September 9, 2014 – The stock price of executive recruiter Heidrick & Struggles International is up 23.5 percent in the last four weeks, an encouraging sign that the firm's new chief executive, Tracy R. Wolstencroft, is making headway in reshaping one of the nation's best known search firms by focusing on delivering a more fully integrated talent service platform. The firm's stock performance, up more than 50 percent in the last year, is also seen as an indicator of the overall health and well-being of search businesses in general; William Blair & Company equity research analyst Timothy McHugh sees an "improved demand environment" for the entire sector. Overseas, reports of continued economic uncertainties have weighed heavily on the minds of recruitment chief executives at Heidrick, Egon Zehnder, Spencer Stuart, Russell Reynolds Associates and Korn Ferry, though most are holding their own, or exceeding expectations in light of the turmoil. "The biggest threat I see to these search firms in the United States stems from rampant poaching from rivals," said HSZ Media chief Scott A. Scanlon. Mr. Scanlon said that firms that are highly established and dominant in leadership areas like management audit and assessment, like Egon Zehnder, are seeing "an erosion in their own human capital," much to the delight of talent hungry competitors like Korn Ferry. "Competition among the elite talent providers is fierce," said Mr. Scanlon. "More so than I've seen in a generation." To that end, Heidrick has "stabilized it's head count," according to analyst McHugh, and has added partners in various sector specialties including financial services, global consumer markets, supply chain & operations, industrial, global life sciences, IT officers and healthcare. Heidrick also recently launched a global specialty practice to meet the emerging leadership needs of clients across the explosive digital sector.
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