Heidrick & Struggles Acquires Leadership Advisory Firm

February 11, 2016 – Heidrick & Struggles has acquired Decision Strategies International (DSI), a Philadelphia-based strategy and leadership advisory firm. It is Heidrick’s second acquisition in the burgeoning leadership consulting space in the last four months and marks a further step toward the development of a full-fledged leadership capability solutions business within the firm. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 1990 by Paul Schoemaker, DSI has advised some of the world’s best-known organizations, specializing in strategic planning and decision making in uncertain operating environments, leadership development, and talent strategy. Twenty-five employees, including five partners, come with the deal.

“The acquisition of DSI accelerates the growth of our leadership consulting platform with proven expertise and solutions to help our clients build the leadership capabilities they need to succeed in a volatile, fast-changing world,” said Tracy R. Wolstencroft, president and chief executive officer of Heidrick & Struggles.

“This strategic acquisition furthers the ability of Heidrick & Struggles to help clients accelerate performance,” said Colin Price, Heidrick’s global managing partner for leadership consulting.

Mr. Price joined Heidrick & Struggles four months ago when the firm acquired Co Company, a London-based leadership advisory boutique where Mr. Price had served as chairman. Co Company provided advisory services focused on organizational performance, including team dynamics, performance management & leadership assessment, development and transformation.

At the time that deal was finalized, Mr. Wolstencroft said the acquisition was an “important marker” in the further development of a full complement of leadership advisory services the firm was assembling to help clients achieve transformative results.

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“At the end of the day, this is all about leadership effectiveness,” said Scott A. Scanlon, founding chairman and CEO of Hunt Scanlon Media in Greenwich, Conn. “If we look at the talent cycle from a holistic perspective, Heidrick’s emphasis on top-end recruiting, leadership and team effectiveness, culture shaping, leadership development and succession planning fits perfectly into the broadening talent management continuum. This is a smart, strategic move for them.”

Heidrick’s expanding suite of leadership solutions is allowing the firm to move up and down the entire value chain with much more ease, said Mr. Scanlon. “This is exactly the direction in which clients want the entire industry to move,” he added. Mr. Scanlon said a number of boutique players are also aiming to jump into the strategic talent development field, including one to be announced next week.

“We are excited to work alongside our new colleagues at Heidrick & Struggles in helping clients around the world embrace uncertainty and succeed with transformational leadership,” said Toomas H. Truumees, DSI senior managing partner.

Five members of the DSI senior leadership team will join Heidrick’s leadership consulting practice as partners: Mr. Truumees, Steve Krupp, Roch Parayre, Sarah Schwab and Arjen van den Berg.

Heidrick’s acquisition follows closely on the heels of rival Korn Ferry’s deal late last year to acquire Hay Group in an effort to expand its human capital consulting business. With a ballooning market cap, Korn Ferry agreed to pay nearly a half billion dollars for Hay, privately held for more than 70 years, in order to tap into what the firm’s chief executive, Gary Burnison, sees as a new growth area, and a future direction, for the company. In that deal, Korn Ferry picked up an army of 3,000 employees across 50 countries. Hay group is a leader in people strategy and organizational performance.

“All these deals are exciting developments in a sector that has remained insular to expansion ideas and new possibilities,” said Mr. Scanlon. “It is a welcome shake-up and just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s coming.”

Mr. Scanlon said that what some search firms are clearly betting on now is creating larger platforms to engage their clients with more fully integrated human capital management services.

There has been a host of M&A activity in the executive recruiting field in recent months. Healthcare workforce solutions provider AMN Healthcare Services completed its acquisition of healthcare-focused executive search firm B.E. Smith for $160 million in cashThis follows AMN’s recent deal for Millican Solutions, a physician executive search firm focused on serving academic medical centers and children’s hospitals. And just last month, specialist recruiter The SR Group acquired Maximum Management Corporation (MMC), a boutique HR recruitment firm based in New York. Here are some other deals below worth noting.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media

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