January 19, 2016 – Korn Ferry has recruited Hue Jackson as the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns. He becomes the team’s 16th head coach and replaces Mike Pettine who was fired following a 3-13 season. Jed Hughes, the firm’s vice chairman and global sports sector leader, led the assignment.
Mr. Jackson is a 29-year coaching veteran with 15 years of NFL experience. He comes to Cleveland after four seasons as an assistant coach with the Cincinnati Bengals, the final two as offensive coordinator.
The search committee was made up of team owner Jimmy Haslam and his wife, Dee; executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown; and Korn Ferry’s Mr. Hughes.
The committee interviewed seven candidates over a five-day stretch before selecting Mr. Jackson.
“It’s very exciting for us to name Hue Jackson as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns,” said Mr. Haslam. “He embodies all the qualities that will provide strong leadership for our football team. He is highly experienced, deeply passionate about winning, and relentless in trying to find ways to put his players in the best position to succeed. He possesses that unique ability to reach the entire locker room in a way that demands accountability while getting the buy-in and team-first mentality that leads to positive results.”
Mr. Hughes has distinguished himself as an expert in identifying, assessing, and developing sports leaders at Korn Ferry and in his prior career. His relationships in sports and intercollegiate athletics are extensive, having spent 20 years coaching in professional and intercollegiate football and working for five Hall of Fame coaches. He also led the development of psychological testing, competency development and structural behavioral interviewing for the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers.
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Under his stewardship, Korn Ferry has been active filling head coaching and general manger roles for both professional and colligate sports teams. At the end of the most recent Major League Baseball season, the firm placed David Sterns as general manager of the Milwaukee Brewers. Korn Ferry also recruited Rob Manfred into the commissioner’s post last year. The league also retained the firm recently to provide league-wide talent support services, which includes assisting candidates who reach the interview process for baseball operations positions.
This past September, Korn Ferry’s Futurestep division launched a sports practice focusing on mid-level and emerging talent. Bret M. Fishkind leads the new group as a managing consultant. He had been a senior associate at Korn Ferry, where he has served as a member of the firm’s global sports practice, and its board & CEO services practice for the past seven years.
The sports industry continues to be a growth area for executive search businesses. Many C-suite focused recruiting firms are now active in the sector and some specialize only in the sports field itself, but all are dedicated to providing sports-related executive search and leadership advisory services. Among them: DHR International, Egon Zehnder, Heidrick & Struggles, Russell Reynolds Associates, Diversified Search, Odgers Berndtson, Eastman & Beaudine, Turnkey Search, Parker Executive Search, Sports Recruitment International, Neinas Sports Services, and Collegiate Sports Associates.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media