June 22, 2017 – Austin grew faster by percentage in the last five years than all but one other city in the U.S. — Charlotte, NC, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, yet finding the best executives to lead its burgeoning business community remains a challenge. In response, recruiting veteran Edward Batchelor has launched executive search firm Hardman Batchelor International, LLC.
Headquartered in the TX capital, this global firm specializes in recruiting and assessing leading board directors, CEOs and C-level executives with a particular focus on cultivating the Austin market. The firm offers retained executive- and board-level search, reference checking, candidate benchmarking and management assessment services.
Global Search Veteran
Mr. Batchelor, who is managing partner, has 25 years of experience living and working in the U.S., Australia, Venezuela, India, China and the U.K. He recruits CEOs, board members, senior executives and digital leaders for a range of technology and consumer companies. His clients span six continents and include Fortune 500 organizations, portfolio companies of leading private equity firms, and leading global digital, consumer and technology brands. He has a background as a TX-based consultant and partner for global executive search firms Egon Zehnder and Russell Reynolds Associates.
“Austin represents one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the U.S. with a business-friendly climate and exponential growth,” said Mr. Batchelor. “Despite these obvious advantages, it became evident to me that, although a number of local recruitment firms are available to satisfy the recruiting and assessment needs for general employees and mid-level leaders in Austin, the search and assessment capability for high-end C-suite and board director executives was underserved and needed to be addressed.”
“Hardman Batchelor also sees enormous opportunities in our global work to help clients overcome some of the challenges they are having with confidentiality when working with the larger high-end firms,” he said. “And of course, the need for improved diversity and inclusion on boards and in the executive suite.”
Mr. Batchelor recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss Hardman Batchelor International and why he founded his new firm in Austin. Here’s an excerpt from that discussion.
Ed, tell us about your new firm. Why did you launch it and why now?
Having spent several years at two of the top firms, I wanted to build a new firm to meet the evolving needs of the marketplace. Fundamental change is on the horizon, and I was excited about the business opportunities and firmly believed that Hardman Batchelor could do things differently given my unique background, experience in the top competitors and our focused commitment to creating a more client centric firm. For example, the current percentage based pricing structure seen in most of the retained space is probably not sustainable. Clients are increasingly seeking a fixed fee arrangement based on the complexity and scope of their search or assignment. This lack of compensation bias is really the only effective way to facilitate hiring negotiations with no apparent conflict of interest.
So what’s the opportunity?
We believe that there is need for core operational change at many of the top firms. Keep in mind these firms were founded by strong leaders from traditional “white shoe firms” such as Booz Allen Hamilton, McKinsey, Peat Marwick and JP Morgan. Many of these household names were forced to go through significant change. Having been a consultant, principal and partner in these top executive search firms, I was excited about the opportunity to create a compensation system, partnership approach and a new methodology around work/life balance, which would better reflect my own views and those of the diverse client pool that we are assisting around the globe. Hardman Batchelor saw some enormous opportunities to better serve the market. For example, in my work in executive search across multiple geographies, I noticed clients were having real challenges with high end executive recruiting in smaller U.S. cities like Austin or growing global cities like Brisbane or Auckland. Also, there is an ongoing confidentiality issues when working with the larger high-end firms given their size and the variety of resources involved in each assignment, and of course, there is a fundamental need for improved diversity and inclusion measurement and planning aimed at employees, executive leaders and boards.
“We tend to use a lot more analytics driven research which has accelerated the candidate sourcing process. This increased speed and pinpoint accuracy in candidate selection and fit allows us to have a more meaningful relationship with clients and to better focus on helping them meet their business objectives.”
You mentioned Austin, tell me why this market is such a great opportunity.
Well, this opportunity goes far beyond the Austin marketplace. There are a variety of cities across the U.S. and globally that are underserved by the major players. We call these FOG (Fly Over Group) opportunities. There are strong business leaders and companies to be found in each of those cities who thirst for a firm that can provide high-touch search and assessment capability for their board and senior executive opportunities. However, the larger firms are not willing to make the investment in these cities because their off-limits challenges limit the candidate pool and their current internal firm structures and related overhead costs make focus in this area challenging. Hardman Batchelor sees this as a huge opportunity and will be focusing a great deal of our U.S. and international expansion on serving these underserved and thriving markets. As for Austin, as I have mentioned before, the city represents one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the U.S., with a business-friendly climate and exponential growth. However, despite these obvious advantages it became evident to me that, although a number of local recruitment firms are available to satisfy the recruiting and assessment needs for general employees and mid-level leaders in the area, the search and assessment capability for board members and senior executives was underserved and needed to be addressed locally to aid the business growth of Central Texas.
It comes across that your firm is approaching the business differently.
Well, I think most firms strive to do their very best to meet client’s needs. But I do think we have designed a winning formula in rethinking the search process. We tend to use a lot more analytics driven research which has accelerated the candidate sourcing process. This increased speed and pinpoint accuracy in candidate selection and fit allows us to have a more meaningful relationship with clients and to better focus on helping them meet their business objectives. Our overall approach around speed, attention to detail and collaboration with clients also seems to have differentiated us quickly. This methodology is not easily replicated by our competitors and we are focusing a great deal of attention on identifying brilliant research resources who are driven by flawless execution and are only satisfied and compensated by identifying the best prospects.
How is your firm different?
As a nimble-client focused firm, we have mandated that a partner will always lead the search or assessment process for our clients rather than it being handed off to a less tenured associate who has limited knowledge of the client’s culture, industry and their business challenges. So, we have been able to replicate the large-firm functional experience and resources, but are able to provide nimble outcomes through personal touch, partner focus and of course we don’t encounter the sub-par service levels or off-limits issues created by their long client lists and a plethora of assignments that make top candidates withheld and unavailable.
Tell us about yourself.
Well, I was born just outside of London to British parents and spent my childhood living around the globe. Eventually, I moved to the U.S. and attended university here. Prior to search, I was the global head of digital & e-business at Humana. I also served as VP of sales & marketing at Pacer International in Dublin. Earlier, in my career I held a number of international executive roles at Dell, including director of sales in Xiamen, China, and executive-level marketing, e-business and services roles in Austin and New Delhi. Over my business career I have gained 25 years of experience living and working in the U.S., Australia, Venezuela, India, China and the U.K. While working in executive search for Egon Zehnder and most recently as a managing director and partner at Russell Reynolds, I have been stationed in Asia and the U.S. where I have recruited CEOs, board members, senior executives, and cutting edge digital leaders for a range of technology and consumer companies.
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