December 7, 2017 – New York-based global financial recruiting specialist Options Group has named former Heidrick & Struggles CEO L. Kevin Kelly as vice chairman. Mr. Kelly is currently chief executive of Halo Privacy, a cyber security and consulting firm focusing on advanced secure communications. He has been instrumental in growing Halo’s footprint and projecting its reputation in the cybersecurity space.
In his new role at Options Group, according to the search firm, Mr. Kelly will extend the firm’s global presence. His portfolio will include collaborative strategies across the firm, expanding Options Group’s footprint in financial services and technology – its primary base of business – while assisting in growing new practice areas including a CEO and board practice as well as consumer, industrial and life sciences practices.
“Kevin’s addition to our senior team is a signal to the executive search industry that we are determined to grow well beyond the conventional dimensions of the recruiting industry,” said Mike Karp, CEO. “When we launched this firm 25 years ago, we were focused on exclusively recruiting talent for the financial services industry. Now we serve a broad range of industries and offer a wide array of products and solutions,” he said.
“I am joining Options Group at an important inflexion point in the talent lifecycle,” said Mr. Kelly. “Today, machine learning and robotics are leading the way, creating new imperatives in workforce planning and the nature of work. Options Group is at the forefront of industry trends in predictive analytics and cognitive tools and is well positioned to optimally leverage these changes. I have been impressed by the firm’s ground breaking technologies that afford clients a unique, competitive edge.”
According to Mr. Karp, Mr. Kelly is a perfect fit for Options Group. “We support clients in developing a strategic understanding of talent,” he said. “Everything that touches on talent is part of an Options Group client engagement – operational structure, corporate governance, culture, leadership development and assessment.”
Returning to Search
Before assuming his current role at Halo Privacy, Mr. Kelly was CEO of Heidrick & Struggles from 2006 to 2013 and also served as president of Europe, Middle East, and Africa for its international business. He also ran the firm’s Asia Pacific operation as regional managing partner. Mr. Kelly then served as CEO of Asia Pulp & Paper.
But it was as Heidrick’s chief executive – a position he held for seven tumultuous years – for which Mr. Kelly is best remembered. Mr. Kelly famously predicted in 2009 that by 2014 Heidrick would shrink its executive search component from 95 percent of its business to just 53 percent. That forecast fell flat and his resignation in 2013 followed a highly touted diversification effort that went astray – and did little for Heidrick’s performance as a publicly-held search firm.
In the final months of Mr. Kelly’s tenure as CEO, the company explored a sale, among other strategic alternatives. Heavily dependent on financial services clients that had been hard hit by the financial meltdown of 2007/2008, Heidrick performed poorly at maximizing shareholder value in the intervening years and its share price tumbled, then languished, under Mr. Kelly. For his part, Mr. Kelly failed to position Heidrick in front of significant shifts taking place in the headhunting industry at the time. After his departure, a nearly six-month search for a successor brought former Goldman Sachs executive Tracy R. Wolstencroft out of retirement and he took over as CEO.
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Founded in 1992, Options Group is headquartered in New York with offices in London, Zurich, Frankfurt, Dubai, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Sao Paulo, Mumbai, Singapore, Tokyo, and Sydney. It is a global executive search, market intelligence, and strategic consulting firm with a focus primarily on the financial services industry, though it is said to be gaining a toehold in other sectors.
In September, Options Group acquired MCL Search Ltd, an executive search firm based in London specializing in electronic markets (trading and distribution), prime brokerage/clearing and financial trading technology with a focus on currencies and fixed income. Founding partners, Maria Aldous and Charlotte Battisti, bring a combined 25 years in executive search, and are responsible for expanding Options Group’s FICC electronic markets, prime brokerage and financial trading technology coverage.
Last year, Options Group felt the need to fuel its future growth with the appointment of Richard Stein to the newly created role of chief growth officer. As part of his expanded duties, Mr. Stein now develops and implements programs and management processes designed to accelerate Option Group’s revenue and profitability growth globally.
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