Reinventing Executive Search

Reinventing Executive Search
Jay Rosenzweig: CEO Rosenzweig & Company


Jay Rosenzweig isn’t your average executive recruiter. In fact, he is out to reinvent the profession – a profession he entered by chance more than seventeen years ago. A McGill grad originally trained in law, Rosenzweig was in discussions with a high-end search firm regarding a potential position, when the conversation took a complete turn. “You ask all the right questions. Why don’t you come join us?” the recruiter asked.

A “people-person” with strong research skills and an entrepreneurial bent, Rosenzweig immediately saw that this career shift might be a good move. And it was. After seven years on the job learning the ropes (including experience gained at Korn Ferry, the world’s largest firm), Rosenzweig’s entrepreneurial side led him in 2004 to found his own company, Rosenzweig & Company. His vision was to offer “big firm capability”, but do so with the personal touch and customized approach of a boutique firm.

Over the years, Rosenzweig has recruited partners to his firm with decades of global, ‘big firm’ experience gained at prominent organizations including Heidrick & Struggles, Spencer Stuart, and Korn Ferry.

“I was so fortunate to be able to assemble an exceptional team that shared this vision,” Rosenzweig says. “In addition to being really high quality consultants, I am so proud to have a team of quality people, well rounded, family conscious, and community oriented.”

In sum, the partners at Rosenzweig & Company take on a select number of projects per consultant so that they can devote substantially more senior partner expertise and attention to the execution of assignments; develop deeply customized approaches to each assignment; execute these projects with greater speed, intensity and quality; and have far less conflicts and therefore greater access to the deepest of talent pools.

“We’re out to radically change the way people look at executive recruiting. That’s why I started the company,” he reflects. “There is a stereotype that persists that recruiting is all about who has the biggest list of contacts and the most names on their database. We are certainly as connected and plugged in as anyone. But the reality is effective recruiting today is more strategic than that. You need to first gain a deep understanding of the business objectives underlying the client’s decision to add executive talent. The next step is to develop a customized research strategy designed to mesh with the business issues at play. Only then can you help your client consistently uncover best-in class candidates who will take their businesses to new heights.”

“Not to say proprietary databases, contacts, and networks aren’t helpful – they are, in a supplementary way. But don’t get fooled by big experience lists and big databases – they are the low hanging fruit, the quick and easy part, yielding only a small percentage, if any of the ideal candidate pool on any assignment. After all, adding critical executive talent, when done properly, is a specialized endeavor, where each situation is unique.”

The firm is truly global in scope, with offices and affiliates across North America, Latin America, Europe, Middle East and Asia. “The search for executive talent today knows no borders,” comments Rosenzweig. “You have to be global in a world that is becoming increasingly inter-dependent.” The firm’s practice specialties include CEO, Executive Director and Board Director placements, financial services, real estate, infrastructure, private equity, venture capital, professional services, sustainability, clean technology, sports, media & music, digital, pharmaceutical, biomedical, healthcare, not-for-profit, consumer and retail.

In addition to recruitment services, the firm is partnered with industry leaders in management assessment, onboarding, executive coaching, organizational effectiveness, digital strategy, risk advisory and compliance, as well as the unique communications needs of new-to-the-job CEOs, Board Chairs and C-Suite executives.

One of Rosenzweig’s long-standing passions is advocacy for diversity in senior management ranks, particularly gender diversity. His annual Rosenzweig Report on Women at Top Levels has received widespread media coverage and has made him a recognized authority on the subject.

“Gender diversity is something I strongly believe in from a moral standpoint. But beyond that, it also makes good sense from a business perspective,” says Rosenzweig. “There is a huge pool of incredibly talented women out there. Companies that fail to take advantage of this in terms of recruiting and advancing leaders will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.”

Female representation at the upper reaches of business is 8%, up from 4.6% in the initial survey.

“While the absolute number is disappointing, I tend to be optimistic. There will be a great deal of turnover in top positions over the next few years and I expect to see these numbers accelerate,” he says.

And yes, he’d like to play a role in making that happen. All part of the reinventing of the profession.