McDermott & Bull Appoints President
March 17, 2017 – Executive search firm McDermott & Bull has named Brandon Biegenzahn as its new president.
Mr. Biegenzahn has been one of the top producers at McDermott & Bull for several years and leads the firm’s financial institutions practice. In his role as president, he will play a critical part in the onboarding and mentoring of new principal consultants at McDermott & Bull as the search firm sets out on an ambitious expansion of its business in the U.S. and overseas.
Mr. Biegenzahn’s strategic thinking, deep client relationships, entrepreneurial acumen, and leadership skills will be vital assets, say his colleagues, as the firm continues to push into new markets. He joined McDermott & Bull as a principal consultant in 2011, and was soon thereafter promoted to partner and co-chair of the firm’s financial institutions and private equity practice groups.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Biegenzahn, a corporate attorney by training, practiced with Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton and Buchalter Nemer in its corporate finance and real estate finance departments. As corporate counsel, he advised his clients in mergers and acquisitions, asset-based financing, and real property purchase and sale transactions.
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McDermott & Bull is the 29th largest executive search firm in the Americas, where it serves clients in the technology, financial services, manufacturing, biotech & life sciences, retail, and professional services sectors.
This C-suite promotion follows on the heels of a recent expansion at the firm. Just last week, it launched McDermott & Bull Europe B.V. via the acquisition of Amsterdam-based Interconsultants Executive Search. Interconsultants was founded by Jetse Reijenga in 1984 and has completed hundreds of search assignments for European and global clients, including Ricoh, Avery Dennison, Samsung, and Tech Data. Mr. Reijenga plans to stay involved with McDermott & Bull Europe as a consultant and business development advisor. The firm has a well-established executive team, including Milo Zegerius and Norbert Meijer.
Recently, Jake Vander Zanden was named as a principal consultant and leader of the firm’s life sciences practice. Mr. Vander Zanden brings more than 25 years of life sciences industry experience, including 15 years in a variety of senior global roles with Allergan Pharmaceuticals.
In October, the firm expanded into the Denver region with the addition of Theron Makley as principal consultant. His practice focuses on serving technology clients in the energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors. The appointment extends McDermott & Bull’s reach further into the surrounding Front Range areas, including Boulder, Fort Collins, and Colorado Springs.
Mr. Biegenzahn recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss his promotion, growth at McDermott & Bull, and why HR leaders are now considered strategic assets. Here’s an excerpt from that discussion.
Brandon, tell us about your new role. Why president and why now?
In order to match the growth of McDermott & Bull and the industry, the firm is evolving and institutionalizing its leadership. The landscape of our industry is changing and as our firm continues to take marketshare, we are taking steps to ensure that we have the corporate structure to support it. While I will continue to co-chair the firm’s financial institutions practice group, as president I will lead the firm’s efforts in geographic expansion with the recruitment of principal consultants across the country, and I will be working closely with them in establishing their practices with the firm.
How has your background as a corporate finance attorney paved the way for you in the executive search sector?
The parallels between the practice of law and executive search are many. Each provides a high level consultative solution to a business issue. I brought with me from the practice of law a complete sense of client service, with an immense sense of urgency.
“According to the Harvard Business Review and research conducted by McKinsey and the Conference Board, CEOs worldwide consistently see human capital as a top challenge, and yet they rank HR as only the eighth or ninth most important function in a company.”
You’ve recently acquired a European rival. What more can you tell us about that deal and about future expansion? Can we expect to see more M&A activity coming?
The acquisition in Europe wasn’t necessarily a rival. Truly, it is a partnership with a firm with values that align directly with ours. The acquisition is accretive to the firm, expanding our footprint and enabling us to serve our European clients with in-country resources. As to further M&A activity, the firm is pursuing primarily organic growth, but will continue to assess opportunistic acquisitions.
We’ve recently reported on the demand for C-suite HR leaders. Your firm has also been active in this space. What can you tell us about the hunt for top drawer human resource leaders and why has there been such an upsurge?
Strategic HR is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have. Strategic HR must be in a position to construct organizational designs which clearly align with business strategies. Strategic HR drives culture, optimizes operational performance, and develops leadership. According to the Harvard Business Review and research conducted by McKinsey and the Conference Board, CEOs worldwide consistently see human capital as a top challenge, and yet they rank HR as only the eighth or ninth most important function in a company.
Why the disconnect here?
In order for strategic HR to lead the initiatives described above, it must be elevated to a strategic function that is seen as integral to the business. The head of HR must play a central role as part of an organization’s collaborative decision-making senior leadership team. Of course, in order for HR to play this role, your head of HR must have the business acumen to do so. This shifts the onus to the HR leader, and this is driving the evolution of HR leaders – they must be business people, not solely HR people. Many of today’s highest performing HR leaders have held roles in other functions and have rotated throughout their company (and often times even in different industries). This gives them an understanding of the cross-functional relationships and the interplay therein. Moreover, it ensures they truly understand the business of their institution.
Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media