September 26, 2023 – Executive search firm Odgers Berndtson is investing in the growth of its technology practice, at the same time as focusing heavily on its investor backed scale-up offering, the Scale Up Collective. The firm recently announced that David Bell will be heading the collective. He is joined by Sam Smith, who brings over a decade of executive search experience to the firm. “Despite disruption across technology markets globally and difficult economic conditions, Odgers Berndtson is investing now to strengthen their position as a world class executive search and talent advisory firm,” said the firm.
Mr. Bell has 15 years’ executive search experience, the last eight of which have been working with private equity, venture capital, and founder-led technology businesses. Mr. Smith joins Odgers Berndtson from a leading boutique firm specializing in the European B2B SaaS eco-system. There, he supported public and venture capital/private equity backed businesses to build out their leadership teams.
“Working with investor backed scaling technology businesses is something I am passionate about and Odgers Berndtson’s focus on accelerating this aspect of their business through the Scale Up Collective was a very exciting prospect for me,” said Mr. Bell. “Given the heritage and excellence the Odgers Berndtson brand brings, as well as the breadth of service offering they provide to clients made joining a very easy decision.”
“The opportunity to help grow the Scale Up Collective is exhilarating,” said Mr. Smith. “It presents a unique opportunity to combine our expertise and knowledge of the trials and tribulations of an investor backed scaling journey with the breadth and depth of the U.K.’s premier executive search business. The chance to combine these two elements and play a part in this was too good to pass by, and it is a combination I think will add immense value to our current and future clients.”
A Powerful Proposition
Odgers Berndtson has considerable experience helping investor backed businesses bring in executive talent to take them to the next stage in their evolution. The firm’s Scale Up Collective hires for the portfolios of VC and private equity firms, providing leadership assessment, talent mapping, and executive search. Combined with interim management and the mid-management recruitment expertise at Berwick Partners, the offering provides what the firm describes as a powerful and compelling proposition for clients.
“The Scale Up Collective works across the entire deal flow for investors and investor-backed businesses, with a track record assisting the world’s best venture capital and private equity firms,” said the firm. “Odgers Berndtson’s aim is to be the executive search business investors and portfolio companies rely on for talent requirements at any stage of their investment cycles. Despite a turbulent market, Odgers Berndtson has continued to provide expert services to growing investor backed business, who need exceptional C-suite level executives.”
“In my first few months here we have worked in collaboration with our life sciences and industrial colleagues to service various healthtech and deeptech businesses with changes to their C-suite leadership,” said Mr. Bell. “The relevant sector expertise here at Odgers Berndtson is phenomenal and it’s great to be working with such interesting clients to accelerate their growth.”
“Within the investor-backed community, all signs point to a busy 2024 thanks to the ‘dry-powder’ built up during the past 18 months,” said Mr. Smith. “Odgers Berndtson is well positioned to advise clients through this period with its exceptional technology and IT practice.”
Mike Drew, who leads the global technology and IT services practice, said investment in the U.K. practice mirrors what the firm is doing in the U.S. “While the market has slowed due to consolidation from big-tech, we still see a lot of activity from investor led businesses who are continuing to invest in their value creation plan,” he said. “We feel confident that the tech sector overall will rebound next year, and the technology practice and Scale Up Collective are well positioned to respond to client demand, when it does.”
A New Leader
This spring, Odgers Berndtson named Kennon Kincaid as its new CEO for its U.S. business, succeeding Steve Potter, who held the position for the past 12 years. Mr. Pottier, 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. “He has built a strong team, and a particular achievement has been hiring and developing Kennon as his successor,” Odgers Berndtson said. “They have worked closely together for five years as COO and CEO preparing for this transition.”
“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.
Mr. Kincaid has spent the past four years as the Odgers Berndtson U.S. chief operating officer, where he oversaw its people, processes, and operations. He serves on the firm’s board of directors as well as its global advisory board. Prior to joining Odgers, Mr. Kincaid served as a diplomat, advancing the interests of the U.S. and its allies across Europe, Africa, and Asia-Pacific. Subsequently, he joined Rocket Lab, a leading aerospace company and launch service provider, where he established and led international business development, security operations, and government relations.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media