June 1, 2017 – The wave of M&A activity among executive search firms continues. The latest deal: Acertitude has acquired Los Angeles-based Olive Avenue Search Partners. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Olive Avenue’s founders, Gwen Sabo and Joann Maciejewski, bring deep expertise in the development of research capabilities, training and development, and identifying and engaging top talent.
“We started Acertitude with a commitment to drive better results and experiences for our clients and the candidates engaged in our process,” said Kevin O’Neill, co-founder and managing partner. “As we continue on this path, it is critical to add leaders who embrace this commitment and who bring cutting-edge strategies and creative leadership. Gwen and Joann are aligned with our purpose to discover, connect and empower brilliant people at work.”
Co-founder and managing partner Rick DeRose added: “We are constantly evolving to drive smarter and more certain hiring decisions for our clients. The addition of the Olive Avenue team will help us build our business intelligence and research capabilities globally — a critical component of our re-engineered delivery model.”
Ms. Sabo joins the Acertitude team as senior director, execution and delivery. With 20 years in executive search, she is well versed in identifying and recruiting senior talent. She co-founded Olive Avenue Search Partners with Ms. Maciejewski in 2012. Together, they conducted training for corporate clients and recruited recruiters for a variety of companies. She was previously with Heidrick & Struggles for 13 years.
Ms. Maciejewski joins Acertitude as principal, with extensive executive search and assessment experience at the board, CEO, and senior management levels for public, private and private-equity-backed companies. Prior to co-founding Olive Avenue, she spent 20-plus years at Heidrick & Struggles, conducting internal recruiting as well as working in the industrial, technology, entertainment, consumer, healthcare and leadership consulting practices.
“We could not be more delighted to join the Acertitude family,” said Ms. Sabo. “From our first conversation, we were hooked on ‘what is’ and more, ‘what can be’ when two foundationally aligned companies come together. We admire the market reputation and commercial engine present in the Acertitude brand. Together with Olive Avenue’s legacy of exceptional client service and executive search intelligence, we are far greater than one plus one.”
Prosperity Found Among Recruiting Boutiques That Merge
One look at this year’s recruiting industry statistics reveals one clear trend line: double digit growth and expansion is taking place among the sector’s boutique specialists. Many of the firms have taken the more bold and audacious M&A route to achieve this.
Recent M&A activity
Executive search firms have seen a rise in M&A activity in other sectors as well. In fact, activity seems heightened across the board. Whether this points to mass consolidation or just smart joint venturing still remains to be seen.
- OH-headquartered Torch Group acquired Selker Leadership, a search firm that places candidates in the technology and software fields. Selker Leadership’s president, Gregory L. Selker, will join Torch Group as senior vice president and search operations leader, overseeing the firm’s search practice, including research and candidate development.
- Buffkin / Baker recently merged New York-based WTW Associates into its expanding executive recruiting platform. WTW, a talent provider focused on the media, entertainment, technology and law industries, will integrate its operations into the Buffkin / Baker New York office. Mr. Wasp becomes a partner in the firm, and will head its entertainment/media practice. He has extensive contacts within the entertainment and media industry in New York, Los Angeles and London. Buffkin / Baker also acquired Nashville, TN-based MusicRowSearch, an executive recruiter specializing in the entertainment industry, to expand its service lines and leverage future growth. MusicRowSearch retains its name under the Buffkin / Baker brand. “We have been in growth mode this year, and I am thrilled to have my longtime colleague, Tom Truitt and MusicRowSearch join our firm,” said managing partner Craig Buffkin. “This partnership allows us to leverage two of the top industries in the Nashville landscape — healthcare and the entertainment business. This will open the door to exciting new horizons for our companies.”
- U.K.-based Hydrogen Group acquired Argyll Scott for £3.3 million. Together, the combined firms will deliver recruitment services across multiple functions, industries and countries. The acquisition allows Hydrogen to accelerate international growth plans and benefit from greater strength and depth in the London market. It also enables Hydrogen to further grow and expand its APAC footprint. Argyll Scott also recently acquired the Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur based operations of Reed Specialist Recruitment Group, further broadening its footprint in the APAC market and increasing its headcount to 129.
- Walter James recently acquired Euromedica Executive Search Limited. Walter James operates in the life sciences sector with a focus on global enabling units. The acquisition positions the firm to offer end-to-end specialist service across the entire life sciences value chain.
- Legal executive search firm Piper Pritchard acquired executive recruiters Helix Associates. The combined business will offer a seamless fee-earner recruitment service to law firm clients across the U.K. It will provide non-legal professionals across all functions, and interim legal and non-legal professionals to support its clients’ evolving demands.
- RSR Partners acquired executive search firm Higdon Partners. Founded in 1986 by Hank Higdon, Higdon Partners focuses exclusively on providing executive search services to asset and wealth management clients, including institutional, mutual fund, and high-net-worth organizations, as well as hedge funds, fund of funds, plan sponsors, endowments and foundations, private equity firms, family offices, consulting firms, and government agencies.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Chase Barbe, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media