In late 2011, Ken Clark International (KCI), a global executive search firm that I founded in 1996 had grown from 3 to 100 people, had 20 offices around the world and reached $17.5M in revenue. Our clients were from all segments of the Life Sciences (pharma, biotech, diagnostics, medical products, and contract services); Healthcare and Medical Services; Chemicals, Materials, and Industrial; Consumer and Scientific/Laboratory Products industries worldwide. We worked in all regions of the world for multi-national corporations down through start-up and fast-growth companies.
I was no longer an executive search consultant but the Chairman of a very complex professional services firm. It certainly had its rewards but the older I got, the more taxing it became. Someone once told me that leading and managing executive search consultants was like “herding wild horses.” They were right.
So in early 2012, I followed the same advice that I had been giving clients and candidates for 25 years – “do what you are passionate about doing and you will ultimately become great at it." I started Ken Clark Partners (KCP), a small, global boutique, with the intention of returning to work personally and directly with most clients and candidates myself.
Over the last two years, myself and a small dedicated team have conducted 30 search projects at the Vice President, COO, CEO and Board of Directors level. We have made 30 Placements. To use a baseball expression, “we are batting 1000!” Placements have been mostly in the US, some in Europe, a few in the Middle East, and a few in Asia. In many cases, the placement was a high-performing executive who was not actively looking for a career change at the time that we first approached him or her – a passive candidate so to speak.
When I agree to lead a search project, I use my 25-years global executive search experience to determine companies to recruit from and likely candidates to approach. We use my network to identify “star” performers – executives who I have met and “track,” – and I make the initial approach to passive candidates motivating them to “take a look.” I personally evaluate qualified candidates. I prepare and present complex employment offers. I help my clients recruit the executive that they choose. In big search firms younger, less-experienced recruiters take over after a search project is sold by a senior Partner. Clients often are left working with younger consultants that they did not meet in the planning process. This does not happen when selecting Ken Clark at Ken Clark Partners.
The last two years have taught me about the power of branding. In building Ken Clark International, we established a brand – “KEN CLARK” – from the US to Europe, then to Asia, and finally to the Middle East. When we telephone executives now, most have heard of me so they take the call or call right back. They give us their personal contact information so that we can discuss the search project over the weekend or in the evening and in the privacy of their home office. We get their personal e-mail. More importantly, many listen to what I personally have to say. Many ask my career advice. I talk straight forwardly and honestly based on my 25 years in executive recruiting. Meeting me in-person or by telephone for the first time, they know that I am credible and have their interests at heart. We invite them to build a continuing relationship regardless of the outcome of a specific project. Most accept. With executives who I have known for some time, these characteristics are what they value in our relationship and my counsel to them.
Today, the brand – “KEN CLARK” – represents experience, expertise, wisdom and performance that only comes with age (and a little grey hair). Our Placement Track Records, Client Lists and Recent Placements demonstrate that claim and are imbedded in the website at www.kenclark.com. I invite you to take a look.
I am excited about the next decade and hope that I can continue to bring the very best in executive talent to my clients wherever in the world they might be. Frankly, it feels great to be back “home.”
P.S. - And, by the way, unlike bigger search firms, our fees are fair and reasonable. I voluntarily, without having to be asked, put my compensation “at risk” based on my performance and results.
Ken Clark Partners
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