Looking back to look ahead
After 18 months of Odgers Interim US, Managing Director Paul Smith is reflecting on the first year and a half in business, the challenges of developing and growing a company during a global pandemic, and the bright future ahead.
In January 2020, Odgers Interim US was launched to meet the growing demand of interim executives in the United States. With offices in New York and Boston, it was the newest division of UK headquartered business Odgers Interim, part of the Odgers Berndtson Group, one of the world’s leading executive search firms.
Odgers Interim US is led by Managing Director, Paul Smith, who together with an exceptionally talented team comprising of Partner Glen Johnson and Partner Lori Rubin managed to not only survive a global pandemic of unprecedented scope (at least for our generations) but to build a successful business from the ground up.
This month, we want to take a look at the journey Odgers Interim US have been on in the past 18 months and share with you the lessons we learned, the successes we had, and future ambitions for the growing business.
Starting a new business is a challenge under the best of circumstances. Starting a business during an unprecedented global pandemic requires even more talent, determination, and entrepreneurial spirit. Reflecting on the initial stages of setting up Odgers Interim in the US, MD Paul Smith acknowledges that “we were fortunate in that we had the Odgers Berndtson search business to help with the practicalities of setting up a new entity. They knew the right lawyers, processes, and procedures to follow in order to set up a new company in the US.”
With the backing support of Odgers Berndtson, Odgers Interim US was set up, but there were still some obstacles to clear before a successful launch. From visa issues for Paul, who is based in the UK, to deciding where to place the division and subsequently grow geographically, to start looking for the right talent to join the firm – all against the backdrop of the start of the Covid-19 pandemic - the first few months were turbulent to say the least.
Once the decision was made to set up a hub in Boston, due to the concentration of private equity clients in the area, Paul started focusing on finding the right partners for the firm. Paul recalls that “it was evident from day one that there was significant demand for the ‘on demand’ product in the US. Part of the strategy was to expand the business into Atlanta due to the strong presence Odgers Berndtson has in the area. I therefore needed to hire exceptional people in the city.”
Utilizing our own in-house AI driven database, Paul found two outstanding candidates, Lori Rubin and Glen Johnson. Initially, the plan had always been to start with one hire and build the business gradually over time, however, Paul admits that Lori and Glen were so good that he did not hesitate brining both on board at the same time.
With the Odgers name being less well-known in the US compared to the UK, Lori and Glen had to hit the ground running. As a startup, Odgers Interim US requires a lot of marketing and business development just to get the name out there. Coupled with the fact that the “Executives On Demand” resource is still in its infancy and many clients also have to be educated on the benefits of interim executives and temporary resources, Odgers Interim US is a true startup in a startup market.
But there were also quick successes for the growing business. Paul notes that “we were pleasantly surprised in that we started to make placements quickly, mainly from UK businesses wanting to expand in the US and using the Odgers brand that they trusted so well.”
Within months of launching, the team made their first placement, the Interim CFO of Picsolve USA, quickly followed by the Interim COO of a life sciences business based in California. Both placements were from UK companies wanting a trusted advisor in the US. 18 months on, the team now makes placements on a regular basis and are building a really solid business across the US. Spanning many industries from Media to Manufacturing, Healthcare to Life Sciences, Professional Services to Industrial and even Sports, the team is observing that more and more industry sectors are seeing the benefit of “Executives On Demand”, with the need for talent growing rapidly as the economy starts to rebuild from the impact of the pandemic.
It is safe to say, that when it was decided to launch Odgers Interim US, no one could have ever predicted the months that were to follow January 2020. Yet, the team persevered and held on to the vision for the business, supported by the well-established Odgers Berndtson Group and the reputation of Odgers Interim globally.
Businesses across the world are adapting to a new way of working, and many are in need of new talent, who can step in and deliver unrivalled performances even during the most challenging times and in the most difficult circumstances. The success of the startup to deliver on this need speaks for itself. A newly established and constantly expanding network of clients and candidates is testimony to the growing market for “Executives On Demand”, which is visible in several successful placements made by the team over the past 18 months.
In July 2021, the team expanded by hiring Project Coordinator Olivia Fox to support Lori Rubin and Glen Johnson, who together with Paul Smith have built a prosperous business during a global pandemic. Capitalizing on the success the firm has had in the past 18 months, Paul Smith has a clear vision for the future of Odgers Interim US: “I want us to continue to grow steadily as a business and enjoy the challenge of developing this exciting new product in the US, as well as interfacing with many new businesses and helping them through stressful situations by enabling top class executives to share their extensive knowledge and deliver solutions to alleviate the issues.”
Looking ahead, the team is excited. The work they will continue to deliver will not only enable clients to hire the best interim executive talent for their business needs but will also find the most suitable placement for a highly experienced and talented pool of candidates. The future sure looks bright for Odgers Interim US.
If you would like to find out more about our talent solutions and services, please contact Paul Smith.
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