September 21, 2017 – Commercial real estate in North America is at a crossroads: While investment in the sector continues to increase, developers, asset managers and investors are facing new challenges when recruiting executives with the skills and experience needed to execute their organization’s strategic growth plans.
With the rate of executive retirements in the sector accelerating, succession planning and developing the next generation of leaders is becoming more and more critical to organizational success.
To strengthen its North American real estate and infrastructure practice to meet this demand, global executive search firm Odgers Berndtson has appointed Robert Baron as partner and national practice leader, real estate & infrastructure. Mr. Baron, who is based in Toronto, brings a team of recruitment specialists including engagement managers Angie Laframbroise and Angela Bond and Sheryl Song, a senior consultant with the firm.
“Robert brings deep insight and experience at all levels of the North American real estate market to meet our clients’ growing demand for top talent,” said Carl Lovas, chairman of Odgers Berndtson in Canada. “Building our expertise in this area is just another example of our continued commitment to provide our clients with industry and functional specialists who really understand their business and their specific leadership challenges.”
Mr. Baron will lead the firm’s efforts on behalf of developers, investors, lenders, occupiers and service providers in the real estate and physical infrastructure sectors. He will also work closely with Odgers Berndtson’s executive interim division, Odgers Interim, to provide clients with flexible, short-term, senior talent solutions. In addition, Mr. Baron will partner with the firm’s leadership practice to help identify and assess the next generation of executives.
Prior to joining Odgers Berndtson, Mr. Baron was the founder and president of BCGI American Real Estate Executive Search, and has led over 1,000 real estate searches across North America since 1995. He was also previously in investment sales at CBRE and investment banking at CIBC World Markets. Mr. Baron is on the advisory board for View Glass and is a trustee of NorthWest Healthcare Properties REIT.
“Firms require leaders with the skills and experience to drive returns from their real estate investments in a competitive market,” said Mr. Baron. “Identifying and recruiting high performing candidates has become an urgent priority, and many firms are using this opportunity to augment their leadership teams as they plan for succession.”
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Odgers Berndtson has seen a wave of growth since the start of the year. Recently, it opened a new office in Washington, D.C. when the firm acquired the former Boyden licensee in the region, adding five people to the firm, including Tim McNamara and Derek Wilkinson, former Boyden partners with more than 45 years’ combined management consulting and recruiting experience.
In July, Odgers opened an office in Minneapolis and added three search professionals: Ron Woessner, Chris Fryer and Shawn Woessner. Mr. Woessner began his search career as founder and CEO of Woessner & Associates in 1983. In 2010, he merged his practice into DHR International, where he served as global leader of its chief financial officer practice. He then joined Allen Austin, where he served as managing partner, global financial officer practice. Mr. Fryer previously served as managing partner of the industrial practice at Allen Austin. Mr. Woessner, who is head of U.S. finance for Odgers, had been a managing partner at Allen Austin, where he was responsible for the firm’s global financial officer practice.
In May, the firm added Lisa Hooker as a partner and Dr. Jessica French as a principal. Ms. Hooker, who serves clients in the technology practice, 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. Previously, she was a founding partner at BridgeStreet Partners Executive Search. Dr. French serves clients in the higher education and academic medicine sectors. She specializes in search for senior leaders in research universities and academic medical centers. Previously, she was a senior associate at Korn Ferry in the firm’s healthcare practice.
In April, Odgers Berndtson 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 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.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media