Interview: John Boehmer Discusses Opening of Accelent

June 23, 2010 – John Boehmer is founder and managing director of Accelent, an executive talent acquisition and integration firm which serves technology clients in the internet, e-commerce and digital media space as well as the enterprise and SaaS software sectors. Mr. Boehmer has built his entire professional career around his passion for the technology industry. His extensive executive search experience and business-building background has served hundreds of companies in this sector. He has been a partner, principal and head of research at two of the world’s largest executive search firms, launched and built three boutique search and professional services firms, including one that reached 24 professionals and $8 million in revenue. He also built and led a global executive search capability inside a publicly traded internet holding company. In the following interview, Mr. Boehmer discusses the launch of Accelent and its approach to working with clients within the IT industry.

Discuss the launch of Accelent and the types of searches the firm will conduct?

I’ve believed for several years now that the executive search industry had better find ways to add value beyond the traditional singular focus on talent acquisition, especially with the internet and applications like LinkedIn “commoditizing” the front-end of the search process. Accelent is an executive talent acquisition and integration firm, and the methodology we’ve developed increases the probability that new executives will add meaningful value to their company from day one. Our firm serves technology clients in the internet, e-commerce and digital media space as well as the enterprise and SaaS software sectors. Our engagements focus on board and C-level roles across an organization as well as VP-level assignments in sales, marketing, operations and product development.

Explain the thesis behind your AIM methodology. How do you help newly hired executives to navigate their new company?

Our thesis is that talent integration (onboarding) should be part of the recruiting process, and not a secondary step initiated after the hire. Our closed-loop process seamlessly connects both hiring and integration. AIM is a very pragmatic approach. We start inside the client organization with deep discovery around the formal and informal networks – each organization has unique dynamics of people, decision-making, influences, and expectations. We then focus on understanding what key initiatives and associated decisions are required for the role. Candidates are assessed against these insights. Ultimately, the newly hired executive uses these insights to navigate in such a way as to add value immediately with a greater probability of success.

Why is this so important for a company’s immediate success?

Most executives destroy value before they add value. Everyone can recall waiting for a new hire to get the hang of things, learn the ropes, settle in. Companies can’t afford to wait for a key hire to add value, especially startup firms – that kind of delay can mean the difference between success or failure.

What are some of the most important traits you look for when presenting prospective candidates to clients?

Decision-making history for key initiatives and mindset, or what we’re referring to as someone’s “platform for progress.” Do they have a well-honed process for making and managing decisions against a set of key initiatives? Do they possess an awareness, not just of the decisions they’ve made and managed, but also of the decisions they’ve missed? And how have they tackled key initiatives within the complexity and politics of formal and informal networks?

What do you feel are some advantages for companies working with boutique search firms such as yourself?

I’ve worked for large global firms and for boutiques over the years, and I believe boutiques have several advantages. Nimbleness and speed are two. Boutiques also typically operate in a partner-centric model, which can provide greater value in the process. In addition, the smaller firms have dramatically fewer “off-limits” issues. I recall from my years at the global firms being significantly limited from recruiting within a great number of companies. That’s hard to explain to a client.

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