Spencer Stuart Names Ben Williams CEO

The second largest executive search firm has a new chief: Ben Williams gets the nod to lead Spencer Stuart. Let’s go inside the latest developments.

October 10, 2018 – Spencer Stuart has appointed Ben Williams as its new CEO, succeeding Kevin Connelly, who served two three-year terms as the firm’s leader after previously serving six years as its chairman.

In addition, the firm elected David Daniel as its new chairman. He takes over from Edward Speed, who served two three-year terms in the post.

Both appointments were effective at the start of the firm’s fiscal year on Oct.1, having been elected by the firm’s partners in May.

“In a time of unprecedented change, organizations need exceptionally skilled leadership teams to interpret and respond to evolving business requirements, and cultures that support their strategic priorities,” said Mr. Williams. “Building on the work of Kevin and Edward, we will continue to enhance our ability to help clients make the senior-level leadership decisions that have a lasting impact on their organizations.”

“I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of an organization that has such outstanding people and culture, and I’m humbled that our partners and colleagues have placed their trust in me as we continue to evolve and grow,” he said.

Spencer Stuart recently retained its status as the No. 2 ranked search firm in both the Americas region and globally – edging out Egon Zehnder on one list and Heidrick on another. It reported positive gains on both rankings this year, after posting negative growth on each the previous reporting period. “Expect revenue growth,” the firm said at the time of the rankings, “due to broad based strength across all regions and most major industry practices and leadership assessment services.” About 62 percent of its global business now comes from the Americas region.

Search Leader

Mr. Williams previously led Spencer Stuart’s North American business and, before that, led its financial services practice in the region. In addition to his leadership responsibilities, he regularly advises clients on a variety of board and executive leadership recruitment, succession and culture-related matters.


Rajeev Vasudeva Stepping Down as CEO of Egon Zehnder
Rajeev Vasudeva, who has served as the CEO of Egon Zehnder since 2014, will step down at the end of October. Jill Ader defeated Mr. Vasudeva in an unprecedented election contest to determine who would become the next chair of the headhunting firm.


Prior to joining Spencer Stuart in 2010, Mr. Williams was president of the investment banking and capital markets broker-dealer of Wachovia, the nation’s fourth largest banking institution at the time. As head of Wachovia’s global markets and investment banking division, he led the firm’s fixed income and equity sales, trading and research activities, as well as investment banking, capital markets, corporate banking and commercial real estate.

Related: 10 Traits of Transformational CEOs

Mr. Williams earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from Davidson College, where he served for nine years on the board of trustees, including service as vice chairman of the board and as a member of the executive committee. He received his M.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

New Chairman

Drawing on more than 30 years of experience leading global businesses and brands, Mr. Daniel advises clients across industries on CEO and director recruitment, CEO succession planning and transitions, board effectiveness and other key governance and senior leadership issues facing boards and CEOs. His leadership experience spans professional services and consumer products, and he has led businesses through varied market conditions and economic cycles.

Related: Heidrick & Struggles Restructures to Lower Costs, Improve Efficiencies; Chief Administrative Officer Leaves Post

Mr. Daniel most recently served as head of Spencer Stuart’s private equity practice. He was CEO of the firm from 2001 to 2012, during which time he and the firm’s management team expanded Spencer Stuart’s global presence and strengthened its position in board and CEO advisory and recruitment, including CEO succession planning, and board and executive assessment.

Mr. Daniel has served on the advisory boards of the Yale School of Management, the Yale Center for Customer Insights, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and St. Luke’s School in New Canaan, CT. He has a master’s degree in public and private management from the Yale School of Management and a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University.

Related: What Makes Successful CEOs

“For more than 60 years, Spencer Stuart has been committed to continually enhancing our ability to advise clients on critical leadership needs, from executive and board recruitment to board effectiveness, succession planning, culture alignment, and team and organizational effectiveness,” Mr. Daniel said. “I’m honored to help support our partnership on that mission.”


Heidrick & Struggles Names President and CEO
Heidrick & Struggles named Krishnan Rajagopalan as its new president and CEO. Mr. Rajagopalan, who has served as acting CEO since Tracy Wolstencroft took a medical leave of absence in April, will also become a board member.


Mr. Daniel has served on the advisory boards of the Yale School of Management, the Yale Center for Customer Insights, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and St. Luke’s School in New Canaan, CT. He has a master’s degree in public and private management from the Yale School of Management and a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University.

“For more than 60 years, Spencer Stuart has been committed to continually enhancing our ability to advise clients on critical leadership needs, from executive and board recruitment to board effectiveness, succession planning, culture alignment, and team and organizational effectiveness,” Mr. Daniel said. “I’m honored to help support our partnership on that mission.”

Related: Are Leaders Really Prepared to Take on the Job of CEO?

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

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