Growing a Global Search Firm in a Turbulent Market

Umesh Ramakrishnan is the CEO of Crescent Cove Advisors-backed Kingsley Gate Partners. He is responsible for executing the firm’s global expansion plans. Mr. Ramakrishnan has held several positions like vice chairman, chief innovation officer, president, and chief operating officer in the technology and service industries that have given him both strategic planning and operating experience. In his search career, he has placed members of the boards of directors, CEOs, CFOs, CTOs, COOs, CDOs, and other senior management positions in North and South America, Europe, and Asia. Mr. Ramakrishnan recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss how 2023 went for Kingsley Gate, what trends he is seeing within the sector, and his firm’s growth plans.

April 10, 2024 – Umesh, how was 2023 for your firm and how are things looking now as we are well into 2024?

Last year proved to be a transformational year for Kingsley Gate, with us unlocking significant growth vis-à-vis 2022 thanks, in part, to several key partner hires and two significant acquisitions: The Omerta Group in January and Seeliger y Conde in August. To have a truly global financial services practice, you must be in three locations: New York, London, and Hong Kong. The acquisition of The Omerta Group strengthens our position in these key markets. The firm complements Kingsley Gate’s strength in the U.S. and will accelerate the firm’s growing footprint across the U.K., continental Europe, the Middle East, and Asia-Pacific. The acquisition brought the addition of 50 experienced global financial services specialists and also builds on Kingsley Gate’s existing financial services expertise, particularly in asset management. Meanwhile, the Seeliger y Conde team, led by their president, Luis Conde, is now a part of Kingsley Gate’s global operations. Kingsley Gate and Seeliger y Conde now have a team of over 100 consultants and approximately 350 professionals operating in more than 33 countries.

Are there areas that are busier for the firm?

Things look promising in 2024. Kingsley Gate’s unique approach to executive search, anchored around decision making, is allowing us to expand the impact we’re able to drive while working with clients on executive hiring. We have recently hosted a series of client events that have brought together external and Kingsley Gate thought leaders to foster dialogue around decision making and its impact on business performance and executive hiring.

Are there any trends that you’ve been noticing within the search sector?

Kingsley Gate has observed three trends over the past few years:

Commoditization of executive search firms’ services: Many executive search firms provide the same offering as each other, following a remarkably similar process and differentiating themselves on the strength of their database or relationships. While some clients find this level of offering useful, those who are making a critical hire who can change the trajectory of a company often feel a desire for a more nuanced or insights-led approach.

Focus on diversity and inclusion: There is, as always, a focus on ensuring that any given company’s executive leadership reflects the diversity of the broader organization and/or that organization’s stakeholders. There is a strong desire to ensure that a diverse slate is considered before moving into a search’s final rounds and/or offer stage.

Desire for innovation: Many client organizations are feeling the pressure to launch new business models and combine proven methods to create something new. This often requires visionary leadership with cross-functional capabilities, who are both hard to find and hard to properly evaluate. In the investment management space, in particular, we’ve recently seen success helping some major players hire leaders who have helped build brand new business units.

Can you discuss Kingsley Gate’s recent expansion into North America, South America, Europe and Asia Pacific?

In December, Kingsley Gate announced six new partner appointments in North America, South America, Europe and Asia Pacific as the firm continues to expand its international footprint. Christine Sobhani has been appointed senior partner in New York City. She has over 20 years of recruitment experience and is a leader in the talent acquisition and talent management space with a focus on HR and leadership roles across industries. Gail Winans joins Kingsley Gate as a partner in Cleveland, OH. She has more than 25 years’ experience in executive search specializing in the consumer, retail, and professional services sectors. Kristina Kalkman also joins our North American team in Portland, OR, as a partner. Ms. Kalkman specializes in the food & beverage, hospitality, retail, and FMCG sectors. Dickon Moon has joined the technology practice as a partner and is based in London. He has more than 20 years’ experience in recruitment and a specialism working with VC backed companies across EMEA. Vinay Parwal has joined Kingsley Gate’s Singapore office as a partner. He specializes in finance with a track-record in investment banking, capital markets, fixed income and credit funds. Carlos Ramirez has joined our Venezuela office as a partner. He has nearly 30 years’ experience in the financial, telecommunications and manufacturing industries.

Does the firm have more plans for expansion?

Being global and providing a full range of functional and industry expertise has been a priority of ours since the beginning. Kingsley Gate’s geographic footprint has always been and remains strong in markets like Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific. We are always in the process of expanding, since our goal is to serve our clients’ needs wherever we can add value. This means that we will continue to fill gaps from a geography or practice-perspective.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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