Search Industry Veteran Bernard Zen-Ruffinen Dies

January 26, 2024 – Bernard Zen-Ruffinen passed away suddenly on January 17, 2024, near his home in Zermatt, Switzerland. “Korn Ferry has lost a dear friend, gifted leader and a widely-regarded colleague who has formed so many lasting connections with colleagues across our firm – truly making a difference in their lives,”  said Gary D. Burnison, CEO of Korn Ferry. “Bernard most recently served as chairman of EMEA and held several important leadership roles at our firm throughout his 15 years of service, including president of EMEA and chairman of our consumer and industrial practices.”

“Bernard leaves behind an adoring family, notably his wife Anna and his children Leo, Greg, and Michelle; along with his mother, brothers, nieces and nephews, and countless friends, colleagues, and clients around the globe who benefited from his grace and leadership,” Mr. Burnison said. “On a personal note, I will cherish so many fond memories of working closely with Bernard. He was a friend, a true professional and mentor to many. His positivity, passion and love for life left an immediate impact on those who were fortunate enough to know him.”

“I know he derived particular joy over decades throughout his career in identifying and developing the world’s next generation of leaders – many of whom now occupy positions of prominence thanks to his work and wisdom,” said Mr. Burnison. “Our thoughts are with Bernard’s family, as well as all of the colleagues and clients and people who are better for having the pleasure of knowing him.”

Identifying the Next Generation of Leaders 

Mr. Zen-Ruffinen found true purpose, passion, and pleasure in his work as a global managing partner at the world’s two largest talent advisory firms – Heidrick & Struggles and the aforementioned Korn Ferry. He derived particular joy over decades in identifying and developing the world’s next generation of leaders, many of whom now occupy positions of prominence thanks to his work and wisdom.

Mr. Zen-Ruffinen was also a global account manager for some of the top corporations in the Swiss Market Index (SMI). Previously, he served as president and CEO of DHL/Danzas Latin America, a company belonging to Deutsche Post World Net group. He started his career with Jacobs Suchard and the Klaus Jacobs Group, one of the largest coffee and confectionary companies in Europe in the 1980’s. His main leadership role was president and CEO of Brach Van Houten International, based in Chicago and with distribution in Southeast Asia, Latin America, Canada, and Europe.

Mr. Zen-Ruffinen earned a degree in political science from the graduate institute of international studies, University of Geneva, Switzerland. Earlier in his career, he was a founding member of Precious Woods and more recently he was a founder of Monarca Coffee Wood, two companies dedicated to counteract the effect of deforestation and global warming.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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