Odgers Berndtson Continues Aggressive Growth

May 16, 2017 – Odgers Berndtson has expanded with the addition of two search specialists with deep sector expertise to bolster its technology, and higher education & academic medicine practices.

Lisa Hooker joins Odgers as a partner and will serve clients in the firm’s technology practice. Ms. Hooker brings 20-plus years of executive search expertise in telecommunications, consumer electronics, cloud services, cyber security, IoT and SaaS. She has also conducted assignments for venture capital and private equity firms, recruiting for their portfolio companies.

“The modern world demands experts with the leadership expertise and flexibility to serve clients whose business needs and realities are constantly evolving,” said Ms. Hooker. “As we continue to broaden our existing tech footprint in northern and southern California, and now here in Austin, Odgers Berndtson U.S. is positioning itself to excel in executive search for the technology sector. By leveraging our colleagues in our global technology practices and their combined expertise, we are well poised to deliver outstanding results to clients.”

Previously, Ms. Hooker was a founding partner at BridgeStreet Partners Executive Search. She has also served as vice president and North American technology practice leader for A.T. Kearney Executive Search, as well as managing partner, technology practice leaders and member of the board of directors for Ray & Berndtson.

Delivering for Clients

“Lisa has a long and successful record of finding the right people for the right role,” said Steve Potter, CEO of Odgers Berndtson U.S. “Her background in executive search in the technology sector and her highly analytical mind makes her an ideal choice to expand the technology practice in our new Austin office. Partnering Lisa with Rod Keller, an accomplished C-level executive with more than 30 years of leadership in global companies, will strengthen and make an immediate impact on our ability to deliver for our clients.”

Dr. Jessica French joins the firm as a principal and will serve clients in the higher education and academic medicine sectors. Dr. French specializes in search for senior leaders in research universities and academic medical centers.

“My background as a trained physician combined with four years of search experience at a top executive search firm will add to the already great depth and breadth of expertise on the team,” said Dr. French. “Additionally, my experience, not just in academic medicine, but also in biotech, mid to large pharma, and medical device, will allow me to contribute to both the academic medicine practice and the life sciences practice here. My experience in recruiting senior level physician executives will allow us to better serve the search needs of top institutions.”

Prior to joining Odgers Berndtson, Dr. French was a senior associate at Korn Ferry in the firm’s healthcare practice. Earlier, Dr. French served as a city medical examiner and forensic pathology fellow at the New York City office of the chief medical examiner where she was one of four selected for the forensic pathology fellowship, as well as one of two selected for additional forensic cardiac and neuropathology training. She was also a resident in anatomic pathology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

“Dr. French has significant search experience in the higher education and academic medicine sectors and will add depth and expertise to practices already supported by four sector specialists with deep knowledge,” said Nicholas Brill, head of Odgers Berndtson’s U.S. higher education and academic medicine practices. “Her education and training as a physician will complement the backgrounds of her practice colleagues and will offer our clients a broader range of search and assessment services.”

“Dr. French’s prior biotech sector search work, as well as the biotech search experience of Jennifer McDonough, another principal in the practice, combined with the exemplary track record of the Odgers Berndtson life science practice,” he added, “will expand the firm’s ability to recruit outstanding candidates for our clients across the many academic, research, healthcare, and life science sectors that intersect with one another.”

Expansion Wave

Odgers Berndtson has seen a wave of growth since the start of the year. In April, it added Lisa DeConto, Jane Swan and Brad Pierce. Ms. DeConto joined the firm as a partner and serves clients in the financial services sector. She had been a senior member of the asset and wealth management practice at Russell Reynolds Associates. Ms. Swan became a partner and head of Odgers Berndtson’s U.S. wealth management practice. Before joining the firm, she headed the wealth management practices at Sheffield Haworth, Korn Ferry and Heidrick & Struggles. Mr. Pierce was named a partner and serves clients in the international consulting and professional services sector, where he has 17-plus years of experience. He previously founded a boutique search firm, in addition to earlier roles with Korn Ferry, Russell Reynolds Associates and Heidrick & Struggles.

In February, Odgers launched a new eSports practice. The search team, supported by the Odgers Berndtson international network, is based at the firm’s London office. It is global in scope with a particular focus on Asia and the U.S. As the eSports sector matures, the firm plans to network across broad geographies and markets to assist leagues, teams, sponsors and games publishers to access talent that will help them take advantage of the growing awareness of global eSports.

Best of Both Worlds

Odgers CEO Steve Potter has spent over two decades as a founder, CEO and senior executive of several financial services executive search firms. He recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss Odgers Berndtson’s future growth strategy.


Steve, are you planning on adding more U.S. offices this year?

Yes, we like the Midwest so look for a possible expansion there. Atlanta and Miami are also of interest.

What additional industry or functional areas would you like to (or plan to) compete in?

We would like to bolster our capabilities in industrial (aerospace, food, infrastructure and chemicals). Also look for us to beef up financial services and consumer as well. In addition, we would like to add a non-profit practice.

Are you gaining traction in accessory services like leadership consulting and will you be staffing these new business lines as well this year?

Yes, we are. We added Robert Satterwhite, Ph.D. last year and that practice is really gaining traction for us. Look for us to add more people and capabilities in leadership consulting this year.

“Odgers, we feel, will be the only U.S. ‘super boutique’ that has true global brand and a footprint that will augment our U.S. presence in ways that will give us a competitive advantage. It’s very unusual for CEO search assignments like the ones we completed for Lloyds of London and Valiant Pharmaceuticals to be awarded to a boutique. So our strategy is to combine the best of both worlds and that is clearly working for us.”

What challenges does that present — adding consultants across multiple business lines?

We run a profitable business and always have so we fund our expansion profitably. So long as we do that it’s simply having enough hours in the day to keep numerous balls in the air at one time. The big firms are throwing desperate amounts of money around in the form of guarantees and the like and we have lost a few people we would have liked because of that. But most of the big search brands have lost multiple key partners this year and so they feel the need to step up and make up the lost revenue. It remains to be seen whether this is a good strategy because guarantees can really bite hard especially in a down market.

Are there challenges hiring recruiters in such a tight market?

Most big firms are paying less and less each year for the same production. The impact of technology, LinkedIn, internal recruiters, and firms like Futurestep have impacted the ‘bottom half’ of the executive search market in terms of pricing. It’s a good time to be nimble and lean.

Will there be more ‘super boutiques’ coming on the scene in the next five years?

Yes there will. No question. They will pay better and yet have a domestic brand that works. Odgers, we feel, will be the only U.S. ‘super boutique’ that has true global brand and a footprint that will augment our U.S. presence in ways that will give us a competitive advantage. It’s very unusual for CEO search assignments like the ones we completed for Lloyds of London and Valiant Pharmaceuticals to be awarded to a boutique. So our strategy is to combine the best of both worlds and that is clearly working for us.

Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media

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