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A.T. Kearney Executive Search Becomes Edward W. Kelley & Partners, Expands Worldwide

July 17, 2006
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A.T. Kearney Executive Search has changed its name to Edward W. Kelley & Partners Ltd. and is opening offices in Boston; Calgary, Alberta; Sydney and Melbourne, Australia; Moscow; and Vienna, Austria. The changes come six months after the search firm’s management buyback from Texas-based Electronic Data Systems Corp.

Industry veteran Edward Kelley, former president and board member of Korn/Ferry International’s European operations, heads the new organization. Kelley says that the company will pursue an aggressive growth strategy, doubling in size during the 12 months.

Opening up opportunities under a new brand, however, could be challenging in the short term, notes Christopher Hunt of Hunt-Scanlon Corp., a market research firm in Stamford, Connecticut. “The A.T. Kearney brand holds a lot of weight and recognition,” he says. “Rebuilding that level of awareness is not going to happen overnight.” A.T. Kearney Executive Search was founded in 1946 and generated $40 million in worldwide revenue last year, according to Hunt.

Yet, Hunt anticipates a relatively smooth transition with minimal impact on business volume since a core group of consultants will remain with the new entity. Kelly has also assembled a senior management team composed of well-known players in their respective markets.

Mark Smith, head of the company’s Boston office, has more than 18 years of executive search experience, having been a partner at Battalia Winston International’s Wellesley, Massachusetts, office and as managing director for Korn/Ferry’s Boston office. John McKay, who has worked in energy services and executive search for about 30 years, will lead the operations in Calgary. Two other key executives include Dan Dumitrescu in Sydney and Mark Lelliott in Melbourne, who have a combined 26 years of executive search experience. Kelley says the company will pay close attention to Asia, ranging from well-established hubs like Japan to emerging markets like China, India and Southeast Asia. Kelley will rely on Dumitrescu and Lelliott to drum up new business in the Asia-Pacific region, a major new growth area for the company.

This is a good time to be in the executive search industry, regardless of brand name. “The reignition of the world economy makes this an opportunistic time to get into the business of executive search,” says Peter Felix, president of the Association of Executive Search Consultants in New York. Global revenue for executive searches is pegged at $7.5 billion for 2005, which follows a period from 2000 to 2003 when a worldwide recession caused demand to plummet by 35 percent, according to Felix.

Having international operations is important because there are many burgeoning opportunities overseas, Felix explains. Edward W. Kelley & Partners currently has 29 offices in cities worldwide, including Chicago; Geneva, Switzerland; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Singapore.

Emerging markets, in Asia and in countries like Brazil, present a good business opportunity because there is a growing demand for executive search services. But it is seasoned markets, like North America and Europe, where most business still takes place. Combined, those two markets accounted for close to 80 percent of revenues globally in 2005 Felix says.

Edward W. Kelley & Partners, which has 14 North American offices, specializes in recruiting for business and professional services, consumer goods and retail, education, government and not-for-profit, financial services, industrial markets, technology, and life sciences and health care.

--Gina Ruiz

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