Executive Express In-Flight Interview for American
Airlines & Delta Airlines, hosted by Ron Kilgore. (below)
Headhunting 101 (read it)
Kilgore): One of the
most significant recent trends in the executive search arena has been a
shift from large firms to smaller and mid-sized firms, especially at the
CEO and senior management levels. Here to share his perspective on this is Ira Marks,
President and founder of Strategic Alternatives. Ira has over a 20+years of experience in the field.
His company, Strategic Alternatives, is a retained, boutique executive
search and consulting firm in Silicon Valley and Orange County that
specializes in performing searches within the high technology industry.
Ira, thanks for being with us today.
Ira: It's nice to be here in the
Ron: Tell us about this trend. Why are
so many mid-sized and boutique agencies getting these high level searches?
The large firms have all the connections and services. So why would a
company choose a boutique agency like yours?
there are a number of contributing reasons why this is happening:
One, is that executive
recruiters do not solicit candidates from their clients for other searches
they are performing. The
larger multi-office firms have accrued many more clients , and as a result,
have substantially diminished their pool of potential candidates from which
they can draw from.
Second, is that in larger
firms, the Managing Partners sell the searches to clients, but then
delegate the actual search work to the back office subordinates, where as
in boutique firms, the principals of the firm sell and conduct the
searches, using their seasoned years of experience.
They develop relationships
with the potential candidates, and evaluate their experience, management
skills, and achievements against their clients requirements, as well as
take a close look at the chemistry fit.
_____________________________________________________ "...our experience allows us to
understand our clients business, and where helpful, guide them building
their organization, defining the position requirements, and finding and
recommending the best candidates...." ____________________________________________________
Thirdly, in a search firm
like Strategic Alternatives, you are hiring the experience of the
Principals of the firm, and not the name or size of the organization.
With the advent of
the internet, the boutique firm has the same access to the available
candidate pool and people network, but what differentiates them, is
their seasoned years of experience that allows them to carefully aim for
and select the best candidates and the fact we are committed and need to be
successful to develop the reference base for our next searches.
In essence, you are
hiring the specific surgeon, not the institution and its interns.
Ron: Strategic Alternatives performs
searches in the high tech market. I understand that this evolved out of
your years in the technology industry -- IBM; then you founded your own
company that you subsequently sold to Nippon. How has this background
Ira: I have a technology education from
Brooklyn Polytechnic in Systems Science Engineering dealing with a lot of
unknowns in black box theory. At
IBM, I handled many functions, coming up from the development ranks starting
in East Fishkill developing hardware and software systems, advanced Graphic
CAD and ECAD Systems and then crossing into Headquarters Management and Sales
and Marketing, where I was a special consultant to the field force applying
the latest information technology solutions within IBM to Customer
I was then recruited to
Silicon Valley to lead business development and advanced development in a
privately held peripherals spin off company, called Benson-Varian
Later, I started my own venture
funded peripherals company, Synergy Computer Graphics, which produced the
first Wide Format single pass 400 dpi Color Printer using very advanced
technologies for the time. The company was later sold to Nippon with 3M
being closing involved because of their unique substrate for large format color
This experience was
invaluable, providing me with a first hand perspective of the types and
qualities of people who are most apt to be successful in different sized
This led to creating Strategic Alternatives, where we focus 100% on high
tech markets; such as, systems & application software, hardware
systems, electronic-commerce, communications & networking,
semiconductor capital equipment & process engineering, MEMs, as well as
bleeding edge technology development.
We search for CEOs, CTOs,
General Managers, Vice Presidents, Directors, and Senior Contributors
across all functional areas for companies ranging in size from small
venture-backed startups to larger corporations, each pursuing new
technologies and markets.
We are not limited by
specific technology area, functional area, or discipline; and frankly, we
like to move across areas so we don’t over fish the markets and disciplines
we work in.
Our experience allows
us to understand our client's business, and where helpful, guide them in
building their organization, defining the position requirements, and
finding and recommending the best candidates.
Ron: Another trend in the search
industry: the Internet job boards, electronic searching and so on. Do you
feel that this is truly going to revolutionize your field?
Ira: The Internet has had a positive
impact on executive level search in that it is a powerful tool for
researching and facilitating global communications. It gives us incredible reach
and ability to identify candidates for our clients. The larger search firms
no longer have any edge
because resources or their network of offices.
But executive search is
about finding people. High quality, well-challenged people do not have the
time to surf the web looking for job opportunities.
recruiters still must take careful aim to look for companies and passive
candidates who are not actively looking for jobs may exist that fit the
requisite skills and experience our clients need.
You cannot just rely on
people responding to bulletin board notices or filling candidate
banks! You need to be
pro-active in today’s competitive environment!
We identify and contact
potential candidates, both to get their attention and to attract them, and
to be able to discuss the opportunity with them personally.
We have the expertise
and ability to handle a broad range of assignments for companies, each
pushing the technology envelope in their markets.
Ron: So what do you see as the future
trends in executive search?
Ira: Well, we are in a time of
There are many online
databases and new search firm configurations emerging trying to manage this
flow. But the Internet by
itself or artificial intelligence is not a replacement for an executive
recruiter. It is a tool to leverage and solve
the executive search challenge.
Our role as executive
recruiters is information interpretation. The Seasoned Years of Experience is what
ferrets out the well-qualified individual to fit our client’s needs.
If your listeners have a
position to be filled, and want a team that can effectively understand and
leverage technology, just call us!
Ron: Ira, thanks.
Ira Marks of Strategic
Alternatives. To learn more about executive search or Strategic
Alternatives, check out our listing in the entertainment guide in the seat
pocket in front of you.