To simplify the process of initiating a career change or to become an entrepreneur, there is nothing better than having an executive agent to do the job for you. You don't have to be an actor, international golfer or a successful musician to have a manager. The professional who is bored in a career or the executive who has no time to think about it can employ the help of an executive agent.
This new profession originated in the United States, and though there are few people working in this area (representing high level executives), it is a field that generates very good money.
According to Barbara Crenshaw, president of her own company in New York, this new business originated because of lack of attention and dedication from headhunters, who do not take time to work with individual executives. Also, companies no longer support the professional development of their executives, as they once did. Today, loyalty to companies is not recognized or rewarded, and executives need somebody who will help them to market their careers.
What Would The Package Be?
Neal Lenarsky, founder and president of Strategic Transitions Incorporated (STI) in Burbank, California, explains: "Our company assists high executives in identifying their areas of interest and then helps locate companies that have the most ideal position for them, where their qualities will be most appreciated." Some of the companies in which Lenarsky has placed some executives include: The Walt Disney Company, Twenty Century Fox, The Gap, Pepsico and Universal Studios.
The engagement with the executive does not end with the closure of a contract. "We realize that the development of a career is not a short-term objective, but a relationship which is being built over a long period of time."
Joe Meissner, another expert in the executive agent business, is an international authority in partnering executives with private equity capital. The founder and president of Executive PR told us some of the services that his executive agent firm offers: "The first steps are to determine the marketable value of the executive, to define a campaign strategy and to position the executive to the market. When the packaging of the executive is complete, the presentations begin. We look for acquisition opportunities to partner our CEOs with private equity groups; we research possible targets, help with the recruitment of a management team and writing a business plan. Then we help locate a private equity group to finance the acquisition."
If an executive is in need of an agent, it is necessary to answer the following questions: Are you close to the top of your industry? Is there demand in the market for what you do? Do you have time or capacity to design a professional strategy and to network?
Of course, this relationship is not free. There is a charge for it, depending on the situation. In some cases, the client has to pay a percentage his or her salary, plus bonus. If the client starts a new business, a retainer is required to cover the basic expenses. It will be then a joint venture where the agent becomes part owner of the new enterprise. A recent example of how this works is the case of WebSpective Software, (recently bought by Inktomi for $106 million). Joe Meissner helped Glenn D. House make this opportunity into a very lucrative reality. "Joe opened the doors for me with a private equity group who were founding WebSpective Software in 1997. I was named president and director. A couple weeks ago, we sold the company and cashed in our equity."
The differences between an executive agent and a headhunter and what they can do for a professional executive are very clear. Kerry D Moynihan, Managing Director of Korn Ferry International one the most prestigious recruiting companies in the world says: "As a headhunter we are on the demand side for talent. The companies pay our services and we meet specific needs." Career agents, like Joe Meissner work with the talent. The executives pay them not to find a new job but to locate new and different career platforms. Moynihan doesn't consider these executive agents a threat because, "We'll need 50 Joe's before we start to worry. At this moment there a very few people working in this area."
Meissner adds that, "Headhunters are compensated for the transactions (placing executives) while we are paid for the transaction and the process." Meissner makes clear that this is still an entrepreneurial model, with all the risks associated with any new business. Lenarsky adds that, "This business depends 100% on the skills of the executive agent."
Is there any possibility to develop this new kind of business in Argentina? According to Diego Ghidini, partner of human resource consulting firm, Ghidini Rodil S.A., who knows Meissner, "Argentina has potential for any new idea. This is a possibility that has not been studied yet, but is a very interesting alternative that I am starting to explore." - Aleandra Scafati in New York