October 31, 2019 – Executive search firm Reffett Associates has been awarded an executive search contract as part of an experimental pilot program by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to conduct a national effort to recruit senior-level scientific, technical and professional personnel in critical hard-to-fill disciplines.
“We are honored to have been selected by the Air Force Research Laboratory to assist them with this immensely important project,” said William Reffett, managing partner. “The work performed by the laboratory is a direct contributor to our capabilities in today’s changing national security environment, and our team will work tirelessly to add to their capabilities.”
Mr. Reffett said many members of the search team have a national security background, and that this provides the firm with unique insight into the culture, missions and capabilities of the AFRL. “The laboratory conducts wide-ranging research,” he said. “A number of technological advances useful in commercial applications are attributable to it, in addition to their defense research.”
Mr. Reffett said the firm will be recruiting positions such as “senior scientist and director of research levels for the different divisions within the various directorates of the laboratory—the type of positions that require deep candidate identification and active recruiting of candidates in the scientific and technical communities. People in these roles would not normally apply through the normal U.S. government employment process.”
The project will be led by Eric Reffett, managing director of the firm’s Washington, D.C., office, and Marshall Reffett, managing director of the Seattle office.
AFRL is a scientific research organization operated by the U.S. Air Force Materiel Command and is dedicated to leading the discovery, development and integration of affordable aerospace warfighting technologies, planning and executing the Air Force science and technology program, and providing warfighting capabilities to U.S. air, space and cyberspace forces. It controls the entire Air Force science and technology research budget which is in excess of $2.46 billion. Since forming in 1997, it has conducted numerous experiments and technical demonstrations in conjunction with NASA, Department of Energy, National Laboratories, DARPA and other research organizations within the Department of Defense. Headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, OH, it maintains research, development and testing facilities throughout the U.S.
Reffett Associates, based in Bellevue, WA, is a nationally recognized executive search firm. The boutique talent provider has extensive experience in retail and consumer packaged goods, private equity, commercial and federal services, government sectors and associations and non-profits. Its team is made up of executives with tangible industry experience, possessing real world, relatable knowledge about the challenges executives face in managing talent in a competitive marketplace.
Government Organizations Look to Search Firms
Government-related organizations have been turning to search firms in droves to find senior talent. William Reffett, the firm’s founder and managing partner, said that search firms have been assisting state and municipal governments and agencies for a long time. Some search firms have built their entire practice around this.
“Now, depending on the demographics and geography, a great number of the state and municipal agencies are experiencing losses at the director level,” he said. “They do not have a bench of qualified candidates ready at the mid-tier level. As a result, local governments are now starting to rely more on the use of outside executive search to help fill these critical positions.”
“At the federal level, there are still many decision-makers who have not been confirmed in key agencies, so it is hard for those agencies to accurately forecast their human capital needs,” Mr. Reffett said. “Additionally, every new administration brings with them new rules, regulations and procurement policies. Many of these are still being developed, so the federal environment remains challenging. We are very fortunate that Reffett has won the two largest federal government awards issued over the last two years.”
“To be successful in working with all levels of government, the most important thing that you can bring is a respect for their process,” he said. “You must make an effort to learn their human resources environment and apply your professional expertise to help make them successful.”
Reffett Associates established a relationship with the First Responders Network Authority to help recruit and select the senior leadership group and board of directors for its public-private partnership with AT&T. “We are honored to have been selected by FirstNet to assist them as they continue the development of their leadership and governance team,” said Mr. Reffett. “Our entire organization understands the importance of the task at hand and will devote our full resources to it.”
The assignments were awarded through an open, competitive bidding process. “We were asked to discuss our past performance and our prospective technical approach to executing the project,” said Mr. Reffett. “This gave us an opportunity to showcase our telecom and government experience, as well as our nationwide reach. Our proposal was then judged to have the most merit.”
The blanket purchase agreement is for Reffett Associates to find members of the board of directors, members of the senior executive team and executives for parts of the field organization. “We are just getting started, but the focus will be on executives who have not only telecom experience, but also have a communications background, as well as familiarity with the first responder and law enforcement communities,” said Mr. Reffett.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media