June 8, 2023 – Greensboro, NC-based executive search firm Charles Aris Executive Search has appointed Jacob Watkins as head of the financial services practice. “Jacob joined Charles Aris as an associate recruiter shortly after earning a psychology degree from Guilford College, and he knew early in his career that he wanted to pursue a leadership role at the firm,” Charles Aris said in a statement. “What he didn’t know was that this opportunity would be fast-tracked in a unique way to the firm when his mentor entrusted him to lead the financial services practice during her extended nine-month maternity leave.”
Mr. Watkins initially partnered with Ashlee Wagner, a vice president and practice leader at Charles Aris who launched the financial services strategy vertical in 2017. The associate recruiter was soon promoted to associate practice leader, helping Ms. Wagner complete searches as well as developing client relationships to help grow the practice.
Ms. Wagner spent over five years building the financial services strategy vertical, and she had established relationships with companies across banking, insurance, fintech, payments, credit cards, and wealth/asset management. After working to bring Mr. Watkins into the practice and continue developing these relationships, Ms. Wagner was scheduled to head out on maternity leave in 2022.
“Jacob essentially took over Ashlee’s duties as practice leader, ensuring that open searches stayed on track and working with new and existing clients to continue adding top strategy talent to their teams in addition to establishing relationships with new firms in the space,” Charles Aris said. “Ashlee, while maintaining a healthy distance from work to be with her family, still checked in now and again. According to her, clients raved about Jacob and were thoroughly impressed with his ability to lead the practice and drive searches to successful completion.”
“During Ashlee’s absence in 2022, Charles Aris experienced some minor reorganization,” the search firm said. “The changes included new practice areas being introduced and deeper alignment between recruiters and practice leaders. One of Ashlee’s stated career goals has always been to help develop new practices, and given Jacob’s competence in leading financial services, she officially handed him the reins at the same time he earned his promotion to senior associate practice leader.”
Serving Financial Services
“Now, Jacob is focused on the continuous development of the financial services strategy vertical,” Charles Aris said. “His practice is eager to deepen its expertise with new clients in the fintech and banking subsectors, and Jacob is excited to continue pairing new clients with top-tier strategy consultants from top-tier firms, including the Big Three consulting firms. Ashlee is still assisting in this initiative, but she’s also heading the Charles Aris private equity fund level practice, which focuses on placing strategy consultants into investing and portfolio operations roles with private equity firms.”
Established nearly 50 years ago, Charles Aris is a search industry pioneer focused on senior-level assignments within the strategy and business development, private equity, consumer/ retail, finance and accounting, sales and marketing, education, executive leadership, engineering and operations, chemicals, and agribusiness sectors.
Last year, Charles Aris launched Charles Aris Transaction Services LLC. This company operates independently from Charles Aris Executive Search and focus exclusively on sourcing business acquisitions for a range of clients. Mitch Oakley, Charles Aris founder and chairman, heads the initiative alongside managing director, Sean Curley. “Creating real value by bringing great businesses to our clients is what excites me most about this new venture,” Mr. Curley said. “And leveraging existing Charles Aris resources like our world-class research team enables us to deliver exceptional results.”
“The success of Charles Aris Transaction Services is going to be based on one element: Our team,” said Mr. Oakley. “We have a great team operating within an established organization, so I think the next four to five years will be unbelievable.”
Mr. Oakley also noted that his firm’s experience working with private equity companies will be a major asset to the new venture, as this sector continues to initiate a large percentage of private acquisition deals.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media