THE SPEED OF SEARCH
H. Edward Muendel
Stanton Chase International
H. Edward Muendel, co-founder and former chairman of international executive search consulting firm Stanton Chase, has over 25 years of experience in global executive search, selection and organizational development, with current emphasis on COO/CEO and board assignments. His clients include large multi-nationals in various sectors, and he has worked with private-equity portfolio companies in building their leadership teams. In the following interview, Muendel discusses how an increasingly global economy has changed the role of executive search firms.
Q: How long has your company been in the executive search profession and how has your organization expanded since?
A: Twenty-five years ago, Stanton Chase started as four offices: Baltimore, Amsterdam, London and Los Angeles — and then began a strategy to achieve broader global geographical coverage to better serve clients, specifically, as they expanded internationally themselves.
Today, our global footprint represents 73 offices in 46 countries and we have representation in all major markets. Stanton Chase’s performance has been recognized in the industry and we are ranked among the top 1 percent by size, stature and reputation.
Q: How does Stanton Chase meet changing client expectations regarding speed, price, and quality of executive hires?
A: The profession of executive search is evolving and we believe that the value add to clients is moving away from the transactional mechanics of the recruitment process to more of a consulting and trust relationship role with CEOs and their boards. This role leverages our experience to guide clients and to determine the appropriate leadership structure and requirements that will increase their success in an ever-increasing interdependent and diverse world.
Time to hire also represents an important key performance indicator (KPI) for our profession, but achieving the right match remains the primary focus. Regarding fee for our services, we only essentially provide two values — time and expertise — in implementing the recruitment process and organizational consulting.
This is why the consultants in our profession must have the appropriate background experience and academic/professional training to successfully guide client organizations — whether it’s presidents, CEOs and/or boards.
We, at Stanton Chase, believe we understand this requirement and hire and train experienced consultants with the capacity and capability to provide appropriate client recommendations. In doing so, we address the evolving expectations of clients above and beyond the mechanics of the recruitment process. Not only should an external hire have the background experience to meet the current needs of an organization, but they should also provide a leadership annuity for advancing future growth.
Q: With many outside observers suggesting that technology has led disintermediation, how can we enhance our search practice and differentiate, and how do we ensure that the value of our consultants’ advice/guidance isn’t lost?
A: The dynamics of recruitment and assessment always presents challenges of performance prediction. Many experienced industrial psychologists earn a living from utilizing various predicted tools.
We employ many of these professionals to augment the candidate evaluation process. By being trained and experienced in candidate assessment, we pride ourselves on identifying the underlying goal-oriented leadership behaviors and competencies that best fit the organizational needs of our clients. This process allows us to match and make candidate recommendations such that we can warranty performance for one full year after hiring. And, should performance become an issue, which rarely happens, we replace the individual at no additional fee. This outcome pledge is one of our unique hallmarks.
Q: What does globalization mean to the search consulting profession, essentially guiding clients in one market, one economy?
A: Today is a connective era where everyone and everything is connected. As a result, the access and speed of information exchanged, we believe, accelerates how corporations and organizations interact, and what factors they consider, in real time, to make decisions for their customers, clients and stakeholders. That is why having a global network of consultants is essential for bringing a wide range of sector and specific industry expertise to clients competing in one global market, one economy.
At Stanton Chase, representatives from each of our offices attend regional and global meetings. Specialization teams of consultants with unique knowledge and expertise create and overlay additional cross-border knowledge in specific industry sectors. Collectively, the exchange of economic and related sector market intelligence and information adds value to clients in developing their business strategies and in achieving their organizational objectives.
Q: How does the ever-changing global environment impact small to mid-cap companies looking to expand and grow?
A: Growth and expansion of small- and mid-cap companies depends upon many considerations, the least of which is a competitive advantage and value proposition of its products and services — basic stuff indeed. However, many external and global factors can influence markets. Companies, therefore, need to be vigilant and aware of these influences. The effects of globalization are a reality.
At Stanton Chase, we are aware of the external strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) in this environment that affects clients in certain markets and specializations. We have purposely set up unique consulting teams with expertise in industries and geographies and make it a point to understand and research competitive landscapes, regulatory communities, and related market factors which can affect an organization’s performance. Again, this process reinforces our role as consultants to senior management above and beyond the mechanics of the recruiting process.
Q: With the unstable effects of globalization, what are the leadership requirements needed to manage business organizations in a networked world with Facebook, LinkedIn and various social/ professional media?
A: The best leadership, defined by many variables, ensures the performance of an organization or business. Again, the old adage is more often true than not: An A-graded leadership team on a C-graded company platform will typically out perform a C-graded leadership team on an A-graded company platform.
The objective is to hire, retain and motivate the strongest leadership team appropriate for an organization at its stage of growth and development. This is an investment.
We enable our clients to best define organizational structures and to determine what shortcomings may exist and how to correct them — it’s all about enabling organizations to have the leadership teams in place to achieve objectives defined by their overall strategies.
Another conclusion we have observed is that CEOs need to understand that good strategy does not lead to great performance without the appropriate leadership team and culture to support it.