Interview: Tatum CEO Discusses Interim Search Services

February 4, 2010 – Rich D’Amaro is a tenured executive who joined professional services firm Tatum LLC as chairman and CEO in February 2005. He brings a wealth of experience in strategic management, venture funding, investment banking, and mergers and acquisitions. His career began at KPMG LLP where after 21 years he departed as a member of the firm's management committee; he was the national managing partner for the firm’s healthcare practice, and chairman of the firm’s international practice. After leaving KPMG, Mr. D’Amaro served as chairman and CEO of Greystone.Net, a private e-healthcare product and service company. In the following interview, Mr. D’Amaro discusses his firm’s interim search services and its acquisition by recruiting giant Spherion.

Explain Tatum's interim search services.

Just to be clear, Tatum is not really a search firm. We offer a mix of services to support the Office of the CFO that include executive search, interim CFOs, CIOs and Controllers and consulting. We can bring in an experienced CFO to serve on an interim basis while we (or another search firm) do a search, or we can assist a CFO by providing project services to help him or her rapidly achieve objectives that require a senior financial perspective, such as acquisition due diligence, restructuring or a restatement.

Has the economy led to an increase in interim executive searches?

Yes, definitely. We see a trend across the country toward leaner organizations. C-level officers have less senior resources available, which reduces fixed costs but when there is a large or time-sensitive initiative, the top team needs to bring in senior people to help. We’ve also seen an increase in companies looking for help in dealing with the impact of the recession who are seeking specialists in areas like restructuring, seeking capital and preparing to sell a business.

How do searches for interim executives differ from others? What types of characteristics do you look for in candidates when conducting these types of search assignments?

The best interim executives are people with an extensive career that includes acting as an operational executive – someone with P&L responsibility – for multiple companies. That gives the person the judgment and insight that enables him or her to quickly integrate with a leadership team. Tatum’s executives come armed with methodologies to augment personal experience, and these methodologies are powerful tools because they were created based on input from hundreds of experienced CFOs and CIOs. For example, our teams have diagnostic tools to help accelerate the process of assessing an organization’s situation and creating a C-level agenda which outlines immediate and longer term priorities. That type of strategic exercise assists in continuity between an interim officer and the person who steps into the role as a permanent hire.

Within the financial services segment, what areas have been strong and what types of companies and positions have you generally seen to be hiring? Which are struggling?

We have seen a pretty sweeping impact that crosses industries. In fact, in Tatum’s monthly survey of business conditions 75 percent of companies stated they felt a significant impact from the recession. The industry that typically shows strongest results in our monthly survey is technology.

Has your firmed witnessed any signals of a turnaround in the executive search market? What do you anticipate for 2010?

Tatum has seen an increase in interest in our project management services, which we see as a logical option in 2010 for lean organizations who are seeking a financially responsible path toward growth in an uncertain economy. Economic recovery has begun, but everyone is looking for more flexible strategies for staffing, even at the executive level. We see this as a long term trend because of the heightened focus on financial risk in the wake of the recession. The goal is a nimble approach that will help the organization respond quickly to opportunities in the marketplace.

Explain the recent acquisition by Spherion. What led to this and moving forward how will this benefit your clients?

Joining Spherion as a stand-alone division within their professional services portfolio positions Tatum to accelerate growth at a time when demand for support for the C-suite is very strong. Tatum will be able to leverage its C-level management and consulting service offerings across a much larger customer base and retain its partnership culture. Clients will benefit from our deeper service offering and the combined resources of two companies who share a dedication to delivering strong value.

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