Heidrick & Struggles Reports 61 Percent Revenue Rise; Names Diversity Leader

As the pandemic continues to fade and hiring picks up, the turn for executive search firms is encouraging. Heidrick & Struggles is the latest to show positive signs, posting a 61.5 percent revenue gain for the year. The firm also recently appointed a chief diversity officer. Let’s go inside the latest report to Wall Street.

March 1, 2022 – Executive search, leadership consulting and culture shaping services provider Heidrick & Struggles / (NASDAQ:HSII) has posted global revenues of $1 billion, compared to $621.6 million in 2020, an increase of 61.4 percent. The Chicago-headquartered recruiter — the fifth largest global firm as ranked by Hunt Scanlon Media — reported net income was $72.6 million and diluted earnings per share was $3.58. This compares to a net loss of $37.7 million and diluted loss per share of $1.95 in 2020.

Executive search net revenue increased a whopping 53.7 percent to $868.8 million compared to $565.2 million in 2020. Net revenue increased 60.9 percent in the Americas (60.7 percent on a constant currency basis), 37.1 percent in Europe (30.8 percent on a constant currency basis), and 47.2 percent in Asia Pacific (42.9 percent on a constant currency basis). All practice groups exhibited growth over the prior year period. Consultant productivity was $2.4 million compared to $1.5 million in 2020. The average revenue per executive search was $131,000 compared to $123,000 in 2020, while confirmations increased 44.6 percent.

For the fourth quarter, Heidrick recorded revenues of $285.5 million which grew by $124.6 million, or 77.4 percent, compared to $161 million in the 2020 fourth quarter. Net revenue growth was driven by all regions in executive search, Heidrick Consulting, and by the addition of its on-demand talent vertical. Net income was $12.5 million and diluted earnings per share was $0.61. This compares to net income of $5.5 million and diluted earnings per share of $0.28, in the 2020 fourth quarter.

Executive search net revenue increased 66.3 percent, or $97 million, to $243.4 million compared to net revenue of $146.3 million in the 2020 fourth quarter. Net revenue increased 75.1 percent in the Americas (75.1 percent on a constant currency basis), 40.3 percent in Europe (42.4 percent on a constant currency basis), and 65.6 percent in Asia Pacific (67.6 percent on a constant currency basis). All industry practices exhibited growth over the prior year.

Heidrick had 365 executive search consultants as of December 31, 2021, compared to 361 as of December 31, 2020.  Productivity, as measured by annualized executive search net revenue per consultant, was $2.7 million compared to $1.6 million in the 2020 fourth quarter. Average revenue per executive search was approximately $144,000 compared to $125,000 a year earlier. The number of confirmed searches reached a quarterly record, increasing 44.9 percent compared to the year-ago period.

“We are very pleased with our outstanding fourth quarter and year-end performance, which continues to build the foundation for ongoing shareholder value creation,” said Krishnan Rajagopalan, president and CEO of Heidrick. “2021 was an exciting year of geographic expansion and industry-leading productivity in executive search, increased demand for our broad array of leadership, organizational effectiveness and culture shaping offerings from Heidrick Consulting, the addition of our high-growth on-demand talent business segment, and the initiation of a partnership for future digital innovation. Our record results demonstrate that our differentiated strategy is working.”

“Companies across all industries and regions know that top talent and quality work environments are business imperatives now more than ever, contributing to our momentum in to 2022,” Mr. Rajagopalan said. “Heidrick is on its front foot moving forward.”

New Chief Diversity Officer

Heidrick & Struggles recently named Cecilia Nelson-Hurt as its new chief diversity officer. Ms. Nelson-Hurt joins the firm from L’Oréal USA, where she served as vice president, diversity, equity & inclusion. She was responsible for shaping the company’s diversity and inclusion efforts that underscore its commitment to building an inclusive beauty brand and as an equal opportunity workplace. She also developed and facilitated its diversity and inclusion programs and worked with the company’s employee-led Think Tanks to create and implement strategies and initiatives that positively impacted employee engagement, consumer insights and community outreach. She takes the place of Kamau Coar, who shifted from a role as the organization’s chief legal officer to chief inclusion officer, overseeing its diversity and inclusion efforts, including talent development, employee resources and culture.

“At Heidrick & Struggles, we are committed to building diverse leadership teams and organizations and creating inclusive workplace cultures, both for our employees and our clients,” said Mr. Rajagopalan. “We are delighted to welcome Cecilia who brings her deep passion, experience and commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion to our firm. We look forward to further strengthening our focus and efforts on increasing representation and fostering an equitable and inclusive environment where all of our employees can thrive and achieve success.”

“It is an incredibly exciting time to join Heidrick & Struggles as the firm looks to accelerate its transformation and growth journey globally,” said Ms. Nelson-Hurt. “I am honored to have this opportunity to lead the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion strategy and deliver long-term, sustainable programs and initiatives that build on its values and commitment to creating the most diverse and inclusive executive talent and leadership advisory firm in the industry.”

Recent Alliance

Five months ago, Heidrick & Struggles and Eightfold AI, a provider of AI-driven talent development platforms, formed a partnership to develop a new digital leadership platform that is intended to offer organizations a new way to understand, assess and make decisions about leadership talent. Anthony Colella, a global managing partner who joined Heidrick & Struggles before the acquisition, is responsible for leading the development of the firm’s new digital capabilities and solutions, and he brings expertise in establishing and growing digital products businesses. “The partnership between Heidrick & Struggles and Eightfold AI is the first step in bringing to market a new digital offering that combines leadership advisory and talent development with leading technology and AI,” said the firm.

Related: Heidrick & Struggles Names Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary

The alliance is expected to bring a new digital leadership platform that offers real-time leadership insights, data analytics and AI to fragmented leadership development and planning processes. The platform is designed to give companies the ability to optimize talent forecast planning and alignment to business needs through rapid, data-driven technology insights, powered by the combination of Heidrick & Struggles’ experience across executive search, leadership and organization assessment and development, and on-demand talent capabilities, and Eightfold AI’s deep learning artificial intelligence platform.


Heidrick & Struggles in Q4 entered into agreements to acquire RosExpert in Russia and WE Partners in Ukraine and Kazakhstan. These acquisitions, which form part of Heidrick & Struggles’ strategy to expand its global footprint and grow its local presence in key strategic markets around the world, are now viewed as problematic given the current war footing in that region.

Heidrick expects 2022 first quarter consolidated net revenue of between $270 million and $280 million, while acknowledging the continued fluidity of the COVID-19 pandemic and instability in Ukraine and Russia that may impact quarterly results. In addition, this outlook is based on the average currency rates in December 2021 and reflects, among other factors, management’s assumptions for the anticipated volume of new executive search confirmations, Heidrick Consulting assignments, on-demand talent projects and the current backlog, consultant productivity, consultant retention, and the seasonality of the business.

Related: Korn Ferry Posts 26 Percent Quarterly Revenue Gain

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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