, the CEO of Liz Claiborne and Mark P. Frissora, the CEO of Hertz. At Heidrick & Struggles, he will be a vice chairman focused on CEO and board member searches, typically the most lucrative area in executive search.

Wood says he made the move because of Heidrick’s CEO L. Kevin Kelly. “Kevin’s vision of how this business model is evolving is very exciting,” he says. “One of his comments to me is that this is a fairly antiquated business model and doesn’t acknowledge the impact of technology on CEOs, executives and their businesses.”

In December, the two publicly traded search companies Heidrick & Struggles and Korn/Ferry International said they saw the search business drop off dramatically in November. Heidrick said new searches or “search confirmations” were 20% below expectations.
At Korn/Ferry, meanwhile, new searches shrunk by 40-45%. Privately-held rivals Russell Reynolds, Spencer Stuart and Egon Zehnder did not fare much better, according to analysts.

But Wood’s move and the news today that Yahoo! has named a new CEO, Carol Bartz, a search that Heidrick & Struggles conducted, indicate business may be not be booming but restless executives are helping it along.

Reader Comments


January 16, 2009 12:36 AM

Really. Who cares?
Case in point: Within the past year, we found our CIO and EVP of Sales by networking on LinkedIn. The best part? It was free.

Thomas H

January 22, 2009 12:03 AM

Who cares? I do! Perhaps your company recruited someone from a networking site and the manager worked out fine but headhunters have their uses especially when you want to vet your candidates more than a recommendation from a buddy of a buddy.

The fact that despite the weak job market and hiring freezes some headhunters are doing business because of the executives themselves is fascinating. Talent that wants to move will always find another place.

Rajeev Vashisht

January 22, 2009 1:35 AM

Recession is apt poaching time.


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