Odgers Berndtson Appoints Head of U.S. Automotive and Mobility Practice

February 28, 2024 – Executive search firm Odgers Berndtson has appointed Marisa Smith as partner and head of its U.S. automotive and mobility practice. “Marisa’s extensive experience and strategic vision are exactly what we need to enhance our leadership in the automotive and mobility sectors and support our ambitious growth strategy in the U.S.,” said Kennon Kincaid, CEO of Odgers Berndtson U.S. “Her proven track record and unique perspective will be invaluable as we continue to expand our industrial practice and reinforce our commitment to being at the forefront of industrial technology markets.”

“Marisa’s appointment marks a significant step in strengthening our global automotive practice,” said Emanuel Pfister, global automotive lead. “Her expertise in executive search and her experience with clients across North America, Europe, and Asia will not only elevate our work in the U.S. but also enhance our global connectivity, ensuring we deliver unparalleled service to our clients worldwide. We are proud to have Marisa onboard, and look forward to the heights the U.S. automotive and mobility practice will reach under her leadership.”

“Marisa’s joining is a testament to our focus on industrial technology and our commitment to leadership in the automotive and mobility sectors,” said Jon Barney, head of Odgers Berndtson’s U.S. industrial practice. “Her vision for the practice aligns perfectly with our goals of providing exceptional talent solutions and thought leadership in industrial markets, especially at this time when they are undergoing significant transformation.”

Catherine Black, a partner and key leader within the U.S. automotive practice, said: “Marisa is the ideal person to build upon the foundation and deep expertise that Mats-Ola Bydell and I have developed across the Automotive and Industrial consumer industries. Her innovative approach and market insights will undoubtedly enrich our automotive and mobility practice, setting new benchmarks for success to further support our clients and candidates.”

Ms. Smith brings over 15 years of executive search and talent management experience to her new role, where she will drive the expansion of Odgers Berndtson’s presence across the North American automotive and mobility sectors, as well as facilitate the firm’s growth in the broader industrial technology market.

“I am thrilled to be joining Odgers Berndtson, a firm renowned for its international reach, collaborative culture and deep client-candidate relationships. Joining the company offers an exciting opportunity to leverage my experience and passion for building relationships with clients and guiding them through the changing landscape in talent management within this dynamic industry. Collaborating with the global team, I look forward to building strategic partnerships, spearheading innovative strategies, and positioning us as leaders in the broader industrial technology markets. This role presents an exceptional chance to contribute to the firm’s success and enhance its reputation in the industry.”

Related: Odgers Berndtson Launches Health and Wellness Recruiting Practice

Ms. Smith previously held significant roles at executive search and consulting firms, including Korn Ferry and Bain & Company. Having completed over 200 search engagements, she is commitment to promoting diversity recruitment and has a notable track record of placing high-impact executives. Her past search clients include Ford, General Motors, Harley Davidson, Goodyear, PACCAR, Woodward, and ZF Group.

Odgers Berndtson Appoints CEO
Odgers Berndtson has named Kennon Kincaid as its new CEO for its U.S. business, succeeding Steve Potter, who has held the position for the past 12 years. Mr. Potter, who will remain an active board member, has grown the firm to become No. 12 on the Hunt Scanlon Top 50 Recruiters ranking in the U.S. “We are excited about the future of Odgers Berndtson U.S. and believe, with the smooth transition of Kennon to CEO and Steve as an active board member, we have the leadership to take our firm to even greater heights as one of the premium global executive search firms in the world,” said Kester Scrope, group CEO of Odgers Berndtson.

“I feel privileged to have been able to serve as the CEO of Odgers Berndtson U.S. for the last 12 years, and I’m enormously proud of what we have achieved,” said Mr. Potter. “Kennon is well-equipped and ready for the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead, and I’m pleased to be able to hand the baton to one of our own. I will continue to support the success of the brand from my role on the board and am excited to see the next chapter of the firm’s story unfold.”

Odgers Berndtson delivers executive search, leadership assessment, and development strategies to organizations globally. The firm’s 250-plus partners cover more than 50 sectors and operate out of 59 offices in 29 countries. The U.S. wing of the firm launched in 2011 and has been one of the fastest growing search firms in the Americas. Odgers Berndtson has U.S. offices in Atlanta; Boston; Chicago; Dallas; Houston, TX; Los Angeles; Minneapolis, MN; New York; San Francisco; and Washington, D.C.

New Leader in Netherlands

Odgers Berndtson Netherlands has appointed Kristien Janssen as managing partner. She succeeded Ed van der Sande, who returned to the leadership practice full-time after six years, focusing on executive search, assessments and (team) coaching. “Over the past four years, Kristien has made a special contribution to the transformation we are undergoing as an organization,” said Mr. van der Sande. “Responding to the constantly changing needs of leaders and their companies. Her endless energy and commitment to us, her clients and candidates is contagious and inspiring. She helps us reinvent executive search – pushing boundaries and making a difference.”

Ms. Janssen also continues to lead the industry practice where she guides top management in transitions within the manufacturing, transport & logistics, construction and energy industries. From international enterprises and corporate businesses to private equity firms and family businesses.

Related: Odgers Berndtson Boosts Technology Practice, Scale-Up Offering

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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