Leathwaite Appoints Head of Americas to Focus on Growth and Branding

U.K.-based search firm continues to expand by naming a new head for its Americas region office. That leader, Paul Groce, joins Hunt Scanlon Media for an exclusive interview to discuss his views on the recruiting market and plans to move Leathwaite into competitive position in the U.S.

September 19, 2018 – Veteran executive search consultant Paul Groce has joined Leathwaite as head of the firm’s Americas region in an effort to increase its reach and further expand its brand outside the U.K.

“The continued expansion of our U.S. business is central to Leathwaite’s future international growth strategy, and we are absolutely delighted to have hired Paul Groce to help raise our presence across the Americas,” said Neil Ejje, founding partner of Leathwaite. “Paul’s wealth of experience within both a worldwide executive search firm, as well as a boutique environment, will be invaluable as we look to capitalize on what we have achieved in the U.S. to date and build out further success.”

Having started his career in the U.S. military, graduating from West Point, Mr. Groce went on to complete an MBA in finance at Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business, before starting his career in executive search with Heidrick & Struggles. Having spent five years at Heidrick, he moved to CTPartners as a founding member of the firm’s financial services practice and global head of its CIO and operations function, where he remained for 10 years. Mr. Groce subsequently returned to Heidrick in 2015 as a senior partner in its CIO practice, where he combined his client-side business acumen with working alongside the global CEO in a broader strategic change project role.

Joining Mr. Groce at Leathwaite is Beth Clemens, who has worked closely with him for several years in the functional CIO space at both CTPartners and Heidrick & Struggles. She will join Leathwaite as a consultant, drawing on her broader sector and functional experience across the U.S. in support of the wider team. Both recruiters will be based in New York.

Expansion Plans

This spring, Livingstone’s Business Services sector team advised Leathwaite on securing growth capital financing from credit fund Beechbrook Capital to accelerate its geographic expansion, launch new business streams and invest in proprietary technology. The firm said that the investment also provided equity to further nurture its current talent while simultaneously providing a platform to attract new colleagues.

“This important milestone for Leathwaite has been achieved in no small part through the thoughtful guidance, expertise and support of the Livingstone team over nearly a decade, where they spent time really getting to know the management team,” said Martin Phillips, founding partner of Leathwaite. “The injection of growth capital demonstrates how committed Leathwaite is to the continued expansion of the business in the U.K. and internationally.

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Leathwaite has offices in London, New York, Hong Kong and Zurich. As the firm enters its 20th anniversary year, it continues to expand and diversify beyond its core executive search business. Leathwaite now provides an interconnected range of talent, business intelligence and talent management services.

Mr. Groce recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media for an exclusive interview to discuss his views on the search sector and his plans to move Leathwaite into competitive position in the U.S. Here are some excerpts from that discussion.


Paul, what drew you to joining Leathwaite? 

Leathwaite is the best kept secret I know of in our industry. As someone told me of Leathwaite a few weeks ago, “these guys are the largest, the best and the most global firm that you seldom hear of in the U.S.” For me, personally, as a CIO functional search practitioner, I have known Leathwaite for almost 20 years. We competed against one another as Leathwaite was establishing a presence here in the U.S. in the financial services sector. As a result, I came to know Leathwaite both professionally and personally and I only heard positive things about the firm and of their focus on excellent results. I came to respect Leathwaite’s position as a leading search firm outside the U.S., and both in the U.K. and APAC. Years later, upon learning of Leathwaite’s commitment to the expansion and elevation of its U.S. business, I was, quite simply, compelled. Leathwaite’s capabilities, combined with unique U.S. market realities, present the firm with tremendous opportunity.

“Leathwaite is the best kept secret I know of in our industry. Its capabilities, combined with unique U.S. market realities, present the firm with tremendous opportunity.”

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What are some goals you have targeted as you settle in as Americas head? 

My first goal is to provide clients the services they desire, not what we think they should have. Goal No. 2 is to ensure excellence of delivery. There are new and innovative tools and products in our industry and we, as a firm, are at the forefront of this. A great search firm must remain grounded and keep its eye on client needs and the ensuing results. It is crucial we apply core fundamentals and never forget that our profession is a people business first. My other goal is to build on Leathwaite’s great culture. There is no fixing to be done here. I cannot tell you how great the people are and how fabulous the teamwork is.

How do you plan to leverage your search experience in your new role?

Very simple, I plan to be a player-coach. If you are not involved with clients and executing work, you are irrelevant in our business today. That is not the case in all industries, but the personal nature of our business allows involved leadership to have a decided edge. As testament to this, the Leathwaite culture is one fueled by open plan offices that promote information sharing and a team-based approach. This is very different from the philosophy of more hierarchical firms. I believe our approach mirrors our clients’ more and more. I cannot tell you how different, and how exhilarating, it is to be directly in the mix. Simply put, it’s hard to help drive if you are in the back seat and can’t see the road.

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We have seen a lot of U.K. and overseas firms expand into the Americas, especially to New York. Explain what opportunities this type of expansion brings to search firms.

Yes, others have tried, but few have differentiated themselves and even fewer have been resourced to succeed. We have the edge in both areas. Leathwaite is heavily resourced via recent financing and in a position to invest in areas where our clients have needs. Second, we have tremendous leadership. We have an independent board of directors comprised of industry leaders that public search firms would eagerly welcome to their boards. What other private human capital firm does this? Third, our dedicated focus on employee and leadership development. Leathwaite is conducting a key leader training forum at Sandhurst next month, which is the equivalent of West Point’s corporate leadership development program. What other search firm out there invests not only in role training, but in leadership training and team building? Leathwaite is different . . . We are a well-resourced, well-led firm. We are investing in the future. We have an execution-focused culture that positions us for success.

Related: Ridgeway Partners Strengthens U.S. Search Staff

How do you see the recruiting and talent market in the Americas performing over the next five years?

There will always be demand for certain services, regardless of market performance. We are different from others in that our practices are aligned by function, not by industry. We certainly hope the Americas market remains robust, but we are positioned to support clients regardless of macro trends. There is always demand for great search in any market and we are diversified given the other services we offer, which were developed in response to client demand: our Executive Compensation Data platform- The Pay Index, our Executive Interim Solution and our Managed Project Delivery capability that many of our long term clients value greatly.

Paul, what trends have peaked your attention within the search industry? 

The top trend we hear of is that clients want their search industry partners to focus on search and are looking for firms that are absolute experts in their space and who can provide a consultative approach to support them through their decision-making process. The world moves quickly. Market knowledge, access to talent and qualified opinion is of greatest value to clients. The focus should be on executing search without distraction from services and products that are not complementary. That is the trick, we believe search teams do search. This is reflected in how Leathwaite is structured and we offer complementary services in response to our clients’ needs.

Related: FIND Executive Consulting Launches in New York

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

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