Interview: Diversified Search CEO Discusses 2009 Performance

February 18, 2010 – Judith M. von Seldeneck is founder, chairman and CEO of Diversified Search Odgers Berndtson, headquartered in Philadelphia. For over 30 years, Ms. von Seldeneck has been a pioneer in the search industry and a leader in placing qualified women and diversity candidates. Early in 2008 Ms. von Seldeneck was named in a list published by Businessweek of the top 50 most influential headhunters. She is a recipient of the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) Gardner W. Heidrick Award and the Eleanor Raynolds Award for Excellence in Executive Search. In the following interview Ms. von Seldeneck discusses her firm’s performance in 2009 and how the current state of the economy has affected the search industry.
How did Diversified Search perform in 2009, what do you expect for the coming year?
The firm recorded revenues of $18 million, a one percent increase from last year. We are cautiously optimistic about 2010 and see a slow but steady recovery during the year. Diversified Search is budgeting and expecting an increase in revenues for 2010. Overall, we were very pleased with our firm’s performance in 2009 as we were able to see some growth albeit modest, and we were able to hire some strong managing directors who will be important to our future. Our strong global partnership was also an important component to our success. We believe the demand for high quality executive search services will only increase and those firms who are managed well and have the depth of resources to ensure quality work will continue to be successful.
How has the economic climate changed for you this past year?
It seems as though you need to work harder to get the business. There is still work out there but the competition is fierce.
For 2010 do you believe overall demand for recruiting services will increase, decrease, or remain flat – and what are the key drivers contributing to this trend?
We think there will be a gradual increase as the economy starts to recover. The stimulus package will start to drive recovery as unemployment begins to decrease.
What industries are showing the best improvement and geographically what do you see in the U.S. and globally?
The healthcare and life sciences sectors were strong in 2009 and will continue to be in 2010. We think the higher education, non-profit and financial services sectors will rebound in 2010. The Midwest and West are flat to down; the East Coast has been the strongest. Globally, Latin America continues to show strength and we believe China will as well. The European markets have been down in 2009 but should remain flat in 2010.
What lasting effects do you think the recession might have on executive search?
It has caused the need for more efficient and higher quality search processes which means more utilization of Lean and Six Sigma. There is an increased need for better and improved assessment products as well.

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