Optimum Talent Latest Firm to Appoint New Leader

Optimum Talent appoints Mike Bacchus CEO

October 18, 2017 – Numerous executive search firms have made a number of top leadership appointments since the start of the year, many focused on strategy, growth, branding efforts and operations. The latest: Optimum Talent has named Mike Bacchus as its new chief executive officer. He takes over the role from Ronald Dahms who becomes a senior advisor.

Mr. Bacchus had been serving as Optimum’s president for Western Canada. He joined the firm after serving as CEO of Conroy Ross Partners, which Optimum acquired in January. He has over 20 years of experience at the senior management level, including as president of David Aplin Group.

“I am thrilled to have Mike step into the role of CEO,” said Mr. Dahms. “He is a tremendous leader who is passionate about creating a strong internal culture and has a great ability to translate his vision and strategy into reality. The company has a tremendous opportunity for growth over the next few years as the largest Canadian-owned, integrated talent management firm, and Mike is the right person to lead the business to achieve its goals.”


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Mr. Bacchus said he expects to help make a good team even better. “My philosophy is that a focus on happy colleagues results in happier clients, and happy clients become advocates for our business,” said. “As a leader, one of my primary goals is to attract, develop and retain a community of passionate professionals that are best-in-class. And, as a leading HR talent firm, we should expect nothing less from ourselves.”

Headquartered in Toronto, Optimum Talent provides human resources consulting services with expertise in career management, career transition, coaching, executive search and organizational psychology.

Leadership Appointments Rising at Search Firms

Leadership appointments have been gaining traction at executive search firms in recent months. Here’s a look at several taken from the Hunt Scanlon Media archives:

Lois L. Lindauer Searches (LLLS) has appointed Deb Taft as its new CEO. The carefully planned changeover comes as the firm celebrates its 20th anniversary. Chosen by founder Lois L. Lindauer to lead the firm into the next era, Ms. Taft brings over 25 years senior-level development and executive management experience to the role. She joined the firm last year, as COO.

Sales-focused executive recruitment provider TwentyPine has promoted Jamie Coakley to CEO. In her new role she is responsible for leading growth strategy and execution of the company’s long-term vision across operations, sales and marketing. Ms. Coakley has a history of re-energizing growth and profitability for mature recruiting and staffing companies.

Heidrick & Struggles recently named Krishnan Rajagopalan as its new president and CEO. Mr. Rajagopalan has served as acting CEO since Tracy Wolstencroft took a medical leave of absence in April. Based in Washington, D.C., 57-year-old Mr. Rajagopalan also leads the firm’s executive committee. He has been with Heidrick for 16 years.

San-Francisco-headquartered executive search firm O’Rourke & Associates appointed Rebecca Bower as president. Ms. Bower is widely regarded as a top leadership advisor with a career that spans nearly 25 years in human resources, management, training and sales. O’Rourke & Associates specializes in credit union industry recruiting.

Ratliff & Taylor appointed Beth Sweeney as its president, where she now has full profit-and-loss responsibility for each of the company’s three practices: executive search, leadership development and career transition. Ms. Sweeney previously served as market president at the firm.

Executive search firm Cobalt Recruitment tapped James Wakefield as its CEO. Mr. Wakefield joined Cobalt in 2007 coming from the management team at Michael Page in London. In 2009, Mr. Wakefield moved to the UAE to help Cobalt establish a presence in the region, and in 2014 he was promoted to international managing director.

Witt/ Kieffer named Andrew P. Chastain as its new CEO taking over from Charles “Chuck” W.B. Wardell who remains a senior advisor to the firm. Mr. Chastain has been with the firm since 1997 and previously served as managing partner and chairman of its healthcare practice. He assumed the CEO role in July, and plans to remain active in healthcare.

McDermott & Bull appointed 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.

SRiCheyenne named Jay Hussey as CEO. Chief executive and founder, Pat Mastandrea, has moved into a new role at the firm as vice chairman. He joined SRiCheyenne from Odgers Berndston where he led the firm’s U.S. technology and digital transformation practices. Mr. Hussey boasts more than 15 years in executive search with leading global recruiting firms.

Legal search firm Major, Lindsey & Africa (MLA) and executive search firm Allegis Partners named John Cashman as president. In his new role, Mr. Cashman will head strategic efforts to elevate the business of both firms, jointly owned by Allegis Group, a global talent solutions leadership provider. Since joining Major, Lindsey & Africa in 2005, Mr. Cashman has risen through the ranks as a recruiter, manager and leader.

Eric Salmon & Partners announced that its long-standing president, Massimo Milletti, has handed over management of the search firm to two partners who will co-head the partnership. Sophie Wigniolle from the firm’s Paris office will lead together with Raoul Nacke, a managing director in Frankfurt.

JR Partners named Josh Gonnella as president and senior managing partner. He joins founding partner and chief operating officer Joe Wein to lead the organization. He brings experience and a diverse career in financial services to the firm. Prior to accepting his new position, he held senior managing director roles at Lloyds Bank.

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

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