The Morgan Samuels Perspective

Angela Wynn & The National Museum of African American History & Culture

Posted by Joy Brunson and Kimberly Lewis on Wed, Mar 1, 2017

In honor of Black History Month, Morgan Samuels team member Angela Wynn shares her experience being on the front lines of launching this historic cultural monument.


 

The National Museum of African American History & Culture (NMAAHC) opened on September 24, 2016.  The significant contributions of Founding Director Lonnie G. Bunch, III, Advisory Council Member Oprah Winfrey and many others are public knowledge. What you may not know is that Morgan Samuels’ own Angela Wynn played a very important role in the creation of the museum.

Angela WynnAngela, who now serves as Executive Assistant to Morgan Samuels Chairman and CEO Bert Hensley, previously served as the Executive Assistant for NMAAHC Council Member, James A. Johnson.

Among many notable accomplishments, James A. Johnson is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and serves as Chairman Emeritus of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and The Brookings Institution. He was previously Chairman of the Executive Committee of Fannie Mae, as well as Executive Assistant to then-Vice President Walter F. Mondale, advising the Vice President on domestic and foreign policy and political matters. 

Prior to working for Johnson, Angela had been a longtime legal secretary and was looking for a new challenge. When she was initially contacted by a recruiter for the position as Johnson’s EA, she was not told at first who she would be supporting. Once she found out, she knew she “had” to get the job.

“There was a lot of preparation that went into [getting the job].” Angela said. “In the end, I think it came down to my personal ‘Thank you’ note, and the camaraderie we had when I interviewed with Jim.” Johnson was impressed not only by their shared alma mater, Howard University, but also connected with Angela as both were former Midwest “kids” now in the big city. As a member of the Council of the NMAAHC, it was Johnson’s job to solicit funds for the building of the museum, and to help make decisions about what exactly would go into the museum and what the layout of the building would be.  

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The National Museum of African American History and Culture (photo courtesy of NMAAHC)

Angela shared that one of the biggest challenges the Council faced was trying to solicit funds for the museum that currently holds a collection of close to 37,000 historical installments.  Through perseverance (and more than a little Oprah magic), the museum is currently thriving and in the midst of a year long celebration.  As Johnson’s EA, Angela was privy to early layouts and sneak peeks of the museum’s proposed contents.  “To know that it was coming together was great,” she said. 

One of Angela’s favorite moments actually came after she had left the position, having moved from Washington, DC to Nashville:  “They made the formal announcement that the museum was opening and they televised the opening ceremony. I watched the whole thing and was so amazed.  I immediately emailed Jim, and told him how proud I was to know that he helped build this for us, especially because of my sons. I told Jim, ‘I couldn’t be prouder to know you.’”

"They really wanted to provide a well rounded view of what African American – not just history – but culture, is about… And for it to be represented in the way that it is, in this huge, beautiful building in one of the most important places in our country – on the National Mall – is amazing.”

The museum currently has a wait list about two months long. When asked what she hopes others will take away from visiting the museum Angela states, “I want people to understand that our history is not limited to slavery and civil rights. People always want to put us in a subset and not really emphasize the major contributions that African Americans have made…  It was really important to [the Council] to encompass everything . They really wanted to provide a well rounded view of what African American – not just history – but culture, is about… And for it to be represented in the way that it is, in this huge, beautiful building in one of the most important places in our country – on the National Mall – is amazing.”

Angela is planning to take her boys – aged 14, 9 and 7, to the museum this summer.

Morgan Samuels celebrates the contributions of all African American trailblazers this, and every, month.

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One of the Museum's many exhibits (photo courtesy of NMAAHC)


The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. It was established by Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans. To date, the Museum has collected more than 36,000 artifacts and nearly 100,000 individuals have become charter members. The Museum opened to the public on September 24, 2016, as the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution.

There are four pillars upon which the NMAAHC stands: 

  1. It provides an opportunity for those who are interested in African American culture to explore and revel in this history through interactive exhibitions
     
  2. It helps all Americans see how their stories, their histories, and their cultures are shaped and informed by global influences
     
  3. It explores what it means to be an American and share how American values like resiliency, optimism, and spirituality are reflected in African American history and culture
     
  4. It serves as a place of collaboration that reaches beyond Washington, D.C. to engage new audiences and to work with the myriad of museums and educational institutions that have explored and preserved this important history well before this museum was created.

 To learn more about Morgan Samuels, visit us here today.  

For career guidance as well as Morgan Samuels’ candidate tools and resources, click here.

 

Topics: executive recruiters, morgan samuels, executive search firms, executive search, executive search consultants, Philanthropy, board of directors, talent

Should I Take an Executive Recruiter's Call?

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Mon, Oct 31, 2016

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The short answer, YES! As Lynn Wu, Principal at Morgan Samuels, acknowledges, when you are happy with your current job, you might feel reluctant to take an executive recruiter’s call—but you shouldn’t be.  Recruiters are incredible assets to professionals.  In fact, executive recruiters provide potential candidates with tangible benefits that go far beyond the actual role being discussed during a recruiting call.  So, if you are a professional who is not actively looking, why should you take a call from an executive search firm?

  1. It’s the Best Time to Consider Opportunities.  The time to consider new opportunities is not when you are hunting for a job. Instead, as a professional, you should evaluate your career opportunities when you have been doing well in your current organization.  It is at this time that you are the most marketable, and an outside opportunity may provide you the opportunity to leverage your current success for a career-defining position that will take you to the next level.  Being happy in your current role allows you to evaluate opportunities objectively.  The pressure is off.  And oftentimes, the fact that you are not looking for a new role makes you an even more attractive candidate. If the opportunity you are evaluating is not an attractive next step for you, you're not obligated to move forward.
  2. It’s a Great Networking Opportunity.  Networking at the executive level is vital for future career success.  When you go through the recruiting process with an elite executive search firm like Morgan Samuels, we take the time to interview you in depth and to understand what’s truly important to you.  Even if you aren’t the right fit for the current role being discussed, you may be the perfect fit for a future search.  In addition, as you learn more about the opportunity through interviewing with the client, that also represents a valuable networking opportunity with one or more senior executives at another firm.  In the Engineering & Construction industry, for example, it is not uncommon to see joint ventures and other partnerships come out of what was initially an interview.  In other cases, a candidate might end up being considered for a different opportunity within the same organization.  We have even seen a client company create a position for a candidate who doesn't quite fit the open role, but whose skills, talents, experience and cultural fit are too valuable to pass up. Even if you decide that the open position isn’t the right fit for you or the client moves forward with another candidate instead, it is still time well spent to have met top executives in your industry.   
  3. It’s the Perfect Time to Pay It Forward and Provide a Referral.  Another reason to take a search firm's call, even if you are satisfied in your current position, is that recruiters are always sincerely appreciative of referrals.  This starts a relationship between you and the recruiter (see #5 below for why that is important). At Morgan Samuels, we genuinely value and foster our relationships with candidates and sources as much as with clients. The people being referred -- your colleagues -- will also be grateful.  This fosters mutually beneficial business relationships, and well… it’s just good karma.
  4. Recruiters Are Subject Matter Experts.  Executive recruiters are excellent resources and subject matter experts about the industries they recruit for.  They have a good understanding of current compensation rates, market trends, key insights, etc.  They are industry experts in their chosen specialty.  You should take advantage of this fact.  Even if you aren’t actively seeking a new position, perhaps taking the call from that recruiter will provide you with important information on growing business trends in your area of specialty.  Recruiters are goodcontacts to have and can also provide valuable insights to help further your career.  In addition to career guidance, they can provide interview and resume feedback, and generally help you understand how you are being perceived in the marketplace.
  5. In This Economy, It’s Important to Know Recruiters.  While the economy has improved substantially, it is not what it used to be - especially for job seekers.  Now more than ever, it is critical for an executive to be on a first-name basis with a competent and knowledgeable recruiter.  You should always be building your network, in any case.  Indeed, you should know recruiters before you have to use them.  Morgan Samuels keeps in touch with our candidates over decades and we truly value the long-term relationships we’re able to establish and maintain with our candidates over the years. 

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Final Words of Advice: 

  1. Return the recruiter’s call promptly.
  2. Be up front with the recruiter about your capabilities, credentials, and current compensation package.
  3. Be open to sending your resume to the recruiter for consideration for future opportunities even if the role being discussed is not a fit.  Having your resume on file enables you to be more quickly considered for new searches that launch in the future, since search firms will check their internal database and networks first.  You may also want to keep abreast of current open searches at a firm you have connected with.  That way, when you see a role that interests you, you can reach out to the recruiter you know to get the scoop and throw your hat into the ring. Morgan Samuels' list of active engagements can be viewed by clicking here.
  4. Be open-minded to exploring an opportunity even if the location is not ideal.  There are so few senior-level positions the higher up you go in your career, that to take your career to the next level, it is important to be flexible when it comes to location.
  5. Keep in mind that, even if you don't end up taking the position, going through the recruiting and interviewing process in and of itself is valuable, from the standpoint of deepening yourrelationship with the executive search firm, and networking with the client company, as well as sharpening your interviewing skills and refining your resume.

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Lynn Wu, Principal

To learn how you can work with Lynn or any of our recruiting professionals 

on finding your next great recruit, visit us here today. 

 

For career guidance as well as Morgan Samuels’ candidate tools and resources, click here.

 

Topics: executive recruiters, morgan samuels, executive search firms, compensation, executive search, executive search consultants, resume tips, interview tips, talent

Retained Search vs.Contingency: An Executive Recruiter's Perspective

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Fri, Sep 16, 2016

It can be difficult for a hiring company to decide whether the services offered by an executive search firm are necessary or whether a contingency firm might suffice. Morgan Samuels Associate Consultant Robby Kempton is one of our executive recruiters and sells career-defining opportunities to senior executives and C-level candidates every day.  Ms. Kempton has experience working on executive searches with both retained and contingency firms.  Understanding the differences between retained search firms and contingency firms is the first step to understanding their value and the best fit for your company’s needs.

unsplash_businessman_suit.jpgWith thousands of potential candidates competing for coveted senior-level opportunities, executive search firms can be valuable partners in helping companies identify and attract not only top talent, but those best suited for the particular role and company culture. “Retained executive search firms like Morgan Samuels truly collaborate with the hiring company to deeply understand the strategic needs of the business and how the role will contribute to the future of the company, as well as more nuanced elements like company culture.  Morgan Samuels recruiters scour the universe to seek out the most qualified talent that matches the specific needs for each role,” says Kempton.  "Unlike contingency firms that tend to rely on their existing database, retained executive search firms are more likely to reach out into the market to recruit 'passive candidates' -- executives who are not actively looking for a new opportunity, but may be a strong fit for the role. Contingency firms are likely to have a large pool of candidates in their database to shop around to several companies who have broader and more open criteria.”

Contingency and retained search firms also have different business models.  “As the name implies, retained search firms are paid a retainer to source the best possible talent.  They are typically the only firm engaged to fill the role and are paid for their services at the start.  Contingency firms, on the other hand, are only paid upon placement and may be competing with several other firms in the market.”

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Robby Kempton, Associate Consultant

Retained search firms and contingency firms also differ in terms of the advantages they provide.  “The advantage of retained search is that by partnering with the firm, the client company has a greater chance of finding the best candidate in the market, who possesses the specific requirements for the role,” says Kempton.  “The level of the talent and the loyalty of the candidate significantly increase when they are paired with a search firm that aims to match stated requirements, like educational background and work experience, versus candidates in an existing database.”

The way that candidates are found also varies between the two types of firms.  According to Kempton, in most cases with contingency firms, the candidates approach the firm, especially if it is a reputable agency.  Retained search firms seek out the best specific talent in the market, targeting certain companies and industries and reaching out to candidates with the skills and backgrounds that meet the client’s needs.

The use of executive recruiters through both retained and contingency firms can benefit any company.  Whether searching for senior-level executive placements or mid-level executive placements, executive recruiters can provide value.

"For higher level placements, including C-level, it is beneficial to use a retained search firm, because there tends to be a very small selection of candidates who possess the specific skills, experience, qualities and culture fit the client is looking for,” says Kempton.  “On the other hand, contingency firms are more appropriate when the needs are not as specific and there is a large pool of qualified candidates in the market.”  Kempton believes that both types of executive search firms are beneficial and can serve as extensions of the client’s Human Resources department.  Both types of firms provide the most value when they are viewed as true partners to the HR department, working together to find the best possible talent based on the hiring company’s strategy, culture, challenges and key business objectives. 

For more information on retained search firms, how they work, and how executive recruiters can add value to your hiring process, contact Morgan Samuels.

Topics: executive recruiters, retained search firms, top executive search firms

Tips for Creating an Impactful Resume

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Wed, Sep 7, 2016

 
When creating or revising your resume for submission to executive employment agencies like Morgan Samuels, it is important to keep in mind a few tips and tricks to help boost your resume and make it fully represent you as a potential employee. While many people have learned about resumes and how to properly construct them, it is important to realize that professional resumes are different than the resumes you created in your high school study skills class. Below is a list of helpful tips and tricks from Morgan Samuels.

1. Always consider the reader. Most resumes are not studied and read word-by-word. Executive recruiters typically scan a resume for a few seconds to quickly make an initial assessment. As you write your resume, stay aware of how you can make it easy for the reader to find the relevant information: your skills, experience, and accomplishments. Many executive recruiters will pass over resumes if the document is hard to read, overly wordy, or distracting. By making sure your resume appears professional, clearly organized, and up-to-date, you increase the chances that the reader will find the alignment between your experience and the opportunity at hand.
 
  • Make sure your resume looks “clean”. Imagine that this document was given to you for the first time, would you say that it looks easy to read and organized? If not, clean it up.
  • Choose a legible font and size. Arial and Times New Roman are good choices.
  • Don’t use less than a font size of 10pt. and don't use a font greater than 12pt.
  • Avoid the heavy use of paragraphs or long sentences. Blocky text can also be awkward.
  • Omit the “Objectives/Summary” portion. If you must keep it, make the objectives portion no longer than 2-3 sentences and place your skill set in a bullet format.

2. Quantify your accomplishments as much as possible. By providing quantitative figures and results from your specific job experience, you will demonstrate how well you are able to turn a goal into a reality.
 
  • Did you increase profits? If so, how much? Include the dollar amount or percentage to provide tangible and measurable results.
  • Did you cut costs? If so, how much? Again, include a dollar amount or percentage to help keep the results tangible.
  • Take your industry performance into consideration. How did your results compare to what was happening in the industry? Did you outperform the industry?
  • List results and skills, not just duties.
3. Stick with two pages. Forget the one page limit rule; however, you should still remain concise with the information you present from your background. Two pages should be the ideal length. Three pages is okay for senior executives, but that should be the limit.

4. Avoid excess. Avoid graphics, pictures, logos, etc. as they can be distracting. Also graphic heavy documents can be difficult to open if you are sending your resume via email.

5. Restrict personal information. Be cautious of what personal information you include. It probably doesn’t matter that you love sushi or raise goats. List extracurricular activities that will play to your strengths. If you’re an avid marathon runner, this pastime demonstrates determination and tenacity. Civic involvement is also an attractive addition because it demonstrates your concern for the greater good.

6. Having a “Master Resume” is helpful. A master resume is a general resume which you can tweak, rearrange, cut and customize to fit the requirements for a specific role. You can highlight the experience and skills that best align with the opportunity.

7. Do not rely on spell check. Have multiple eyes review your resume, not only for content, but also for typos. Typos seem small; however they can communicate carelessness, which is not something an executive recruiter or hiring manager wants to see. 

Click here to download Morgan Samuels' handy Resume Guide:

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Topics: executive recruiters, morgan samuels, resume tips

Topics: executive recruiters, morgan samuels, executive search, resume tips

Not Sure You Want the Job? Do Your Homework Anyway!

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Wed, Jul 20, 2016

It’s common advice that the key to nailing an interview for a job you want is preparation.  But what about an interview for a job you don’t necessarily want?

stocksnap_homework.jpg“Even if you’re not interested -- prepare,” says Bert Hensley, Morgan Samuels’ Chairman and CEO. After all, there may be
 an upcoming opening that is more appealing – either at this company or at another client company through the executive search firm.  “If you get good feedback from a client, then search firms will think of you again.  You have an audience beyond who’s in the room.”  

Executive search firms place candidates in two broad categories: active and passive.  Active candidates are actively seeking new employment, while passive candidates are generally happy in their current roles. 

“Passive candidates sometimes don’t prepare like they should.  There’s a perception among executives that they benefit from being coy or playing hard to get in the interview process,” Mr. Hensley says.  “In my experience, that’s not the case.”

 “Go in prepared, or you’re better off not doing it,” he advises. 

 

How to Prepare: 

  • Know Your Numbers. Be able to quantify your own performance, but also understand the performance of the company.  If the company is public, read their annual reports online. 
  • Know Their Story, and Yours. Be able to describe your career as a narrative and a journey.  How did you get where you are? What have you learned?  Also know the hiring company’s story.  Know its history and read through recent press releases to learn recent developments.  Research the professional background of the interviewer. 
  • Know the Industry. Research what trends are impacting the company, both positively and negatively.
  •  Ask Pointed Questions. Why is the position available?  What are their expectations?  What roadblocks would you face?  Are there opportunities for growth for someone in this position?  Both parties need to understand whether the placement is a good fit or it won’t last long, if you do decide you want it.

 Remember: interviewing for a job is always great practice, even if you’re not sure you’re interested in it. Look at it as an opportunity to shake the rust off your interviewing skills. That way, when you get to interview for your dream job, you’re ready to nail it.

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Click here for more career guidance and tools

Topics: executive recruiters, morgan samuels, leadership, human capital consultants, executive search firms, retained search firms, interview tips, talent

What Makes a Great Private Equity CFO?

Posted by Todd Wyles on Mon, Nov 16, 2015

For private equity investors, ensuring they have the right CFO is widely thought to be the most critical decision they will make from a talent standpoint, second only to installing a top CEO.  

unsplash_businessman_suit2.jpgOver the past three years, nearly forty percent of all the PE-backed searches Morgan Samuels has conducted have been CFO searches.  Why is this search such a common one throughout the investment cycle?  Is there a common profile for the best CFOs?  And if there is, what are the specific attributes that are most often observed?

In an attempt to answer these questions, Morgan Samuels has captured and analyzed extensive quantitative and qualitative data from CFO searches we have conducted for PE-backed businesses ranging in size from $8M - $75M EBITDA, across multiple industries.  By culling the data collected from assessing hundreds of chief financial officers for these searches, we have identified three critical attributes of great CFOs for PE-backed companies:

  1. They all have the desire and ability to be a true partner to the CEO, both internally and externally.
  2. They have command of the levers and metrics that drive value in the business, and they play a major role in executing the strategy.
  3. They are hands on, decisive, and they have a very high sense of urgency.

Let’s look at each of these characteristics in more detail:

True Partner to the CEO

This may appear to be a relatively soft attribute and difficult to measure, but based on our experience a CFO must not only fit the culture of the portfolio company, but also the style and vision of the CEO.  And they must simultaneously focus on both the internal and external aspects of their position.

One of the reasons the CFO role is so critical to get right at a PE-backed company is that they must have the skills and ability to advance the vision and strategy of the CEO, across multiple functions. They need to be able to translate the financial impact / projected outcomes of the strategy across the organization.  This is the internal aspect of becoming a partner to the CEO. 

Additionally, they must be focused externally.  They need to manage banking relationships and ensure covenants are not broken.  They often own multiple professional service provider relationships.  Perhaps most importantly, they have to be comfortable serving two masters – both their CEO and also the Board which will typically include at least one senior member of the GP.  And when it comes time to exit, the CFO plays a major role in interfacing with potential buyers, which requires both strong presentation skills and the ability to influence buyers.

Metrics Driven

Cash is King is a trite anecdote.  But for many middle market private equity-owned companies, it is still a very relevant mindset.  Most control investments are levered such that the management team has to be extraordinarily thoughtful about how they manage cash to ensure growth (whether that be organic, or via acquisition) and liquidity.  The CFO is at the tip of the spear regarding cash management.

One CFO we recently placed at a $150M business services company recognized within about 30 days on the job that the company was going to run out of cash 60 days later!  The CEO and the Board were not as aware of this, and so the very first order of business for this CFO was to create a set of metrics/KPIs that provided visibility for cash management on a daily basis.  That is how critical managing cash can be for a midsized business, and CFOs who install systems to ensure this happens are the most successful.

Hands on and Decisive

One of the most striking differences we have observed in successful CFOs for middle market companies with private equity owners is that they truly appreciate (and accept) that resources are at a premium, and that time is of the essence. Very few CFOs in private equity enjoy the resources (both from a staff and budget perspective) that their counterparts in the marketplace have.  Similarly, they do not have nearly as much time to create value for the PE-backed business, with an exit often only a few years away.  Being willing to get their hands dirty—and do it quickly by making great decisions (often without as much information as they would like) are hallmarks of the most effective private equity CFOs.

Private Equity Practice Leader Todd WylesA private equity firm’s greatest asset lies in its people and their capabilities to deliver across a myriad of stakeholders’ expectations. Top talent that is a great fit for private equity is extraordinarily scarce across the board, and finding the right CFO is especially critical to success. We have conducted dozens of successful CFO searches for PE-backed companies over the past few years, and we have found that candidates who possess the criteria described above thrive within the unique demands of private equity.

Click here to find out more about Morgan Samuels’ Private Equity Practice.

 

Topics: executive recruiters, morgan samuels, lean six sigma, human capital consultants, executive search firms, retained search firms, retained executive search firm, top executive search firms, Private Equity, PE, executive search, executive search consultants, Todd Wyles, CFO, executive search private equity

A New Front in the War for Talent?

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Thu, May 23, 2013

Todd Wyles Morgan SamuelsThe May issue of PE Manager includes a piece by our firm's own Todd Wyles on how private equity firms approach talent management across their portfolios. Increasingly, PE firms are adopting an Operating Partner in charge of Talent or Human Capital to help facilitate executive hiring at their portfolio companies. Todd interviewed several Heads of Talent, including leaders at Genstar Capital and Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe to learn how they create value.

Todd is the Private Equity Practice Leader at Morgan Samuels. As a human capital consulting firm, we are always enthusiastic about putting a focus on talent issues. We think the emergence of the Head of Talent role at PE firms is a positive development in the private equity space for reasons outlined in Todd’s commentary.

Click here to Download

Topics: executive recruiters, top executive search firm, morgan samuels, lean six sigma, human capital consultants, executive search firms, retained search firms, retained executive search firm, top executive search firms, Private Equity, PE, executive search, executive search consultants, executive employment agency, Private Equity International, Magazine, Head of Talent, CHRO, Todd Wyles

Executive Leadership - CEO Pay & What It Means for Your Company

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Thu, May 2, 2013

Executive compensation has been a hot-button political issue since the 2008 economic collapse, the resulting bailouts, and following that, the Occupy Wall Street movement. You can find varied and conflicting viewpoints on income inequality and its impact on political and economic systems. But as a human capital consulting firm, the question for us is whether the methods for establishing CEO pay are effective for companies.

A new study from the University of Delaware's Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance offers some interesting insights and caused a bit of a stir. (It's been profiled in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Harvard Business Review.)

The authors argue that CEO compensation models are flawed. The basic system is that companies want to pay their chief executive above the average in their market -- both to draw the best talent in the market and to signal to their investors and competition that their talent is better than the rest. The effect is that the average compensation keeps increasing, faster than inflation, profits and worker's wages.

The supporters of ever-escalating pay argue that handsome compensation packages are necessary to keep CEOs from straying to greener pastures at other companies. But new research by a University of Delaware professor and student suggests fears of CEOs jumping ship are fiction.... [Researchers] compiled data on the CEOs of 1,500 companies over the last 30 years. What they found was surprising: Top executives almost never leave for other companies. Among the thousands of CEOs included in the study, only 27 left for another position, and most failed in their new positions.

You can read the whole study here.

There are some tidbits in there that we at Morgan Samuels have known for a while, both intuitively and from experience. You can't plug and play different executives and hope their profits come along with them to their new office. Fit and culture matter significantly. (It's something we place a big emphasis on with our executive search practice.) So why offer big compensation packages? This might seem obvious, but just because your competition shouldn't steal your rockstar executive doesn't mean they won't. You can't blame the executive for taking the better deal. And even if they aren't likely to leave, morale is important, even among high-powered executives. You don't just want your leadership in place, you want them happy.

But on the flip side, part of delivering maximum value to shareholders is ensuring they aren't overpaying for any commodity, and that includes human capital. So what's the solution?

Morgan Samuels is of the view that almost any problem can be eliminated or ameliorated with better information. Which is why one of the human capital consulting services we focus on is market intelligence. We like to know who in our target market is earning what compensation, how they're performing, who is happy in their jobs, and who is looking to move. Knowing all this gives our clients a leg up. It gets them closer to finding that perfect dollar amount where executives are excited to come to work and shareholders are happy with the balance sheet.

Topics: executive recruiters, leadership, human capital consultants, retained executive search firm, compensation, executive search, ceo pay

Smarter Metrics, Smarter People

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Thu, Apr 4, 2013

It’s called Big Data.  Every transaction, every contact with a customer, every employee interaction is a data point that gets recorded, analyzed and processed.  It’s going to be a boon to companies that can get a handle on how to use it.  You can read a lot about how it will change business here, here and here.  But you’ll notice that most people discuss Big Data as an outwardly focused phenomenon: How can it improve profits?

What you don’t see enough of, we think, is how it can improve hiring.  In other words: How can it improve the teams that drive those profits in the first place?

In the human capital business, that’s a thing we think about a lot.  In a recent write up about the movement they call “Talent Analytics,” Forbes explained its importance thusly:

There are around 160 million workers in the US alone, and most companys’ largest expense is payroll.  In fact in most businesses payroll is 40% or more of total revenue, meaning that total US payroll expense is many billions of dollars.  How well do organizations truly understand what drives performance among their workforce?  The answer: not really very well.

Simply put, companies know how to measure success.  That’s what the bottom line is for.  What they don’t know is why people are successful.

Do we know why one sales person outperforms his peers?  Do we understand why certain leaders thrive and others flame out?  Can we accurately predict whether a candidate will really perform well in our organization?  The answer to most of these questions is no.  The vast majority of hiring, management, promotion, and rewards decisions are made on gut feel, personal experience, and corporate belief systems.

We all know that past performance is not a guarantee of future results.  But everyone wants to hire the guy with the past performance because he has demonstrated results.  Even if it works, the guy with the past performance is expensive.  No one likes expensive.  But we need results.  Round and round this loop we go.

How do we get off?  Talent Analytics.  The concept is familiar to anyone who follows baseball or saw the Brad Pitt film “Moneyball.”  (Baseball calls their analytics Sabermetrics.)  Much of the old, analog world hasn’t yet caught up to Big Data so there are huge market inefficiencies to exploit.

(The business world) operates under a belief system that employees with good grades who come from highly ranked colleges will make good performers.  So their recruitment, selection, and promotion process is based on these academic drivers.

Makes sense, right?  So they looked at the data.  You want to know three things they found did not matter when correlated with performance?

  1. Where the candidate went to school
  2. Their grades
  3. The quality of their references.

You need to find the traits and process of successful people, and hire people who have those traits and processes.  If you focus solely on a candidate’s past results, you’re using too small a sample size that is too largely affected by chance.

Focus on process, process and process.  (Billy Bean of “Moneyball” fame had the simple but brilliant observation that batting average was a terrible stat because it was dependent on the luck of where the ball landed.  Why not get cheaper players who put the ball in play but had so far been unlucky or hadn’t gotten opportunity?  i.e. find the players who had the best batting process, but not results?  Voilà, competitive advantage.)

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Here at Morgan Samuels, we love this kind of stuff.  As a Lean Six Sigma company, we’re big on fine-tuning our own process as we figure out what works for us.  But we’ve also found that we can make better executive placements across industries by matching skill sets, and sometimes ignoring the particulars of a candidate’s experience, as long as they have enough of it.  We can find a bigger slate of great candidates that way because no one else is doing it.

What can you accomplish by getting ahead of the data curve? Read this book: “Trading Bases.” It’s an out-of-the-box example of a former securities trader turned sports-bettor who used data-heavy analytics to turn $1 million into $1.41 million in one baseball season.  (He made only a 14 percent return the second year.)

How could he do that?  Simple.  He’s using Big Data, and the people he’s betting against are using their instincts.  Or as the trader, Joe Peta, put it:

Sabermetrics in baseball allows employers to pay for skill sets and not get confused by results.

When your competitors are stuck in the past, confused by attributes that don’t matter, that’s competitive advantage.

Topics: executive recruiters, top executive search firm, morgan samuels, leadership, lean six sigma, human capital consultants

Why Should I Take an Executive Recruiter's Call?

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Tue, Sep 4, 2012

Lynn Wu, a Principal in the Los Angeles office of Morgan Samuels, a leading human-capital consulting and retained executive search firm, reveals her valuable insights regarding executive search.  Lynn has over a decade of recruiting experience, and a technical background—co-leading the Engineering and Construction search practice at Morgan Samuels.

When you are happy with your current job, you might feel reluctant to take an executive recruiter’s call—but you shouldn’t be.  Recruiters are incredible assets to professionals.  In fact, executive recruiters provide potential candidates with tangible benefits that go far beyond the actual job role being discussed during a recruiting call.  So if you are a professional who is not actively looking, why should you take a call from an executive search firm?

  1. It’s the Best Time to Consider Opportunities.  The time to consider new opportunities is not when you are desperate for a job.  As Jerry Land points out in his article, “Why a Passive Candidate Should Take a Recruiter’s Call,” “the worst time to go to the grocery store is when you’re hungry.  You’re more likely to buy food that you know is not in your best long-term interests.”  Instead, as a professional, you should evaluate your career opportunities when you have been doing well in your current organization.  It is at this time that you are the most marketable, and an outside opportunity may provide you the opportunity to leverage your current success for a career-defining position that will take your career to the next level.  Being happy in your current role allows you to evaluate opportunities objectively.  The pressure is off.  If the opportunity you are evaluating is not an attractive next step for you, you don’t need to move forward.
  2. It’s a Great Networking Opportunity.  Networking at the executive level is such a worthwhile process, and is vital for future career success.  When a professional takes a call from an elite executive search firm like Morgan Samuels and goes through the recruiting process with us, we take the time to interview the candidate and to understand what’s truly important to you.  Even if you aren’t the right fit for the current role being discussed, you may be the perfect fit for a future search.  In addition, as you learn more about the opportunity through interviewing with the client, that also represents a valuable networking opportunity with a senior executive at another firm.  In the Engineering & Construction industry, it is not uncommon to see joint ventures and other partnerships come out of what was initially an interview.  In other cases, a candidate might be considered for a different opportunity within the same organization.  Even if you decide that the position isn’t the right fit for you or the client moves forward with another candidate instead, it is still time well spent to have met top executives in your industry.
  3. It’s the Perfect Time to Pay It Forward and Provide a Referral.  Even if you are satisfied in your current position, you should still pick up the phone when a recruiter calls.  Recruiters are always sincerely appreciative of referrals.  The people being referred will also be grateful, as well.  It’s fostering mutually beneficial business relationships, and well… it’s just good karma.
  4. Recruiters Are Subject Matter Experts.  Executive recruiters are excellent resources and subject matter experts about the industry.  Search consultants have a good understanding of current compensation rates, market trends, key insights, etc.  They are industry experts in their chosen specialty.  You should take advantage of this fact.  So, even if you aren’t actively seeking a new position, perhaps taking the call from that recruiter will provide you with important information on growing business trends in your area of specialty.  Recruiters are valuable contacts to have and also can provide valuable insights as to how you can help further your career.
  5. In This Economy, It’s Important to Know Recruiters.  While the economy can be said to be improving somewhat, it is not what it used to be.  Now more than ever, it is more important for a professional to be on a first-name basis with a competent and knowledgeable executive recruiter.  You should always be building your network.  Indeed, you should know and use recruiters before you have to use them.  Morgan Samuels keeps in touch with our candidates over decades and we truly value the long-term relationships we’re able to establish and maintain with our candidates over the years.

Lynn Wu's Quote

Final Words of Advice: When returning an executive recruiter’s call, it is important to:

  1. Return the recruiter’s call promptly.
  2. Be upfront with the recruiter about your capabilities, credentials, and current compensation package.
  3. Be open to sending your resume to the recruiter for consideration for future opportunities even if the role being discussed is not a fit.  Having a resume on file enables you to be more quickly considered for new searches that launch in the future, since recruiters will check their internal database and networks first when a new search launches.
  4. Be open-minded to exploring an opportunity even if the location is not ideal.  There are so few senior-level positions the higher up you go in your career, that to take your career to the next level, it is important to be flexible when it comes to location.
  5. Keep in mind that even if you go through the recruiting and interviewing process and do not end up taking the position, that going through the process in and of itself is valuable, both from the standpoint of deepening the relationship with the executive search firm, as well as networking with the client company.

Topics: executive recruiters, morgan samuels, human capital consultants, retained search firms